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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Single Malt Report - The Glenrothes Select Reserve

Distillery: The Glenrothes
Age: no vintage
Finish: mixed casks
Region: Highlands - Speyside
Alcohol by Volume: 43%

From Royal Mile Whiskies:
The official bottlings are bottled by the wine merchants, Berry Bros. & Rudd who offer them as vintages, which is not surprising given their status as respected wine merchants. Their distinctive dumpy bottles are massively popular and have been highly praised. The casks they select, carefully chosen from 2% of the distilleries annual output, are mostly matured in sherry casks with 25% being fresh, and a few bourbon casks occasionally used to provide balance and extra depth. There is absolutely no colouring in any official Glenrothes whisky. It is all natural colour from the casks.

One tweet:

@kravitz_hubris Glenrothes Select Reserve, 100mL bottle from UK - olive oil color, dried cherries and butterscotch palate, spicy finish. #SingleMaltReport6/5/11

thekrav's notes:

Part of a 3-pack of 100mL Glenrothes bottles that I purchased at Royal Mile Whiskies in London.  The other two bottles from this set will be reviewed very soon.

So let's start with the positives!  The design is fantastic.  As per the pictures, the bottles (big or small) are of a squat "dumpy" shape, unique amongst whiskies.  The label looks as if it's been partially handwritten with signatures, tasting notes, and dates of birth & bottling. [I'll have a better pic of it in the next review.]  The Select Reserve has received some good reviews at the '06 World Spirits Competition and also from BevMo's cellar master, Wilfred Wong.  Finally, there's no artificial coloring, which is nice to see since so many of the major bottlers use carmel coloring to manipulate their whiskies' tint.

Despite all of that, I wasn't too crazy about it.  In fact if I hadn't written down some notes, I would have forgotten its flavor entirely.  What I do remember is that its natural color is that of extra virgin olive oil.  The texture is light and smooth.  The nose is sugary but mild.  The palate begins as dried cherries and ends with butterscotch, all followed by a spicy finish.

If those notes don't sound very negative it's because they were written after drinking more than three normal tastings' worth.  One final note reads: "Yeah, I don't need to drink this again."

Compare all of that with this review from Dave of the LA Whiskey Society:
"I was given this bottle as a gift. The gift-giver is no longer my friend.... Some of the worst swill I have ever had the unfortunate experience to try.... My dog has produced better smelling liquids."
There's no actual vintage for this bottling nor description of its makeup.  Glenrothes has been mum on the recipe.  It is the lowest priced of their bottlings and the easiest to find online or in liquor stores.  But the fact that one can purchase a bottle of Macallan 12 for less than this whisky makes little sense to me.

Pricing - Overpriced! at $45-50
Rating - 69

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