The Glenrothes Select Reserve

Welcome to whiskyreviews.net… and my first review of 2016! As well as reviewing a single malt, I thought I would spend a bit of time this week talking about the benefits of adding water to your dram.

Why do people add water to whisky? Basically, a few drops of water can have a beneficial effect by ‘opening up’ a whisky and revealing new flavours and complexities. This is because it alters the makeup of the flavour compounds in the liquid. The addition of water will also tone down any alcohol burn which could otherwise hinder your enjoyment of the dram. That’s the principle behind a few drops of water in the glass. For me, some whisky is improved by water and some isn’t and it can even be dependent on my mood at the time. The best advice I can give is to play around yourself. Try with water and without. You could even pour a couple of drams and add a splash of water to one and not the other, then you can see for yourself the difference between the two and decide which you prefer. 

The Glenrothes Distillery is in the town of Rothes in Speyside (not the Fife town of Glenrothes as I assumed when I first got into whisky). It dates back to 1879 and over the years became a key ingredient in some of the leading blends on the market. The current owners are London’s oldest wine merchant Berry Bros and Rudd who’s relationship with the distillery can be traced back to 1923 when they first used Glenrothes in their Cutty Sark blend. Then, in 2010, Berry Bros sold the Cutty Sark brand to Edrington and gained the Glenrothes single malt as part of the deal. They adopted the practice of ‘Vintage’ releases in place of traditional aged expressions and have gone on to much acclaim.

This ‘Select Reserve’ however, according to the website, is ‘a non-vintage-specific selection…’ which sounds a lot like they’re trying to avoid saying ‘non-age statement’. On the nose there’s Honey and vibrant Fruit notes, Tropical even – there’s Banana and Pineapple as well as a touch of Butterscotch in there. Taste wise, we’re looking at Honey and Vanilla with a good hit of Spice. Then fruit again with Pineapple and Lemon.

The ScoresAbout the Scoring System

Smell: 15.5/20. Those fruit notes are interesting but quite a light nose overall.

Taste: 16/20. It’s not huge but I like the spice and as with the nose the fruit notes give something a little unique to the Glenrothes.

Value: 7/10. Recommended retail is around £35 although I’ve often seen it going cheaper in supermarkets. I’ll be honest, I don’t love it, though it is a decent enough dram. A little youthful maybe but water certainly helps reign it in a bit.

Total: 38.5/50. It’s OK. I feel like there are better whiskies in the price bracket but on sale I’d consider it. There’s enough character there however to suggest that other expressions from this distillery, with a little more age to them, could be well worth exploring.

For more on the Glenrothes…

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