One of the great classic Speyside distilleries, Glenfarclas is uniquely still in the same family ownership for the sixth generation, going back to 1865 when the Grant family acquired it from the estate of the original owner, Robert Hay. Glenfarclas is a pleasing combination of tradition and innovation. Whilst it is the only distillery still using direct heating, it was one of the first to create a visitors’ centre and was in the vanguard of those distilleries promoting their product in bottled single malt format. On the traditional front, the extensive maturing spirit stocks are held on site in old-style dunnage warehouses (which now number 30, compared with the 18 at the time of my visit some 32 years ago).
As I remarked at the time of my visit in 1986, when the distillery was already 150 years old, “….Glenfarclas is a modern, well-run operation with up-to-the-minute technology, combining well with the carefully preserved essential traditions of malt whisky distilling”. No doubt that is still the case today.
I was welcomed to Glenfarclas by George S. Grant, chairman, and his son, John, and enjoyed their handsome hospitality, for which the Grants are renowned. George, by then already the “Grand Old Man” of Scotch whisky distilling, continued as chairman until his death in 2002, to be succeeded by John.
The famous distiller and blender, Thomas Dewar, described Glenfarclas whisky as “the King of Whiskies and the Whisky of Kings”. He was speaking of an 1881 sample sent for his approval. I doubt that much has happened that would change that view today.