It’s new whisky time. Which, to be honest, is one of the best times. Just in time for Burns Night 2012, one of my favorite distilleries The Glenrothes were kind enough to send me their new Vintage 1995 bottling. Let’s talk whisky.
Like many producers in Scotland, The Glenrothes was founded in the late nineteenth century – 1879 to be exact – and has changed hands a number of times since. It started out under control of the same gent behind The Macallan, but is now part of the Berry Bros. & Rudd portfolio. Unlike with big multi-national brands, I’d be happy to hear of a Berry Bros. takeover anytime.
Unusually, the whiskies are not released in age-stated batches, but instead by vintage. 1998 was the first vintage to be released that had been designed this way, and the new 1995 was the first distilled to be released as a vintage. It just took a little longer to get there – what we’ve got here is a sixteen year old whisky that was aged in 30% sherry-treated casks (mix of Spanish and American oak) and 70% refill casks that to my nose smell of ex-American Bourbon. It’s a sort of odd-ball wood profile, but John Ramsay knew what he was doing.
They’ve bottled it at 43% and the color is all natural, which is great, though it is chill-filtered. 46%, non-chill-filtered would be better, but this is still heads and shoulders above most of what you’ll find on liquor store shelves. The bottle is the distinctive Glenrothes bottle, and the stopped has a sturdy wood cap on top. Well done.
Now for the best part. On the nose the Glenrothes 1995 is exceptionally creamy, with a floral-honey and fruit backbone, but if you let it sit in the glass for 10-15 minutes the fruit really explodes and the creaminess begins playing the supporting role. Partly due to being 43% it’s a little peppery on the tongue without water, but the arrival is rich and mouth-coating. The mid-palate is fruit-dominated and on the sweet side, but you get a great burnt caramel note at the end that dries everything out. A little water turns the custardy note into butter and the apricots into raspberries – sort of like swapping a fruitcake for a tart.
Overall, I wholeheartedly recommend the stuff. Looks like it will be going for $82 when it hits shelves next week in time for reciting the words of the Poet Burns. Definitely a good value in this price range. Really soft and rich in the mouth, good clean fruit flavors, and a nuanced honey note that avoids that sickly generic honey-bear flavor. Exactly what good Speyside whisky should be, and a new favorite on my bar.
Thanks to The Glenrothes for supplying a review bottle. Check out their Vintage Maker video as well.