George S. Grant, the producer of the premier highland single malt scotch whiskey Glenfarclas, gives us a peep into what makes his forefathers’ legacy special
Single malt. Such a perfect pair of words these are for Indian whiskey drinkers suddenly! Many of those who were whetting their thirst with desi brands like Bagpiper and McDowell’s till some time ago have now discovered single malts, all thanks to the inflow of premium brands, soaring income and yes, a readiness to pander to ‘all the good things of life’. So often at a bar or in a party, you would hear people asking with a good inch of swagger, ‘Which single malt do you have?” Even this, “How many years old is it? Which region?” Impressive I say!
Corresponding to this mounting demand, several Indian metros have become great playing fields for top international names now. Every other day you would see a premier single malt scotch whiskey appreciation session in the Capital. And this past week was the time for well-known highland single malt scotch whiskey Glenfarclas. The owner George S. Grant himself landed up in the city to promote his brand at Nero, the roomy bar at Le Meridien. Thereafter, he is going to Bangalore, and this is one of his many visits to India made recently, he says.
George’s family has been distilling Glenfarclas since 1865 when his grandfather’s great grandfather (yes, it is the sixth generation ownership now) took over the Rechlerich Farm in Speyside, Scotland, including its whiskey distillery. The Glenfarclas distillery in 1865 was already 29 years old, pretty popular in that country for its singular taste from the highland of Ben Rinnes. According to George, “The farm, nestled in fertile grassland, proved an ideal halfway staging post for the cattle being driven between the many farms in Glenlivet and the market in Elgin.” The droves would stop to provide water to their cattle, “rest their weary feet and enjoy the restorative powers of a dram or two of Glenfarclas highland single malt scotch whiskey.” Well, those were the heady days!
With rising popularity, John Grant along with his son George Grant formed a company in 1870 and thereafter there has been no looking back. But before talking more about this brand and its speciality, I must tell you an interesting fact about the Grant family. The owners have been named either John or George. Says George, the present owner, “My father’s name is John, his father’s is George, his father’s is George again, his father’s George too and this George’s father was called John, the first owner of the distillery.” “George,” he says, “means farmer in Scotland. And since all of them were farmers basically, they called themselves George mostly.”
Another interesting fact about Glenfarclas is, it was one of the first distilleries to open a visitor centre and a tasting room, way back in 1973. George, the brand’s Director of Sales, says, “
Now about their whiskey. You will find eight kinds of Glenfarclas. Starting from a vibrant straw gold 10 year old, it has a rich dark gold 40 year olds plus a solid deep peaty gold 105 Cask Strength with its volume standing at 60 per cent. All of these varieties, says George, will be available in the Indian market.
Glenfarclas produces 90,000 litres of finished whiskey every year. With a tinge of pride, he adds, “We have about 50,000 casks maturing in our distillery in traditional dunnage warehouses, with stock from 1952 till date.” For those who are unaware, dunnage warehouses are short buildings, have slate roofs, earthen floors and wide walls made of stone or brick. While the earthen floors allow more moisture and higher humidity, the special style of construction allows better air circulation. Most of its variety has a strong sherry flavour because they use Spanish sherry oak casks for maturing.
So is that the reason that makes Glenfarclas special? “Well, there is no one reason. Some do say it but there are some who says it is because we use the traditional distillation methods, some others give credit to the pristine spring water of Ben Rinnes. Then some also to the copper pot stills that we have and also the long years we mature the brew in one of the finest oak casks,” he says.
Well, now it is your turn to taste and comment.
Keywords: scotch whiskey Glenfarclas