1836 was a very interesting year; the University of London was established; Charles Darwin returned on the HMS Beagle with its hold stuffed full of biological goodies he would use to base his Theory of Evolution on; and foodie mecca Adelaide was founded in Australia. Across the globe, another venerable institution opened its doors too, as the Glenfarclas Distillery was founded in Ballindalloch, Scotland.
Or, at least they think it was, as the good folk of Glenfarclas found a painting showing whisky being made on the premises dated from 1791 and from the illustration, it looked like the distillers were already well-experienced at the art way back then. So, even at Glenfarclas, they’re not sure how long they’ve been making whisky – although maybe that’s really because they’ve been testing their products a little too thoroughly!
One thing they do know for sure, and that is when the Grant family first got involved with Glenfarclas, in 1865 – which was another interesting year: the anti-slavery Thirteenth Amendment is passed in the US; Gregor Mendel announces his learnings on the hybridisation of plants; and the world-famous Salvation Army was created. So, six generations (and counting) of Grants have overseen the making of Scotch whisky on the Glenfarclas premises over the last 185 years. That’s a long, long time. Enough to have pretty much worked out what works well in a whisky and what doesn’t. Indeed, they created a special bottling to celebrate their 185th anniversary which beautifully showcases whisky from casks filled over six decades. The whisky itself has a ‘strong presence of old casks, but with a remarkable bright freshness alongside.’
One of the learnings the Grants kept on is to persist with heating their stills directly by fire instead of via steam or an external heating system – Glenfarclas is one of the very few distillers who still do it this way. They have actually heard of the other methods, and even tried steam themselves back in the early ‘80s, but went back to the old ways soon after. Why? Because they discovered that the whisky just tastes better when it is heated by fire and that therefore outweighed any other financial or time-saving benefits. And none of these types of learnings have been lost along the way, they’ve all been passed down from one Grant to the next to be applied in the next generation of Glenfarclas Scotches.
Another thing about making Scotch whisky for such a very long time is that it also grants you a lot of patience. After all, what’s a few decades when you’ve been in the business for nearly two centuries? So, unlike most modern distillers, the patience the Grants have developed over 185 years has allowed them the freedom to put aside some of their whiskies for a long time to age. Even resisting the temptation to sell off their single malts to the blenders over the years. Why? Because the Grants figured that one day, far into the future, whisky drinkers would learn what they already knew; that single malt whisky is much more enjoyable than blended. It cost them a lot of sales back in the day but it has paid off now as they have plenty of well-aged single malt whisky on hand. This means you can get a Glenfarclas whisky that is anywhere between 10 and 40 years old – making them one of the very few distilleries with such a wide range of age statements.
So, if you are looking for the perfect gift for someone who truly appreciates the traditional things in life, then a Scotch whisky from Glenfarclas should do the trick very nicely. You can’t buy tradition, but you can buy the fruits of it and Glenfarclas Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky has been around since the Scots were first experimenting with flavouring grain spirit with malt and peat fire smoke. They have bottles of such tradition in a range of ages including; 12, 15, 17, 21, 25, 30 and 40-year old whiskies available, from Whisky Galore.