Glenfarclas Distillery is one of the only remaining family-run distilleries in Scotland and has used traditional distilling methods to put itself on the map both in terms of quality and investment purposes. The distillery has released a number of high-age statement and vintage releases that showcase Glenfarclas’s range and potential. One such release is the Glenfarclas Family Collector Series.
The Glenfarclas Family Collector Series
The Glenfarclas Family Collector Series consists of six vintage bottlings, each of which represents one of the six generations of Grants that have been custodians of the distillery. The collection comprises:
- Glenfarclas 1966 Fino Casks Collector Series I, 70cl, 50.5%, distilled 23rd September 1966, bottled 18th December 2013 from casks 4194, 4195, and 4197, one of 1444.
- Glenfarclas 1956 Sherry Casks Collector Series II, 70cl, 47.5%, distilled 1st June and 30th October 1956, bottled 15th July 2014 from casks 1762, 1774, and 2356, one of 660.
- Glenfarclas 50 Year Old Collector Series III: 70cl, 41.1%, bottled 24th April 2015, one of 937.
- Glenfarclas 1981 Port Cask Collector Series IV: 70cl, 47.9%, distilled 16th January 1981, bottled 19th May 2016 from cask 521, one of 521.
- Glenfarclas 1986 Refill Sherry Butts Collector Series V: 70cl, 53.8%, distilled 26th September 1986, bottled 19th May 2016 from casks 3454 and 3457, one of 1094.
- Glenfarclas 1976 40 Year Old Collector Series VI: 70cl, 43.7%, distilled 1976, bottled 19th May 2016, one of 1500.
Glenfarclas’s Rich Family History
Glenfarclas Distillery was established in Speyside in 1836 and sold told John Grant in 1865, making it one of the longest-running family-owned distilleries in Scotland. Since that day the distillery has remained in the hands of John Grant’s descendants. John Grant passed away in 1889 and the distillery passed to his son George who, unfortunately, died only a few years later. The distillery became part of the Glenfarclas-Glenlivet Distillery Company in 1895.
Still under Grant ownership, the distillery was a beacon of innovation when, in 1968, Glenfarclas became the first distillery to release a cask strength expression, later renamed the Glenfarclas 105. The distillery was also ahead of the curve in terms of opening a visitor’s centre, which was opened in 1973.
Today the sixth generation of the Grant family owns and runs the Glenfarclas distillery, presiding over releases such as the Glenfarclas Warehouse Collection, the ongoing Family Casks, and, of course, the Family Collector Series.
The Grants and Glenfarclas pride themselves on using traditional distilling methods to keep their distilling running.
The Glenfarclas Family Collector Series At Auction
The first bottle in the series was released in 2013 and wrapped up in 2016. So, how has the collection performed at auction since then?
The record hammer price for the Glenfarclas Family Collector Series was achieved in 2021 for the third release in the series – the Glenfarclas 50 Year Old Collector Series III. The bottle sold for £8,289.40 at Sotheby’s New York. However, since that point, the bottle has settled back down to around £3,500-£5,500. It is likely that the £8,289.40 hammer price was the result of a bidding war, as these bottles are elusive at auction, having appeared only 34 times since 2016.
The first bottle in the series, the Glenfarclas Family Collector Series I, has appeared just 22 times since 2018 and has averaged between £900-£1,800 in that time. The Glenfarclas Family Collector Series II has appeared 13 times since 2018 and is averaging around £2,500-£5,000.
The Glenfarclas Family Collector Series IV is averaging £450-£850 and has appeared at auction just 26 times. The fifth release in the series averages £350-£600 at auction and has appeared at auction 28 times. And finally, the Glenfarclas Family Collector Series VI is averaging £700-£1,000 and has appeared 28 times at auction.
Investment Potential of the Glenfarclas Family Collector Series
So, with the above in mind, should you invest in the Glenfarclas Family Collector Series? First, let’s look at some of the attributes of the series.
The Glenfarclas Family Collector Series bottles are all either vintage or have an age statement, and some have both, and they are very impressive, with the youngest whisky in the series being 30 years old (release number five) and the oldest being 58 years old (release number ii). As release number two is achieving between £2,500-£5,000 at auction, this means that you have the opportunity to own 58 year old Glenfarclas whisky for a fraction of the price of other whiskies with comparable age statements.
A Comparable Bottle
The Macallan Red Collection was launched in 2020 and contained 6 age statements. Since then, a 77 year old has been added to the Red Collection at the end of 2022. The original release price for the 50 Year Old was £37,500, an astonishing price considering the value of the 50 year old Glenfarclas. It now sells at auction for between £36,000-£45,000.
Of course, comparing Macallan to Glenfarclas is like comparing apples to oranges. However, for such a long-standing distillery with plenty of history and provenance, Glenfarclas has a wealth of as-yet unrealised potential for their bottles to become luxury assets on the secondary market.
Glenfarclas’ Upward Mobility
In recent years, the distillery has released some intriguing single malts such as the Glenfarclas Warehouse Edition bottlings which include 30 Year Old, a 35 Year Old, and a 40 Year Old. The first of these bottlings was released in 2015, showing that Glenfarclas is slowly moving towards releasing higher age statement releases.
In March 2023, Whisky Stats reported that Glenfarclas was the best-performing brand index that month, with the bottles included on their index rising an impressive 11.2% in value in just four weeks. The biggest driver of the value increase was, you guessed it, the Family Collector Series. This value increase is astonishing and indicates that Glenfarclas might, finally, be recognised and properly valued within the industry.
The same kind of phenomenon can be seen with Springbank. Springbank is also a family-run distillery that is very proud of its traditional distilling methods. In recent years, Springbank has released a number of single malts priced well below what we would expect for a whisky of this calibre from such a well-known distillery. An example of this is the Springbank 2022 30 Year Old, which was released for just £850.
However, it seems that Springbank may be turning over a new leaf as they have recently priced their new Countdown Collection, the first bottle of which is a 27 year old for a more expensive (and yet perhaps more appropriate) £2,500. Could Glenfarclas follow in Springbank’s footsteps? There is no question that Glenfarclas is currently undervaluing its whisky and that the general public is as well. The important thing to question is – how likely is that to change? If the above data is to be believed, it is very likely indeed.
Buy The Glenfarclas Family Collector Series
If you would like to get your hands on the Glenfarclas Family Collector Series then you are much better off doing so before the public perception of this brand shifts any further. If you like a challenge, we would recommend keeping an eye on online whisky auctions to see if any of these bottles appear at an affordable price.
So, what do you think? Is Glenfarclas seriously undervalued, or are these bottles sitting exactly where they should be? In our opinion, it is only a matter of time before Glenfarclas (and the market as a whole) realises the potential value in these releases.