Glenrothes 1998 Review

“Blend Me Or Shape Me”

Whisky Review # 641

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Glenrothes 1998
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: Around 12 Years (Bottled in 2011)
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 43%
Maturation: Mix of Bourbon - and Sherry seasoned casks. 
Chill Filtration: Yes 
Price Range: US$ 50-70 (September 2017) 
Buying Advice: 😒 Negative Price/Quality Ratio. Indifferent Wood.  

Colour: Dark Gold with hints of Orange (Natural Colour)

Nose: I'm not too impressed to be honest. I'm not at all sure if I would have recognised this as a Single Malt in a blind tasting. I do get some Refill Sherry Casks as well as some Sulphur but as a whole this comes across as an improved and less aggressive version of the Select Reserve. On the Nose this Glenrothes is rather Light with Floral (Honey) and Citrus (Orange and Lemon) in the lead. I also find Pancakes with Maple Syrup, Buttered Toast, Caramel, Butterscotch, Nut Shells, a bit of Dried Fruit like Raisins and Apricot, Strawberry Yogurt, Apple, White Grapes, Mango, Green Wood, Green Vegetables, Milk and Ginger. Perhaps the faintest possible hint of Smoke. I'm not sure though. The Alcohol is there but not as Sharp and Edgy as in the Select Reserve. All in all a bit of a mixed bag!

Palate: The Alcohol is more noticeable now and I get some Sulphur again. I find Sugared and Toasted Breakfast Cereals, Toffee, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Straw, Nut Shells, Refill Wood, Honey, Green Apples, Pear, Orange Juice, Pepper, Ginger, Nutmeg, Mint and Cappuccino.

Finish: Middle-Long, Bitter-Sweet, Malty and Spicy. Rather Thin and Rough though. The Alcohol is more noticeable and there's a slight Metallic off-note right at the end. I find Malt, Sugared Breakfast Cereals, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Nut Shells, Honey, Refill Oak, Straw, Pepper, Ginger, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Lemon and Mint. Sugared Orange Peels perhaps. Dried Banana Chips after a while.

Drinking Advice:
The Glenrothes 1998 does not improve with added Water. Better sip it neat.

Rating: 81.5

Nose: 20.5 - Taste: 20.5 - Finish: 20 - Overall: 20.5

General Remarks:

🏣   The Distillery and Today's Whisky:

The Glenrothes distillery is located in Rothes (Morayshire) and was founded by James Stuart & Company in 1878. Between 1963 and 1989 the number of Stills increased from 4 to 10. The reason was that Blenders highly appreciated the Glenrothes Spirit and used it in great quantities for Blends like the Famous Grouse and Cutty Sark. The distillery is owned by the Edrington Group since 1999 but the brand name was sold to Independent bottler Berry Bros & Rudd in 2010. The current production amounts to around 4 million litres. Because of the Blender's demand, the first Single Malt was only launched in 1994. Their bottles are quite interesting and different. They actually look like hand grenades!

The distillery is well-known for its Vintage expressions. The 1998 was the first Single Malt released by Malt Master Gordon Motion who replaced John Ramsay when the latter retired. It was also the first vintage that was designated as a vintage right after distillation. Before that, the vintage expressions were composed of existing stocks.

🍷  The Spirit:

The five pair of Stills possess Lyne arms with different angles. Together with a slow distillation process they produce a medium-bodied Fruity, Spicy, lightly peated Spirit. The Water is sourced from the Ardcanny Spring.

🌲  The Wood:

The 1998 Glenrothes matured in a mix of around 2/3 Ex-Bourbon casks and 1/3 of casks that were seasoned with Oloroso Sherry from three different producers in Jerez de la Frontera (Spain).

Drinking Experience: Okay/Good


For the time being I'm not the # 1 fan of this Distillery. The 1998 is not really a bad Single Malt but it does suffer from slightly indifferent Cask Management. I know many people do not care a lot about Sulphur or don't even notice. But I'm not one of those I'm afraid. In the last 5 years I've become quite aware of the overwhelming importance of Wood and Wood treatment in making a good Single Malt. Without it you create a Whisky that might be an excellent ingredient for Blends but simply can't quite convince as a Single Malt. Glenrothes is a relative new-comer to the Single Malt market and profit wise their steady supply to the Blend Industry is probably much more important at the moment. I do hope however that times will change and that somewhere in the future we will be able to enjoy a well-matured 15 year old Glenrothes. The Spirit deserves it!

Jan van den Ende                                                               September 7, 2017

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