I’ve already done three themed weeks of whisky reviews this month and so may as well end with another. The first was a week of whiskies from the Loch Lomond distillery—the new Inchmurrin 12, the new Inchmoan 12 and the new Loch Lomond 12. That was followed by a week of whiskies from Highland distilleries—a Dalwhinnie, a Dalmore and a Glenmorangie. Then last week saw three whiskies from Springbank—the 2019 Local Barley release, a Hazelburn 12 from a decade previous and last year’s Springbank 17, Madeira Wood. What there hasn’t been a lot of this month is sherry cask whiskies and so let’s end with a week of single sherry casks.
First up is this Glenrothes 12, 2007 bottled by the SMWS. I’ve previously reviewed two other Glenrothes 12, 2007s bottled by the SMWS (their two Glenrothes releases immediately prior to this one, in fact—here and here). Both of those were at ludicrous abvs and so is this one. I’m not generally a fan of whiskies at stupid strengths—especially those coming out of first-fill sherry casks, as all three of these did—but I did end up liking those two a fair bit once I added the right amount of water. I’m guessing this will need a fair bit of water too—I do hope it will be as good as the others.Oh yes, the SMWS named this “Inferno Toffee Pudding”.
Glenrothes 12, 2007 (64.6%; SMWS 30.111; first-fill Spanish oak sherry butt; from a bottle split)
Nose: Hot and closed at first as you would expect. After a few beats some oak emerges along with dried orange peel. The citrus brightens up with a bit of air and there’s some dark caramel too now but the alcohol burn and the oak are very much the main story still. With a lot more air it finally begins to open up fully with richer notes of plum sauce and sticky toffee emerging over the oak, joined some minutes later by a lot of raisin. More toffee with water and some apricot. With another big squirt of water those positive developments continue and it also gets maltier.
Palate: Comes in sweeter and yes, hot! The oak is present here too but it’s not tannic. The main impression is that this is stupid hot and needs lots of air and probably lots of water. Well, after 15 minutes or so of airing the orange peel begins to come through and some of the plum but it’s mostly blocked by the alcohol. Time to add water. Ah yes, much better: more orange peel, the apricot that appeared on the nose, toffee, butterscotch, roasted malt, powdered ginger. After the second addition (I estimate it’s probably at about 48% abv now) it’s now very mellow and much, much improved—all the same stuff but with much better integration.
Finish: Long. Nothing but the alcohol burn at first or at second or third and then some salt and oak. As on the palate with water with some cocoa at the end and then more toffee with the second addition of water.
Comments: Another reminder that just because something is bottled at a stupid strength doesn’t mean you have to drink it at a stupid strength. The nose opened up a fair bit with just air but the palate and finish had little to recommend them till I added water, and it really improved after a second addition of water. 46-50% is probably the sweet spot for this whisky. If you have a bottle I’d recommend aiming for that.
Rating: 87 points. (Pulled up a fair bit by water.)
A bit annoying having to tinker with the water, but a bottle like this tickles my inner-frugal self knowing that you’re getting a bottle-and-a-half of whisky at your preferred strength. It’s a mental victory to me.
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I like your “the bottle is one and a half times full” approach.
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