Behind the door #20 of the Drinks by the Dram’s Whisky Advent Calendar lies a classic 15 year old Speyside single malt aged in sherry casks. Yum!
Earlier this year we attended a masterclass with George Grant from Glenfarclas where he talked us through five years of The Last Casks releases of rare whiskies. Well, masterclass isn’t quite the right word. What you’re not going to get from Grant is the slick brand ambassador act: on-brand, on-message and lots of well-honed schtick. Instead, we were treated to jokes, rambling anecdotes about peculiar goings on in a Las Vegas hotel and a startling admission that one bottle in the line-up just wasn’t very good. Everyone had a great time. It helped, of course, that the whiskies (even that particular one) were so good.
Grant can get away with being a bit unconventional because his family owns the distillery and have done since 1865 when George Grant bought the place. As Grant said to the group, it’s a very easy story to remember as pretty much everyone is called George Grant. He is the sixth generation Grant in the business. There is no corporate hierarchy, no shareholders, and no mission statement. The distillery is a similar experience: it’s not glitzy and polished, the equipment neither particularly old nor brand new. The whiskies are matured in oloroso casks, the stills are direct-fired, a rarity now, and look at those labels, they’ve never been near a brand consultant.
The 15 Year Old lurking behind door number 20 offers much of the sherried goodness of the Last Casks but at a very reasonable price, especially when compared with a certain other Speyside distillery famous for its sherry casks. To tell us more, we spoke to George Grant himself:
Master of Malt: In what ways does being family-owned enable you to do things a little bit differently at Glenfarclas?
George Grant: Being family owned means we can react to things much quicker, can change direction, be a bit more adaptive.
MoM: You spend quite a bit of time on the road spreading the word about Glenfarclas. What’s your favourite place to visit and why?
GG: My favourite place to visit is home and my own bed. Because I sleep much better. I love watching those TV commercials about getting a new mattress and we are supposed to change them every 10 years. My mattress easily will last 30 years then.
MoM: What has been your highlights of 2019 at Glenfarclas?
GG: Highlight must be the Glenfarclas Trunk, contain 50 x 200ml bottles of Glenfarclas every year from 1954 to 2003
MoM: What does the future have in store for the wide world of whisky?
GG: Continued enjoyment, education of future generations to enjoy such a wonderful spirit.
MoM: Which Glenfarclas will you be drinking at Christmas and why?
GG: Mmm, which ever one Master of Malt send me for answering your questions.1959 Glenfarclas, was the last year we distilled on Christmas day.