Sweet and bitter dessert from the Middle East
The Glenrothes distillery is a peculiar story. The brand itself is in the hands of London wine merchants Berry Bros & Rudd. However the day to day operations are done by the Edrington Group, owners of The Macallan and Highland Park. They own the site and the equipment.
Most of the distillery output goes into Cutty Sark and The Grouse Blends. The remaining 2% single malt from Glenrothes, just like wine companies, is released as specific vintages. Currently they offer a 1995, a 1998 and a 2001 expression with distinctively shaped bottles.
In 1979, after some major building works, distillery workers reported sightings of a ghost on the site. The ghost was recognized as Byeway Makalunga. Byeway was a black South-African distillery worker (a very rare sight those days) who came to Scotland with Glenrothes-owner Colonel Grant and died in 1972. The distillery workers still perform a daily "toast to the ghost".
Identity Card Chapter 7 Glenrothes 1997
- Bottled by Chapter 7
- Glenrothes Distillery, Rothes (Speyside)
- 1997 - 17 years old single malt
- Alcohol: 54.5% ABV
- Bourbon hogshead #15721 | 219 bottles
Colour: The whisky balances between straw and white port. It leaves thin and fast legs on the glass.
Nose: The first aromatic wave is one of pineapple and melons. The nose stings a little so swirl gently. Grape nectar and dextrose. Aromatized brandy wine with apples. A light spiciness makes sure everything is in balance. Cumin, turmeric and crushed coriander seeds. Sweet yellow prunes, almond liquor and Japanese prune brandy.
With water there's a whiff of tropical fruit. The sweetness is less pronounced. A little bit of bitterness from melon peel. Panna cotta with passion fruit sherbet.
Taste: A powerful combination of sweet and bitter. Lots of oak, yet the subdued sweetness holds ground. Prunes and Mirabelle plums. Gooseberry, honey and vanilla. A rich cake served with a fruit salad. Light and oily mouthfeel.
Water makes the whisky pleasantly soft. After a while a slight bitter spiciness emerges. And yet again there's some fruity crème de banane and peaches.
Finish: A warm finale that dries the mouth with spices and a final burst of banana ice cream.
The bitter flavours are maybe a bit too dominant for my palate but this is a very good and consistent independent Glenrothes. A few drops of water transform it from a good to a very good single malt. A rare treat and very different from the standard Glenrothes offerings.
Sample provided by Selim from Chapter 7
Picture: Jurgens Whiskyhuis