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If the dazzling scenery isn’t quite enough, just add a dash of gin. Fiona Gibson escaped to a country estate deep in the rolling Perthshire countryside. From walking to golf, and with a gin distillery in the grounds, it’s the perfect hideaway for all seasons.
My friend Wendy and I stay in one of the stylish yet cosily furnished lodges on the estate. Each of us has a spacious double room with our own ensuite bathroom – with bath – and the comfy lounge, dining area and well-equipped kitchen all add up to a real home from home. The lodges are nestled around the estate’s landscaped grounds, where there is also a nature trail, resident red squirrels and a leisure suite with a gym, pool, jacuzzi, steam room and sauna.
In Monteaths, the informal but elegant restaurant in the estate’s nearly 200-year-old hotel, we tuck into starters of silken wild mushroom and spinach gnocchi and the tenderest gin-cured salmon, garnished with beetroot and tongue-tingling wasabi sauce. A juicy ribeye steak with triple-cooked chips follows, and a rich venison cottage pie – the foodie equivalent of being wrapped in a soft tartan blanket on a cold night. Somehow, we manage to share a selection of Scottish cheeses set off perfectly with quince, dainty oatcakes and frozen grapes.
The bar is another option for dinner, and when we drop by later, families are still gathered happily around the big tables, tucking into fresh haddock and chips. On a grown-up note, the friendly barman urges us to try a blush-pink gin cocktail that he’s invented that very day. If gin isn’t your tipple, the bar has an impressive selection of 50 whiskies to try (perhaps not all in one night).
An ideal base for exploring Perthshire, the estate has mountain bikes for hire, Gleneagles golf course is less than three miles away, and there are walks galore in the surrounding countryside. We’re taken high up into the hills by an expert guide from Highland Safaris, the Land Rover rattling through rivers and along craggy mountain roads, the entire journey breathtaking in its beauty.
Clothing for all weathers - seriously - as you really can experience four seasons in one day in Scotland. Layers are best for warmth, plus gloves, waterproofs and sturdy walking boots. Don’t forget your swimsuit for a dip in the pool and jacuzzi.
Gatehouse Gin, the estate’s signature brand, is made in the estate’s very own bijoux distillery. Here, we have the chance to taste a selection of gins, then make our own, choosing our own blend of botanicals from a huge selection including lemon balm, sweet orange peel, rose petals, cardamon and juniper berries. An hour or so later it has been bottled for us and is quite delicious. Gin tastings can be booked at £25 per person and a gin experience, during which you’ll create your very own gin, costs £100 per head.
If you can tear your gaze away from the vast array of whiskies, the barman makes a fabulous mojito with the estate’s very own Gatehouse Gin. Unorthodox, perhaps - but delicious.
Two-bedroom lodges are from £150 per night; three-bedroom lodges are from £165 (£280 a night in high season). Rooms in the estate’s hotel are from £125 (classic room) and £170 (deluxe room). To book visit wyndhamduchally.com or call 01764 663071.