Glenrothes 27, 1989 (Cadenhead’s)

Let’s take a break from the Glenfarclas reviews but let’s stay on the Speyside. Here is a somewhat unusual Glenrothes bottled by Cadenhead’s earlier this year. I don’t believe I’ve ever come across rum cask Glenrothes before and for that matter there’s not that much bourbon cask Glenrothes around. This is from Cadenhead’s “Small Batch” series and is apparently a vatting of a single bourbon barrel and a rum cask of some sort. Wild to think that there was a 27 yo rum cask just laying around. Also intriguing that they wouldn’t just have released it as such—has anyone come across a single rum cask malt of that age? Of course, this might imply that the contents of the cask might not have been that great on their own but it might have been worth it for novelty alone. It’s also possible, of course, that the rum barrel was a finish/double maturation of a cask put away in 1989—though again you have to wonder why that wouldn’t have been worth releasing by itself. Anyway, I haven’t reviewed much Glenrothes on the blog so I’m hoping this will represent the distillery well. And I suppose if I like it there’s a decent chance that it might still be available from the Cadenhead’s shop in London. Let’s see. 

Glenrothes 27, 1989 (53.7%; Cadenhead’s; bourbon and rum casks; from a bottle split)

Nose: Grainy and spirity and not terribly interesting to start. Then some tart fruit begins to emerge: gooseberries, green apples (and their peel), lime zest; some malt too. Gets more honeyed as it sits and some vanilla begins to emerge as well. With more time it’s all about musky citrus and vanilla cream. Water doesn’t do anything for the nose.

Palate: Sweet arrival but the tart fruit and bitter zest are there too and there’s a grassy quality too. The texture is nice and it’s drinkable enough but tastes a little tight and hot at full strength. I’ll give it some more time and then some water. Well, time doesn’t do much: that grainy note from early on the nose seems to expand and the sweetness is a little too cloying and simple. Less grainy/metallic with water and the citrus emerges.

Finish: Long. The fruit expands more interestingly here with some light tropical accents as well.

Comments: Well, after an unpromising first impression this came on quite well on the nose. The palate never got as interesting, though I liked it better with water. A solid malt but nothing terribly interesting despite the age and unconventional maturation. And I have to say I didn’t get much evidence of the rum cask. But this reminds me that I have a large reference sample on my shelves at home of a much younger bourbon cask Glenrothes that I quite liked and I should probably review it at some point.

Rating: 85 points.

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