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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Single Malt Report (x2) - The Glenrothes 1994 AND 1991

Happy Whisky Wednesday everyone!

Last night I enjoyed the Raise the Macallan event in downtown LA.  Later in the evening, at another location, I made the rookie mistake of drinking bourbon, well bourbon.  Don't know if I should blame the waitress or the bartender for interpreting "whisky" as "bourbon".  But I give myself a sincere FAIL for drinking all of it.

I'm also awaiting an exciting delivery from Master of Malt who have been great with previous orders and customer service.

So much great whisky to write about!  Without further ado, the conclusion of my Glenrothes reports: The 1994 and 1991 vintages.

The 1994

Distillery: The Glenrothes
Age: 11 years (bottled in 2006)
Finish: mixed casks
Region: Highlands - Speyside (Rothes)
Alcohol by Volume: 43%

thekrav's notes:

Let's begin with the name.  Why "The Glenrothes"?

Within Scotland, whisky production is divided up into six geographical regions: The Lowlands, The Highlands, Speyside, Islay, Campbeltown, and the Islands.  Speyside is actually within The Highlands region, but (due to the powerful River Spey) almost two-thirds of all of Scotland's malts are produced there so it gets its own regional status.

Within Scotland, within The Highlands, within the Speyside region, lies the town of Rothes.  Rothes sits on the west side of the River Spey in a glen surrounded by the rocky hills.  The "The" designation is something that it shares with other whisky brands like The Macallan, The Glenlivet, The Balvenie, and The Krav (one of these is not like the other...).  Though it seems showy and highbrow, it designates that the whisky within this labelled bottle contains product distilled and distributed by the whisky's producer -- and not distributed through an independent bottler like Signatory or Cadenhead's.  I also think Glenrothes includes "The" in its name because it shares the one-street town of Rothes with four other distilleries.  Thus it tries to establish itself as The whisky from the Rothes glen.
The previous two Glenrothes bottlings that I'd reviewed (Select Reserve and 1998 vintage) were included in a three-100mL-bottle-set that I bought at Royal Mile Whiskies in London.  This one was not.  I enjoyed this vintage at a free Scotch tasting at The Daily Pint on June 16th.

I'm grading this similarly to the 10-year 1998 vintage.  The honey note is still present in this one, but vanilla stands out the most, especially in the nose.  It's more dry than sweet.  Like its Glenrothes brethren, this whisky's finish is very short.

Also similar to the previously reviewed vintages, its texture is very light, though each one seems to be getting richer as I progress into the older bottlings.  Of course that could be psychosomatic; knowing a whisky is older and more expensive may subconsciously alter one's perception.

So that's something that I really caution other rookie whisky tasters: Forget about whisky age and price when tasting.  Miracles of chemistry form the flavor.  Sometimes hotter, livelier, youthful batches will be more to one's liking.  Sometimes a 12yr from one distillery will be smoother than an 18yr from another.

Keeping all of that in mind, I think that these Glenrothes prices remain too high.  For something of this age, quality, and high supply it costs too much.  I shouldn't be able to buy three bottles of Glenfiddich 12 for the price of one of these.

Pricing - Overpriced! at $70-80
Rating - 74

The 1991

Distillery: The Glenrothes
Age: 13 years (bottled in 2005)
Finish: mixed casks
Region: Highlands - Speyside (Rothes)
Alcohol by Volume: 43%

thekrav's notes:

During that enjoyable (all free scotch tastings are enjoyable) Scotch dramming at The Daily Pint, the exceedingly enthusiastic Glenrothes representative kept pressing on us how rare the 1991 vintage is and how lucky we are to be sipping it.

Well, if it's so darn rare, why do I have some here right now at my desk?
It's not rare, but I was quite lucky to get a free sample.  AND I also have this 100mL from that three-pack of The Glenrothes purchased at Royal Mile.  So I've been able to sample it a few times, both neat and with water.  And it is my favorite of the four Glenrothes that I've tried.

The nose is sweet and sugary.  Definitely a dessert whisky.  Add in a tiny measure of water and the sweetness mellows, bringing forward the vanilla note from the 1994 vintage.

The palate, the best part.  Marshmallows and shortbread cookies.  The texture is very smooth, enhancing the dessert-y nature.  Adding water brings oaky notes to the forefront.  Thus I prefer it neat.

It almost evaporates on the tongue......and so does the finish (alas, sadly) like the other three Glenrothes bottlings.

The price range isn't great.  $90?  No way. $75?  Getting closer but still steep.  Again, between the four The Glenrotheses sampled (Select Reserve, 1998, 1994, and 1991), this one suits me best.  I've even saved a dram for another try with dessert some time very soon.

Pricing - Overpriced at $75-90
Rating - 83


  1. Fun Fact: the founders of Glenrothes included one William Grant who should not be confused with, well, William Grant, the founder of Glenfiddich. And to make it even more confusing, the Glenrothes founders decided to call their partnership William Grant & Company (not to be confused with William Grant & Sons). Since both companies were born about the same time, one wonders whether the name was intentionally chosen to confuse consumers and sell product based on the confusion.

    1. Then there are the Glenlivet Grants and the Glenfarclas Grants. So many whisky Grants!