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Glenfarclas: Interview with the Award-winning distillery’s Director of Sales George Grant

“Glenfarclas is very much a … traditional Whisky.”

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Owned by the Grant family since 1865, Glenfarclas Distillery in Ballindalloch, Scotland matures its single Highland malt Whisky in sherry casks only. Always have and always will, as long as the Grant family is involved.

Old Liquors Magazine had a chance in early April to catch up with the award-winning distillery’s Director of Sales George Grant during the Universal Whisky Experience at Encore at Wynn Las Vegas. Grant, who brought along a 50-year-old, 60-year-old and two 14 year-olds from Glenfarclas to share with guests at the gathering, runs the Speyside distillery along with his father Chairman John Grant.

George Grant

Q: Tell us about Cask Strength expression. What sets it apart from other cask strength malts now released and for sale?

A: “It’s what we always used to make. It’s only recently, over the past five decades, that people have started watering stuff down to 40, 43, 46 percent.

Our biggest seller is the Glenfarcas 105 which … equates to 60 percent alcohol.

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Q:  What do you make of the trend among single malt marketers to treat their Whiskies with everything from Bourbon to Champagne?

A: “We don’t do any of that. We mature our Whisky from day one in all Oloroso sherry casks. We don’t believe in finishing a Whisky. Why would you want to finish a Whisky? If you’ve got a faulty product from day one … there’s got to be something wrong.”

“I think when Glenmorangie did their first finishes almost 20 years ago it did, it brought an entirely new generation of people into drinking the product. Then a lot of companies just jumped on the wagon finishing Whisky. The range of finished Whiskies really has shrunk down a lot. There’s far less in the marketplace now, then there was before.”

Q:  Neat or a bit of spring water? What is your preference when drinking your older aged malt Whiskies?

A: “The older ones … I drop a bit of water into it because they’re all cask strength as well. They have been in casks for 50-60 years. So a drop of water to it just breaks the surface tension and releases a lot of the aromas and flavors.”

Q: What are the key characteristics of Speyside single malts and yours in particular?

A: “If you’d ask me this question 10 years ago you’d have a very easy answer … but now people have been experimenting. It used to be only peated Whisky from Islay but now you get peated Whisky from stateside as well.

Glenfarclas is very much a … traditional Whisky.”

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