Following on from my review of the Glenrothes distillery this week, I have sampled a few of the most recent additions to the brand’s portfolio, namely the 2001 vintage and the Manse Brae collection for duty free.

The former has been aged in a variety of casks (no word on the proportion of ex-bourbon to ex-sherry) and is being bottled at 43%. It hit shelves in June at a cost of £45.

The three duty free releases, meanwhile, herald the first time the brand has developed whiskies specifically for this market. The collection has been named after the street on which stands Rothes House – the family’s home just a stone’s throw away from the distillery.

The three whiskies in the collection are named Manse, Elders and Ministers, and refer to the fact “Rothes House was formerly the Minister’s home, known as the Manse; overlooking the town below, it was a place where the Elders of the Kirk would meet.”

While no idea of age is given for the Manse Reserve, the Elders’ Reserve is said to have been made using whisky matured for a minimum of 18 years and the Ministers’ Reserve for a minimum of 21.

Here is what I thought of the four new selections from Glenrothes:


Glenrothes 2001: 43%: £45:

(c): Honey

(n): At first, a lot of salt. It’s quite fresh with some grainy wood and honey notes along with a bit of lemon peel. Refreshing.

(p): Really smooth – loads of nutty brown sugar along with what reminds me of oatmeal covered in brown sugar and cream.

(f): Red grape skins – slightly sweet, slightly tannic.

A nice showing for Glenrothes – smooth, easily quaffable but not lacking in complexity.

Glenrothes Manse Reserve: 43%: £33:

(c): Hay

(n): The first word that came to mind with this one was ‘alluring’, so when I later saw the label and it was described as having ‘alluring spices’ I couldn’t help but laugh. This was matured in mainly American white oak (ex-bourbon casks) with an element of ex-sherry (no clarification as to whether that was American or European oak ex-sherry). It was nutty, salty and vanilla-infused, with notes of bananas in fudge; easy drinking and pleasing.

(p): Almonds dipped in salted caramel was the first thing I thought. It was a bit lighter than I was expecting and I think I would have preferred it to have a bit more punch. But it was still quite mouth-filling and well-balanced.

(f): Toffees and licorice

Conclusion: a nice pudding dram – rich on the nose but not so heavy on the palate, so perfect after a big meal. Sweet but well-balanced. An autumn dram.

Glenrothes Elders’ Reserve: 43%: £80:

(c): Sunshine on the sea (the lovely yellow when the sun reflects on water)

(n): Cherry bakewells, the seaside, spun sugar, hazelnuts and cream – very appealing.

(p): Really oily and a nice hit of spice that breaks up some of the sweeter notes present on the nose. Smoother than a sheet of ice. Additional notes of cinnamon, honey and orange peel make it a rich, well-rounded dram.

(f): Toffee and copper pennies

Conclusion: A great balance between the sweetness of the initial nose and the slightly spicier palate make it a long-drinking dram; you could easily have a few of these over a night. It’s creamy and rich but not cloying. Lovely.

Glenrothes Ministers’ Reserve: 43%: £115:

(c): Amber

(n): A fresh fruit cup sprinkled with sea salt: watermelon, honeydew, pears, apples and grapes for me.

(p): Lovely fruity freshness that’s balanced by a backbone of black pepper spice and a nice bit of wood influence that lends some oaky elements but not too much.

(f): Minty cardboard

Conclusion: My favourite of the three. It’s nice and fresh but with loads of flavour that walks the fine line between fruity and salty. A late afternoon dram.