Posts Tagged ‘Glenfarclas’

George Grant of Glenfarclas – in 140 or Less

Friday, May 9th, 2014

Author - Caroline DewarAnother in our occasional series of Tweet-style interviews. As always, it’s 140 characters or less (we don’t count the spaces) in the answers from the Glenfarclas brand ambassador. George Grant is the sixth generation of the owning family to work at Glenfarclas.

Here we go: what’s the view from your office window?

Glenfarclas No.1 Duty Free Warehouse door, in our beautiful red.

Sounds cheerful! What’s happening at Glenfarclas this spring?

At this rate, we will be doing a rain dance. Winter never happened at Glenfarclas.

Soggy for the visitors, then. But good for the distillation. You’re in a family business. How old were you when you started?

Joined the payroll in 1997 at 21. But I was working for Muntons Malt, Inver House, and Fine Vintage Far East Ltd in Hong Kong. I started at Glenfarclas in 2000 aged 23.

That answers my next two questions! You travel a lot. How many weeks each year are you away?

I would say I am away 6-7 months a year, it works out about 15/16 days a month. Some months are obviously worse than others.

GSGsndSGHard. How does family life fit in round that?

Grab it as you can. I have 2 girls and off to Crieff Hydro at weekend. Still all the usual activities to squeeze in: swimming, tai kwan do, tennis, Brownies, ice skating…

Lovely. I know they’re still little. Is either of them interested in distilling yet?

Luckily not yet: 2 and 7 years old. 7 yo knows what Daddy does: “Makes whisky.” One of her first words was “Glenfarclas.”

Chip off the old block. In future will Glenfarclas be owned/managed by women? As some were in 19th and early 20th century?

Will have to wait and see. Wouldn’t be the first time. Granny Grant used to run this place.

And other women ran/founded others, not to mention champagne houses. What are your key markets for Glenfarclas?

All markets are key! Just at different times. Our current markets UK, U.S., Canada, Taiwan, Russia, Oz, and powerhouse Germany.

Quite a spread; no wonder you travel so much  and so far. On website, you say your favourite is 21 YO. Does that ever waver?

Yes, when we put the website up it was the 21, now my tipple is the 15 YO or 40 YO. Liking my whisky more at 46% nowadays.

Our palates do change and new expressions do come up. What about the Family Casks? I have one from my birth year. They seem to go well.

They continue to go from strength to strength. Currently 1954 to 1999, 52 and 53 gone. We are currently doing 28 new family casks for years we’re currently out of.

Do you mean in terms of bottled stock?

Yes, out of bottled stock currently with 28 years. Will be back in end of summer.

We’ll look forward to hearing more then. Do you acquire your sherry casks from only one source? Can you say where? (Don’t just say Jerez!)

Our casks currently come from Jose y Miguel Martin. We have used the same family owned bodega since 1990. All oloroso sherry. Prior to that bought where we could.

Your washbacks are steel, not wood. How long ago did you change over? And why? 

Dates get hazy. Switched to stainless steel 42-45 years ago, for consistency. We get the same result every time from steel. Wooden ones have more variables and risks.

Point taken. A number of distilleries are being expanded. Any plans that way?

We are quite a large production plant. We can produce 3.5 million lpa. Last year we were around 3.3m.

So no expansion, then.

No plans for physical increase. We still sell to blenders. Simply reducing what we sell to them increases what we make for ourselves.

Yet, you’re perceived as a small and beautiful operation. You were visitor center pioneers and offer great tours. How is the new 5 Decades one shaping up?

People sometimes get a shock ref. capacity when they visit. We also do a 7 decade tour now. The customers get a dram per decade from 1950’s – 2010’s. Quite mind boggling.

I’m in for that one! What are your ambitions for Glenfarclas?

Continued growth, maybe not at the speed we have seen in the last 5 years. Developed in new markets. To get every whisky drinker to know the name Glenfarclas.

You celebrated the 175th birthday in 2011. Plans already in hand for 200th?

Yes, date in the diary and an access ramp for the warehouse so I can roll in my father!

Hope he appreciates that!

2015 also special for us – 150 years since my great, great great-grandfather bought the company for £511.19s. Will just be a quiet celebration!

4Z9F9553Well, that was a bargain! Changing tack, you shoot game birds in season. Do you cook them yourself too?

Of course. We sponsor the game menu with Shooting Times so lots of great recipes there. The slower you cook them, more tender they are. Can’t beat an Aga to cook them on.

I’ll just turn my normal ovens right down. After family life, lots of work and travel, plus shooting, any time for anything else?

Not a lot currently. Looking forward to my youngest being out of nappies then envisage we travel a little more as a family. Have 2 Labradors that also take up a lot of time.

Dog walking and little girls must be compatible. Social media: fan or foe?

Mmm, fan, I think. Don’t think I use it for all it’s worth but certainly do have some fun with it. We are now 10,000+ on Twitter and 8,000+ on Facebook. Both @glenfarclas.

It can take up time. And what’s your desert island dram? Doesn’t have to be one of your own…

First distillery I ever worked at was Knockdhu so An Cnoc 21 YO has a special place. My McDonalds Whisky is JW black label (can get it everywhere).

And from your own: is it the 15 or 40?

Every day 15, once a week special 40 YO.

Whisky Advocate’s top 10 whiskies of the fall issue

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

The ten highest-rated whiskies reviewed in the fall 2012 issue of Whisky Advocate’s Buying Guide are being announced right here, right now.  We begin with whisky #10 and count down to the #1 whisky. Please note: any whiskies currently available in the U.S. have prices listed in dollars; any whisky priced in other currency is not presently available in the U.S.

#10: Crown Royal XR (LaSalle), 40%, $130

Vanilla and oak nose, with a creamy layer of mint that warns you: Rye Ahead. And what a sweet rye wave it is, rolling in with green mint and grass, more bourbony oak and vanilla, lively spice on the top (with enough heat to keep it bold), and a finish that brings everything together. Beautifully integrated, and not overly woody, a tribute to the blending art of Canadian distillers. —Lew Bryson

Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 91

#9: Cutty Sark Tam o’ Shanter 25 year old, 46.5%, $329

In my opinion Cutty Sark 25 year old is one of the great blends, so a new version was always going to be a big ask. This one comes with a lot of packaging, so is it a victory for style over substance? Not at all. This is all about big flavors; burnt orange, juicy raisin, and dark chocolate; rich oak and exotic spice. A treat, and worthy of its heritage. But at that price—and bearing in mind it’s a limited edition—are you going to open it? —Dominic Roskrow

Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 91

#8: Macallan Masters of Photography 3rd release 1989 cask #12251, 56.6%, $2,750 

Dark mahogany with ruby glints and a green rim. Lots of highly-polished oak as we move out of the woods and into a silent country estate. Wax polish and masses of whisky rancio. Sherry-soaked oak, dry leaves, currants, and ripe blackberry. Highly concentrated, but the fruits push their way through only lightly-resisting tannins. There’s a hint of smoke and Seville orange bitterness on the finish. My pick of the quartet. Excellent. Only 285 bottles. —Dave Broom

Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 91

#7: Blue Hanger 4th Release Berry Bros. & Rudd, 45.6%, £61

This Blue Hanger has sherry and fruit on the nose, but it’s all reined in. Then the palate is big, rich, complex, and fruity, and late oakiness from some 30 year-plus malt in the mix brings the perfect finale. —Dominic Roskrow

Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 92

#6: Glenglassaugh 37 year old, 56%, $600

A first-fill sherry cask bottling (one cask, exclusive to North America). Some of the old Glenglassaugh whiskies can be very delicious, and this is one of them. It’s very clean, lush, and fruity (bramble, citrus, golden raisin), with a kiss of honey, toffee, and soft spice. Elegantly sherried; it’s never cloying. A very nice whisky from a quality cask that tastes more like 21 or 25 years old than 37. (I mean this in a good way.) —John Hansell

Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 92

#5: Glenfarclas 1953, 47.2%, £5,995

The hits just keep on coming for Glenfarclas. Here we see it not only with enormous age but in relaxed mode in terms of oak. You can tell it’s old: the leathery waxiness and exotic fruits of whisky rancio; you can tell it’s Glenfarclas because of the ever-present earthiness, but both are intensified into a new aromatic realm: gentlemen’s barbershop, rowan berry, and images of an old bonfire next to a gingerbread house. Mysterious, subtle, and highly complex. —Dave Broom

Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 93

#4: Four Roses 2012 Limited Edition Single Barrel, 54.3%, $95

Elegant, clean, and peppered with dried spice notes throughout (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice). Additional notes of barrel char, vanilla wafer, summer fruits, caramel corn, maple syrup, and candied almond add complexity. Begins sweet, but dries out nicely on the finish, inviting another sip. Very nice! —John Hansell

Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 93

#3: The Balvenie Tun 1401 Batch No. 3, 50.3%, $250

A combination of three sherry butts and seven bourbon casks. This is a complex, dynamic whisky, loaded with lush, layered ripe fruit (red berries, tropical fruit, honeyed apricot, raisin), toffee, oak resin, polished leather, and well-defined spice notes (cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, clove). Long, warming finish. (Exclusive to the U.S.) —John Hansell

Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 94

#2: Blue Hanger 6th Release Berry Bros. & Rudd, 45.6%, £68

If you want proof that blended malts can be world class, you’ll find it in any bottle of Blue Hanger. Lovingly created by Berry Bros. whisky maker Doug McIvor, every release has been exceptional. Even by the series’ own high standards, this sixth release surpasses itself. The nose is fresh, clean, and citrusy, with wafts of sherry. But there are smoky hints, too. And it’s that peaty, earthy note on the palate that gives this release a new dimension, enriching the fruity Speyside sweetness at the whisky’s core. The age and quality of the malt asserts itself throughout. This really is stunning stuff. —Dominic Roskrow

Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 94

And the #1 whisky of the fall issue’s Buying Guide is…
Bowmore 46 year old (distilled 1964), 42.9%, $13,500 

There have been some legendary Bowmores from the mid-60s and this is every bit their equal. All of them share a remarkable aroma of tropical fruit, which here moves into hallucinatory intensity: guava, mango, peach, pineapple, grapefruit. There’s a very light touch of peat smoke, more a memory of Islay than the reality. Concentrated; even at low strength the palate is silky, heady, and haunting, and lasts forever in the dry glass. A legend is born. (Eight bottles only for the U.S.)  —Dave Broom

Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 97

Some new whiskies I’ve been enjoying

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Every so often I like to give you my informal opinion on new whiskies I like. Here are a half dozen I have enjoyed. (I switched to the past tense because, as you see by the picture, my little sample bottles are mostly empty.) All these whiskies are, or will be, available in the U.S. (Except for the Glenfarclas–I’m not sure about that one.)

Ardbeg Day

I needed to taste this a couple times before deciding how much I like this whisky. (I had the same experience with Ardbeg Alligator. Very peculiar.) And I do like this whisky a lot. It’s young and full of testosterone (but not too young), and there’s a nicely sweet, almost sedating side to the whisky that helps to tame this beast. ($90)

Highland Park Thor

It’s been on the market for a spell already across the pond, but just getting into circulation here. It’s well-rounded and polished, with deliciously ripe fruit notes. A soothing whisky I would save for after dinner or with a cigar. (Can we have the option of purchasing it without the fancy packaging for $50 less please?)  ($200)

Glenfarclas 1953 Vintage 

A whisky that’s 6 years older than I am, and I think it has held up much better than I have. There’s some juicy wood note–I can tell it’s a very old whisky–but the wood influence is better than I feared for a whisky this age. (It’s more prominent on the palate than the nose.) And there some nice fruit and spice to stand up to the oak tannins. There’s only 400 bottles of this stuff produced, and I don’t even know what it will set you back. (As they say, if you have to ask how much, then you probably can’t afford it.). That’s okay, I love Glenfarclas 17 a lot more and it’s much more affordable. Still, I enjoyed this sample.

Glenglassaugh 37 year old (56%)

One single cask from a first-fill sherry cask exclusive to North America. Some of the old Glenglassaugh whiskies can be very delicious, and this is one of them. It’s lush and fruity, with a kiss of honey, but never cloying. A very nice whisky from a quality cask that tastes more like 21 or 25 years old than 37. (I mean this in a good way.) ($600)

Crown Royal XR  Release #2 (LaSalle)

This is the second release of Crown Royal XR. This one contains whisky from the old LaSalle distillery. (The first release contained whisky from the Waterloo distillery.) I like this whisky a lot. It’s nicely matured, very smooth and balanced, and dangerously drinkable. And it’s superior to the first release, which I felt showed too much wood for balance–especially on the finish. ($130)

Four Roses 2012 Limited Edition Single Barrel

It’s clean, elegant, with nicely defined flavors. (I really enjoy the spice notes and how they combine well with the fruit and sweeter notes. One of my favorite limited releases from Four Roses. ($95)



Whisky Advocate’s #3 whisky of the summer issue

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Glenfarclas “Family Cask” 1972 (Cask 3551), 44.7%, $599

Dark amber in hue, this shows immediate mature elegance with great sweetness — think of spiced honey or mead. There are some light notes of pecan pie and all the while that thread of the sod. Glenfarclas can never fully escape its dark roots. There’s dried peach and fruit leather, toffee, and, with water, biscuits dunked in tea. The palate is autumnal and soft — fruit compote and peppermint. This is what you want from fully mature Glenfarclas at its peak. (A U.S. exclusive). — Dave Broom

Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 93

Whisky Advocate’s #10 whisky of the summer 2012 issue

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Beginning today, we’ll be announcing the ten highest-rated whiskies from the summer 2012 issue of Whisky Advocate’s Buying Guide. One whisky, every day, will be announced until we reach the #1 whisky of the summer issue. Please note all whiskies currently available in the U.S. have prices listed in dollars; any whisky priced in other currency is not presently available in the U.S. We begin today with the #10 whisky of the summer issue:

Glenfarclas “Family Cask” 1970 (Cask 140), 57.1%, £345

Another first fill sherry butt, giving its typical reddish-brown hue. This runs more into the clove, cassia, and allspice area than just dried fruit.  While maturity is obvious, and there’s even a hint of dunnage/leatheriness, it is the concentrated fruit sweetness that surprises here. The distillery has fought back against the cask, and while still crepuscular in nature, there is a rich, concentrated, and mellow glow at its heart.  — Dave Broom

Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 91

More new whiskies coming on the market

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

(This is from a U.S. perspective…)

The Family Casks from Glenfarclas are finally coming to the U.S. (I’m not certain of the actual list of whiskies and timing.)

Bunnahabhain 18 year old is being phased out and replaced by a vintage offering in 2012.

The Mackinlay (a.k.a. the re-creation of the whisky discovered in the Antarctic from the Shackleton expedition in 1907) is finally being introduced to the U.S. (A very nice whisky, btw.)

Johnnie Walker Double Black is also just now being introduced to the U.S. market this month. More smoke than the regular JW Black Label, and dangerously drinkable. (I brought my bottle to a friend’s house on Friday night and by the time I brought it home 3/4 of it was gone. Everyone liked it.)

On the American whiskey front, the newest Parker’s Heritage Collection is out. This one’s a 10 year old rye-formula bourbon finished in cognac barrels. (Another dangerously drinkable whiskey!) It’s the same cognac brand (and from the same producer) that was part of Jim Beam’s Distillers’ Masterpiece cognac-finished whiskey introduced over a decade ago. (Beam was ahead of their time with those Distillers’ Masterpiece releases.)

Also noteworthy, but available only at Heaven Hill’s Bourbon Heritage Center in Bardstown, is a single barrel, 20 year old bottling of Elijah Craig that was produced to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Kentucky Bourbon Festival. Why do I mention this very limited, logistically-challenged bourbon? I tried it and it’s excellent! If you know someone heading that way, have them purchase a bottle for you.

There’s a low-cost, very smooth Canadian whisky just released called “Rich & Rare Reserve” from Sazerac (Buffalo Trace’s parent company). My guess it’s from the same stock of Canadian whiskies that produced the recent releases of Caribou Crossing Single Barrel and Royal Canadian Small Batch, but just less expensive. It comes in a cool-looking 375 ml flask-shaped bottle.

On the liqueur front, following the successful introduction of Red Stag Black Cherry, Jim Beam is introducing two new flavors: Red Stag Honey Tea and Red Stag Spiced.

Review: Glenfarclas 175th Anniversary

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Glenfarclas 175th Anniversary, 43%, £80

First things first — congratulations to the Grants of Glenfarclas on attaining their 175th anniversary. To celebrate, they have vatted together a cask from 1952 with one each from the following five decades — and released it at an exceptionally reasonable price! The nose has a lift of struck match immediately followed by cedar, pomegranate, blackberry jam, and Seville orange. There’s a thick caramel toffee sweetness to the palate alongside the classic ’Farclas depth where dried, but sweet, fruits repose. Recommended. –Dave Broom

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 91

Malt Advocate Whisky Awards “Top Ten New Whiskies”

Monday, February 28th, 2011

There were many great whiskies released in 2010, and it’s good to know that (in an era of rapidly increasing prices) several of them are less than $100. Eight of the whiskies below were rated “Classic” status (95 points or higher); two more just missed it, with ratings of 94. Here they are, listed alphabetically:

Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection, 1995 Vintage, “American Oak Chips Seasoned,” 45%, $47/375ml
Surprisingly light and fresh for a 15 year old whiskey. Crisply spiced, with hints of dried fruit, kissed with light honey and a wisp of smoke. Balanced and clean throughout, and very drinkable.

Compass Box Flaming Heart (10th Anniversary bottling), 48.9%, $105
A marriage of seven different whiskies from three distilling regions (Highland, Islay, and Island) aged in both American and French oak casks. It demonstrates the advantage of marrying whiskies from more than one distillery. More smoke and tar on the palate than the nose, yet always in balance. Well played!

Forty Creek Confederation Oak Reserve, 40%, $70
Perhaps the finest Canadian whisky we have ever tasted. Creamy and seamless from beginning to end. Forty Creek whiskies have always been very good, but none have ever had the right stuff to reach classic status. Until now, that is. An outstanding, very distinctive whisky!

George T. Stagg, 71.5%, $70
Very close to last year’s release in personality, with great balance between the sweetness, spice, and fruit. Nicely structured too, with clearly defined flavor notes. A great value, considering it’s almost the equivalent of two bottles of bourbon if diluted.

GlenDronach Grandeur, 31 year old, 45.8%, $700
The new ultra-mature release, following its 33 year old predecessor (bottled by previous owners). It’s nice to see the higher ABV. Very soothing. Quite deep on the nose, and viscous (almost sappy) on the palate. I like that it’s sherried, and the sherry is kept in balance.

Glenfarclas, 40 year old, 46%, $460
Glenfarclas has a solid reputation for aging very well. This new 40 year old is proof.  It’s complex and well-rounded, with great depth and no excessive oak. A classic, well-matured Glenfarclas — and a very good value for its age.

Glenglassaugh, 40 year old, 44.6%, $2,525
An excellent example of a very mature, sherried whisky done the right way. Much darker and more decadent than its younger siblings. Tasting this whisky, you know it’s old, but you also know it’s very good.

The Glenlivet Cellar Collection, 1973 vintage, 49%, $1,250
A marriage of three casks, one of them an ex-sherry butt. The sherry is certainly evident, and this one is more sherried than many of the Cellar Collection whiskies. Polished and seamless, with no trace of excessive oak. One of the richest — and finest — Cellar Collections to date.

Sazerac Rye, 18 year old, 45%, $70
An impressive whiskey, and an improvement from last year’s release. It’s soft (for a straight rye), well rounded, and easy to embrace, with tamed spice, subtle date, and polished leather on the finish. An excellent example of a very mature rye whiskey.

William Larue Weller, 63.3%, $70
Very similar to last year’s release. (A good thing, since that one was wonderful!) Very smooth, with layered sweetness, dark fruit, cinnamon, and polished oak on the finish. A whisky of elegance and sophistication. A benchmark wheated bourbon.

Malt Advocate Whisky Awards “Scotch Whisky Single Malt of the Year”: Glenfarclas 40 year old

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Now in its 175th year of whisky-making, Glenfarclas is one of the few distilleries that IS still family owned and operated. Family ownership has its advantages. They can do as they please, without having a corporate board to answer to. To our benefit, this means they can put out as many different expressions as they want, And indeed they have. From the Glenfarclas 10 year old, through to their newest (and oldest) 40 year old, there’s sure to be a whisky to satisfy your palate and budget.

However, one of the disadvantages of being family owned is that there usually isn’t a massive marketing budget to make the whisky known to all the people who might enjoy it. In many respects, the Grant family (who owns the distillery) relies on the whisky itself to do the talking. (When you ask a relatively new whisky enthusiast what brand they like, they usually mention one of the more famous whisky brands with a similar flavor profile. Ask them, “But have you tried Glenfarclas?” We don’t recall anyone ever being disappointed.)

In addition to the lack of massive marketing spending, the Grant family also eschews fancy packaging, once again letting the whisky itself do the talking. The minimal spending in marketing and packaging means that the savings can be passed down to you, the consumer.

This brings us to our award winner, Glenfarclas 40 year old. In an era where 30 year old whiskies with fancy packaging are going for $1,000 and higher, a 40 year old whisky for $460 seems like a steal! (But don’t tell the Grant family we said so. We’ll let this be our little secret.) It makes an “ultra-luxury” whisky affordable to a much larger audience. That’s what whisky was meant for: drinking, not collecting!

Of course, none of this would matter if it didn’t taste good. Indeed, it tastes very good. It’s complex and well-rounded, with great depth and no excessive oak. Lush, candied citrus (especially orange), old pot still rum, maple syrup, fig, roasted nuts, and polished leather, with hints of mocha, candied ginger, and tobacco. A bit oily in texture (which we find soothing) with good tannic grip on the finish. A classic, well-matured Glenfarclas.

Check back tomorrow. The “World Whisky of the Year” award winner will be announced.

Drink anything fun on Father’s Day?

Monday, June 21st, 2010

We enjoyed some great beer on tap (The Lost Abbey Carnivale), delicious wine (Shafer Relentless), and the Glenfarclas 150th Anniversary bottle that I opened up on Friday after our daughter Shannon’s High School graduation. I even finished the evening with one of my favorite cigars (an Arturo Fuente Don Carlos Robusto).

How about you? What were you drinking yesterday?