Glenfarclas, which translates as ‘valley of the green grass’ is an independent, Speyside, single malt, Scotch whisky produced at the Glenfarclas Distillery in Ballindalloch, Banffshire in Scotland.
The distillery was first granted a license in 1836 to the Recherlich Farm at Ballindalloch, in the heart of Speyside, on which the distillery is situated, when it was run by tenant farmer, Robert Hay. In 1865 it was bought by John Grant and is still owned and run by his descendants, making it one of only a few distilleries in Scotland to remain family owned and managed.
The distillery has six stills which are the largest on Speyside and are unusually heated directly by gas burners. Normally four stills are used for production with two kept in reserve.
J. & G. Grant (since 1865)
– an independent family firm.
Glenfarclas Distillery Ballindalloch Banffshire
+44 (0) 1807 500209
+44 (0) 1807 500234
Capacity (Litres of finished whisky per annum)
Yes, tours are available all year round
A brief history of Glenfarclas
The chronicle of whisky production at Glenfarclas is as rich and brilliant as the spirit that bears its name. It is the story of the Grants, a canny Scottish family, united, since 1865, in their commitment to John Grant’s vision and founding principle of producing a Single Malt Scotch Whisky of superior quality, in the traditional Speyside style.
In 1836, the distillery, situated on the Recherlich Farm at Ballindalloch, in the heart of Speyside, was granted a Government licence to produce whisky. At this time, the licenced owner was Robert Hay, a tenant farmer. However, after his death both the farm and the distillery were left vacant, which attracted the attention of John Grant. Consequently, on the 8th of June 1865, John Grant acquired the tenancy for the Rechlerich Farm, purchasing the Glenfarclas Distillery for £511.19s.0d. as part of the transaction. Since then, Glenfarclas has been owned and managed by just one family: the Grants of Glenfarclas. Today, the distillery ownership and its whisky production remains firmly in the hands of the fifth and sixth generations of the Grant family.
Image – Andrew Duke
John Grant died, In 1889, leaving George his son to run both the farm and the distillery. Sadly, George passed away not long afterwards. Subsequently, the licence for the distillery, was passed on to George’s widow Barbara who appointed her two eldest children, John and George, to take care of the business.
In the 1890s, they formed the Glenfarclas-Glenlivet distillery company, with Pattisons of Leith, who held a 50% interest, but this was to prove to be a troublesome partnership – one which eventually was dissolved. John and George were not disheartened by their predicament, forming their own company, J.& G. Grant.
After many years of hard work and shrewd accounting, the future of Glenfarclas had been secured, firmly establishing the Family’s reputation.
A rival distiller, wrote to the Grant family in May, 1912: “Of all the whiskies, malt is king, of all the kings, Glenfarclas reigns supreme “- a sentiment the family still hold close to their hearts. The 1920s saw the retirement of John Grant, but George continued to run the distillery, until in 1948, George Grant passed away, leaving his widow and his two sons to carry on the name of Glenfarclas.
The company achieved continued success during the 1950s, however, the family suffered a great loss when John suddenly died, at the age of thirty-five. His elder brother, George S. Grant took charge of the family business, serving as Chairman and custodian of Glenfarclas for a remarkable 52 years.
His son John L.S. Grant, joined Glenfarclas in 1973, is the current Chairman, having succeeded his father in 2002. He also has a son, George S. Grant, who represents the sixth generation of the Grant family and works as the firm’s Brand Ambassador.
The prestigious Whisky Magazine named Glenfarclas as ‘Distiller of the Year’ in 2006, for ”being consistently good and staying true to its core values.”
Now 200 years since the birth of John Grant, his descendants continue to serve as custodians of the Glenfarclas Distillery, and remain steadfastly committed to the principle of producing superior quality Single Highland Malt Scotch Whisky. Like their illustrious forebear, the family use only the finest ingredients, combined with the unique size and shape of the copper pot stills, traditional distillation methods, specially selected oak casks and the style and location of the warehouses that together help determine the final unique character of Glenfarclas whiskies.
Glenfarclas is renowned for its traditional full bodied and well sherried style, and is only ever released at natural colour.
Glenfarclas is produced in the following proprietary bottlings
10 Years Old 40% vol.
12 Years Old 43% vol.
15 Years Old 46% vol.
17 Years Old 43% vol.
21 Years Old 43% vol.
25 Years Old 43% vol.
30 Years Old 43% vol.
40 Years Old 46% vol.
40 Years Old Scottish Classic 43% vol.
105 (Cask Strength) 60% vol.
In 2007 Glenfarclas launched ‘The Family Casks’ – a unique collection of single cask bottlings, with one from every year from 1952 to 1996.
In January 2011 Glenfarclas released a limited edition bottling to mark the distillery’s 175th anniversary.
Personally, I would recommend the Glenfarclas 105, the Glenfarclas 21 Years Old, the Glenfarclas 40 Years Old, the 1973 Family Casks Release VI and the superb Glenfarclas 175th Anniversary 2011.
Image – Andrew Duke
Glenfarclas in the news
Glenfarclas is exported to more than 50 markets worldwide. Its key markets include Germany, France, Japan, Spain, USA and Taiwan.
Glenfarclas was one of the first distilleries to open a visitor centre in 1973.
In 2008 the company began sponsoring horse-racing with the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase at Cheltenham – a National Hunt chase in Great Britain which is open to horses aged five years or older run over a distance of about 3 miles and 7 furlongs (6.236 Km)
In 2010 at the International Wine and Spirit Competition, Glenfarclas 12 Years Old, 21 Years Old, 25 Years Old and 105 Cask Strength were judged ‘Best in Class.’
In 2011, the 40 year old 46% vol. expression was named “Scotch Whisky Single Malt of the Year” in the 17th Annual Malt Advocate Whisky Awards and Best Speyside Whisky in the World Whisky Awards
In 2011 J. & G. Grant celebrated the 175th Anniversary of licensed distilling at Glenfarclas.
In his Whisky Bible 2012, Jim Murray gave The 1979 Family Casks, (3rd release) The 1967 Family Cask (Release V), Glenfarclas 105, Glenfarclas 1995 45°, Glenfarclas 12 Years Old, Glenfarclas 40 Years Old and the Glenfarclas 175th Anniversary 2011 among others, a Whisky Bible Liquid Gold Award.
Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2012, Murray, J, 2011, Dram good books Limited, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, UK.
Malt Whisky Yearbook 2012, Ronde I, 2011, MagDig Media Limited, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England, UK.
101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die, Buxton, I, 2010, Hachette Scotland, London, UK