Last time I left you as I was about to enter an ominous door marked ‘I. S.’.
In here, the Inner Sanctum, we sampled the core range, dissecting the flavours and chatting in depth about each one, the shape of the bottle and more about the history of the distillery then Ronnie, with his charismatic wit and dry humour whipped out some very special drams indeed.
The room itself is lovely, it is exactly what I want from my office in truth – all the furniture, and I mean all of it, is linked to the process and to casks in some way and most has been designed and built bespoke for this special place.
Crucial to point out here that the distillery is not open to the public, only to press and trade – sorry folks.
Another interesting fact I picked up from the knowledge font that is Ronnie is that most Master Blenders typically sample their whiskies at around 20% ABV to ensure it works when water / ice / mixers added as well as when served neat at 40% ABV and above.
Ever curious about a brand’s bottle design, I asked about its origins and learnt that the bottle it is an extension of the sample bottles of yesteryear, including the label design to differentiate and stand out.
On with the tasting…
First up was the Glenrothes Bourbon Cask Reserve, 40%, matured exclusively in ex-bourbon casks. The nose oozed ceramic and milk chocolate notes where the palate blew this out the water with a big burst of fruit followed by chocolate, all wrapped in a creamy texture. Lovely.
Second was the Glenrothes Sherry Cask Reserve, 40%, matured in first fill sherry casks from both Spain and America that delivers a very leathery nose, pinches of spice, orange and wood notes jump out to greet the heavy sherry influence.
The palate delivered more sherry, more spice and wisps of ginger – gorgeous.
Then we sampled the Glenrothes Vintage Reserve, 40%, matured in 60% refill sherry casks and 40% first fill bourbon casks delivering dark fruits on the nose with hints of banana and maple syrup. The palate opened up, much like the Bourbon Cask Reserve to deliver a creamy whisky laden with lots of spices, Ronnie described it as ‘refined elegance’ and I could not have agreed more.
After a brief interlude to discuss the merits of heralding the past vs. championing the progress made in the generations since we went in for dram number four.
The Glenrothes 2001 Vintage, 12 Years Old, 43% that gave us a delightfully fruity nose and palate; well rounded, sultanas maybe with a very thick palate.
We then sampled the 1988 Vintage that had a lot more zing that I expected, almost fizzy and syrupy with a much dryer palate than I would have thought from the nose, great depth.
As if this was not enough… we finished with a knockout whisky… namely a super limited Glenrothes distilled in 1966, matured for around 45 years in a first fill sherry cask. The notes for this one were brief: ‘Just wow’.
All in all a lovely tasting that lasted around two and a half hours filled with stories, laughter, learning and good, solid whisky chat. Thanks to Ronnie and Glenrothes for such an immersive and exploratory session.