The Easter weekend has totally ruined my update schedule, so I am going to be posting this review and then another one tomorrow morning to try and catch up in time for my usual Friday. I am sorry if anyone checks the site and missed them.
This was a bottle that InsanityCrap brought to club a few months ago. Though I have seen Glenfarclas around a lot over the years it occurred to me at the time that I had actually never tasted any. Had to fix that.
A small bit of history
I was unable to find any definitive history of the Glenfarclas site (Rechlerich Farm, on the Ballindalloch Estate) predating the legal establishment of the distillery in 1836 but every source I have found has agreed that drink making was being done there long beforehand under the leadership of a local family farmer called Robert Hay.
His own personal story has been lost to the ages unfortunately as the company and brand really begins (at least as far as the sources I could find are concerned) when Robert moved off the site in 1865 and it was leased as prime farming land to a highly successful Aberdeen Angus farmer called John Grant. The distillery was sold as a little extra for £511.
Though the farm was perfectly placed in regard to the many other family businesses in the region, John and his sons had little interest in making the water of life. Rather than taking a dabble in it themselves at this point they leased their building to a respectable distiller called John Smith (of Glenlivet acclaim) for the foreseeable future.
This set up did not last long however. John Smith had set up the infrastructure for the most part when he jumped into business with his father George and formed George & J.G. Smith, Ltd in 1869. He left soon after to concentrate on building and running the Cragganmore distillery the other side of Ballindalloch.
Luckily John Grant’s son George (it is like all other names were outlawed for a time) was rather business savvy and was able to help take on the running of the businesses including the distillery on the site. John ensured the future of the family business by teaching George everything before his death in 1889. Or so he thought…
Less than a year after John had died he was joined in the ground by George leaving the business in a state of disarray and chaos. When the dust settled George’s sons John and George (I am not kidding) were in charge of the (then shrinking) farm business and the (greatly picking up) whisky business.
When the relatively well known wholesalers Pattison, Elder and Co approached the brothers in 1895 to create a new business partnership, John and George were no doubt in awe of their success and jumped at the opportunity. They had however been wooed by suits and sharp words.
In 1898 the Pattison’s business collapsed and took a fair number of small distilleries with it. It took 15 years of tough decisions, hard work and no doubt a sizable chunk of the family fortune just to keep this particular distillery afloat.
By 1914 the J. & G. Grant company had been formed as a totally independent entity and the brothers vowed to never trust or rely on outside investors again. Though most whisky businesses went through the worst during the wars, the worst for J & G was definitely over. By the time the lease on the land was up in 1930 the company was able to purchase the site outright.
After a short time, a new name from the Grant family began to take the reigns. Indeed in 1950 it was a time for George Grant (son of the last George Grant, son of George Grant, son of John Grant). He managed to ferry the company through the second world war without much issue and (if you are to believe the company’s own history on the matter) managed to market the whisky so well that they had to start rationing the amount they gave to blenders in 1960.
It was also thanks to his foresight to continue production at the same rate after the whisky boom of the 1960s ended that the company has such a massive stock of well aged spirit. This combined with his son’s (John) decision to stop selling as much to blenders and concentrate on single malt has allowed them to stock and sell a 43 whisky back catalogue, one for every year from 1952 to 1994. I will review one of them if I ever get hold of one. 😉
This specific bottle is one of their flagship product and is the one you are most likely to find at your local supermarket.
Though Glenfarclas has many awards under it’s belt. I could not find any for the 10yo I am afraid. Totally happy to update this if someone wants to correct me.
Your first smell of this dram will be of sherry and honey with spicy undertones joined by a hint of dark toffee.
Going in for the taste you will find the spiciness intensify slightly but be joined by the undeniable taste of Christmas cake with hints of cinnamon and orange peel.
Finally, the finish lasts a relatively long time, still keeps the spice but is joined by an overall smokiness that lasts throughout.
When I suggest drinking it
I am afraid this will not be making my best whiskies list but I do feel like I have been judging them on their cheapest product.
I came across many reviews and articles when researching that had nothing but praise for their range, and indeed, a company making substandard whisky is unlikely to have lasted anywhere near as long as theirs.
I would say you should try Glenfarclas if you get a chance, but if it is between the 10yo and one of their older whiskies I would definitely go for the latter.