Last Orders with James Clark from Pol Roger

June 19, 2018

On The Blog

Of the Kilchoman and Glenfarclas range which are your favourite whiskies?

  • My personal favourite of Glenfarclas is the 21yo as this is where my Single Malt journey began – I was extremely spoilt! My background was wine and on joining Pol Roger I was sent to Glenfarclas to be indoctrinated. At a tasting with George Grant, he recommended that I start with 21yo seeing it is the most balanced, soft and approachable, with the alcohol beautifully integrated into the velvet texture. And it is still my favourite! The Grant family ‘house’ pour in the 15yo, which is widely heralded as a ‘whisky drinkers whisky’ given the rich Sherry punch and warming 46% abv. For Kilchoman, I always return to the 100% Islay for the vibrant citrus, grassy freshness, which I think really surprises people when they first taste it. Having said that the Original Cask Strength 2016 release is a close second due to its bright tropical, boiled sweet profile, layered with bonfire smoke complexity.

What is it that makes these brands special in your opinion?

  • I am extremely proud to represent both the distilleries in the UK because of their heritage (obviously Glenfarclas has a few more generations behind them!), independence and how this combination allows both to have an unwavering focus on quality of what’s in the bottle. It is a cliché but I do believe it is true – there are no shareholders telling them to buy cheaper Sherry barrels, or not to ship them whole, or to reduce fermentation times, which allows them to do everything possible they believe will make the best expression of their malt. Both families really do view themselves as custodians for future generations and it is especially great to see consumers understand this through the quality of the whiskies when they taste them.

Pick of the crop? What’s your favourite whisky of the Glenfarclas family cask range?

  • It is extremely difficult to pick a favourite because of the varying releases and how each single cask is unique. Generally, my favourite Family Casks that I have tasted have been the re-fill casks because of their difference to the usual deep Sherry richness that Glenfarclas is renowned for. Re-fill casks allowing the fruitiness of the spirit to shine through, which I think is fascinating.

What’s the most expensive whisky you sell?

  • Currently, the most expensive Glenfarclas we have available is the 1954 Family Cask, retailing for just under £8,500. This is a lot of money in its own right but this really is a piece of history. When drinking old whisky I cannot help but think what was happening in the world and what was George Grant’s (4th Generation) plan for that spirit or cask at the time? Did he imagine it would be matured for that long, or simply bottled young as so much of whisky was at the time? For example, food rationing in the UK only ended in July 1954, which has been in place since 1945! George Grant (6th Generation and Sales Director) often makes reference to bottling whiskies that his Grandfather would have distilled and also filling casks now that he will never see the final result in bottle.