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. Continue reading
I’ve not reviewed much Glenrothes on the blog, even though I keep saying I should review more. This is mostly because my interest in Glenrothes peaked and then faded before I started the blog. There isn’t much independently bottled Glenrothes around, and official Glenrothes, despite their unique bottles and their idiosyncratic approach to vintages and age statements, began to taste a little too generic to me: they were rarely poor but they never got me too excited. I quite liked the 1985-2005 and a 1991-2006 (neither of which I have reviewed) but nothing since has really made me want to seek out more—and the few tastes I’ve had of their more recent non-vintage/NAS offerings have been less encouraging still. (Though I do have one much older official release that I found in a now-closed supermarket in Los Angeles’ Koreatown a couple of years ago at more or less the original price. I’m saving that one for a special occasion.) Continue reading
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. Continue reading
Official Glenrothes, as I’ve noted before and as you probably already know, is almost always a vatting of spirit from sherry and bourbon casks. There are some exceptions (see the Robur and Alba Reserves, for example) but by and large this is true. And a lot of the independent releases that have appeared over the years, in the US at least, have been from sherry casks. As a result when people think of Glenrothes it is an at least somewhat sherried profile they have in mind. Drinking bourbon cask Glenrothes—when you can find it—feels like drinking the product of another distillery entirely. (Yes, this is a stealth build-up to my post on distillery character which will be going up very soon.) It’s always interesting to try such variations, and in this case this is also the oldest Glenrothes I’ve had—five years older than the not very good Wilson & Morgan cask I reviewed a couple of months ago and also the pretty good Archives release that I reviewed in 2014. Let’s see what it’s like. Continue reading
Because I am so on top of things I was going to say that this is the oldest Glenrothes I’ve ever had. But then, because I am even more on top of things, I checked and found that I’ve already reviewed another Glenrothes 25, 1988. So this is not the oldest Glenrothes I’ve ever had (that’s coming soon though). However, I will soon be an authority on 25 yo Glenrothes from 1988, or at least more of an authority than that other whisky blogger you follow who’s only had one Glenrothes 25, 1988, the poor sap, I don’t know how he lives with himself. So far this has been five sentences with zero useful content (four if you generously count this sentence as useful, and you really should since I did go back and count). And frankly, the odds are not good of there being dramatic improvement.. So I should probably just get to the review already—I mean don’t you want to find out about this Glenrothes 25, 1988 from a relatively obscure Italian bottler with a non-Italian name? Continue reading
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. Continue reading
Glenrothes may have the most distinctive bottles of any distillery but, alas, don’t always put very distinctive liquid inside them. I’ve not had any official releases that I found to be very bad (well, maybe the Select Reserve); but by the same token I’ve not had many that were far above average either, and only one that I thought was very, very good (the 1985-2005). The distillery seems to be aiming at the high-end blend drinker who occasionally drinks single malts–and while there’s nothing wrong with that approach whatsoever, given the number of interesting malts out there it does tend to not make me very apt to keep track of what’s new from them.
I’m interested, therefore, to see what this single cask from a relatively new bottler, Maltbarn, is like. Maltbarn has garnered a pretty strong reputation in a short while and this should at least be interesting. Continue reading
The Glenrothes distillery in the Speyside is perhaps best known for their idiosyncratic bottle design and also for their vintage based releases, usually vattings of bourbon and sherry casks. The former, while attractive, can lead to heartburn if a cork breaks on you and you don’t have one saved from a previous bottle (no other corks will fit their bottles); the latter leads to some confusion because while the vintage year is printed in large letters on the label there may be releases in any different years of whisky distilled in a given year–further confusion arises from the fact that on closer examination the labels usually say not when the whisky was bottled but when it was “checked” (what this means, I don’t know). Things are less confusing with indie releases which tend to be more forthright about these details, and also offer the oppportunity to taste Glenrothes from both sherry and bourbon casks. Continue reading