You know those moments in life when you go get the sinking feeling in your stomach and go: “Oh bugger, I forgot!” Well, luckily they happen rarely for me. In fact, I pride myself on managing to keep many balls juggling in the air at one time quite comfortably.
But, then, sometimes one drops.
This is what happened recently. Somehow I managed to completely and entirely erase The Glenrothes Twitter Tasting from my brain, like wiping off chalk from a chalkboard.
I’m not sure how this occurred – I acknowledged my decision to participate on Twitter, received the samples and then completely…forgot. Worryingly for me I even sent an email to the person I thought posted the samples saying thank you as I wasn’t sure what they were for. Her response? For a Twitter tasting…that had already happened. So embarrassing.
On a positive note, what this has meant is I’ve gone on to taste all three Glenrothes Vintages – the 1998, 1995 and 1988 – in my own time and so wanted to share my thoughts on them with you, even if it was a bit more belated than should have originally been planned on! I went back to read the comments from Twitter afterwards (great conversation worth checking out if you’re on Twitter; just search #GlenrothesVintage and it’ll all come up) and have quoted some of my favourite comments below.
But first, a bit of background. The Glenrothes was built in 1878 and started producing whisky the following year. In 1887 it became a part of the Highland Distilleries company. The whisky produced there went on to be a big part of Berry Bros & Rudd’s Cutty Sark blend, among others. Because of this connection, when Berry Bros & Rudd wanted to move further into the single malt space in the 1980s, they spoke with the owners of The Glenrothes and agreed to release a whisky together. The Glenrothes 12 year old went to market in 1987 and the first vintage (a 1979) was released in 1994. While the distillery is owned now by Edrington, the brand itself is owned by Berry Bros & Rudd.
And now onto the tasting. Here’s what I thought of each:
The Glenrothes: 1998: 43% ABV:
(C): Burnt toffee
(N): Very buttery at first with a bit of honeycomb and oak. Then just more butter, butter, butter with a dollop of vanilla toffee thrown in for good measure. After tasting it I got more zingy fruit and later on the smell of my aunt’s lounge in their old house (not helpful as a tasting note, I realise, but something I couldn’t help but mention). Reading the Twitter notes later, I fully agreed with @BBRob’s suggestion that it smelled of “those fruit salad sweets of yesteryear.”
(P): It was more delicate than expected, with a bit of vanilla sweetness and a gentle, grassy shift mid-sip. Then a hint of custard, a dash of sticky toffee sweets and a bit of sulphur.
(F): It was pleasant if not revolutionary – a bit sweet, a bit grassy and a bit salty.
The Glenrothes: 1995: 43% ABV:
(C): Golden Caramel
(N): Butterscotch with prominent strawberry foams and battenburg cake, then strawberries and cream, a sweet herb (tarragon maybe?) and some banana and vanilla notes. On checking out Twitter, I also agreed with @TheWhiskyBoys’ note of lavender talc, though I got more lavender sweets.
(P): At first I got lots of raisins and plums, but then a bit of milk chocolate and marshmallows came through before a slight sulphur note and orange peel, with a dash of freshly baked croissants.
(F): Ryvita and peach chewing gum.
The Glenrothes: 1988: 43% ABV:
(C): Rich amber
(N): At first all I got was an overwhelming note of blackberries and chocolate but then some plummy notes came through with a dash of chalk and raisin bread. A tiny hint of white pepper put me off for a second (I can’t stand the stuff) but that subsided and wafts of oranges and leather pushed through. A beautifully rounded and attractive dram on the nose.
(P): Chewy and thick, with pungeant orange peel, cardboard and vanilla ice cream before hints of lemon balm, Cheerios, black licorice and cumin come through. My favourite Twitter tasting note came from @BBRob: “Unsalted plantain chip and hardback books handed down from maiden aunt.”
(F): Slightly drying and richly bitter.
Thank you to Amanda and Eddie Ludlow of the Great Whisky Company for providing samples and running the Twitter tasting.