English Immersion Activity | Burn’s Night

This Burns Night, Blue Noun Language Hub began celebrations with a tour of our local distillery, The Glenturret.

This blog describes a visit to this distillery. What to look out for, what makes it special? (After all, there are 140 working distilleries in Scotland, so why visit The Glenturret in Crieff?).

I’ll also share how we use themes of design and marketing in this distillery visit on our English language coaching.

But first, a quick overview as to why we visited for Burn’s Night.

Whisky is a key element in a traditional Scottish Burns Supper.

Like Burns Night, whisky production is steeped in tradition.

Hand in hand, these two parts of Scottish culture reach back in time. 

English Language School social event | Burns Night 2021 our whiskey
A previous year’s Burn’s Night celebration at our language school.
(These are the bottles which have now been redesigned).

English Immersion Whisky Tour

Our language school visits distilleries because traditional crafts, skills and technology are very much on show when you tour any distillery in Scotland.

They are put on show because traditions (and sometimes the rejection of them) are a large part of the brand identity as well as being integral to the actual taste of the whisky. (This gives us a lot of varied topics to discuss).

As you will see in this blog, tiny changes can cause huge shifts in the product, and consistency in process is key.

Whisky tasting and whisky distillery tours are a wonderful way to experience Scottish culture.

Think of every whisky is part of an unbroken chain reaching into Scotland’s past.

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Whisky Redesigned | The Glenturret Revolution

In recent history, individual whisky brands have been marketed by showing their allegiance to tradition: using storytelling to portray a brand that is ancient and unchanging: the landscape, the water it’s made from, the craftsmanship all make up the brand story,  and history and longevity are used as proof of quality.

The Glenturret has taken a leap into a different brand identity.  

Very cleverly, The Glenturret are redesigning whisky drinking  – while keeping both feet safely in the camp of tradition. 

I love showing off The Genturret Distillery to our English-language guests.  This whisky distillery visit is particularly rich and entertaining, great for practising English for Design (like product designers, marketers, and interior designers).

It doesn’t have to be so specialist: The Genturret Distillery tour is a fantastic English immersion excursion for anyone with an interest in Scottish culture, art and design.

And whisky fans, you are in for a treat!

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The Glenturret Distillery Tour and the cabinet of fame

Part 1 | An introduction to Scottish Whisky Making

The basic process of whisky distilling is pretty simple, it has been refined throughout its history – with a behind-the-scenes role for scientists, engineers and technicians to support new ways of enriching old tastes with precision, reliability – and without waste.

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“When the Glenturret changed owners in 2019, its rebirth was high-end and upmarket: instantly positioning itself as a market leader and luxury brand”.

Ruth, 2022



Some Things Can’t Change, Some Can

A copper still is a legal requirement of  Scotch whisky: it’s one of the definitions of its particular taste.

However, every distillery in Scotland has its own shape of still, the shape and size of the still defines the taste of whisky.

For example, the Glenturret has a bulbous onion shape on its neck which allows a maximum of contact between steam and the copper  – something our tour guide Alex described as, ‘stripping out super notes’ and controlling the ‘mouth feel’ of the oily alcohol.

The Glenturret distillery has a medium-sized still.

It is a fact of the small, windy, access road that The Glenturret can never produce to a larger scale, using a larger still than it does.

Whisky brands are the story of the facts of location and history. Due to location The Glenturret cannot increase in scale.

However, the brand could redesign.

When the brand changed owners in 2019, its rebirth was high-end and upmarket: instantly positioning itself as a market leader and luxury brand.

The Glenturret still

Part 2 | An introduction to Whisky Marketing & The Glenturret Revolution

Ultimately, what distinguishes good whisky brands from each other is their own blend of product and marketing.

Every distillery has been doing its thing for unchanging years, so it’s interesting that it is ‘Scotland’s oldest working distillery’ (1763), The Glenturret (which you would think to be on pretty safe grounds just preaching tradition) which is leading the way into a new style of whisky drinking.

Revisiting The Glenturret Distillery after a break of three years is to find the product much the same (at least, it varies as much as whiskies always vary in their years, batches and casks).

Two things are different:

It is immediately obvious that bottles and branding have completely changed.

The non-factory parts of the distillery are now gorgeous. 

As before, the staff are friendly and welcoming, but less obviously – and charmingly – the staff promote a less stuffy kind of whisky drinking. 

The whisky tour takes a spoken stance against elitism in whisky, urging you to enjoy it exactly how you want.

No more funny looks if you ask for ice or, god forbid – coke. They’ll even give you a recipe! 


Mess about with whisky. Have fun.”

Alex, The Glenturret Tour Guide, 2022



Whisky tasting on English immersion holiday

Welcome to the Taste Experience

The excellent whisky tasting included on The Glenturret tour legitimises your own tastes while telling you a quite different history of whisky from other distilleries I’ve visited.

Aside from giving generous hints about how to get the best from whisky (good posture, partially open your mouth  – don’t stick your nose in the glass), the conversation is all about new ways and recipes to enjoy whisky.

  • Of whisky as a mixer in cocktails.
  • How whisky became fashionable only after a crop blight took brandy off the market.
  • And that whisky didn’t always taste as good as it does today.

The Glenturret’s whiskky tasting is friendly. It’s also inclusive, subtly introducing a forward-facing brand linked to the multicultural, contemporary Scotland. It’s whisky rebranded for a new audience.

The brand’s gift to you is the permission to have fun with whisky again.

The whisky tasting part of the tour

The Marketing Message

The Glenturret has pulled off a very clever marketing pivot.

More than likely, you’ll drink a hell of a lot more whisky than you would do if you were precious about it. (Like restricting drinking it to a single nip from a precious crystal glass, positioned in a leather armchair, beside an open fire, on a Saturday evening, in winter).

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The Mark of Great Design

Lalique now own The Glenturret.

The traditional whisky tasting experience offered by The Glenturret has been enhanced by the glorious architecture of the room and furnishings.

The whole tour is peppered with new gorgeous details; including luxury bars, sofas and cabinets.

It’s a collaboration between tow brand identities.  The new owners have redesigned the bottles and brand and put £3.5 million into renovating the visitor experience.

The historic distillery workings remain untouched, but there is a new level of pleasure to the restaurant, cafe, shop, tasting area and waiting areas.

One of several luxurious waiting areas around the distillery

Egalitarian and Luxurious

The Glenturret is opening up whisky drinking to a wider audience.

At the same time, the bottle design moves this self-proclaimed ‘fun’ product into something to be seriously coveted by almost anyone.

The Glenturret are no longer trying to place themselves in a line of bottles at the top of a dusty bar (each with competing images of picturesque Scotland); they are pitching their whisky as the bottle your cocktail cabinet needs.

And what a bottle!

(You might need to get yourself an Art Deco cabinet to go with it).

The new-look The Glenturret bottle and packaging

High-End Luxury

Collaborations with Jaguar and Lalique glassmakers have produced limited-edition whiskies that sell for thousands of pounds to whisky purists and collectors.

A superb new Lalique showroom (which was a storeroom before the revamp) lifts the visitor experience into the sublime.

The Glenturret brand has invented a new way to market an established product – and the sky is the limit for where this will possibly lead the collaboration between glassmakers and whisky.

The distillery is already retailing its glass chandeliers at £10k. Not a bad second income stream for a Scottish Distillery! 

The Lalique showroom is a dream to visit

An Ancient Alarm System – and Some Happy Cats

There’s as much added detail as you would like on this tour.

I particularly liked hearing about the drummer and piper who were stationed on the surrounding hills during the period when the distillery wasn’t declaring its existence to Customs and Excise.

(Much of Scottish history involves smuggling and skulduggery).

The piper and drummer sounded the alarm and the team of distillery men scrambled into the woods, carrying all the trappings of whisky production with them – (hard to imagine them scrambling up the hill with a Lalique chandelier).

Another likeable detail is the distillery cats; historically on-site to protect the grains from rodents, the two moggies, ’Glen’ and ‘Turret’ live a charmed life of cat treats, lo-fi cat flaps and have cosy beds under the heat-radiating whisky still.

They are typical moggies. (Thank goodness they are not sleek designer cats with bejewelled collars).

In fact, that is kind of the tone for the whole Glenturret vibe. Pragmatic where needed and exquisite and generous in detail otherwise.

English for Design | The Marketing Message

The Glenturret’s every communication is simultaneously about an authentic past and process that is being elevated to new heights through its superb glass and product design.

Traditions haven’t been sacrificed. They’ve been framed. 

Have a look at their promotional film here.

Distillery cat flap, ladder and cat beds

An English Immersion in Whisky!

Thanks for reading our blog!

We hope to have shown you that The Glenturret tour is a must for whisky fans, design fans – and anyone with a love of Scottish culture.

It’s why we offer the tour on our English immersion holidays here in Perthshire.

We love it – and you will too.

At Blue Noun Language Hub we want to give more than just English language skills, we want you to have fabulous experiences of Scotland to take away with you and remember.

A good English immersion holiday should leave you in love with the country: wanting to stay in touch with the people and culture you were introduced to, and desiring to travel again. (And why not taking home an exquisite bottle of whisky?)

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An Online Immersive English Experience

We know it’s hard to join us at the moment for live immersion English classes – but we are offering online classes tailored to your English learning needs.

Are you an artist or designer? Check out our blended Sketchbook English online course.

It will build ALL the language skills you need for a professional creative career, without taking time form your studio work.

Further Information

Find out more about The Glenturret.

We hope you’ve enjoyed us sharing our distillery visit on our Meet the Makers activity menu. 

Read our whole Language School Activities Menu.

Your English Language Challenge

We offer you a practice conversation opportunity with every blog. Today, it’s


‘How do you drink yours?’

Know a good whisky recipe? Share it in the comments. 

‘How do you drink yours?’