John Laurie, Managing Director, discusses the 2021 Release

John Laurie, Managing Director, discusses the 2021 Release

John Laurie, Managing Director of The Glenturret, talks about the launch of our 2021 Release, how we came to the decision to launch a new release every year, and the genuine scarcity that can be found right through our range.

How has the last year been for you and The Glenturret?

Last year's success was a welcome outcome for the team that worked so hard on this project during the most uncertain of times, the brand is much further forward than we anticipated and we’re grateful for the support that we’ve received from our consumers. The Liquid quality was always something that we were focused on, making sure it was at its utmost, its absolute best, and getting the confirmation from the awards was important to us because we didn’t want consumers to think we just put a nice bottle around the same old liquid. We have changed everything from the ground up, so receiving those awards and receiving that feedback was an important statement for us.

How did last year help shape the 2021 release?

We learned many lessons from our 2020 maiden launch, there were so many firsts for us at that time and given it was such a radical change to our brand, it took a lot of courage for us to continue to launch during such an unpredictable period in the world. In pushing forward and launching the brand when we did, we discovered that lockdowns had changed the consumer, suddenly, we were speaking to an audience that really appreciated the values that make The Glenturret special: Handmade, brand provenance & credibility. The post lockdown whisky consumer is passionate about the industry and has become a student of the industry and its brands, it's exciting to speak to consumers now, and I believe this will change the way that brands communicate, honesty and credibility will be non-negotiables in modern marketing of whisky; Something The Glenturret is ready for.

What prompted the decision behind launching a new release every year?

Honesty is a real important keystone for us, we’re working really hard to make sure the consumer understands what we’re doing, what we’re about and where we’re heading. The decision to launch a new range each year, even though it’s the same names, the same age statements in the same order, the liquid is made from different casks every year so there will be subtle differences. The beautiful thing about single malt whisky is that every single cask tastes completely different even if they were filled on the same day; they have gone on their own path, they’ve been on their own journey so by the time it gets to bottling they’re going to taste different. So, for us to engineer that taste back to the same as the last release was too easy, we felt that what we were doing was a little bit more honest and a little bit more interesting. The consumer can say “what was the 2021 Triple Wood like in comparison to the 2020 Triple Wood”, and they can really have their own opinion over that, and we look forward to seeing what the consumer thinks about the difference in the vintages and look forward to having that conversation with them.

Tell us a bit about the 2021 release

We set Bob Dalgarno, our whisky maker, the challenge each year to go into our warehouses and bring us back a triple wood, a 10 Years Old Peat Smoked, and a 12 Years old and so on, using the best of what he has available to him at that time. What you’re going to get from the 2021 range is something distinctly Glenturret, something familiar to what you had last year but with subtle differences, because those casks are different.

What you should expect is not a completely new line of whiskies, but a line of whiskies which are broadly the same as what they were previously, but with some really interesting changes, maybe one of them has a different ABV, maybe some of them are a bit more distillate influenced rather than cask influenced, and really this is a way for the consumer to uncover what’s been going on at the Glenturret and what’s been going on over those years, and we hope to tell that story and join them in the conversation.

How have the team worked to launch the 2021 Release?

One of the great things about working at the Glenturret is that we are a small team and therefore, almost regardless of job title and role, everyone is involved in all parts of the business and that involves going in and nosing and sampling things when they’re on the bench and giving Bob your honest feedback, which he really values from all members of the team, not just me. The Glenturret also benefits from a significant annual tourist trade, those visitors give us a steady stream of feedback that we treat seriously, and it absolutely has an influence on our regular decisions.

What are you most excited about the new range?

We fully anticipate that some people are going to like the 2021 release more than the 2020 release, others may have preferred certain expressions more in the 2020 release to 2021 release, but that conversation is rich, and I think what I’m really looking forward to is when that conversation starts and we’re able to get involved in it and really understand our consumers and what they’re looking for. The expression changes are only one part of this though, for me, we have grown a year and with that growth we understand ourselves and our consumers so much better than we did even a year ago.

2021 has had less of the restrictions that 2020 gave us in the world but it has by no means been a year that we would have experienced pre-pandemic, but I do believe much of what we are experiencing now is likely to be the new normal and it's our job to make sure The Glenturret continues to deliver to the customers' expectations in these conditions.

How does this range build on what was released last year?

The team we brought together after the acquisition by Lalique and Hansjorg Wyss, was a new team put together from existing Glenturret team members and new recruits, every year that goes by, our depth of understanding on what Glenturret is, what it stands for and what is achievable for the brand; the better we become at producing a more cohesive range. I feel the business is going to get stronger as that teamwork together more often and work with the quality of the liquid we’ve got on a more regular basis. As Bob better understands what we have available, new things will start coming out from Glenturret on a more regular basis.

What the 2021 range will do is build on those foundations that we established in 2020. We put our stall out in 2020; we told the market that we have got exceptional liquid, of a high, award-winning quality, wrapped in award winning design and packaging and that Glenturret was truly something to be treasured. 2021 will continue to build those foundations. It’s about continuing to build on last year’s good work, so the consumer knows and trusts us, so that when you see a bottle of Glenturret you know the liquid is going to be of a certain standard. We still have a lot of work to be done building the foundations of our brand but we are off to a really strong start and I hope that acts as a springboard for our future releases.

How does genuine scarcity play a part in the 2021 release?

Genuine scarcity in 2021 is a theme that continues from 2020, and it’s a theme that will continue for all of The Glenturret’s time. We will grow the volume this year, we’re growing from the 43,000 bottles we did last year to close to 70,000 bottles this year, but 70,000 bottles is still incredibly small, As we grow the volume, we’re then able to open up new markets. The Glenturret isn’t available all around the world, and we, unfortunately, will never be available in every country in the world, we’ll never have the volume to achieve that. What we have to do is pick key cities and key areas that we can supply The Glenturret to. You can always buy it from The Glenturret website and the Crieff shop is our number one destination for The Glenturret, but this scarcity is something we have to manage. We have to roll out really carefully and really slowly to make sure that we control that scarcity because the last thing we want to do is offer it to an area and then not be able to meet expectations.

We want to continue to grow the brand carefully, slowly, and that scarcity will always be a part of The Glenturret. It is genuine, and when you come to visit The Glenturret you will be able to walk through the car park and see the number of people who are working here, the size of our stills, the size of production. It is boutique, it is bespoke, and everyone is doing it by hand.

Passion is abundant in Glenturret and overspills sometimes, people love the bricks of this place and that will never leave.

From your perspective, how does this release resonate with The Glenturret touchstones of provenance, prowess, and passion?

I think the discovery of those three words, provenance, prowess, and passion has probably been the most significant discovery in The Glenturret’s rebrand. What they say to us is exactly how we have always felt about the brand but have never been able to quantify.

The provenance is something we’re incredibly proud of. The new range further builds on that provenance, we talk about our history a lot on site, especially in the whisky making. We talk to Bob and each other about stories in our history, we take inspiration from those stories, and we build them into the liquid itself.

Prowess, as I said, we are becoming stronger and stronger as a team. If you look at any of the high performing teams in the world they get better and better the more they work together. They become slicker; everyone understands their roles, everyone understands how they fit into the machine and Glenturret is a high performing team like that of F1 or Michelin star restaurants and this team is getting stronger and stronger with every year that goes past. So, the prowess is getting more prominent in something that we recognise in ourselves.

Finally, Passion is abundant in Glenturret and overspills sometimes, people love the bricks of this place and that will never leave.

Do you have a favourite from the range?

The Glenturret range is often described like a family, they all have something in common, whilst maintaining their own personalities. Each product in our range offers you something different and I find I often reach for one of them dependant on the occasion and sometimes my mood. The Triple Wood is my go-to dram for a social occasion like a BBQ, its smooth easy drinking style is perfect for social occasions. 12 Years Old would be the dram I’m most likely to give to someone that visits me, sipping a dram with a friend and having a good catch up is the occasion where 12 really impresses.

15 Years Old is one I have enjoyed when I need something to stand up to other powerful flavour profiles, such as an occasional cigar or an aperitif after a great meal.

25 and 30 Years Old all have their moments too, but I tend to ‘bring out the big guns’ just for special occasions or perhaps if I’m trying to impress my father-in-law!

I am not traditionally a peated whisky fan, however I have to say that our distillery manager Ian has been educating me the dark arts of peated whisky drinking and this year’s release is glorious, the sweetness that comes from the Glenturret’s inherent character works well with the light floral peat smoke method they used; it’s the dram this year I am really excited about.

Is there anything else you think is key to mention about the range?

If you have a question about The Glenturret, ask and we will tell you. We want to be honest with the consumers, we want them to feel close to us, we want them to feel that they understand what’s going on here at the distillery, so they’re better connected to our products and better understand it.

We genuinely are scarce, we’re not pretending. The Glenturret will never have huge volumes of whisky out there but what we want to do is produce whiskies that we’re proud of every single time so that means we’re not going to churn out high volumes of whisky but when we do put a whisky out there that means it’s completely won over the entire team. Should one member of our team be less that satisfied with a particular sample, Bob will go back and work on it, it has to be a completely unified answer that we are all really proud of these whiskies we’re presenting, or they don’t leave the door, but off course bobs word is final.

I really hope the consumer understands what they get from our quality of liquid, an eternal quest to always be better, to find improvements, as Bob puts it ‘chasing excellence’

We’re passionate about the whisky so we do these things because we love what we do and I really hope that as we continue to develop our brand story and communicate with our consumers that’s the one thing that they take away from that, that they know that we’re doing this with Passion.

Discover the 2021 Release


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