There are just 4 whiskies left in the 2016 Kensington Wine Market Whisky Advent Calendar, and when you open Day 22 you’ll find the Glenfarclas 15 Year. Glenfarclas 15 has been the distillery’s flagship whisky for as long as I can remember, and it is a stalwart release. Massively sherried, much more so than the rest of the range, it is dark spicy and foreboding. A true Speyside sherry bomb. I’ve forgotten how much so until tonight. But let’s dig into the distillery and the Grant family first. The distillery is one of the most interesting in Scotland, and the family no less so!
From the Distillery About the Family: “Since 1865 Glenfarclas has been owned and managed by just one family, the Grants of Glenfarclas. On the 8th of June 1865 John Grant acquired the tenancy for the Rechlerich Farm and as part of the transaction purchased the Glenfarclas Distillery for £511.19S.0d. To this day Glenfarclas is one of only a few distilleries in Scotland to remain family owned and managed. Now in the hands of the fifth and sixth generation of the family, the Grants remain committed to the vision of creating the best quality Single Highland Malt Scotch Whisky, in the traditional Speyside style.”
Photo Courtesy of Glenfarclas
From the Distillery About the Whisky: “Glenfarclas is renowned for producing Single Highland Malt Scotch Whisky in the traditional Speyside style, with a heavy Sherry influence. We produce a wide range of expressions from the mouthwatering freshness of the 10 Years Old, to the indulgent 30 Years Old. One of the delights of Glenfarclas is exploring the subtle differences between the different expressions.”
Photo courtesy of me…
The Grant family who owns the Glenfarclas Distillery is in their 5th and 6th generations, with father John and son George currently running the distillery. It is a curious fact that each of the six members of the Grant family to own Glenfarclas have all be named either John or George, beginning with John Grant in 1865. But this trend will not stretch into a 7th generation. George Grant has two daughters, and to the best of our knowledge neither is named John or George. The distillery was licensed in 1836, but there is some evidence that it may date back well into the 1700s.
At a couple of points this past month I’ve mentioned the Pattison Whisky Crash, which devastated the Scotch whisky industry at the turn of the 20th Century. The Grant Family had partnered with Pattison Elder & Co., as had many other firms, and they were nearly brought under. Forced to sell almost all the casks in their warehouse just to keep the distillery it took the family 15 years to rebuild its position. A new path was charted, the family would never rely on outside investors ever again, and it has not. Like another family owned whisky business, Gordon & MacPhail, the Grants had a foresight regarding mature whiskies that most other Scottish distilleries did not. In 2007 they launched the Glenfarclas Family Casks an initial offering of single cask stretching from 1994 all the way back to 1952. No other distillery in Scotland has such an unbroken depth of vintage whiskies. Never needing to worry about investors looking for dividends in lean years, the family business is able to play the long game. The Glenfarclas Family Casks have been a roaring success, and nearly a decade on hundreds and hundreds of casks have been bottled.
Glenfarclas 15 Year – 46% – Matured in Sherry – Andrew’s Tasting Note: “Nose: nutty, leathery and earthy; walking through damp old dunnage warehouses in wet leather boots; a touch of burn bacon, dried dark fruits, wet jujubes and bitter choclate. Palate: muscular, malty, honeyed and very sherried; big nutty Oloroso notes, wet leather, dark spices: (clove, fennel, Dutch licorice); more Jujubes, slightly urnt bacon and musty old oak in a dunnage warehouse; some orange and melon beneathm but the sherry is running roughsod; bitter chocolate on the palate too. Finish: long, leathery, nutty and very sherried; loads of dark spices, drying as it fades. Comment: this has always been a sherry bomb and a beast of a whisky, darker and spicier than I recall, but it has been a while; and it might be my palate too, saved half the bottle to revisit it tomorrow.” - $95