When I first started drinking single malt whisky I was really into Glenrothes for a while. Some of this, truth be told, was due to the funky bottle shape of official releases (which are by far the majority of Glenrothes); but a large part of it was due to the fact that the vintage releases I first tried were very pleasant, very accessible whiskies. Such were the1991-2006, 1994-2009 and 1985-2005. I finished my last bottles of all of those before I started the blog and hence no reviews—though I should really check if I have reference samples of those saved (in those days I used to routinely save 6 oz of each bottle I opened for future reference). Anyway, as a result, all the Glenrothes I’ve reviewed on the blog have been independent releases and most are above the age of 20. This one, however, is both an official release and the oldest Glenrothes I’ve yet had in terms of either age or vintage. It was distilled in 1972 and bottled in 2005. I found it a few years ago in the locked liquor room of a Korean grocery store in Los Angeles, listed for the long-ago price. I couldn’t find any reviews of it online but given the reasonable price to age ratio decided to take a chance on it. I’d saved the bottle for one of my whisky group’s premium tastings; but as it’s not clear when the pandemic will ever allow us to get together to drink again, I decided to open it by myself earlier this month. I’ve been drinking the bottle down at a rapid clip. Here before it dips too far below the halfway mark are my notes.
Glenrothes 1972-2005 (43%; from my own bottle)
Nose: A very appetizing mix of toasted oak, malt, toffee, brown sugar and fruit (apricot, a bit of mango, dried orange peel). As it sits the brown sugar and malt turn to maple syrup. A few drops of water push the oak back—though it also becomes a little more resinous—and make the fruit more fragrant (some fried plantain in there too now).
Palate: A thinner version of the nose with more of the oak than of the fruit. The texture is unfortunately thin as well. The oak becomes more prominent with each sip; the fruit is present but more as a ghost in the background. Let’s see what water does here. Well, it improves the texture and gives a little more depth to the fruit as well (now more of a real presence). The oak is still present but it’s in better balance with the fruit now.
Finish: Medium-long. The oak leaves the lasting impression but it’s not tannic or otherwise overbearing at all. Longer and spicier with water.
Comments: Well, the nose is lovely and has been getting better the longer the bottle stays open. The palate is just not at that level. Another 3% of abv and this could have been an all-timer. As it is, it is very good but I’m glad I bought it at the long-ago price.
Rating: 88 points.