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Glenfarclas and the Grants
Glenfarclas distillery was ‘officially’ founded in 1844 when a man named Robert Hay purchased a license to distil on his family farm in Ballindalloch. It seems highly likely, however, that the art of distillation was being practised on the site long before any license application was made.
When Hay passed away in 1865, his farm and distillery were acquired by his closest neighbour, a man named John Grant. The entire purchase came to £512, although it seems Grant was more interested in the land’s farming potential than in its distillery. Nevertheless, more than 150 years later, Glenfarclas remains under the ownership of his descendants. Current chairman John L. S. Grant and son George are the fifth and sixth generations of the family to be involved in the business.
This consistency of ownership has no doubt benefited the distillery in many ways. The Grant Family have rather become experts at operating within their means, insisting upon only producing that which they can afford. This wiley approach meant the distillery could remain in operation throughout the industry downturn of the 1980s. As distilleries all over the country were mothballed or closed for good, the Grants carried on distilling and by the time the market picked up again, the Glenfarclas warehouses were full of aged whisky stocks that few could match.
The people at Glenfarclas take tradition seriously but nothing is done without good reason. The distillery is one of the few (possibly only?) in Scotland still to direct fire their stills. Like many other sites, they converted to steam in the early ’80s but the spirit character changed so out went the steam, back went the fire pits.
The Glenfarclas spirit lends itself particularly well to maturation in ex-sherry casks, with the vast majority aged in European oak which previously contained Oloroso sherry from Jerez in Spain.
Smell: A good example of a sherried Speyside (though perhaps not as heavily sherried as older expressions). Raisins, Stewed Fruits, Apple and Pear, a little Toffee, Chocolate and Winter Spices.
Taste: Caramel and Honey with Raisins, Baked Apples, Cinnamon and Cloves and maybe the faintest hint of a Fragrant, Aromatic Smoke?
Thoughts: The sherry influence isn’t quite as intense here as in other bottlings from this distillery, but it still plays a key role. The 10-year-old is a solid, dependable whiskey that comes at a very reasonable price. For sheer depth of flavour, it also compares pretty well with other Speyside drams of similar age. Glenfarclas isn’t the most varied of single malts, you rather know what you’re going to get with them each time but that isn’t a problem when they do their thing so well. Affordable and richly flavoured.
If the whisky featured in this review has caught your eye, you can buy it from Master of Malt here. Please be aware that as an affiliate I can be paid a small commission should you make a purchase after following a link from my page. The whisky is also available from several other excellent retailers.