Whisky Review: The Glenrothes 18 Speyside Single Malt

, | March 12, 2022

Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by Glenrothes. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

The Soleo Collection from The Glenrothes pays homage to a key process in the lineage of these whiskies. Before Pedro Ximénez or moscatel grapes are made into sweet sherry, they undergo soleo, or sun-drying; turning from green and yellow to deep purple, courtesy of the Andalusian rays. These grapes are pressed, the juice fermented and fortified, the wine matured in American and Spanish oak casks. Only after the sherry is drained do these casks approach the distillery, ready to be refilled with sweet Speyside malt.

Today, we focus on a member of that collection, The Glenrothes 18 Year, which is finished in a high proportion of first-fill sherry casks. As with many of its peers, Glenrothes (the brand and the distillery) has changed ownership time and time again. It’s remained open and producing, though, and maintained a high reputation. Glenrothes distills not only for its own bottlings, but for blending stock as well (it’s a component of the polarizing Cutty Sark).

Their process has its own nuances. In order to manage any differences in mash character, Glenrothes ferments in both wood and stainless steel at a ratio of two wood to one steel. A short fermentation brings the cereal character to the fore. In contrast, the distillation is long–55 to 60 hours–in tall stills that maximize reflux. Water is only from two springs: the Ardcanny and the Brauchhill.

The Glenrothes 18 review

The Glenrothes 18 (image via The Glenrothes)

Tasting Notes: The Glenrothes 18 Speyside Single Malt

Vital stats: The Glenrothes 18 Speyside Single Malt is made from 100% malted barley and aged 18 years in sherry casks. It’s bottled at 96 proof with no color added. Find a 700-750mL bottle nationwide and in select markets globally for $160.

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Appearance: This liquid is very clear, the pale side of medium amber. It coats the glass and slowly forms fat tears.

Nose: Raisins – soft tannins and all, sweet bordered by dry. There’s also faraway gingerbread with burnt sugar edges.

Palate: On the palate it’s sweet and hot; light, thinner than it looks. Pipe tobacco savoriness on the mid-palate leads to a buckwheat cereal note on the finish.

3

Summary

For all the time and sherry, I expected a richer whisky in this glass. The Glenrothes is known for delicacy, but some complexity to show for the years would make this a more exciting dram.

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Cindy Capparelli

In 2014 I founded Portland Bitters Project with the vision to create the best bitters on the market. Now our bitters are enjoyed around the country and internationally to make expressive, delicious cocktails. I teach at two Portland colleges and visit private groups, distilleries and maker's spaces to spread the...