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Glenrothes was founded in 1878 by a group of investors linked to the Macallan distillery near Aberlour. Even in its infancy, the Glenrothes spirit was known as good quality blending whisky and that has been its main purpose for most of its life. The spirit contributed to brands like Cutty Sark and The Famous Grouse. Indeed, the distillery’s relationship with the former of the two brands would be a long one.
Cutty Sark was owned by London wine merchant Berry Bros & Rudd and malt whisky from Glenrothes was a crucial component of the blend for over 70 years. In 2010, Berry Bros & Rudd sold Cutty Sark to Edrington and acquired the Glenrothes Single Malt brand in return. Edrington retained ownership of the distillery itself but signed long-term supply agreements to provide stock for single malt bottlings.
Glenrothes is bottled by vintage rather than age statement. Although, one or two no-age-statement (or as Berry’s like to call it, non vintage specific) expressions are available. As well as these official bottlings, Glenrothes is often released by independent bottlers. Some of these releases can be excellent.
This particular Glenrothes was bottled by the Creative Whisky Company on behalf of the Glasgow-based Good Spirits Co.. The Good Spirits Co. was founded in 2011 by Shane Goodbody, Matthew McFadyen and Mark Connolly. The three met while working at Oddbins and cleverly identified that there was a gap in the Glasgow market for a specialist spirits store. Since its launch, the company has expanded to include two other premises: the Good Sprits Wine & Beer shop and a store on Clarence Drive in the city’s west end. They specialise in sourcing interesting bottles from all over the world and run regular events in their purpose-built tasting room. I’ve attended a fair few of these over the last few years and there is no doubt that they have greatly enhanced my own knowledge, not to mention introducing me to an incredible range of brands that I would likely never have come across otherwise. Take my word for it, a trip to the Good Spirits Co. is essential for any whisky lover that happens to find themselves in Glasgow.
Smell: Big Sherry notes at first with Raisins & Sultanas, Figs & Prunes, a little Cherry and Dark Chocolate. There’s also a touch of Tropical Fruit with Pineapple and Banana notes.
Taste: Good weight. Those Sherry notes again, along with Cinnamon and Nutmeg, Pineapple, Caramel and Cocoa.
Thoughts: Glenrothes is a strange malt, in some ways. I’ve had good and, ahem, less good, versions of the official range and even with independent releases, I’ve found it can be hit and miss. A lot of releases seem to be matured in sherry casks but I’m not entirely convinced that the spirit really suits it. Oftentimes, I’m not sure that it is robust enough to stand up to the sherry casks. Fortunately, this Good Spirits bottling comes across pretty well. There’s lots of sherry certainly, but it doesn’t completely overpower. A price of £52.50 is also rather exceptional for a single cask release of just 150 bottles.