The Grapes of Roth(es)

Posted 12 September 2017 by Matt / In Glenrothes
The Dramble's tasting notes for Glenrothes 1988

Bottle Name: Glenrothes 1988

ABV: 43%
Cask Type: Spanish sherry and American oak casks
Distillery: Glenrothes
Region: Speyside Age: 25

Rothes is currently home to four distilleries – Glen Grant, Glen Spey, Speyburn and Glenrothes. Caperdonich was also located in the town, but was mothballed in 2002 and sadly demolished in 2010. Glenrothes was founded in 1878 and its amalgamation with Bunnahabhain on Islay brought ‘Highland Distillers’ into existence. Its production capacity increased in the 1960’s with the addition of an additional pair of stills (taking the total to six). In 2010, owners Berry Bros & Rudd sold their Cutty Sark blended whisky brand to Erdington in exchange for the ownership of Glenrothes. Early this year, Edrington bought the distillery back from Berry’s with new plans to increase the distilleries penetration in to the international markets for single malt.

Glenrothes now produces a fairly wide range of single malt whiskies. These come either as NAS bottlings, or as vintages, rather than as age-statement expressions. Today’s bottling of Glenrothes was distilled in December 1988 and matured in Spanish sherry and American oak casks. It was bottled in 2014 (at 25 years of age) and has an ABV of 43%.

Nose: Opulent, complex and quite woody. Orange peels and stem ginger provide a lively start that is reinforced by herbal mint and fresh pine. Then we’re firmly into deeper and older notes – pronounced wood polish, and leather-bound books give more than a hint of the age of this Rothes. Dried fruits, fresh tobacco, wood smoke and marzipan provide us with some sherried goodness. The balancing of aged, sherried and woody notes is exceptionally well done – nothing feeling jarring or overpowering.

Taste: The cask comes out to play. Full and coating mouthfeel with a fair whack of woody spice – black pepper and cloves in particular. Orange marmalade and crystallised ginger impart sprightly top notes, whilst polish, and leather provide some welcome depth. Surprisingly full for the 43% ABV.

Finish: Long with a lovely astringency, sweet honey and some light salinity.

Glenrothes 1988 shows a wonderful balance and impact that belies its 43% ABV. It manages to take complex aged, cask-driven and sherry notes and marry them all incredibly well together into something truly delicious. It smells and tastes expensive – and, alas, it is, at around £350 retail. However, you should be able to improve significantly on that price by scouting out a few auctions – that’s what I did.

Score: 89/100

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