Glenfarclas

‘valley of the green grass’

‘valley of the green grass’

Built amongst windswept barley fields at the bottom of a seemingly endless expanse of heathery moorland, the name translates as ‘valley of the green grass’. The River Spey, the lifeblood of so many a distillery, meanders through the valley a mile or so to the west, yet the water source for Glenfarclas comes from a series of fresh springs that bubble out of the purple hillside nearby. A chilling wind that blows from Benrinnes is said to create a cool and steady micro-climate that contributes to the low angel’s share of just 0.05% per year.

There is evidence to suggest that distillation began on the site now occupied by the current distillery at some point before 1791, although a license was not granted until 1836 under the ownership of Robert Hay. On 8th June 1865 Glenfarclas was purchased by John Grant. John was a farmer, and leased the distillery until his son George Grant took over production. On George’s death, the distillation license passed to his widow Elsie, who several years later handed it down to her two children, named George and John after their father and grandfather respectively. George’s two sons, named George and John in the family tradition, took over and in 1947 Glenfarclas became a private limited company. In 1973, the distillery was one of the first to open a visitor centre, opening up the whisky world of Speyside to enthusiasts and tourists alike.

Today, the distillery is still run by a John and George Grant, a father and son team. They have a very traditional and meticulous approach to making whisky. The Grants use only the finest Spanish sherry butts, age all 68,000 of their casks on site in traditional earth-floored dunnage warehouses, and don’t use any colouring agents. Their distillery bottlings are equally conservative, with a range of classic, age-statement whiskies bottled at 40 or 43%. The direct-fired stills are remarkable for their size, being the largest in all of Scotland, and produce a sweet, meaty spirit. The strict use of Jose y Miguel Martin casks from Hueva results in the rich, full-bodied, and fruity flavours with which Glenfarclas is famously associated.