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Glenfarclas distillery was founded on Rechlerich Farm in the Ballindaloch Estate in 1836. 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 his business but when Smith left to create his own distillery at Cragganmore, Grant was forced to take over himself. Incredibly, however, for one seemingly so reluctant to get involved, the Glenfarclas distillery remains under Grant ownership, 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 Leith-based blenders in 1898. The brothers ended up in jail, leaving debts that would have repercussions across the industry. Glenfarclas was owed 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 doubtful that Glenfarclas would still be here today. Thankfully, the distillery remains standing in the shadow of Ben Rinnes, producing its single malt, exactly as it has for almost two centuries now.
The Glenfarclas malt is famed for maturation in ex-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.
Thoughts: There can be 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) that are now pushing £70 in price. Here though, Glenfarclas has 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 other distillers.
Affordable heavily sherry-influenced Speyside isn’t so easy to come by these days, especially when bottled at a higher strength, but this is Glenfarclas offering just that. The 15 is wonderfully rich, with good body. In my opinion, it is the strongest of the Glenfarclas range – along with the 105. Excellent whisky. About as good as you can buy in this price range.
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.