Admittedly, I’ve steered clear of the Glenrothes for quite a while… Once upon a time, I purchased a bottle of the 1998 vintage (the 2010 bottling, I believe) and, while I recall enjoying the nose, it had an off-putting vinegar-like quality that did not agree with me. After sampling the Select Reserve at a buddy’s place and again finding a little of that same sour note again, I kind of made up my mind that maybe the Glenrothes was just not going to be a distillery that matched up with my palate.
But the other day I found myself in the local bottle shop contemplating a 2015 bottling of the 1995 vintage. I recalled reading somewhere that the ’95 was the first vintage laid down with a specific profile in mind. So my thinking goes something like:
Vinegar wouldn’t be an intentional profile… Would it?!
20 year old whisky… That’s getting there!
Kinda like the funky bottle…
Screw it, I’m buying this one!
Come on, I believe in second chances! This particular vintage of the Glenrothes is bottled at 43% abv and ran me about $70 CDN.
To the Eye
Brilliantly clear, with a golden honey colour. I don’t have proof, but I’m pretty certain this would be chill-filtered; most whiskies bottled at less than 45% are chill-filtered… This dram is just that bright and clear! A swirl of my glass ends up with skinny but extremely reluctant legs drooping down the sides.
In the Nose
I don’t know what they’re called but there are these candies that are basically marshmallows covered in toasted coconut – my Grandma used to have them around and that is what my fist sniff of this whisky reminds me of. As the dram breaths a bit, a typical sherried Speyside nose develops: ripe red apples, caramel, vanilla and toasted oats… Think apple crisp in a glass!
On the Tongue
That’s not caramel, that’s butterscotch! There must be a some bourbon barrels among the 1995 casks because those buttery, caramelized-sugary notes are coming through beautifully. Orchard fruits, a dash of white pepper, a touch of oaky spiciness and something floral, a bit like rose water. The medium finish carries pencil shavings, more of that interesting floral character, supported by bits of cilantro and lemon zest.
Well then! I am certainly glad that I got over my worries about the Glenrothes. This is a thoroughly enjoyable dram that I liked just a little bit better every time I sampled it! Perhaps that’s the thing about vintage-expressions, where consistency is not the order of the day. Every vintage is going to have a different character, making it difficult to make generalizations from one to the next.
Although not overly complex, the Glenrothes ’95 is nicely balanced and exceedingly drinkable! (With a buddy around, a dram or two could easily become three or four!) At the price I paid, I would consider this a very good-value whisky.