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Al Q's Visit To The Glenfarclas Distillery

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Al Q's Visit To The Glenfarclas Distillery

Postby Al Qaemist » Sun Oct 21, 2012 6:54 am

Last week I was away for the week with the family, we were staying in Speyside region of Scotland where there is a high concentration of distilleries, so it would be rude not to visit a one or two, and sample some of the drams they have to offer.

The first visited was Glenfarclas as I really like their malts. Its been family owned since the 1850's by J & G Grant, all of the owners have been named John or George, handed down father to son. The owner still lives on site and works in the distillery office. This tradition is going to have to change, as he has 2 girls, neither of whom are named John or Gerorge (not even Georgina or Johana).

When we arrived the hills had a light dusting of snow and it was very picturesque, I was running late as usual, so didn't get a snap of it, on the way out I did, but most of the snow had melted.
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Like most Scotch distilleries these days, they no longer malt on site and buy in the malt from a malt house. This still needs processed before milling so it goes through the dresser

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and then the destoner to remove any pebbles, this just shakes from side to side in a sieving action.
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more to follow.......
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Re: Al Q's Visit To The Glenfarclas Distillery

Postby Al Qaemist » Sun Oct 21, 2012 7:00 am

The malt then falls down into the roller mill, they use a 3 roller system.
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Almost the whole distillery was refurbished in the 1970's so a lot of it is in this rather unattractive grey paint.

On to the mash tun. It is 10m in diameter and holds 16.5ton capacity.
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You can see in side that it is a semi lauter mash tun. With a perforated stainless false bottom (it was still a bit steamy)
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The mash is a fairly standard, large volume first water at 64oC, half the volume again as second water at 73oC both going to the fermenters. then a large sparge at 93oC that the water is pumped to the hot water tank to be used as first waters on the next mash.
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Re: Al Q's Visit To The Glenfarclas Distillery

Postby Al Qaemist » Sun Oct 21, 2012 7:42 am

From here its on to the stainless steel wash backs - they have 12 of these that will hold around 40'000lts of wort, on to this they pitch 200L of liquid yeast and it ferment to 8% in a little over 2 days.
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I have to say I prefer the look of the traditional wooden wash backs more, but these certainly do the job.
When the wash is ready it is pumped to the wash holding tank to be put into one of the 3 wash stills they have.

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In the first picture there, the first still is a lot darker looking, this is because it has been lacquered. They recently replaced the top half, and though it looked weird in the 2 different copper colours.
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Re: Al Q's Visit To The Glenfarclas Distillery

Postby Al Qaemist » Sun Oct 21, 2012 7:51 am

As I mentioned the place was refitted in the 70's, hence the slightly dated looking control panel.
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spirit safe with the end of one strip, mid way though another. Collecting hearts on one of the spirit stills and tails on the other
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Re: Al Q's Visit To The Glenfarclas Distillery

Postby Al Qaemist » Sun Oct 21, 2012 8:05 am

On the strip\low wines run, this is collected in the foreshots, low wines and feints receiver. The strip is mixed in with the heads and tails form previous spirit runs and this mixture is what ultimately gets distilled to make the spirit. So I'm sure there is more than a molecule or two of hundred year old stuff that has been distilled many many times.

The backset from the strip (pot ale) is taken away, and mixed with the left over grain (draff) this is peletised and used as cattle feed.

The only real waste, is the lees that are left in the still after the spirit run. This is pumped to this tank outside, where an anaerobic bacteria eats the left overs producing oxygen, this is used to oxygenate and purify the pools you see here, before it can safely be pumped into the Spey river. (apologies if that doesnt make sence, biology was never a strong point)

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Definitely not picture post card stuff, but interesting non the less.

The Glenfarclas is aged in bourbon casks that have been used in other Scotch Distilleries first, there they will be used 3 times, sent to the coopers for recharing, then Glenfarclas will use them. The original owner really didn't want his Whisky tasting of bourbon.
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Re: Al Q's Visit To The Glenfarclas Distillery

Postby minime » Sun Oct 21, 2012 8:05 am

Cool tour!
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Re: Al Q's Visit To The Glenfarclas Distillery

Postby Swede » Sun Oct 21, 2012 9:25 am

Nice writeup and pics AlQ, thanks :8)

What's their product like? Is it a good example of Scotch, I ask because I've never seen that brand in our liquor stores and have certainly never tasted it.
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Re: Al Q's Visit To The Glenfarclas Distillery

Postby Al Qaemist » Sun Oct 21, 2012 9:29 am

The best bit was going back to the tasting room for the drams, this may seem a bit grand, but all houses look like this in Scotland :wink:

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Also on the trip we visited The Glendronach distillery and a coopers where they were making\repaining casks, I'll get some photos up if anyone is interested.
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Re: Al Q's Visit To The Glenfarclas Distillery

Postby zedzedtop » Sun Oct 21, 2012 12:23 pm

Went on that tour as well! Some of my fav as well. Family cask for my birth year was a bit out of my price range though.... 30yr was my favorite - 40 year seemed a bit tired.

Check out Balvenie tour if you haven't already.
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Re: Al Q's Visit To The Glenfarclas Distillery

Postby Al Qaemist » Sun Oct 21, 2012 4:44 pm

Swede wrote:Nice writeup and pics AlQ, thanks :8)

What's their product like? Is it a good example of Scotch, I ask because I've never seen that brand in our liquor stores and have certainly never tasted it.


The pics are a bit crummy, I smashed up my camera on a snowboarding trip 2 winters ago and never got round to replacing it, so just using my phone. As for the product is a very nice speyside, with all speysides next to no peat used, but the 10yo is slightly smoky with vanilla notes, and is a really good youngish malt. It punches above its weight for its age.
I only tried that, the 15yo which was similar but more complex, and the "105" which was their cask strength product. I really liked it but found it a bit dry, so I bought the 15yo.

zedzedtop wrote:Went on that tour as well! Some of my fav as well. Family cask for my birth year was a bit out of my price range though.... 30yr was my favorite - 40 year seemed a bit tired.


Your drinking way above my price range :D didn't have my birth year but the 78' (the one before) was pushing £390, the troosers year 66' was over £500 a bottle.
I'll happily pay for middle shelf and feel comfortable drinking it. If the pricey bottles are indeed worth it, I doubt I could properly appreciate it.
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Re: Al Q's Visit To The Glenfarclas Distillery

Postby thepatchworkdoll » Mon Oct 22, 2012 4:52 pm

Hi Al the impending question here is did you bring any samples back with you and if you did whats the quality. Come on man share and share alike.
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Re: Al Q's Visit To The Glenfarclas Distillery

Postby Al Qaemist » Tue Oct 23, 2012 1:47 pm

thepatchworkdoll wrote:Hi Al the impending question here is did you bring any samples back with you and if you did whats the quality. Come on man share and share alike.
regards
Patch


I bought a 15yo Glenfarclas, and also a 18yo Glendronach, The Glendronach is heavily flavoured by the sherry casks it was aged in, the Glenfarclas lets the whisky shine through due to being aged in the recharred older barrels that I mentioned above.
Both very nice and the sort of malts I like. My good friend isn't so keen on them and think they are dour. He prefers jaggy malts (heavily peated ones).

I did also buy a Blackwoods 60 - 2007 vintage gin (from a shop and not a distillery) looking forward to trying it in a martini as it was a little lacking in a G'n'T.
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Re: Al Q's Visit To The Glenfarclas Distillery

Postby jake_leg » Fri Oct 26, 2012 2:23 am

Thanks for the virtual tour! Wouldn't mind seeing the cooperage if you can get round to it.

I've seen pictures of the stills before and remarked on their tall looking necks, although not as elongated as Glenmorangie.

Those consoles are hilarious, positively Soviet era. I remember seeing similar looking ones when I toured a coal fired power station with my primary school class in the late 70s.
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