This is the oldest Glenrothes I’ve yet tried. Unlike the distillery’s vintage releases, which are typically vattings of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry spirit, this release in the “Fishes of Samoa” series from Archives (the imprint of the Whiskybase shop in Rotterdam) is from a single refill sherry hogshead (presumably rebuilt from a broken down butt). Let’s get right to it.
Glenrothes 25, 1988 (53%; refill sherry hogshead #7318; from a purchased sample)
Nose: Bright and fresh–fresh squeezed oranges as I pour but by the time I lift the glass to my nose there’s more lemon than orange. A spirity edge at first but it goes away as the lemon begins to get both muskier and sweeter. Lots of malt as well under the fruit which now includes a bit of pineapple and a bit of grapefruity bitterness. Later it settles down to lime and a simple syrupy sweetness. Water brings out a fair bit of vanilla and also a more floral sweetness.
Palate: Starts out with citrus (more zesty here), malty sweetness and a faintly metallic edge. A bit of vanilla too. Everything is very nicely integrated. Lovely, thick mouthfeel. More bitterness on the second sip (zesty rather than metallic) and more lime. Nice, but simple. Let’s see what water does. Well, it brings out the pepper much earlier.
Finish: Long. Malty and zesty and slightly peppery. More peppery with water. And with more time there’s a slight metallic edge.
Comments: As far away from the official profile as you could imagine without heavy peat being involved. And not much sherry here really–it tastes very much like it’s ex-bourbon with the brighter flavours and aromas dominant. I’d speculate that this was from a very tired butt broken down into hogsheads so as to increase wood to spirit ratio in one last filling. It doesn’t taste particularly old, and there’s not much development to speak of, but at the very reasonable price it’s hard to complain (this is still available).
Rating: 85 points.