1. The name “Glenfarclas” itself translates to “valley of the green grass” – but this description only really begins to paint the picture of the privileged and stunning natural beauty surrounding the distillery. A three-hour drive north of Edinburgh, we arrive in one of the most picturesque landscapes you’ll find anywhere. This stunning, natural and rugged terrain plays a central role in the production of one of the world’s most celebrated and celebratory spirits – Single Malt Scotch Whisky.
2. The Grant Family has owned and operated this fine Speyside distillery for 150 years, having originally purchased the company on June 8th, 1865 for £511. Today, Glenfarclas operates under the watchful eye of 5th and 6th generation Whisky-makers John Grant and his son George.
3. Glenfarclas Whisky is characterized by a significant sherry wood influence, imparted by the use of barrels imported from Spain that were previously used to age the magical fortified wines of Jerez. These barrels contribute to fabulous opulent richness, deep colour and rich complexity in the whisky.
4. Despite the incredibly complex and powerful aromatics you’ll find in each dram of Glenfarclas, you might be surprised to discover that there are only three (rather humble) ingredients that create these magical spirits: pure spring water, malted barley and yeast.
5. The heather-clad slopes of Ben Rinnes, prominently situated in the backdrop behind the distillery, excite the eye for their bright purple colour through the summer, but quickly turn to white (with snow) in the winter. The melting snow seeps down into the ground each spring, through the peat and into the granite, along which it runs and washes back to the surface as pure, crystal clear spring water. This water forms the basis of these whiskies.
6. Barley used for the production of Glenfarclas Whisky is malted in small batches to meet the exact (and exacting!) standards needed to produce the finest quality spirits.
7. Beyond these three simple and traditional ingredients, whisky derives unique character, flavour and aromas from three key influences: the size and shape of the stills, the type of barrels used for aging the whisky and the location of the aging warehouses themselves.
8. By law, any product carrying the name “Scotch Whisky” must age for a minimum of 3 years, in Scotland and in oak casks; these casks cannot be larger than 700 litres. Glenfarclas uses 100% former sherry casks (used to age Oloroso and Fino style Sherries), either 250 litres or 500 litres in capacity.
9. Casks are laid down to rest in Glenfarclas’ cellars dating back the 1880s, whose thick stone walls help to regulate and maintain a consistent and level temperature. When put down to sleep, the barrels are not disturbed for the first 8 years. These spirits enter barrel with about 64% alcohol, but evaporation leads to a gradual reduction of well under 50% by the time the spirit is bottled.
10. Assembling the final blends of each age of Glenfarclas Whisky is one of the great gifts handed down from father to son in this generational business; in many ways, a blend in and of itself, of innate instinct and acquired skill that comes from growing up around the business, and following in the footsteps of the masters who came before. Great blend is simply something that isn’t ascertained by reading a book on the subject, and this impact (I think of it as a soul) is felt and tasted in each bottle of Glenfarclas.