In my review in the summer of a very old Glenrothes I noted that despite the fact that my introduction to single malt Scotch whisky had involved a number of teenaged OB releases, I hadn’t reviewed any of them on the blog. Indeed, the youngest Glenrothes I’ve previously reviewed was a 15 yo (this Signatory release of a refill sherry butt, reviewed when the blog was just a few months old). Well. I have two reviews of 12 yo Glenrothes this week. Neither are official releases, however. Indeed both are from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society; they were distilled in 2007 and released in late 2019 (or maybe early 2020). Both are also high-octane whiskies from first-fill sherry butts. I’m always a bit iffy about both whiskies with stupidly high strengths and young sherry bombs; these SMWS releases fit both descriptions and yet I went in on bottle splits of them anyway. What can I say? I am large, I contain multitudes. Despite my prejudices, will I find this “strangely soothing”? (That’s the name the SMWS gave this, in case you’re wondering.) Let’s see.
Glenrothes 12, 2007 (64.9%; SMWS 30.109; first-fill sherry butt; from a bottle split)
Nose: A syrupy nose with raisins, toffee and a bit of caramel; there’s a nutty/beany note mixed in there too. On the second sniff there’s a bit more fruit—light notes of apricot. Not much change with time. A few drops of water open it up nicely and bring out more of the apricot and the toffee and the plum from the palate pops out too. Rather nice now.
Palate: A big bite as expected but generally as on the nose with quite a bit more salt and some red fruit (plums) joining in. Hot but not entirely unapproachable at full strength. On the second sip there’s oak, roasted malt and coffee grounds. The apricot from the nose starts showing up here too with time. Okay, let’s add water. Ah yes, much better here too with a lot of orange peel along with the apricot from the nose; the salt and oak take a back seat (though both are still present).
Finish: Medium-long. Not much happening here at first beyond the alcohol bite. With more time the darker notes from the palate linger. Longer and stickier with water.
Comments: As young sherry bombs go this is very good. Needs a fair bit of water to open up fully and demonstrate its best qualities. A very good after-dinner malt with nothing about it that I would describe as strange; nor is it very soothing except in the sense that if you drink a lot of it very fast you’ll fall asleep very quickly.
Rating: 87 points.