We took a trip to the Scottish Highlands to visit the brand new A Tale of the Forest experience at the stunning Glenmorangie House.
If you were to hear the words ‘whisky brand home’, what would you think of? Brown leather armchairs? Old bookcases? Lots of dark wood panelling? Well, whisky is in a new age, folks. Gone is the stuffiness of old, and Glenmorangie House is leading the way in whisky’s new-age marketing.
You’ll find bookcases and armchairs aplenty at Glenmorangie House, but they’ll be practically dripping in gold paint, or decorated in a peacock-style pattern. It’s the perfect blend of tradition and innovation. Much like the whisky, I suppose.
A Highland hideaway
But Glenmorangie House hasn’t always been this way. The story of this 17th-century house. which can be found overlooking the Moray Firth just 20 minutes or so from the distillery, begins in the late 1980s when it was first acquired by the distillery – though it was called Cadboll House at the time. Originally it was invite-only, with corporate guests of Glenmorangie being accommodated in super Scottish digs with tartan galore.
The place proved so popular with these guests that Glenmorangie decided to open it up to the general public in 1998 as a hotel. It was previously everything you’d expect from a rural Highland hideaway, and as traditional as it gets. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but in March 2020 the Glenmorangie team partnered with Russell Sage to completely flip the place, and it reopened with its brand new style in July 2021.
Go big or go home
Go big or go home was clearly the motto behind the refurb, and it paid off. Each room is inspired by a different element of the whisky-making process, all while paying homage to local Scottish artisans and designers. The heavenly Morning Room was inspired by fields of barley, its golden walls decorated with flowers, while the Dining Room is an embodiment of the distillery’s copper stills, with molten-style light fittings and deep red walls. I suppose the most ‘traditional’ room is the Buffalo Room (where things tend to get a little loose in the small hours, one of the house staff tells us), designed to reflect Glenmorangie’s skill with wood – but with bright green wood panelling and a deer-adorned wallpaper that would look insane if it were anywhere else, it’s hardly traditional at all.
No two rooms alike
It’s called Glenmorangie House and not ‘Glenmorangie Hotel’ because it’s to be treated more like a home, with all guests sitting around the 22-seater dining table each evening before convening in the Buffalo Room for a nightcap, or taking afternoon tea together on the sofas in the Morning Room. Being in the middle of nowhere, it’s a safe and trusting enough place that you’re not even given a key to lock your room with (unless you request one).
Speaking of which, the bedrooms! Guests can stay in one of the six bespoke bedrooms – Home, Reserve, Autumn, Nectar, Sunset, and Wild Wood – or three one-bedroom cottages (one of which is a tribute to Dr. Bill Lumsden himself, in appropriately mad scientist fashion). Fans of the distillery will have already spotted that each bedroom is inspired by a different Glenmorangie whisky, and no two rooms are alike, from the decoration to the fact the candles that capture the notes of different whisky blends that inspired it.
Being the brand home, each room is filled with whisky-themed easter eggs. A toy leopard in the wardrobe of the Reserve room. A table made out of totally charred wood. And giraffes. Giraffes bloody everywhere! (It’s not quite as random as it might first sound – Glenmorangie’s stills are famously the same height as a giraffe.)
Open for experiences
But you might be thinking, if it reopened in 2021, why are you telling me about this now, seeing as it’s 2023? Well, you might recall when we came to you with news of Glenmorangie’s latest A Tale of… release last year with the launch of A Tale of the Forest. If you enjoyed the whisky, which is smoked with botanicals combustible materials, then just wait until you hear about the Tale of the Forest experience at Glenmorangie House!
With the first weekend available from Friday 27 to Sunday 29 January 2023 (more dates below), the £1,200 experience includes a two-night stay with all sorts of treats along the way – afternoon tea, Scottish breakfast, a botanical cocktail masterclass, falconry display (yes, really), and of course a tour and tasting at Glenmorangie Distillery are just a few. Oh, and not forgetting a four-course tasting menu with wine pairings in the mesmerising Dining Room from head chef John Wilson. When you check out, you’ll also get your own bottle of A Tale of the Forest to take home (we know you were waiting to hear that).
It’s not cheap, but we can guarantee that it’ll be an absolute treat for whisky lovers and travel enthusiasts alike, and there’s nothing quite like a wholesome weekend in the Scottish Highlands in these long winter months. And if all this whisky talk has got you thirsty and you want to get a slightly different Tale of the Forest experience in your own home, might we recommend getting a bottle here?
Current dates for the Tale of the Forest experience are:
o Friday 27 to Sunday 29 January 2023
o Friday 24 to Sunday 26 February 2023
o Friday 24 to Sunday 26 March 2023
You can find out more or book your stay here.