The year 2011 marked the 175th anniversary of licensed distilling at Glenfarclas. The distillery was purchased by a John Grant in 1856 as an adjunct to a farm (Glenfarclas means glen of the green grassland) and continues in family ownership under the direction of John L. S. Grant (Chairman and 5th generation) and his son George (Director of Sales and 6th generation).
The spring water which ensured the plentiful green grass proved to be one of the essential components contributing to the distinct flavour of Glenfarclas highland Single Malt Whisky. Crystal clear, it bubbles up from the underlying granite on the slopes of the Speyside mountain, Ben Rinnes, to supply the distillery below. here it combines with the finest malted barley to provide a mash which is then twice distilled in traditional, direct fired, copper pot stills – the largest in Speyside. Only the lightest and best fractions of alcohol are collected and it has been said that “it is the whisky they don’t use that makes Glenfarclas great”.
Once the new spirit is collected, two thirds is filled into the finest Spanish Sherry oak casks and one third into plain oak casks in which to lie maturing over many years producing the lustrous colour and flavour for which Glenfarclas has become noted.
10 Year Old
Alcohol: 40% vol
Colour: Vibrant straw-gold.
Nose: Tempting sherry-sweet malty tones combine with a delicate smokiness, releasing subtle spices. Warming the glass reveals honey, vanilla and pear drops.
Flavour: Delicately light, with a mouth-watering combination of maltiness, smokiness and sherry sweetness. hints of dried fruit, vanilla, cinnamon and cloves tempt the taste buds further.
Finish: Long, smooth and spicy, with a delicious, yet delicate, lingering smokiness.
‘105’ Cask Strength
Alcohol: 60% vol (Cask Strength)
Colour: Deep peaty-gold.
Nose: Complex, oaky, apples and pears, and a tempting dark toffee sweetness.
Flavour: Dry and assertive, develops quickly to reveal a rich spiciness, combined with a hint of oak and sherried fruit.
Finish: Amazingly smooth for the strength; wonderfully warming with a lingering smokiness, yet very rounded.
15 Year Old
Alcohol: 46% vol
Colour: A rich golden amber.
Nose: Complex, sherried, deliciously peated, light butterscotch aromas, with a hint of dried fruit.
Flavour: Full bodied with a superb balance of sherried sweetness, malty tones and peaty flavours.
Finish: Long lasting, gloriously sherried, sweet, gently smoky, and distinguished.
21 Year Old
Alcohol: 43% vol
Colour: Dark amber-gold.
Nose: Intense, full of aromas – sherried fruit, tropical fruit, nutmeg and almonds with slight citrus notes at the end, all held together with a vanilla sweet smokiness.
Flavour: Full bodied rich and rounded develops slowly into fruity, smoky and spicy flavours.
Finish: Long-lasting, smooth and smoky with a chocolate feel at the back of the throat.
25 Year Old
Alcohol: 43% vol
Colour: Amber with dark gold highlights.
Nose: Complex, yet refined, delicately peated, with tempting aromas of marmalade, honey, freshly ground coffee, sherry and nuts. Some oaky tannins.
Flavour: Full-bodied and robust, the sherry and the oak fight for your attention yet neither is overpowering. A powerful nutty smokiness.
Finish: Intense, long lasting, dry smoky and malty. A beautiful dark Belgian chocolate taste at the back of the mouth to complete the flavour.
Mini Tri-Pack (10yo, 12yo, 105) packed 10 x 3 miniatures
Mini Tri-Pack (15yo, 21yo, 25yo) packed 10 x 3 miniatures
The Grant Family
In 1865, the Grant family took over the Glenfarclas distillery which was officially established in 1836, although there are illustrations of a distillery in the same location in 1791. As the current Managing Director, John Grant explains,
“My late father, George S. Grant, predicted in the 1960s that we should perhaps lay down more casks for our own use – to be bottled as Glenfarclas Single Highland Malt Scotch Whisky. The result is that today we have casks from every year since 1952. This selection of fine malts from so many consistent years is totally unique”.
In 2007, a cask from every year from 1952 to 1994 was bottled at cask strength and natural colour in clear flint bottles so that the colour variation can be fully appreciated. Demand has been strong and several years are now on their second or third casks, whilst some are no longer available. Full tasting notes on each year are available but the following extracts from the introduction to the first release will give a savour of the surprises in store from such old whisky:
The 1950s. Exposed for half a century to the full thirst of the angels who have only left behind a third to share, the 1950s casks selected are surprising because there is little evidence of oak or heavy tannins. Instead you will find fresh fruit and vines, with a crisp style. Despite their age, these whiskies are very much alive.
The 1960s casks shout with big sherry flavours, synonymous with Glenfarclas. These whiskies are rich and heavy – very bold and brash – with lots of sherry sweetness and a beautiful, lingering chocolate finish. They are very heavy whiskies to be pondered over rather than rushed.
The 1970s are a warning not to taste purely on what you see! Take Cask 61 from 1977 for example. It is very light on the eye, but has a honey sweetness on the nose which one would normally only expect from a much darker dram. Explore the casks from the 1970s for their balance of whisky and sherry, fruit, chocolate and toffee apples.
Glenfarclas celebrated its 150th anniversary of legal production in the 1980s. This decade saw a return to the use of sherry casks and the big change from the light, rounded, balanced whiskies of the 1970s to rich, olorosso sherried Christmas cakes, delicate vanillas and almond undertones.