Meet the ‘king’ of single malt Scotch whisky

Glenfarclas has achieved a lot in its 150 years, not least a reputation for making the finest Scotch whisky

‘Of all the whiskies, malt is king. Of all the kings, Glenfarclas reigns supreme’. An undeniably worthy accolade, but even more so when it comes from a rival.

This distinction, made by a rival distiller, was proffered in 1912, 56 years after John Grant purchased the Glenfarclas distillery in 1856 for £511.19sd. A cattle farmer from neighbouring Glenlivet, he bought the distillery, and its adjoining farm, as a halfway house for the cattle market in Elgin. For the first 24 years John Grant hired his distant cousin John Smith to run the business (he would later go on to found the Cragganmore distillery) until his son George took over in 1889. And so the Grant family legacy was established and now, six generations and over 150 years later, it’s still going strong.

Glenfarclas’s reputation for producing the finest Scotch whisky stems from three distinct factors. The first is the fresh spring water that feeds the farm from the heather-covered slopes of Ben Rinnes. The second is the 150 years of experience the Grant family has accumulated in whisky distilling, and their insistence at using only the best, time-honoured methods. This includes using only the lightest and purest alcohol that is collected after distillation – it’s been said that ‘it is the whisky they don’t use that makes Glenfarclas great.’

Then, finally, they use European oak sherry casks to age two thirds of their precious spirit; casks sourced by John Grant personally from a small family run bodega in Spain. The last third is aged in plain oak casks, which are laid down for years to produce the lustrous colour and flavour for which Glenfarclas is renowned. These spirits are combined in different ways under the eye of the distillery’s master blenders, to produce different expressions of Glenfarclas.

Now, Glenfarclas is celebrating of this rich history with The Glenfarclas Family Cask Trunk, which contains every vintage from 1954 to 2003, housed in an exclusive custom-made trunk. Inside sit 50 bottles of Glenfarclas Single Malt, as well as four tumblers, four nosing glasses and a water jug, all crafted by Glencairn Crystal. Four slate coasters, three hand-printed and bound leather books – containing a history of the distillery, George Grant’s tasting notes and a third for your own notes – and, finally, a replica of the oldest known painting of the distillery, the original of which was painted in 1791, and now hangs in the Glenfarclas private dining room. Only 60 of these remarkable trunks are available, priced at £100,000 each, and will be released in Spring 2019.

Can’t quite stretch to fifty bottles? Here’s The Jackal’s pick of Glenfarclas’ cellars

Glenfarclas Highland single malt Scotch whisky 150 cask strength

With a deep peaty-gold hue and a complex nose with hints of oak, apples, pears and dark toffee sweetness, Glenfarclas single malt 150 has a smoothness that belies its strength. George S. Grant, the sixth generation to work for the family company, recommends that you add water to it fully explore its depth.

£48.95, shop now

Glenfarclas Highland single malt Scotch whisky 15 years old

Aged for 15 years in sherry casks, this Scotch is full bodied with a superb balance of sherried sweetness and malty tones. It’s bottled at 46 per cent ABV because that’s how George S. Grant’s grandfather, also called George S. Grant, preferred it.

£54.95, shop now

Glenfarclas Highland single malt Scotch whisky 40 years old

This grand dame of Glenfarclas’ cellars was released in 2010, to great acclaim – it was awarded an impressive 95/100 by Malt Advocate Magazine. Its 40 years in sherry casks has given it a fresh sweetness and fruity Turkish delight aroma on the nose, while dark chocolate, raisins and sultanas can be tasted on the tongue, ending with a crisp, dry and lingering finish.

£795, shop now