This is another one of the single cask releases from the Creative Whisky Company.
Glenrothes is another Speyside distillery that primarily focuses on producing spirit for blends (Cutty Sark has Glenrothes as a major constituent) - only 2% of their output goes into single malts. Ownership is somewhat peculiar - the independent bottler Berry Brothers & Rudd owns the rights to the Glenrothes single malt brand, but the distillery itself remains in the hands of Edrington, owners of the more famous Macallan and Highland Park distilleries.
I've heard very mixed reviews of Glenrothes before - a lot of people actively loathe their single malts, but a few people seem to enjoy them. Sifting through, it seems like sherry casks and age help a lot. Thankfully this particular whisky has both.
This whisky was bottled from a single sherry cask at 52.3% without chill filtration or coloring.
Thanks to Helen at ImpEx Beverages for this sample.
Exclusive Malts Glenrothes 18 Year 1996/2014
Nose: honeyed malt, soy sauce, mildly sweet/dank sherry, vanilla, well-integrated mild oak, light cinnamon, green grapes, jelly candy. After adding a few drops of water, the sherry becomes more prominent and dank,
Taste: intermingled sweet malt, honey, and oak up front, slowly fades into more oak in the middle, then sherry finally hits right near the back. After dilution, structure of the palate is flipped - the sherry moves forward and integrates with the oak - producing a sort of vinegar/soy sourness, while the malt hides until the back, the oak has much more pronounced tannic bitterness - which dries out the palate, but that effect is somewhat balanced by more malt sweetness
Finish: bittersweet sherry, soy sauce, mild oak tannins,
This is a very nice, but slightly generic Speysider. The sherry provides most of the interest, given the experience structure without overwhelming the malt. I like the way that there is a progression of flavors, rather than having them hit all at once. The fact that the structure significantly rearranges with a bit of water makes it an even more interesting experience.
This one comes down to QPR. The one place I've seen online that appears to have it for a reasonable price is Specs down in Texas. Everywhere else it's $130 and up, which isn't something I could swallow. Closer to $100 I think this would actually be a decent buy.