The Glenfarclas whisky distillery draws its water from pure springs on the rugged Ben Rinnes mountain range, which looms omnipresent in the distant reaches. The distillery sits in the moors of Banffshire, just a mile from the River Spey. Glenfarclas has always been, and it seems will remain to be, one of Scotland’s only family run distilleries. Accordingly, there is a strong degree of independence. Prized by connoisseurs, the single malt whiskies of Glenfarclas are matured almost solely in sherry butts and are aged in the substantial onsite warehousing facilities; the 28 warehouses hold 52,000 casks.
One of the few Scotch makers never to use exotic woods for maturation, Glenfarclas retains its integrity. The distillery was first founded in 1836 by Robert Hay. However, there is some evidence that there was a distillery on the site over a century prior. Following Robert’s death in 1865, John and George Grant acquired the distillery for ‘511 pounds and 19 shillings’. They leased it to the Glenlivet’s John Smith. John Smith chose to pursue his newly founded Cragganmore distillery instead and in 1870 Messrs Grant ran Glenfarclas once more.
After the Second World War, and the resultant abolition of rationing, the distillery’s fortunes were good and in 1960 Glenfarclas doubled its stills to four. In 1972, the surge in demand left the onsite floor maltings less than ample to cope, accordingly malted barley was bought in. The whisky distillery has an extensive range of single malt whiskies, particularly so after the 2007 release of the Family Casks range with a bottling from every vintage between 1952 and 1994. The distillery also operates a visitor centre, lavishly decorated with items from the ocean liner ‘Empress of Australia’, the centre features a room named accordingly: ‘The Ship’s Room’.