Our last full day in Speyside was set aside for random distillery-hopping, and we decided to start it with an activity unrelated to whisky: walking in the expansive gardens of Glen Grant. The distillery is in Rothes, about 10 minutes’ drive from Aberlour. We made a brief stop at Macallan first since it was on the way, just to see what the estate looked like, but (much to the relief of my wife, even though I reassured her there wouldn’t be any whisky-related activities I’d like to do at Macallan) it was closed, so we took a bad photo of the gates through the car’s windscreen that I’ll spare you from, and drove on to Glen Grant. The first thing that strikes you is how attractive and well-manicured the grounds are, a trait Glen Grant shares with Strathisla. The first photo below, for instance, is the walk from the car park to the distillery buildings.
The visitor centre itself is spacious and attractive, though the ratio of whisky to paraphernalia in the shop was among the lowest I’ve seen in any distillery. If you want to buy stylish distillery-themed clothing or handbags, this is the place to be. In terms of whisky per se, I only had a cursory look around but I didn’t spot anything beyond the Glen Grant core range. No matter, we were here for the gardens anyway, and were shown the way there by the friendly staff. Now, I had heard the distillery had expansive gardens, but I wasn’t prepared for quite how expansive they were. It’s easy to get lost there for a good hour or two, as you can see in the photos below.
There’s not much to add here, except that the middle of May was the ideal time to visit, with the fragrance of the various blossoming trees and plants a perfect backdrop to the heart of whisky country. The particular highlight of the gardens were the wooden bridges over the stream below, which were straight out of Twilight Princess (there must be some cross-section of whisky and Legend of Zelda fans, surely – we can’t be the only ones!).
Overall, this was another highlight of our Speyside visit, and it didn’t even involve any whisky! The surroundings were made even more idyllic by the fact that hardly anyone was there – over a good hour and a half, we only came across one other couple. I’m sure it gets busier later in the day or when tours finish so maybe we were lucky in that respect. Speaking of tours, it seems that Glen Grant only offer a basic one for £7.50, which comes with a tasting of two core range whiskies at the end – if anyone’s done it, let me know how it compares to other distilleries. But regardless of whether you’re in the area for whisky or not, the Glen Grant gardens would be a top recommendation.