Glenrothes 1987/2002 (43%, OB)

Here is another vintage Glenrothes. After the 1992,  the 1989 and the 1979, this 1987 is the fourth of these vintage bottlings on Master Quill. All were nice, but never scoring very high. All were nice, with enough difference to warrant buying more than one, but also none of them blew me out of the water. Just look at both other Glenrothes I reviewed earlier. One bottled by Wilson & Morgan and one by Douglas Laing. Both managed to score higher than the official bottlings. By now I can say that I expect this one to be nice, but again I don’t think it will blow me out of the water.

Glenrothes 1987/2002 (43%, OB)Color: Gold.

Nose: Dusty, definitely Sherried. Spicy and tickles the nose. Also some burnt elements. Next some aroma’s you get from an old (dry) cellar or attic. Funky but not the funky damp notes you sometimes get from cellars. More like the odours of stored old stuff. Old paper, old cardboard and old wood. Old, worn out vanilla pods. Later a breath of rural fresh air, coming to you over water. Let it breathe some more, and it becomes more like a “normal” Whisky. Vanilla, wood, fruity Sherry notes and spicy oak and cask toast. Hints of butter and dry grass (not hay), and even some toffee.

Taste: Short attack of (fresh) oak and a more waxy note, quickly succeeded by cherries and sugared yellow fruits. Fruity sweet toffee, alas a bit diluted. Über-fruity sugar-water. Warming. Apart from the initial wood, this is quite a fruity expression of Glenrothes. Hints of soap and paper from the nose and a growing aroma of burnt wood. At best a medium finish with a note of Beer and burnt wood. Yes, a bit bitter, which adds to the character of the Whisky after the initial sweetness and fruitiness. The aftertaste matches the nose exactly.

Although the nose isn’t one of the most balanced expressions of Glenrothes, the taste is way better that way, helped along by the sweetness it has. It’s all right this one. It may be a bit simple, diluted and lacking complexity. It does some across as balanced and tastes nice. Maybe it’s time to up the strength a bit?

Points: 83

Glenrothes 1992/2004 (43%, OB)

Yeah, a Glenrothes cannonball! I may have mentioned earlier, but when I got into Whisky a long time ago, I really liked the looks of this. Didn’t care for the box though, just for the bottle. Second they are issued as vintages, like wines, so we have here an example of the 1992 vintage. Anyone remember how the summer and the harvest was in Scotland back then? So I quickly bought me something like this, and was a bit disappointed. Now many moons later I have tried quite some of these Glenrothes vintages, like this 1989, or this 1979, but somehow there never was one that really grabbed me.

Glenrothes 1992/2004 (43%, OB)Color: Gold

Nose: Creamy and funky. Definitely some Sherry influence. Vanilla and some disconcerting fruity acidity and spice. Weird combination, not all that well-integrated. Aroma of apples, Calvados. Every time you move the Whisky in your glass, the Calvados pops out first. Mild wood, hardly noticeable. More paper and lots of dust. Coffee creamer. The Sherry influence is also quite dusty and not entirely pleasant. Hints of burnt cask mixes with the Sherried funk. Meaty and ever so slightly smoky. Leaves. cold wet green tea leaves. When I let it breathe, some component, but not all, are coming together a bit. In the end not one of the best noses from planet Glenrothes.

Taste: Sweet and toffeed, quickly followed by woody spice, which combine rather well. No trace yet of the fruity acidity the nose suffers from. Dish water with some fresh coriander leaves and sweet dried basil. Paper and licorice. Medium finish with hardly any aftertaste. Although the taste of the toasted Sherry cask does remain for quite a while as well as some soapiness. A bit strange this one.

Where the nose had its faults, the taste is more likeable, but also rather simple. A typical everyday Glenrothes. Nothing special, faulty but with some good points too. A bit too simple on the taste and lacking some development. Since this is an older bottle, bottled almost twelve years ago, it manages to fetch quite some money at auctions, but that can only be collectors. Those people are definitely not paying that kind of money because this is so great or that special.

Points: 79

Glenrothes 1990/2002 (46%, Wilson & Morgan, Barrel Selection, Sherry Wood)

Time for an “oldie” Wow, I’m now calling a Whisky from 1990 an “oldie”, unbelievable how time flies. Here we have another Glenrothes. For one reason or another I seem to like independently released Glenrothes better than the official bottlings. Maybe the independents release their versions at a higher strength than the 43% ABV the owners themselves do. One thing is sure, besides that it needs to be at a higher strength, it is a distillate that need maturation in a Sherry cask, just like Macallan did. Do you still remember Sherried Macallans? Anyone?

Glenrothes 1990/2002 (46%, Wilson & Morgan, Barrel Selection, Sherry Wood)Color: Copper orange.

Nose: Lots of raisins. Soft creamy wood. Floral and slightly acidic Wine-attack. Linen. Nicely Sherried, waxy with dry powder. Earwax, coal and slightly tarry. Hint of dried out orange skin. Dusty attic (old home) and even a tiny hint of a dry rotting sensation, motor oil and vanilla. Whiffs of old woody Rum.

Taste: Creamy and rounded out. Big Sherried nose, but taste-wise not so heavy. Wood and a fruity acidity I sometimes get from PX-Sherry somehow don’t match perfectly. Does have a burning alcohol and warming sensation and a finish that lingers on for a while (raisins, honey and cask toast), but has no big staying power, medium I would say. It’s nice but it also seems to be telling it didn’t want the water. Maybe this would have been better without reduction, who knows? Nice, not very complex and not the heavy hitter I expected.

Well, this is bottled quite some time ago and in its day this was pretty affordable. Today Sherried bottlings that have no mayor flaws, like sulphur which many aficionado’s do not like, cost a pretty penny. This Glenrothes is big and small at the same time. Yes its heavily Sherried, but no it’s not a heavy hitter. It’s not brown, but orange. I really like the melancholy of it all. It reminds me of summer, dry and dusty, with aroma’s of old wood and furniture. In an attic isolated from sound with whiffs of flowers from outside. It may not be perfect nor very complex, but is it nice and highly drinkable. Has an old feel to it, as opposed to todays (sometimes sulphury) Sherry bottlings. “Lovely” would sum it up nicely.

Points: 86

Glenrothes “Select Reserve” (43%, OB, Old Label, Circa 2011)

Yes another cannon ball bottle with Glenrothes Whisky in it. This time no vintage, but yes, we do have another new Whisky without an age statement. Probably young stuff, also since the Whisky isn’t very expensive. Nope not expensive at all. The bottle still has a cork in it albeit a plastic one. Nothing wrong with NAS Whiskies, just have a look at any Kilkerran for example, and the plastic cork is far better suitable for its job than a natural cork, with all is problems, like breaking whilst opening the bottle. I just hope the solvents in the soft plastic of the cork don’t mess with the taste of your Whisky. I just hear the industry whispering in the wind that Whisky wasn’t meant to be kept at home for a long time. Ha!

This Whisky costs about the same as The Glenlivet French Oak I reviewed last. That Whisky does have an age statement: 15 years old! Lets keep that one in kind whilst reviewing this Glenrothes.

Glenrothes Select Reserve (43%, OB, Old Label, Circa 2011)Color: Light gold

Nose: Malty and lots of vanilla and cream. Marshmallows. Dusty, slightly grassy (dry) and in the distance a wee bit of white pepper. It’s also fruity but I can’t get my finger on it, what kind of fruit is actually here. You know it’s fruity, but it seems to borrow fruity elements of loads of different kinds of fruit. Hints of dry paint and Macchiato Coffee.

Taste: Light, fruity and thin. Sweet. This one is quickly gone, yet the finish is warming and the fruit part of it is pleasant. Sweetish and creamy. Little bit of banana and lemon pudding. Definitely malty. I would have never guessed this is 43% ABV.

For a middle-of-the-road dram, I liked the nose of the Glenlivet 15yo French oak better. On the palate this Glenrothes is less interesting and a bit soft. The finish is too short too. Comparing this with the Glenlivet 15yo French Oak Reserve, even though that one is less fruity, it was more exciting due to the backbone the oak gave it. This Glenrothes is softer and fruitier but even though it is all that, it isn’t more pleasant. It is slightly less balanced and a wee bit weaker (also in the finish), so I score this a point below the Glenlivet French Oak Reserve.

Points: 81

Glenrothes 25yo 1975/2001 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, 600 bottles)

Hello everybody! How is this new year treating you? I’m totally fine, thank you. Let’s start this new year off on Master Quill with another oldie, bottled by Douglas Laing. The last Whisky I reviewed in 2013, was a very young and recently bottled Tamdhu by fellow indie bottler The Ultimate (Van Wees). This time however we will take a look at a 25 year old Glenrothes from 1975. If only this would have been a 25yo Ardbeg from 1975, bottled by the same outfit… Maybe by saying that, I’m doing Glenrothes wrong, so lets not waste any more time and have some Glenrothes please!

Glenrothes 25yo 1975/2001 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, 600 bottles)Color: White Wine.

Nose: Fresh and funky at the same time. Minerality and flor from Fino Sherry. Probably from a second fill cask. Smells sweetish and very lively, maybe even young, from a less than active cask. Nutty, roasted and fresh almonds, which for me is also quite typical for dry Fino Sherries. Nice distant maltiness. Nose develops nicely too.

Taste: Great, or maybe even fantastic fruit candy sweetness, very unique. When that dissipates a nice soury and woody touch matched with some nice creaminess. Vanilla Ice-cream. Slightly bitter black tea, and a bit salty on the lips. The wood gives off a little bite, which I like. All in all, it’s quite mild and tasted blind I would have never guessed it has 50% ABV. Nicely balanced, and very Fino.

The bitterness that is there has two functions. It gives some oomph to the fresh, fruity and lively profile (which is good), but also dominates the finish a bit (which is not so good). Nevertheless, the whole is very a-typical for a Glenrothes, and I can easily understand why this didn’t fit the profile for an official release, or why it wasn’t used for a blend. On the other hand, this is exactly why, especially the earlier bottlings of Douglas Laing are so popular. It is a chance of a lifetime, to taste some Whiskies from distilleries who do not resemble the products of their makers. Somewhat similar to the Douglas Laing Taliskers, or Tacticals if you prefer. Most of those are not very obvious Taliskers too. This is a very nice Glenrothes and for me better than a lot of the official Glenrothes, even though in the end I’m not the biggest fan of Fino Sherry Casks being used for Whisky, I prefer Oloroso, but that’s a matter of taste obviously, having said that, this Glenrothes managed to get:

Points: 88

Glenrothes 1979/2002 (43%, OB)

Glenrothes was founded in 1878 by James Stuart & Co. and some partners. James Stuart was the man who at that time also had The Macallan (since 1868). James soon developed some financial troubles, so he was thrown out of the partnership and returned, with his tail between his legs, to Macallan. The rest of the partners formed William Grant & Co. and finished the building of the distillery. The first spirit ran off the stills just one year after its foundation. The rest of the history seems rather volatile, having suffered several explosions and fires. (1897, 1903 and 1922). After this period of ruining the place, came the period of expansion. From the sixties through the eighties, consecutive pairs of stills were added. Now there are 10 in total. Today The Edrington group is the owner of Glenrothes, just as they do with The Macallan.

Color: Copper Gold

Nose: Sherried, Very round and sweetish. Toffee and caramel. Seaside freshness. A bit creamy and no off notes. Smells young like lots of other of these Glenrothes’ cannonballs. Dark chocolate. Reminds me of those cherry bonbons with liqueur. Distant hint of toasted wood.

Taste: Sweet and slightly sherried. The cherry bonbon is here too. Nice toffee flavour and syrupy texture. More character evolves in the glass after letting it breathe. Here come some hints of oak, bitterness and some woody spices. Menthol. Still it remains sweet and syrupy. Also, in my opinion, not a lot of development. Give it more time and the wood kicks in some more. More wood and bitterness that stay and define the finish. Quite unusual for a Glenrothes OB.

At 85 points this is the best OB I’ve tasted from Glenrothes, and look at this extra special luxury packaging!

Points: 85

Glenrothes 1989/2000 (43%, OB)

When my interest into Single Malt Whiskies took some form, and all was looking fabulous, I hoped I would really like Balvenie and Glenrothes. I really like the way the bottles looked. Just have a look at these nice cannonballs! In the case of Balvenie, I didn’t quite get to that high status of being a favourite and alas the same is true, for me, for these Glenrothes. I tasted quite a few of these, but I never scored these cannonball bottles above 84 points. Blind and not blind. I still love the way these bottles look.

Color: Copper gold.

Nose: Very musty. Lots of sherry in here. Someones bad breath. Old raisins. Gravy. Very powdery, the fat make-up powder people wear on their face. Slightly tarry (from the Sherry cask). Creamy. Actually quite nice.

Taste: Sugary sweet, again lots of Sherry influences. Only hints of wood. Very drinkable, but also rather simple. The raisins return here, and they’re a little dirty and tarry.

One of the slightly better usual suspects from Glenrothes. Especially at this age, approximately 11yo. Still I can’t get over the fact that all these Whiskies are a lot alike.

Points: 84