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Issue 24 - A family affair

Whisky Magazine Issue 24
July 2002


This article is 15 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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A family affair

John Lamond examines the history of this independent distillery

Glenfarclas is wonderful – it is truly magnificent! It is firmly ensconced in my top five. But don't just take my word for it. In 1912, after a rook shoot at Ballindalloch, the great Tommy Dewar tasted a sample of the 1881. He said that it was “The King of Whiskies and the Whisky of Kings. In its superiority, it is something to drive the skeleton from the feast and paint landscapes in the brain of man. In it is to be found the sunshine and shadow that chase each other over the billowy cornfield, the hum of the bee, the hope of spring, the breath of May, the carol of the lark, the distant purple heather in the mountain mist, the dew of morn and the wealth of autumn's rich content, all golden with imprisoned light.”

This is the whisky that we (Tommy Dewar and I) are talking about. The distillery, sitting alongside the A95 between Grantown-on-Spey and Craigellachie, is not quite so gorgeous. My first visit to Glenfarclas was with a small group and we had taken a ‘short-cut' by an unclassified road from the south across Ben Rinnes' shoulder. A bone-rattling, twisting journey during which I, and others, wondered if we would ever re-encounter civilisation. Then Glenfarclas hove into sight, a very welcome haven. Alfred Barnard's journey was similarly difficult. He commented: “all was strange, gigantic and sublime” and talks of a somewhat longer than anticipated journey: “We could see Glenfarclas for miles before we reached it, standing isolated at the base of Benrinne...

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