Glen Grant Distillery Gardens and Visitor Centre

Written by Chris Thornton | 4th of June 2023
Glen Grant Distillery Gardens and Visitor Centre

Glen Grant Distillery is a notable location in the world of whisky, located in Rothes, Moray, Scotland; it has been producing its distinct single malt since its establishment in 1840. Beyond its renowned spirits, Glen Grant is also famous for another, perhaps less expected feature: its extensive and meticulously kept gardens.

My wife Janette loves visiting gardens, and given this particular Saturday in June was a lovely sunny day, we decided to take the kids to explore the distillery gardens - it blew away our expectations, from the short woodland path alongside the distillery to the beautifully managed gardens and then finally the short gorge walk with small waterfalls.

This article will focus mainly on the gardens, but I will also give some background on the distillery.

Glen Grant Distillery

Founded by brothers John and James Grant in 1840, the distillery was built in the town of Rothes in Speyside, a region known for its whisky production due to its water and barley quality. Over the years, the distillery has become synonymous with a particular style of Speyside single malt: light, fruity, and refined.

Its continuity sets Glen Grant apart from other distilleries of its era. It has been in continuous operation, except for a short hiatus during World War II, making it one of the oldest whisky distilleries in Scotland. Its resilience can be attributed to innovation, quality, and a commitment to preserving tradition.

Major James Grant

Under the leadership of Major James Grant, the distillery underwent significant expansion and modernisation in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This included the installation of tall, slender stills and purifiers that contribute to the light, clean character of Glen Grant's whisky.

However, the distillery's influence extends beyond the realm of whisky. The legacy of Major Grant also includes the creation of the beautiful gardens surrounding the distillery, which has become an attraction in its own right. These gardens reflect the Major's passion for nature and his innovative spirit, much like the distillery itself.

Today, Glen Grant Distillery continues to be a prominent name in the world of Scottish whisky with an enduring reputation of quality and tradition, its capacity for innovation, and its ability to offer a unique visitor experience that combines the art of whisky-making with the tranquillity of nature.

How to get to the Glen Grant Distillery and Gardens

The distillery and gardens are easily accessible from the town of Rothes, south of Elgin - the largest town in Moray.

From Elgin:

  1. Take the A941 south out of Elgin.

  2. When you arrive at Rothes, take the 3rd exit on the roundabout to the Glen Grant Distillery, there is a big sign with a white background.

  3. Follow the signs for the visitor car park.

From Aberlour:

  1. Head north along the A95, connecting to the A941.

  2. You will arrive at Rothes and pass through the town until you arrive at the large roundabout at the far side.

  3. Take the first exit with the large white sign marked "Glen Grant Distillery".

  4. Follow the signs to the visitor's car park.

Visitor information

Rothes, AB38 7BS.
Tel: 01340 832118.
visitorcentre@glengrant.com

Grid Ref: NJ 276 496
www.glengrant.com

Google maps location
What3Words Location: ///cracks.diver.icebergs

The well tended visitor car park. Glen Grant Distillery.
The spacious and well kept car park at Glen Grant Distillery.

Glen Grant Distillery Gardens

We pulled into the car park, there was plenty of room for buses and cars, and it was fairly quiet despite being a lovely day and late morning.

Car park directions sign
Welcome sign with directions and opening hours.
 
The path to Glen Grant Visitor Centre.
Following the path to the visitor centre.

The path to the visitor centre was well signposted and meandered down to the left to a rustic old building which has been modernised for visitors. The toilets are on your immediate right of the entrance.

Visitor Centre entrance.
The entrance seen through the foliage.
 
Walking to the visitor centre.
The path winds down to the visitor centre giving views of the distillery too.
 
Glen Grant Visitor Centre main entrance.
The main entrance to the visitor centre.

As we entered, a kind member of staff (who looked a little bit like Chris Hemsworth!) directed us toward the gardens. There was no charge to enter the visitor centre or go to the gardens.

The gravel path curves alongside the "Back Burn" stream, the water used to create the lovely Glen Grant Whisky. The industrial complex can be seen through the trees, and the sweet smell of whisky can be smelt all the way to the gardens. The walk through the trees here is pleasant and calm.

Walk signage.
The start of the footpath to the Victorian gardens.
 
Glen Grant Distillery buildings.
You can see the distillery buildings across the burn.
 
Back Burn and Glen Grant Distillery.
The burn next to the distillery is very picturesque.
 
Distillery tour bridge
The bridge for the tours, the walk to the gardens goes through the forest.
 
Gravel paths to the distillery gardens.
The paths are very well maintained with gravel.
 
Walking to the gardens.
The dappled light coming through the canopy of leaves gives a lovely feel to this walk.
 
Bridge to gardens entrance.
This wee bridge takes to you the entrance for the gardens.
 
Glen Grant Distillery path.
Looking back towards the distillery. This path is off limits but it's a lovely vista.

The Orchards

Arriving at the actual gardens, a sign with a map shows all of the main features of the garden; we passed through the orchards first - I could instantly tell they were apple trees as we have our own right outside our house!

Arriving at the entrance of Glen Grant Distillery Gardens.
Arriving at the entrance of the gardens.
 
Entrance signage.
Another great sign shows all of the main highlights of the gardens.
 
The wonderful Glen Grant Garden. The broad green bowl of fruit orchards.
The pine wood frames the gardens nicely.
 
Apple and cherry orchards
The orchard contains many apple and cherry trees.

Banks of rhododendron add colour and interest to the sides of the orchard.

Lily Pond

Next up, the lily pond was a wonderful water feature. Our kids loved the fake duck right in the middle! Dragonflies and other interesting insects were everywhere

The lily pond at Glen Grant Distillery Gardens.
The Lily Pond.
 
Alternate view of the lily pond.
The Lily Pond from the opposite side.
 
Rhododendron with pink flowers.
Lovely pink flowers on this rhody.

Meadow

This large grassy area is truly lovely. There are benches to sit on, and we decided to stop and have our picnic there. We sat directly next to the rose & rowan embankment, looking over to the rhododendron bowl. It was truly idyllic eating my sandwich in such surroundings.

Lower the garden.
The girls racing on the lawns, Lauren gave up!

Dram Pavilion

At the far side of the meadow and just before the gorge walk is the "Dram Pavilion", which looks like a thatched wooden hut. My kids pondered over if it was a witch's house, but no, it was a place to sit amongst nature and sample the fine whisky of Glen Grant. No whisky was on offer at this time, but there was a heavy-duty metal safe there; what delicious delights might it contain?!

Dram Pavolion. Glen Grant history in particular the links to Major James Grant.
The Dram Pavilion.
 
The ceiling of the Dram Pavilion.
The intricate ceiling of the Dram Pavilion.

Gorge Walk

This was my favourite part of the gardens - a wooden walkway took us over the stream through a narrow gorge. The water tumbles over a few waterfalls; it reminded me a lot of the Big Burn Walk near Golspie.

The path through the gorge is very well maintained, with the same gravel paths and thick log handrails and bridges. There is a lot to see through the gorge, like little mushroom statues, huts built into the cliff and Major Grant's very own private whisky stash in a padlocked cave!

This area is fairly short, so soak in the beautiful surroundings. The route curves around to the right and takes you higher up to a viewpoint area; although the vegetation was so lush, it was hard to see anything from the top. It is a nice place to sit and take in the scenery on the benches.

When we visited, it was dry and sunny, but I have a feeling the wooden walkways may be slippery on wetter days, something to keep in mind if you visit in poorer weather.

The start of the gorge walk.
The start of the gorge walk, we went left as directed by the sign.
 
Bridge over the Back Burn.
Many bridges span the Back Burn.
 
Wooden walk ways at Glen Grant Gardens.
The wooden walkways through the gorge are a lot of fun.
Hand rails at the gorge walk.
The chunky wood construction is very solid.
 
Glen Grant gorge walk.
Olivia stopping for a photo along the gorge walk.
 
Janette at Glen Grant Gorge.
Janette taking some snaps on her phone.
 
Glen Grant gorge walkways.
The kids really loved exploring this route.
 
Glen Grant gorge waterfall.
The small but pretty waterfall.
 
Wooden walkways.
The gorge walk gives off fairy tale vibes!
 
Hidey hole
This little wooden hidey hole with a seat is half way up the wooden walkway.
 
Overview of the gorge walkways.
Looking back from the top of the walkway back to the entrance.
 
Lush gorge vegetation.
The vegetation was very lush in early June.
 
Major Grant's whisky stash.
Major Grant's secret whisky cave!

Glen Grant Visitor Centre

Returning to the visitor centre, we had a look at all of the lovely items on offer, from the various bottles of whisky and a fine selection of Harris Tweed bags and wallets. One of the special bottles of whisky on show was a 21-year-old bottle for £280!

The visitor centre is a really nice modern facility, and the staff were super nice and polite. Seating is available outside in the form of converted whisky barrels! There was no issue with the girls using the bathroom despite us not being "paying" visitors. I would love to return and have a proper tour of the distillery.

The Glen Grant Visitor Centre.
The Glen Grant Visitor Centre.
 
Expensive Glen Grant whisky.
Some very expensive whiskies were on display!
 
Glen Grant gift shop.
Overview of the gift shop area.
 
A selection of Harris Tweed backs and wallets.
Harris Tweed.
 
Four bottles of Glen Grant Whisky.
Glen Grant Whisky.

FAQs on Glen Grant Distillery Gardens and Visitor Centre

Here are a few frequently asked questions about Glen Grant Distillery Gardens and Visitor Centre.

What are the main plant types that can be seen within the gardens?

There are many different varieties, but here are the main ones we spotted on our visit:

  • Apple and cherry trees

  • Rhododendron

  • Azaleas

  • Primulas

  • Primrose

Primrose flowers at Glen Grant Gardens.
Banks of Primrose flowers are a highlight of the gardens.
 
A hidden corner of Glen Grant Gardens.
Bursts of colour can be found in the more hidden corners of the garden.
 
Azaleas at Glen Grant Gardens.
Azaleas.
 
Rhododendrons
Banks of rhododendron rise high into the trees.

Does Glen Grant Visitor Centre have toilets?

Yes, the visitor centre is lovely and has immaculate bathroom facilities.

Are the gardens suitable for disabled visitors?

Provided you are able to push a wheelchair over gravel paths, it should be manageable to get to the majority of the gardens from the orchard/meadow/lilypond and then to the waterfall. The gorge walk has stepped areas though, so the waterfall is as far as a wheelchair could go.

What else can be seen in the local area of Rothes?

  • Millbuies Country Park is a short distance to the north; it's a lovely short walk around a man-made fishing loch; it's absolutely teeming with dragonflies in the summer months.

  • Rothes Castle isn't far from the distillery. It's not the most impressive castle but still interesting and offers fantastic views over the Rothes rooftops.

  • Further south, you can visit Craigellachie Bridge, built by the famous Thomas Telford, a Scottish civil engineer.

  • In keeping with the distillery/waterfall theme, Linn Falls in Aberlour is another brilliant short walk near Aberlour Distillery to a lovely waterfall.

Does Glen Grant Distillery offer tours?

Yes, the tours last 40 minutes and cost £10 per person. It includes a tasting of two Glen Grant whiskies and a £2 discount voucher for the gift shop. Booking is normally essential due to high demand.

Glen Grant Distillery whisky stills.
Whisky stills from the Glen Grant Distillery tour.

Are dogs allowed within the gardens?

Only guide dogs are permitted within the gardens.

Glen Grant Distillery Gardens Videos

Here is a selection of videos from our visit to the gardens.

Crossing the first bridge near the orchards.
 
Having our picnic near the Dram Pavilion.
 
The gorge walkways.
 
More of the gorge walkways.
 
The waterfall and burn.

Key information on Glen Grant Distillery Gardens

  • Glen Grant Gardens can be found in the town of Rothes in Moray, directly next to the Glen Grant Distillery.

  • It's free to park and access the visitor centre and gardens.

  • It's an easy walk to the gardens, which will take less than 10 minutes.

  • The gardens are broken up into different sections, the orchards, the bog garden, the lily pond, the pine wood, the meadow and the gorge.

  • The walk is very easy and should be manageable for most fitness levels.

  • Disabled access is fairly good, but the entire gorge route is not accessible (but the best bit is!).

Conclusion

Glen Grant Gardens is a truly lovely place to visit when the weather is nice, and if you love whisky, why not take in a distillery tour too? Our kids loved playing in the gardens, sitting in the Dram Pavilion and exploring the gorge. A highly recommended place to visit in central Moray.

All information was correct at the time of writing, please check things like entry costs and opening times before you arrive.

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