The oldest in the quintet of expressions in the Glenrothes Soleo Collection, this was matured predominantly in first-fill sherry casks. The nose offers pineapple, mango, malt, and nutmeg. Richly sherried on the muscular palate, with caramel, citrus fruits, licorice, and wood tannins. The finish is long and drying, with sherry-soaked old oak. Glenrothes at its very best.
A polished, very elegant expression with subtle complexity throughout. Notes of squeaky-clean fruit (tangerine, peach, nectarine, kiwi) in light syrup. Vibrant spice (cinnamon, white pepper, anise), creamy vanilla, and almond evolve on the palate, leading to a gentle finish. Surprisingly lively for a whisky more than 30 years old. When I think of great Glenrothes vintages, I go back to the 1972 vintage for comparison. Both are comparable in quality, with the 1972 vintage showing darker sugars, more weight, and more roasted nuts.
Made from whisky aged in second fill American oak sherry casks, distilled between 1973 to 1987. Richly malty, with honeyed citrus, juicy oak, chocolate fudge, and nougat. More subtle floral notes, licorice (red and black), ginger, and chamomile tea. Polished oak on the finish balances the sweetness. A great whisky to honor a great whisky maker! (Only 200 bottles for the U.S.)
A very richly textured Glenrothes. A heavy, honeyed maltiness provides the foundation of this whisky, with interwoven candied fruit notes (orange, tangerine, sultana), red and black licorice, toffee, and toasted almonds. Dry, spicy, oak notes balance its sweetness and provide depth. What impresses me most about this whisky is how it evolves on the palate and continues evolving through its lengthy finish.
Signatory (distilled at Glenrothes), 30 year old, 1973, 50%
Single Malt Scotch | $220.00
Glenrothes is one of those Speyside whiskies which matures very gracefully. Recent distillery bottlings (i.e. the 1979 and 1972 vintages) prove this point. This Signatory bottling also demonstrates that Glenrothes has the ability to get older and better. In this offering, the palate-coating, sticky caramel, syrupy maltiness of the whisky is rescued by firm, bold dry oak spice and lush fruit. Delicious toffee and roasted nuts longer on the finish. The 30 years in oak gives this whisky great depth, and bottling the whisky at natural cask strength ensures that the whisky is not cut off at the knees. A soothing post-prandial affair.
Matured in a mixture of first-fill American sherry hogsheads and refill sherry butts, this is rich and fragrant on the nose, with dark berries and marzipan, then glacé cherries and wood polish. The palate is voluptuous with spicy dark fruit, Christmas cake, vanilla, milk chocolate, and a hint of dark rum. Dried fruits in the finish, with raisins, aniseed, and soft oak. Finally, plain chocolate. Superb! £375
This was matured in American oak sherry-seasoned casks. The nose offers cherry liqueur, sultanas, fruit spice, honey, and new leather. Vanilla and sweet orchard fruits on the early palate, followed by darker berry fruits, soft oak, and a savory note. Cocoa powder and a wisp of smoke in the medium-length finish. (3,150 bottles for U.S.)
The most recent vintage from the 1980s. This whisky is very bright and lively. It dances on the palate with orange, tangerine, and lemon gum drops, balanced by vanilla, light caramel, hint of anise, and delicate oak. A whisky with great finesse and drinkability.
The oldest of a new three-strong range from Glenrothes called the Manse Brae series; the youngest component here is 21 years old. Serious and lightly meaty, the savory characters come at you, mixing gun smoke with cypress, sandalwood, dark chocolate, and dunnage warehouse. The headiness of moist forest floor continues on the tongue along with a burst of honeyed peach. Moving in many directions simultaneously…and slowly. Keep this neat. Classic Rothes. (Travel Retail exclusive.) €140
Douglas Laing Old Particular (distilled at Glenrothes) 17 year old, 48.4%
Single Malt Scotch | $117
Light gold. A beautiful oxidized note, with soft fruitcake, steamed pudding, a little hint of overripe fruits, and sweet spices. As it opens, there’s barley sugar sweets, then custard tart with nutmeg, clover honey, and marzipan. Complex, in other words. Water shows how well-layered it is. It starts sweetly in the mouth with a thick, honeyed texture, which becomes more delicate with water. Elegant, long, and a great example of mature ’Rothes. £80
Amber color. Lush, rich aromas of rummy toffee, nuts, vanilla, with interwoven notes of glazed fruit. On the heavy side of medium in body, and silky. There are layers of sweetness on the palate (toffee, caramel, marzipan and dates), becoming nutty with a pleasing oak woodiness to balance the sweetness. Long, dryish finish with notes of spice and fruit.
The nose offers rich fruit—plums and sultanas—with milk chocolate and new leather. The palate is silky and luxurious, with medium-sweet sherry, vanilla, blackcurrants, and treacle. Dark berries and black pepper in the lengthy, mildly oaky finish.
Duncan Taylor Peerless (distilled at Glenrothes) 1969 41 year old, 44.2%
Single Malt Scotch | $330.00
Immediately you can tell this is a complex, old, mature whisky — that hint of rancio is there, but there’s more of a beeswax character than on the Adelphi bottling (below), along with the peachiness that often appears in old drams. This is balanced by light coconut, even a hint of grist. The waxiness seen on the nose allows it to cling to the tongue, while the fruits become jellied. Benefits from a drop of water, allowing lemon and vanilla to show. £210
Douglas Laing Provenance (distilled at Glenrothes) 10 year old, 46%
Single Malt Scotch | $104
Deep amber. Big, resinous, and almost heathery, with significant cask influence for a decade-old dram. The aroma is like a cobbler’s workshop: oils, leather, grease, polish, and then licorice. On the palate, there’s the prune notes of armagnac, the sweetness and cedar flavors of old rum, and very Rothes-esque spiciness. Water, just a drop, lightens it a little, allowing the underlying sweetness to show. Not cask dominated, just bottled at exactly the right moment. Recommended. £68
That Boutique-y Whisky Company (distilled at Glenrothes) 20 year old, 52.4%
Single Grain Scotch | $140
A delightful whisky with a nose of honey, nectarine, fresh apple, sandalwood, strands of lime, and sweet florals. Sipping unlocks flavors of apple pastries and orange peel, before a powder keg of spices explodes on the tip of the tongue. The aftermath has melting fudge, baked orange, and finishes with hot chili nuts. This hits the trademark flavors of Glenrothes, but the cask strength helps to champion the spices. (Batch 6; 430 bottles)
Gordon & MacPhail Reserve (distilled at Glenrothes), 18 year old, 1986 vintage, 46%
Single Malt Scotch | $80.00
It's nice to see Gordon & MacPhail bottlings at strengths higher than 40%, and it makes this already hefty whisky even more so. It is fragrant (with subtle heather notes), rich and malty (and quite thick in texture), with notes of honey and vanilla. Interwoven fruit (sultana, along with subtle lemon and orange) add complexity. All this sweetness is rounded out nicely with a long, dry, oaky/spicy finish. A delicious, evolving whisky. (Bottled exclusively for Binny's Beverage Depot.)
Interestingly, this whisky was bottled in 2005, but not released until the end of 2008. (The brand manager tells me that they wanted to wait until the stocks of the current 1980s vintage (a 1987) were depleted. It’s fresh, lively, and uncluttered, glowing with bright fruit (mandarin orange, nectarine), lemon meringue pie, and a creamy vanilla sweetness that coats the palate. A gently dry oak finish with subtle anise and very dark chocolate. A perky Glenrothes, and a lot of fun to drink.
The initial Glenrothes 1995 was released in 2011. This edition comprises first-fill American oak casks seasoned with dry oloroso sherry. Significant sherry cask influence early on the nose, with a savory note, rich fruitcake, cherries, malt, and developing vanilla custard. Supple in the mouth, with honey, berry fruits, and citrus notes. Spicier in time. The finish dries slightly, with cinnamon and a sprinkling of black pepper.
Glenrothes is always this fascinating mix of the malty and the fruity and is one of those drams which needs time in the glass to open. Given that time, you will be rewarded with date, raisin, some fudge, and some real savory depth before a sprinkling of trail mix and a sweetening into nougat and caramel, spice and chocolate. A replacement for the old Select Reserve, this is a magnificent Glenrothes and at a great price, so don’t dare moan.
Richer, thicker, and more lush than the 1975 vintage reviewed here. Fallen orchard fruit, sticky toffee pudding, and nuts, with underlying suggestions of date cake. Emerging dried spice and oak resin towards the finish. A good contrast to the 1975 vintage.
Wemyss Malts (distilled at Glenrothes) 1988 Aromatic Orange Tobacco, 46%
Single Malt Scotch | $188
Highly fragrant and citric, mixing dried and sweet orange peels, moist sultana fruitcake. Lightly malty with gentle nuances of fruit syrup. Pretty and elegant in the mouth, where there’s orange barley water, mint, and crystallized ginger on top of a thick, honeyed delivery before the classic ‘Rothes sweet spices come through. Only a drop or two of water is needed. Recommended. £117
As befits an elder of the church, this has a serious attitude, which with the youngest component being 18 years old isn’t a surprise. Full-bodied, but with elegance, not bludgeoning power, this is a refined Rothes: malted barley, creamy oak, oxidative depths. Sweet with stewed plums and red fruit. The palate is unctuous with little hints of geranium and becomes slightly funky with water, though I’d go neat to get the full effect of bitter orange and sweet honeycomb. (Travel Retail exclusive.) €99
The youngest of the Manse Brae triumvirate, and also the freshest. Here is Rothes at its liveliest, with sweet cereal and the typical spiciness of the distillery undercut by citrus peels, dessert apples, and hot malted milk. On the tongue it is quite delicate, but it is how it behaves mid-palate which is the killer, just stopping and allowing the fruits to liquefy in the center of the tongue. Fantastic price as well. (Travel Retail exclusive.) €40
The newest expression from the 1990s. Heavier, richer, and more ripe that the 1987 Vintage reviewed above. It is very creamy and mouth-coating, with layers of sweetness (vanilla, caramel, light toffee, white chocolate), fruit (sultana, plum), along with a good underpinning of oak spice. A very nice effort for a whisky this young.
Style: Speyside single malt scotch Color: Amber gold Aroma: Full and creamy. Floral, honey, fruit gum drops. Palate: Rich and mouth-coating. Clean. Nicely balanced. Notes of vanilla, honey, and assorted fruits up front, followed by spicy oak notes, with a dried fruit finish.
Spicy on the nose, with deep, full tropical fruit notes, praline, and marzipan. The palate is silky, with fudge and raisins, then cherry liqueur. The finish yields dark chocolate and citrus fruit, plus peppery oak.
Adelphi (distilled at Glenrothes) 1990 20 year old, 58.6%
Single Malt Scotch | $124.00
The nose is redolent with the smells of autumn jam — slowly stewing dark berry fruits — but there’s a hint of hazelnut adding a drier edge alongside some waxed paper. As it opens, out comes argan oil. This constantly changing array of aromas is very Glenrothes, as is the vanilla lift when water is added, which comes with added cordite. The palate is very sweet, filled with fruit syrups and even some dried rose petal. The finish, long. £79
The Glenrothes (Vintage Cask #3) 1998 Vintage, 58.3%
Single Malt Scotch | $110
Lush and fruity. Sappy, with waxed fruit, golden raisin, plum, and nectarine rock candy. Mouth-clinging finish. Definitely post-prandial, after a hearty meal. (With a cigar, perhaps?) (Loch & K(e)y retailer exclusive)
The hue is deep amber and the nose is equally resonant and rich. This is Glenrothes in its most muscular guise, so that while you have the normal layers of fruity complexity, there is an extra weight. Think of citrus peels, sticky dates, walnuts, and fruit leather. The palate is soft and rolling with light tannin. For me, it’s at its best au naturel.
A new NAS, this has a thick, silky nose in classic ‘Rothes style which reminds you of coffee cream icing, hazelnut syrup, semi-dried soft fruits, and horchata. The palate has elegance and poise, with a hint of menthol lifting off into pecan and light grippy oak. Has excellent length and mellow flow. Water slightly reduces its voluptuous charms, so be careful (or simply avoid). Praise for revealing all the vintages used, and the fantastic price. Chapeau! £39
Very bright and lively, with a nice balance of flavors. Zesty fruit (lemon, peach, ripe pineapple, golden raisin) on a bed of layered sweetness (creamy vanilla, light honey, lightly toasted marshmallow, and a hint of coconut). Gently dry, delicately spicy, dried citrus finish. Light enough and with enough zing to enjoy before dinner, but it should stand up well enough after dinner, too. This is a nice whisky, but it shows a lighter, more elegant side of Glenrothes. It doesn’t express the rich, opulent notes often shown in bottlings like the 1972 Vintage, for example.
Amber gold color. Rich, honeyed malt in aroma. Quite floral, with subtle notes of dried fruit. Full, rich body. Very malty flavors, with notes of honeyed fruit up front, turning dry on the finish with notes of oak, vanilla, and dried fruit.
Light berry fruit notes, with resin, walnuts, and icing sugar on the nose. More confident berry notes on the palate, with a hint of cloves, then developing licorice, dark chocolate, and tangerine. The finish is spicy, with aniseed.
Though this has been on the shelves in the UK for a while, its U.S. release has been delayed. It shows a classic mature ‘Rothes nose, mixing moist fruitcake, vanilla, and a tickle of maltiness. What sets this apart is the weight of the stewed fruit and a dry note reminiscent of light rain on tweed. The palate is typically slow with a sparky spiciness and a lick of hazelnut butter to caress your throat. Worth the wait.
This hails from the first of Rothes’ stock that was specifically laid down for the vintage release program. The nose shows typical Rothes softness — woolen blankets and malted milk. As it opens. there’s wet linen, caramel fudge, and a hint of mixed berry and dark fruits slowly collapsing into jam. A touch of sherried nuttiness on the palate is followed by thick clover honey and a little crisp malt. The finish is gentle, lightly spiced with a touch of struck match sulfur.
Peerless (distilled at Glenrothes) 1967, 35 year old, 40.5%
Single Malt Scotch | $135.00
Antique gold color. Rich, thick malty aroma with interwoven notes of fruit, anise, and polished oak. Medium to full in body and rich in texture and flavor, with chewy toffee, roasted nuts, vanilla fudge, and candied fruit. Soothing finish, with a gentle sweetness balanced by a soft, leathery dryness.
Exclusive Malts (distilled at Glenrothes) 1996, 52.3%
Single Malt Scotch | $140
A very immediate, expressive, sweet start, with manuka honey dribbling on top of baked fruits, sweet citrus, and a dollop of clotted cream on the side. All very luscious and calorific. As if this dessert theme wasn’t sufficient, the palate lays it on even more thickly, with apricot now joining the mass of fruits. The light grip adds very necessary structure and stops things getting floppy. One for those with a sweet tooth. Recommended.(U.S. only)
Last year, four whisky editors were invited by Glenrothes’ heritage director Ronnie Cox to choose a single cask bottling. Being opinionated hacks, they couldn’t agree and so two casks were chosen! This, the oldest, from a refill butt, is for the European markets, and shows hints of rancio: truffle, leaf mold, boot polish, and star anise. The impression is of faded elegance with tannins, fruit, and spice in harmony, and a hint of pomegranate-like bitterness just on the end. £600
Bold, with a slightly blunt entrance. The cask influence is to the fore, mixing rum and raisin with a slight yeasty/dough-like edge that sits alongside caramelized fruits. In time, there’s sweet draff, malt loaf (with butter), and the smell of old cupboards. It gets creamier with water. Medium-bodied with a light savory note in the middle that then drifts toward Brazil nut, and Assam tea. A solid performer. Bristol Milk sherry rather than old oloroso. £55
One thing I enjoy about these vintage releases are the differences in personality from one vintage to the next. This 1998 vintage follows shortly after the 1994, and while that one was elegant and bright in personality, this 1998 is more viscous and heavier in weight. It shows bright fruit (lemon, caramelized pineapple, tangerine), honeyed vanilla, and marzipan with a peppering of cinnamon and ginger. Perhaps the 1994 as an aperitif, and the 1998 a digestif? The 1998 is not nearly as post-prandial as, say, the 1972 vintage, but it has more weight than the 1994 vintage. Still, if I had to choose between the 1994 and 1998, my nod goes to the 1994 for its elegance and drinkability.
A very fragrant, fruity whisky (orange, tangerine, plum, nectarine) with interwoven notes of honeyed malt, toasted oak, vanilla, and subtle anise. I love the creamy, mouth-coating texture of this whisky and its soothing finish. All the vintages of Glenrothes that have been released over the years are worthy of your hard-earned money, and this one is no exception. There's not as much depth as some of the older, more mature expressions, but the lively youthfulness of this whisky makes up for it.
This 1984 Vintage is similar in profile to its older 1972 Vintage sibling (reviewed above), except that the 1972 Vintage expresses greater depth and has more oak to balance the sweetness (the sherry notes get a bit sappy in this 1984 expression). The 1972 Vintage also evolves more on the palate, and it is more intriguing. But don't let this keep you from trying this 1984 Vintage expression. It is still a very enjoyable whisky (and more economically priced).
Matured exclusively in ex-bourbon barrels (American white oak, or quercus alba), and certified kosher. It’s a softer, gentler version of Glenrothes. The bourbon oak influence is very evident, showing creamy vanilla and coconut, with additional fruit (orange creamsicle, pineapple, black raspberry, blueberry, and gooseberry). Soft, creamy vanilla finish. A pleasant, easy-going, seamless dram—and perhaps the most approachable Glenrothes whisky.
The first non-vintage Glenrothes in recent memory, allowing the distillery more flexibility in cask selection when making a bottling. True to Glenrothes, this expression is mouth-coatingly malty, with well-integrated bright fruit notes, creamy vanilla, praline and honey. Nutty, delicately spicy finish.
A typical Rothes nose, with vanilla, granola, apple, Brazil nut, lemon, and
low-level sweet spices mixing with lightly oxidized fruits. That said, it needs
water, especially for the palate, where the malty crispness of the undiluted
taste is replaced by something more considered, darkly fruity and gently spicy;
coriander is uppermost. All in all, this is Rothes in very approachable rather
than dynamic guise. One for a lazy afternoon.
Adelphi (distilled at Glenrothes) 7 year old, 67.4%
Single Malt Scotch | $135
Massive with a huge sherried attack; seven years is the right time to bottle. There’s light raisin, date, and fig roll/treacle toffee, but it’s a funny one as it develops; while it is superficially impressive, it becomes clear that the oak-driven and distillery-derived parts, aren’t talking to each other. Water brings out light cask-driven sulfur. On the palate, the black fruits and Demerara rum take initial charge along with menthol. It’s tannic already, though. Lacks integration, but what else to do?
Signatory (distilled at Glenrothes), Cask #1082, 12 year old, 1994 vintage, 46%
Single Malt Scotch | $60.00
Very much in the Glenrothes style, with a viscous texture that clings to the palate. Very perfumed and fragrant, too, with flavors of assorted dried fruit, vanilla, golden raisin, citrus, and honey that dry quickly on the palate. A suggestion of peat lingers in the background and on the whisky’s clinging finish.
Single Malts of Scotland (distilled at Glenrothes) 1990, 49.4%
Single Malt Scotch | $151
Light gold. From a refill bourbon cask, here we have more marzipan and some light maltiness alongside very fresh fruit and delicate vanilla. This is Rothes in slightly lean and hungry mode, with its signature fruits and spices in the background. Needs water to smooth things out. When that happens, there’s lemon drizzle cake, leafiness, and walnut flour. A little short on the finish. £90
A single cask bottling of The Glenrothes aged in a first-fill sherry cask. Only 519 bottles, all destined for the U.S. It is the richest, chewiest, sweetest, and fruitiest of all the Glenrothes whiskies reviewed here. Deep mahogany color, with notes of toffee apples, waxed fruit, burnt orange, prunes in syrup, and dark chocolate. The intensity of the sherry and length of oak-aging gives the whisky a flavor profile that begins to transcend traditional whisky flavors, expressing notes of port wine, pot-still rum, and rancio.
A 1992 ‘Rothes finished in a peated cask, this shows immediate smoke along with some cellar notes. Behind is some laurel and a light lemon touch. It has surprising intensity. It’s all very clean and fresh, but while the smoke is there it wanders about in a somewhat distracted fashion. Like the recent Glenlivet peated cask offering it just lacks integration. Maybe if you want smoke, you should peat the barley. Who’da thunk it? £42
The second of the duo — destined for the U.S. and Taiwan — is a relative youngster and has been extracted from a fresh Spanish oak sherry hogshead. The combination of first-fill and smaller cask size is immediately apparent. The color is mocha dark and the nose has a distinctly sulfurous twist, behind which are black cherries dipped in chocolate, tonka bean, and leather. For me, there’s too much cask and not sufficient Rothes complexities, especially on the palate.