The Glenfarclas distillery is one of the last ‘family’ distilleries in Speyside. Glenfarclas was licensed in 1836 by farm tenant Robert Hay. In 1865 Glenfarclas was obtained from Robert Hay’s executors by John Grant and the operation has continued to operate under that very same name until the present day.
Glenfarclas was rebuilt in 1896, shortly before Pattison, Elder & Co were bankrupted in 1898. This bankruptcy sent shockwaves through the Scotch whisky industry; its effects were so profound that over a century later the story of ‘The Pattison Crisis’ is still being told as a cautionary tale. The brothers Robert and Walter Pattison started out as dairy traders in Edinburgh. When demand for Scotch whisky exploded in the 1880’s and 90’s, the Pattisons saw an opportunity and started a blending and retailing company in 1887. In 1889 they collected 100.000 pounds at the stock exchange. The flamboyant Pattison brothers were inventive pioneers in advertising. They were not discouraged by the fact that mass media like radio and television were not invented yet. The Pattisons just used the ‘tools’ available to them at the time. At one time these tools even included parrots… The brothers distributed no less than 500 grey parrots amongst grocers. And these were no ordinary parrots; they were carefully trained to continuously shout ‘Buy Pattisons’ at the top of their little bird lungs. Thanks to stunts like these (and massive sums of borrowed money) the Pattison’s whisky empire grew rapidly and they soon owned half of Glenfarclas and large chunks of Oban and Aultmore. It couldn’t last and when the whisky market bubble burst the Pattison brothers ended up in jail and many distilleries closed. Glenfarclas went back to being solely owned by the Grant famly and still is.