Whisky Review – Glenrothes Vintage Reserve

Glenrothes Vintage Reserve
40% ABV
£39.95 retail price when it becomes available in the UK.

The newest release from Glenrothes, the official information follows:


Berry Bros. & Rudd Spirits is delighted to announce the release of Vintage Reserve from award-winning Speyside distillery, The Glenrothes. As with many single malts, the new expression carries no age statement but, in an unprecedented move, all the Vintages used in this single malt have been revealed.

Vintage Reserve is the expression that best epitomises The Glenrothes Vintage Single Malt philosophy of bottling whisky only once it has reached the peak of its maturity. Vintage Reserve comprises 10 different Vintages from the last three decades: 1989, 1992, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007.

The combination of different Vintages aged in a variety of casks creates a balanced whisky with mature experience and vibrant youth: the most venerable constituent (a full 25 years old) is Vintage 1989, bringing mellow oak and dried fruits; the greatest proportion is Vintage 1998, adding soft, mature, sweet vanilla; the more youthful vintages add exuberance and lemon citrus notes.

Malt Master, Gordon Motion has hand-selected the very finest casks to create the Vintage Reserve, using character and flavour as his guide, not a pre-determined age. Gordon Motion’s flavour notes appear on the front label: “Mellow, soft fruits, citrus and honey.”

Ronnie Cox, The Glenrothes Brand Heritage Director, states: “Unlike other malts that bottle by age, we choose whiskies that represent the best of a particular year and marry them together when they are ready. Whisky enthusiasts want to know what they are buying and, as ever, we are happy to oblige by being open and transparent about the 10 Vintages assembled together for Vintage Reserve, our most complex Reserve to date.”

The Glenrothes Vintage Reserve will launch in Taiwan initially in November 2014 with worldwide release following in 2015. The recommended retail price is TW$1200 per bottle.

My own notes:


Instantly complex. Sherried dark fruits, raisin, ripe plums, rum soaked sultanas. Rich vanilla. Cherry stones. Apples. Old leather bound books. Polished oak. Cedar wood. Wood glue. Tobacco. With some time in the glass we get more confectionary notes, powdered sugar, banana foam sweets, marshmallow, and a whiff of a floral bouquet. With all this complexity of age, there is still an air of youth in the nose, a touch of lively spirit behind the scenes. More time in the glass and we have some fruity sherbert, refreshers sweeties. This is a sultry, changing nose, which has a lot to offer.


A sweet and savoury (with a little salt) arrival, some dark fruit development around the sherried raisin found on the nose. Some apple and banana into the development which has confectionary, caramel, honey, toffee, chocolate. It is quite the chocolate bar with lush caramel further into the development. The mouth feel is surprising oily and coating, and immensely chewy. There is a youth on the palate which differs from the initial experience on the nose. This is a very tasty whisky.


The finish is medium to long, concentrating on the warming chewy caramel and chocolate. With some dusting cocoa, and a touch of light spearmint at the very end.

Adding water.

A small drop added. The nose is now well and truly concentrated on the floral, with some chocolate notes, the original layered complexity is quite simplified, but there is still a retention of some of the aged aromas, polish, tobacco etc. The palate is slightly simplified now, and a more consistent arrival/development is experienced, lots of caramel, honey and chocolate, with a touch of the previously experienced fruits, but with additional sweet orange citrus. The finish is similar, with some honeycomb and orange notes now alongside the caramel. This is a sweet tooth’s dram. As to the argument of with or without water, well, I would continue without water, as there is a noticeable drop int he mouth feel and overall luxury of the experience.


An excellent desert whisky. This one has a lot of fattening flavours and a very interesting, explorable nose. The palate is not quite as complex as the nose suggests, but it is most luscious and very quaffable. One to enjoy after a roast meal and waste away the evening with in good company. Excellent stuff.

In addition, it would be absolutely amazing to try this at 46% with no chill filtering, it’s already damn good stuff, and I feel that would make this a truly exceptional whisky.

Much thanks to Glenrothes for providing the review sample.


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