Now, I'm a big fan of Talisker as readers of the blog know, and the investment made by these companies in the distilleries to be fair has been substantial and given us some great whisky. Furthermore, I'm certainly not anti-capitalism or anti-globalisation. Nevertheless, Diageo's turnover in 2009 was £9.3bn and its operating profit was £2.6bn. None of this do I have a problem with but one must appreciate that, for the most part, the world of Scotch whisky does not conform to the romanticised view that we might have of a local distillery passed down from generation to generation producing fine Scotch in the family tradition, rather, the whisky industry is the world of the multinational and so is on a par with big oil, banks and pharmaceuticals operating for the profit motive with the distilleries run by employees who no doubt report to a regional chief who reports to the global head who reports to the Board etc. Consequently, Diageo's marketing spend is a whopping £1.3 billion and accordingly its voice is heard.
For those though who crave a unique voice and a distillery that has been passed from generation to generation and for those who would cleave to their heart a family that have no doubt passed up countless open cheque book offers for the distillery so that they could carry on a tradition started 145 years previously there is one and really only one name: Glenfarclas.
Glenfarclas has been in the Grant family since 1865 and this week we were lucky enough to visit the Coburg bar at the Connaught to taste whisky across the Glenfarclas range with George Grant, 'Brand Ambassador' and son of the current Chairman John Grant.
It would be too much to provide tasting notes across everything we took in during the day but as the saying goes, the list was long and distinguished. Tastings included the 10 year, the 105 proof, 15 year, 21 year, 25 year, 40 year, the Family Cask 1979 and the Family Cask 1962. Not bad for breakfast.
Michael Jackson's Malt Whisky Companion notes Glenfarclas as 'outstanding malts, and in an unusually wide variety of ages - experienced tasters usually place the Glenfarclas malts in the top three or four from this most distinguished district (Speyside)'. We agree.
What's more, George himself was charming and is an ambassador for life as much as an ambassador for the brand and we enjoyed his whisky and his company in equal measure. With George possessing an infectious passion for the product, the distillery is certainly in good hands for decades to come ensuring continuity of ownership and spirit for the rest of our lifetimes at least.
We noted earlier the 'Family Cask' which is something unique to Glenfarclas and underlines its own family ownership. The Family Casks represent a family of single cask expressions from every year from 1952 to 1994 highlighting the continuity of private ownership at Glenfarclasas as well as their ability to bottle the rarest and most sought after of complex malts. Only two bars in the world possess the full span of Family Casks (52-94) though the Coburg Bar at the Connaught with 9 different Family Casks together with the 15yr, 25yr and 40yr range will become the third widest holder of the collection.
Glenfarclas doesn't have a billion pound marketing budget, instead it has George and for our money, he's the best advert for the best that a family owned distillery can produce and that, trust me, is very good indeed. In fact, don't trust me, go buy some yourself and see; available at the likes of Berry Bros and The Whisky Exchange at Vinopolis (and of course the Coburg Bar), thecriticalcouple are now 'officially' friends of Glenfarclas and we'll be making sure we always have a bottle gracing our bar at home.
Visit Glenfarclas at www.glenfarclas.co.uk/en/