Scotch Whisky Saviours son Peter Visits Glenturret

Glenturret Distillery last week welcomed a visit from the son of a man who is understood to have single-handedly saved the traditional art of Scotch whisky production from extinction.

Glenturret’s release of The James Fairlie in November, an exceptionally rare 32 year old single malt, sold out in just two hours. James’ son, Peter, who was Managing Director of Glenturret Distillery until 1996, visited the distillery last week to pick up one of the 54 exclusive bottles from Glenturret’s manager, Stuart Cassells.

Another of the 54 bottles was purchased by James Fairlie’s grandson, also called James, who now lives in Australia and works in the whisky industry.

Closed at the start of American Prohibition, Glenturret ceased distilling in 1921. The distillery lay silent for many years beside the Turret burn, before being brought back to life by James Fairlie in 1957.

IMG_0477Fairlie, a self-professed whisky enthusiast, had one aim in mind when nursing Glenturret back into production in the late 1950s. Whisky production had become largely mechanised and commercialised during the war years following Prohibition. Fairlie wanted to preserve the craft of making whisky by hand.

Reinstating the techniques that would have been used by most distilleries at the turn of the 20th century, it is these traditional craft processes that Fairlie instilled in the production of Glenturret in 1957 and which are still used at Glenturret Distillery today.

A pioneer of the “craft” movement in many respects, Fairlie didn’t follow the trend of automating everything, but instead worked hard to preserve the traditional production methods still used by Glenturret today including hand mashing, long fermentation, gentle distillation, and cutting by eye.

Even now, with craft production more popular than ever in other industries, Glenturret remains the only whisky distillery in Scotland to hand mash during its production process. This unique approach firmly establishes the brand’s unique heritage as Scotland’s only remaining producer of hand-made whisky.

Commenting on his visit to the Distillery, Peter Fairlie said:

“I was delighted when the Distillery got in touch to say they were naming a release after my father – he passionately believed in keeping Scotland’s traditional whisky making processes alive and would have been proud to know that Glenturret was not only keeping up with tradition, but had named one of its oldest and most rare bottles after him as a result.”

“I worked in the Distillery from 1977 and in 1982 I was there when this particular cask of whisky was distilled, so I know all too well the exceptional craftsmanship that goes into the production of The Glenturret whisky.  It was fantastic to be back at the distillery today – I enjoyed meeting the team and my bottle of The James Fairlie will take pride of place in our home.”

Stuart Cassells, manager of Glenturret Distillery commented:

“When I heard Peter was coming to visit, I asked to meet him for lunch. We had a rare chat about how things were in the 1970s and 80s and, of course, keeping his father’s vision alive at Glenturret.  I’m delighted that I was able to present him with his bottle personally, and join him for a dram in honour of his father’s contribution and legacy to Scotch Whisky.”

“It’s also thanks to Peter that Glenturret Distillery is the successful visitor attraction that it is today. Peter had the vision of developing tourism within the whisky industry, opening the doors of the distillery to visitors long before many others. He was also one of the founders of the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions, an organisation dedicated to ensuring quality within Scottish tourism and which recently named the distillery Best Visitor Experience of the year.”

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