Editor’s Note: These whiskies were provided to us as review samples by The Glenrothes. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review.
I remember working at a local restaurant ages ago and we got this new Scotch on the shelf. Enter Glenrothes to my life. I loved it. Fruit forward and easy to drink, definitely a stand out as far as Scotches went at that time in my life. These days I’m a bit more seasoned in regards to the whiskey palate, but still have fond memories of that first experience with Glenrothes. When it comes down to it, I’ll admit to being a Speyside kind of guy, though there’s nothing quite like a choice Islay Scotch when there’s that winter chill in the air.
Here we have the Glenrothes Soleo Collection, well, at least four out of the five, with the 25 year expressi0n missing from the mix. According to those behind it, is said to be the new core standard for the distillery and replaces both the Vintages and Reserves. The Soleo name of this set hails from the traditional process of sun drying Spanish grapes before pressing them to make sherry. Glenrothes additionally has an Aqua collection featuring a Whisky Maker’s Dram and a 12 year whisky.
Glenrothes distillery was founded in 1879 by James Stuart, who had worked previously at the Macallan Distillery. You will find the distillery situated adjacent to the Burn of Rothes in the Speyside region of Scotland, thus the name. Over the years, Glenrothes has suffered several set-backs, including two fires and the loss of 10 stills, but has emerged into a beautiful facility emanating harmony and tranquility.
“The Glenrothes is a true craft single-malt,” said Gordon Motion, The Glenrothes master whisky maker, in a prepared statement. “Taking things back to a vital yet simple natural process, this new collection allows us to tell a vital part of the story that hasn’t before been highlighted in this way. We believe in sharing the inspiring detail in how and why we create the whiskies we do. The Soleo Collection does exactly that; making these fantastic new whiskies is testament to our commitment to craftsmanship and quality.”
Doing vertical tastings is a great educational experience. Trying the whiskies side by side, noting how much or little a couple more years of aging can impact flavors, or how a bump in proof can bring a bit more nuances to the table. It’s definitely not easy attempting to notice all of the differences with each expression.
The Glenrothes Soleo Collection (image via The Glenrothes)
Tasting Notes: Glenrothes 10 Years Old
Vital Stats: 10 years old, 80 proof, 40% ABV ~$45 per 750ml bottle
Appearance: Pale yellow
Nose: Sherry, lemon peel, floral.
Palate: Light body, melon, some heat with a floral finish.
Final Thoughts: This is a good introductory Scotch for those wanting to get better aquainted with sherry cask finishes. It’s easy to drink and all of the flavor notes are fairly pronounced.
Tasting Notes: Glenrothes 12 Years Old
Vital Stats: 12 years old, 80 proof, 40% ABV ~ $55 per 750ml bottle
Appearance: Yellow straw, agave.
Nose: Floral, honey, sherry lingers in the background.
Palate: Banana, citrus, sherry, and a touch of peat.
Final Thoughts: Very much similar to the 10 year, but definitely more complex with those peat elements.
Tasting Notes: Glenrothes Whiskey Maker’s Cut
Vital Stats: No age statement, 96 proof, 48% ABV ~$75 per 750ml bottle
Appearance: Amber hues, rich brown.
Nose: Maraschino cherry, fruity.
Palate: Fruity up front, followed by nutty flavors and pepper spice.
Final Thoughts: My favorite of the bunch. Bigger flavors with the higher proof, but a good balance of fruit notes and a dash of spice.
Tasting Notes: Glenrothes 18 Years Old
Vital Stats: 18 years old, 86 proof, 43% ABV, ~ $130 per 750ml bottle
Appearance: Light honey.
Nose: Orchard fruit, honey, and a touch of oak.
Palate: Pear/papaya, sherry, whisper of peat, and white pepper.
Final Thoughts: A great finisher for this collection, with each expression showing more depth of flavors. However, I could do with a tad less sherry presence throughout. They are all tasty sippers, but was hoping for more variance in this set.