1995 has been matured in three different types of casks – first fill American oak ex-sherry casks, first fill Spanish oak ex-sherry casks plus refill casks to add subtly. Although only just released in the UK (it was originally released at Whisky Live in Tokyo last March), the 1995 Vintage has already snaffled its first award at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge 2011, where it was given a Gold Medal. The whisky is bottled at 43% ABV and can be purchased through Berry Brothers (www.bbr.com) and other specialist retailers. A bottle should cost around the £45 mark.
Glenrothes is one of the largest whisky distilleries and is located in the town of Rothes in the Speyside region. It has a current capacity of 5.5 million litres per year. Despite its size, Glenrothes remains fairly unknown as the majority of the whisky produced is used in the famous blends of Famous Grouse and Cutty Sark. The distillery was founded in 1878 and has had its fair share of bad luck - two bad fires in 1897 and 1922, plus a devastating explosion in 1903. Berry Brothers previously had strong links with the distillery, but were involved in the first release of Glenrothes as a single malt in 1987 and have been ever since.
The single malt range was revamped two or three years ago with Berry Brothers promoting Glenrothes more than ever before. As a result, the sales, reputation and awareness of the product are growing all the time. The restyling included the introduction of the distinctive bulb shaped bottle, minimal corrugated cardboard package and the whiskies being labelled as vintages rather than of a certain age statement. The core range now includes the Select Reserve and a number of these Vintages, with each vintage date refer to the year of distillation. This range has changed over time, as some run out and are replaced by others.
Our tasting notes
The colour of this 1995 Vintage is golden yellow with a hint of amber. The nose is full of rich aromas that suggest a soft, voluptuous whisky on the palate - there is plenty of butterscotch, toffee and sultanas to begin with and these are joined by notes of delicious candied orange peel, nutmeg, cinnamon and malty barley grains. There is also a good dollop of honey and some vanilla. On the palate, this feels soft, syrupy and rich with a lovely initial impression of sweet, almost sugary toffee and butterscotch. Then come notes of fruit - caramelised apple, raisin, sultana, fresh green pear. These fruity qualities are complimented by notes of orange zest (which adds a lovely tang), vanilla (which is almost custard-like), plenty of oak and wood spices (the cinnamon and nutmeg again), plus increasingly robust bittersweet barley grains and burnt caramel, which adds an interesting edge. There is also a hint of distant sulphur smoke, similar to a struck matchstick, which accentuates the burnt feeling of the caramel note. The palate is not quite as soft and voluptuous as expected, but still very pleasant and easy drinking. The finish begins sweetly before becoming more oaky, spicy and a little dry. There is a nice hint of zesty orange also.
What's the verdict?
This is another decent offering from this increasingly popular distillery. It should definitely be tried, especially if you love the rich, sweeter style of whisky. Six words can easily describe it - rich, sweet, syrupy, sultanas, toffee, zesty. The nose is fantastic, the palate is good but the change of direction on the finish is a little disappointing, probably exaggerated by the fact that the other aspects are lovely. A good, all round whisky that offers good value for money. Below is a short video where Ronnie Cox, who Matt was lucky enough to meet and spend some time with on a visit to the distillery last year. Here he talks about the new 1995 Vintage whisky and does a tasting. Enjoy ...