<<LÄS första delen av krönikan
John L S Grant är whiskymakare i femte
generationen på Glenfarclas. Ett av Skottlands sista oberoende
destillerier som fortfarande drivs av grundarfamiljen. Här berättar
han om familjens slit och framgångar genom åren. Från Pattison-kraschens praktsmäll över
1980-talets recession till återtåget för den egna singelmalten.
8-9 december 2007 kommer sonen George S Grant till Sverige för att
prova 43 årgångar Glenfarclas med Henrik Aflodal. En unik
whiskyhändelse, ingen annanstans i världen serveras alla Family
Casks i ett svep.
Klicka för info>>
A distilling testimony
The decade started with a family wedding. On 19th July, 1980,
my sister Jacky married Stuart Lund. To mark the occasion, I
arranged a bottling of a cask which had been filled on the day Jacky
was born. The Jacky and Stuart Almost 25 Years Old has to be one of
our most exclusive bottlings, particularly as most of the stock was
enjoyed at the stag party!
Sales of Glenfarclas grew by 20% in 1981 but any celebration was
quickly tempered by a series of tragic events, particularly the
death of our production manager, Douglas Macdonald, after a fishing
accident. Earlier, in May 1981, No.1 wash still collapsed. Seven
days later, No.2 Spirit Safe caught fire. Then, in May 1982, we
suffered an explosion in the malt mill.
It was also a gloomy period for the whisky industry overall and, in
1984, Distillers Company Ltd closed eleven malt distilleries and two
bottling halls. However, my father, never one to follow the pack,
gambled that the cutbacks would lead to a shortage in five to six
years time and declared that we would ‘swim upstream’ and increase
1984 saw J&G Grant establish a joint venture with Peter J Russell &
Co Ltd to purchase and run Broxburn Bottlers Ltd, giving us full
control of our own bottlings, under bond. But, as one joint venture
was established, another came to an end. We had established
Ballindalloch Feed Products with Tormore, Aberlour and Glenlivet
distilleries to process the waste draff and pot ale to produce dark
grains for the animal feeds industry. However, the increasing cost
of fuel and decreasing cost of feed sadly made it uneconomical to
In 1986, we celebrated our 150th anniversary of legal licensed
distilling in style, with a series of dinners and ceilidhs for our
distributors, staff, pensioners and friends. We also released a
limited edition 150th Anniversary bottling, for which Philip
Hutcheon, our Office Manager, and I selected seven of our best casks
from the 1960s to vat together.
I can trace our family history back much more than 150 years; right
back to 1670 in fact. All the records show that my family has been
farming since then. So it was a sad end to an era when in 1988, in
the face of increased EEC intervention, we took the decision to stop
farming Rechlerich. We had finally become full-time distillers.
Shortly afterwards, we had to deal with one of the most aggressive
takeover attempts we have ever been subjected to, by one of the
large groups. I am pleased to say we resisted. Galvanised by the
struggle perhaps, our exports of Glenfarclas increased by 30%.
The water of life into the future
The spring of 1990 was one of the driest on record for us and we
were desperate for rain. For a bit of fun, we asked BBC weatherman
Ian McCaskill to open the new filling store we had just built. What
happened? Our plan had worked a treat – no sooner had he left than
there was a horrendous downpour.
We also completed two new warehouses that year but suffered a little
on the sales side. Blenders reduced their filling orders and sales
of our cased goods lost ground, due to the Gulf War and the
recession in the UK and USA.
As I have already mentioned, John Miller joined the company as a
young man in 1978, when he was still under the legal drinking age.
By 1993, he was our brewer; experienced in all the aspects of
Glenfarclas production and ready to be promoted to Distillery
John’s first year as Distillery Manager in 1994 turned out to be an
interesting one. Malcolm Greenwood, our Sales Director at the time,
received a letter from a gentleman in Illinois asking if we would be
interested in a case of Glenfarclas which had been delivered to his
father in the 1930s. We did our sums and realised that, if genuine,
it would be the oldest unopened case of Glenfarclas in existence. We
were off! So precious was the consignment that British Airways
arranged a First Class seat for the case on our return home. Today,
it remains unopened and is stored in a secret location on Speyside.
Later in 1994, Kenneth Clark, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer,
visited the distillery and filled a cask for us. When it is ready,
we may well bottle it as part of The Family Casks collection.
has changed at Glenfarclas over the years but many things stay the
same. For example, we are still at the mercy of the distiller’s
greatest dilemma – what to produce today for sale in ten years or
so? My father had a simple answer, which I stand by. Do not produce
today what you think demand will require in ten years time. Only
produce what you can afford to produce.
I am just as committed to ensuring that what is produced today meets
my father’s exacting standards; and those of our ancestors, and is
matured in the best possible casks, in traditional dunnage
Guessing the future is a challenge. What I do know is that Glenfarclas is
in good shape for what is to come. We have (give or take) 50,000
casks in the warehouses waiting to be enjoyed, my family’s
commitment to quality has been recognised by the 2006 Distiller of
the Year award and we are enjoying some of our best sales ever.
As I write, Virgin Galactic have announced they are considering
using nearby RAF Lossiemouth to launch space flights. Who knows
where our future sales trips will take us?
-John L S Grant
Chairman Glenfarclas Distillery
första delen av krönikan!