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Glenfarclas distillery was founded on Rechlerich Farm in the Ballindaloch Estate in 1836 when tenant, Robert Hay, purchased a distilling license and began to produce his own version of the famous Speyside spirit. When Hay passed away in 1865 however, his farm and distillery were acquired by neighbouring farmer John Grant.
Grant employed the services of one John Smith, former distillery manager at Glenlivet, to run the business in his place but when Smith left to create his own distillery at Cragganmore, Grant was forced to take over the running of the site himself. Incredibly however, for one seemingly so reluctant to get involved, the Glenfarclas distillery remains independently owned today, still under the stewardship of the Grants, five generations later.
Under the care of John’s grandsons, Glenfarclas entered into a doomed agreement with the infamous Pattison brothers. This partnership would prove near fatal when shady business practices caught up with the Pattisons in 1898, leaving them both in jail and causing an industry wide slump that left Glenfarclas short by some £27,000.
Thanks to the temerity and determination of those Grant boys however, the company pulled through. Without such hard work and bloody mindedness, it seems unlikely that the Glenfarclas distillery would still be here today. Thankfully however, it remains standing today, in the shadow of Ben Rinnes, producing its most treasured single malt, exactly as it has for almost two centuries now.
The Glenfarclas malt is famed for maturation in former Sherry casks and the 15 year old is no different. Interestingly though, where some of the range is bottled at 43%, the 15 enjoys the benefit of the slightly higher strength of 46%, making it an intriguing buy at around £55 a bottle.
Smell: Creamy Sherry, Orange, Fresh Fruit, Toffee, Caramel and Vanilla Fudge.
Taste: Salted Caramel, Toffee, Oak, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Orange Cream, Pepper and Lime.
Value for Money: There is no doubt that whisky is increasing in price. In the last couple of months alone I’ve reviewed a pair of 15 year old single malts (here and here) which are pushing £70 in price. Here though, Glenfarclas have made an exceptional dram of robust character that, at least for the time being, remains at a sensible price.
Quite simply, Glenfarclas is one of the great distilleries. Not just because of its proudly independent heritage but because of the superior quality of the whisky produced there. The Grants’ dedication to age statements and commitment to sherry maturation, regardless of cost, should be an inspiration to distillers everywhere.
Affordable heavily sherry-influenced Speyside isn’t so easy to come by these days, especially when bottled at higher strength, but here is yet another Glenfarclas (along with the 105), which offers exactly that. Wonderful.