Last night I attended a very cosy launch of the new Reserve expression from Glenrothes in one of the cellars in Berry Bros & Rudd's amazing 300 year old off license in St James. I have such a soft spot for Glenrothes having visited the distillery back in March and subsequently spent most of the year talking about thinking about Edrington Group for work reasons, so it was lovely to spend some time with the people and liquid again. We tasted the Sherry Cask Reserve again (still a lovely nose) and the Alba Reserve, which has been renamed to Bourbon Cask Reserve (to avoid confusion) which is one of my favourite "drinking" whiskies.
The Peated Cask Reserve is the new expression, and it's almost unheard of to find a peated Glenrothes (the last peated liquid from the stills was in the '70s and that was at microscopic levels of peat by today’s standards). This is a vatting of 3 1992 Glenrothes casks finished in a "Williamson" Islay casks (Bessie Williamson was a distillery manager at Laphroaig, I think we’re invited to read what we like into that). The first batch is an initial release of 1,500 bottles (so they must have been sherry butts) which has been entirely taken by M&S so you’ll have to look there to pick one up. The whisky only spent 2 months in the Islay cask to finish.
Glenrothes Peated Cask Reserve, 40% A+
Body - Spicy, green chilli, menthol cigarettes, fried green pepper. Underneath this is a balancing backbone of sweet Glenrothes spirit but it's interesting how "supporting" this has become after only 2 months in an Islay cask.
Finish - Quite bitter, lots of tobacco and not very typical of the distillery! Interesting to see the brand changing and experimenting a bit more too. From speaking to Ronnie Cox (brand ambassador) Glenrothes is going to start accelerating in quality due to more focus on casks and quality over the last decade or so.
I do like this though, it's an interesting spin on a classic, easy drinking whisky and that sweet core makes it quite returnable. Recommended…. as the alba/bourbon cask reserve. I’m still chasing that 80s bourbon cask…