Bought: Aberdeen Whisky Shop, 26th June 2019
4.5/5 stars – Amazon (from 18 reviews)
80.56/100 – Whiskybase (average from 61 member votes – 70cl)
In June 2019 I found myself in the Aberdeen Whisky Shop on a quest for a bottle of Islay blended malt by Berry Bros & Rudd (BBR). My search was successful (a future blog) but I also spotted a selection of 10cl bottles by Glenrothes. This Speyside distillery was acquired by BBR in 2010 and in 2018 they released the ‘Soleo Collection’ with age statements of 10, 12, 18 and 25 years and a non-age statement called ‘Whisky Maker’s Cut’. I opted for the 12yo as it offered a bit more maturity than the 10yo and costing £10 it didn’t reduce my wallet to tears.
In the YouTube review below by Chris Goodrum I was quite pleased to hear him say “raw” and “hard” but he added that this is the character of the distillery. Yes it is. The Glenrothes ‘Select Reserve’ was all those things but it gets a mention in Ian Buxton’s book ‘101 Whiskies To Try Before You Die’ because he felt it represented the house style of the distillery. Glenrothes can be a bit of a love/hate whisky for a lot of dramsters but if you like a quintessential Speysider with characterful roughness then it’s worth spending some time with this malt. Its neighbour, The Macallan, might be the lord of the manor but the Glenrothes is the gritty gamekeeper that likes to roll around in the grass and get his tartan troosers dirty.
As the ‘soleo’ name suggests, we’re looking at sherry matured single malts in this new range from Glenrothes. The 12yo scores a respectable 80.56/100 on Whiskybase and reviews elsewhere online are very good. Comments include “smooth, creamy vanilla. Beautifully balanced. Definite keeper”, “a great malt”, “very modern and yet unmistakably Glenrothes” and “a delicious well rounded single malt”.
Tasting notes on Amazon:
Nose: Light fragrance, banana and vanilla
Taste: Banana, lemon and melon with a hint of cinnamon
Finish: Long and sweet, galia melon light spice
Here’s ‘The Good Dram Show’ with their thoughts about the Glenrothes 12yo at 15m 47s on YouTube, which are honest and not altogether complimentary (Nov 2018):
Bought: Malts of Scotland (now ‘Bartels Whisky’), 16th April 2015
B – Whiskybase (from 1 member vote)
This Glenrothes is the first whisky in my collection to break the 30yo barrier. I thought it was about time I tried something old. On the one hand I’ve heard it said that the best age for a single malt is around the mid-teens. This appears to be backed up by scores in the Whisky Bible. But I then hear remarks about how amazing the occasional vintage whisky is. You also have to keep in mind that a 15yo, unless it’s single cask, probably has older whiskies in it. It’s often this older whisky that adds depth, character and maturity. Therefore it was only a matter of time before I wanted to experience this ancient ingredient.
On Whiskybase there are currently 6 previous bottles of Glenrothes listed by Malts of Scotland, all scoring between 85-90/100. One member has scored my 34yo a ‘B’ with the comment “low cask influence considering its age. I like it though.” Here are his tasting notes:
Nose: Oily with creamy vanilla, fruits and some mineral hues.
Taste: Its jammy [the way i like it] which stays there in deviance
Finish: Soft and spirity despite the amount of old dryish oak – accompanied by vanillas and a pinch of salt
Bought – Online Whisky Auction, 22nd December 2013
82/100 – Malt Maniacs (average from 2 reviewers)
85/100 – Whisky Fun (April 2008)
I must confess, I only bought this miniature bottle of Glenrothes at auction because a) the box has ‘Gordon’ on it and b) it was cheap (£1.25). I have a cousin called Gordon so I thought it would be nice to give him a whisky gift with his name on it (even though it’s designed to be for the surname ‘Gordon’). It was only when the bottle arrived that I did some research. I knew it was old because of having the ‘Glenlivet’ as part of the name but I discovered it’s a bottle from the 1980s. Getting 85/100 from a review on Whisky Fun was an added bonus. They finish by saying of this malt “a rather oomphy old young malt whisky”. I do like a bit of oomph from my dram!
Bought – Waitrose, 11th November 2013
80/100 – Whisky Bible 2013
80/100 might not seem like an amazing mark from Jim Murray but that still ranks as a “good whisky worth trying”. He deducts most points for the nose of this whisky. I don’t know about you but I tend not to spend a huge amount of time sniffing my dram. I’m more about the tasting! And with Glenrothes we have the exact opposite of the smoky, peaty Islay malts. The ‘Select Reserve’ is the entry-level, typical example of the Glenrothes taste – citrus, floral, bit of spice, dried fruit, creamy finish and enough body to keep you feeling satisfied.
I had a look for a second opinion on Malt Maniacs review page and two dramsters have reviewed this ‘Select Reserve’, one giving it 78/100 and the other 80/100, which is consistent with the Whisky Bible. But it wasn’t the ratings that made me want to buy this. My two main reasons were – 1) every collection should have an example of Glenrothes and 2) the ‘Select Reserve’ is mentioned in Ian Buxton’s book “101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die”. Not only that but he says this bottling “typifies the distillery house character”. So if you want to know the backbone taste of every bottle of Glenrothes there is, look no further than the ‘Select Reserve’.
Oh, one last thing. I was going to say that the packaging is terrible (which it is) but they proudly state on the side of the cardboard box that it’s “from 100% primary unbleached fibre from sustainable forest” so well done Glenrothes! And I love the funky bottle shape too!
Here’s Erik Wait with his review on You Tube (July 2016):