...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Two Glenrothes single malts distilled in 2001

You're screaming at your screen, "You stopped reviewing Highland Parks for THIS?"

And I'm like, "Yes?"

I recently marked ten years of Diving for Pearls whisky reviews with a re-review of the first Single Malt Report, Balvenie DoubleWood 12 year old. Ten years ago today, I started a streak of Glenrothes single malt reviews. That streak ended on 9/28/2011. There hasn't been a single Glenrothes post on this site since.

Perhaps I'm in the minority, but I have found Glenrothes to be one of the least inspiring single malts. It's a consistent C grade whisky that can hit B- range when it's hitting on all cylinders. And that's only when it's from a bourbon cask. Otherwise, it serves a blank canvas for other cask types. I tend to see it as malt filler for the sometimes-preferable Famous Grouse.

But then again, I haven't had a Glenrothes for more than six years, so I'm willing to give this Speysider another chance. My palate has gone through many changes, and I have four samples that aren't going to drink themselves. So here I go with the first two, both about 14 years old, both distilled in 2001, both bottled by indies, and both from fortified wine casks.


: Glenrothes
Ownership: The Edrington Group
Region: Speyside (Rothes!)
Independent Bottler: Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Age: 14 years (27 March 2001 - 2015)
Maturation: refill port pipe
Cask #: 30.87
Cask "name": A skinny dipping dram
Outturn: 738 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 55.6%
(Thank you to St. Brett for the sample!)

The nose leads with a surprising stinky aged cheese note (which alters one's view of the name SMWS bestowed upon the cask). Sugary things follow, like Luxardo cherries, gummy worms and black Twizzlers. Ginger ale and roses in the background. But that aged cheese note keeps everything from going overboard. The nose picks up a coastal note once the whisky is reduced to 46%abv. There's more salt and raw almonds, less candy.

Grapes and berries appear early in the palate, but so do salt and savory notes, thus it never gets too sweet. Lemons and minerals fill out the background. It shifts around a bit at 46%abv, with almonds, salt and hay up front; honey, pepper and bitterness in the back.

No sweetness in the finish, as the fruits (berries and citrus) are quite tart. A little bit of tannin, a few roses as well. At 46%abv it finishes with honey, oranges and black pepper.

I like this? I like this. The port pipe is certainly refill, but not dead. The spirit isn't particularly unique nor complex but it's solid and slightly spartan. I'd drink this any day. The nose works better without dilution, in my opinion, while the palate and finish do well with a little water. This was unexpected.

Rating - 86


Distillery: Glenrothes
Ownership: The Edrington Group
Region: Speyside (Rothes!)
Independent Bottler: Malts of Scotland
Age: 14-ish years (2001 - 2015)
Maturation: sherry hogshead
Cask #: MoS 15029
Outturn: 182 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 52.8%
(sample from a bottle split)

The nose says clean cask. Loud cask. Rolos and Three Musketeers meet root beer and cherry popsicles. A little of bit of orange peel in the background. There are more nuts and berries at 46%abv, and less chocolate. Strawberry jam and roses fill the background.

Lotsa cask in the palate too. Bags of dried fruit, nearly overwhelm everything else. One may find candied lemon peel, sharp ginger beer and a hint bitterness way in the back. Reducing the whisky to 46%abv seems to thicken the palate's texture, and maybe brings out a touch of malt. Otherwise it's all almonds, dried sweet potato, caramel and a hint of chiles.

The finish mostly matches the palate with dried fruits, ginger and sugar leading the way. The sweetness nearly vanishes at 46%abv, and some tannins jump in. Then there are nuts, black peppercorns and dried sweet potatoes.

With its style and dark coloring, this is the sort of whisky that would have certain whisky fans vigorously stroking......the refresh button on their auction bids. It's not really my style, as it's one of those blank canvas 'Rotheses. But the cask is pretty good. It's a dessert thing at full power, nearly a liqueur, though I prefer it diluted.

Rating - 84

Those were the two best Glenrothes I've ever reviewed, and I would certainly sip both again, something I've never said about a Glenrothes single malt. Perhaps I should stop fooling around and get to the 1970s stuff...