Thursday, September 18, 2014

New release - Glenrothes 'Sherry Cask Reserve'

The Sherry Cask Reserve is the latest single malt released in to the Glenrothes core range by owners Berry Brothers & Rudd.  The Glenrothes distillery is located in the town of Rothes in the centre of the Speyside region and has a current capacity of 5.5 million litres per year. The majority of the whisky produced there has traditionally been used in popular blends such as 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 an explosion in 1903.

Berry Brothers, who had traditional strong links with the distillery in the past, were involved in the first release of Glenrothes as a single malt in 1987 and have been ever since.  They revamped the single malt range and packaging around five years ago. As a result the sales, reputation and awareness of the distillery and brand are growing all the time.  The core range now includes the popular Select Reserve and numerous Vintages, with each date referring to the year of distillation.

The Sherry Cask Reserve is the first Glenrothes single malt to be full matured in first-fill ex-sherry casks and was released a couple of months ago.  The casks involved were all hand selected by the Glenrothes Malt Master, Gordon Motion.  It has been bottled at 40% ABV and is available now in selected specialist whisky retailers worldwide.  The price is £55/€65 a bottle. 

Our tasting notes
The colour is deep golden yellow with a hint of amber and the nose has a mix of rich aromas.  All of the 'classic ex-Sherry cask' characteristics are present - raisin, caramel, almonds, candied orange peel, fruit cake and cinnamon.  Underneath are hints of more savoury aromas including earthy ginger and a whiff of dried tobacco leaf.

On the palate, this whisky has a lovely mouth coating feel.  It has an instant sugary characteristic (think of crumbly brown sugar) and this mixes with a lovely golden syrup note.  Then come the fruit cake notes from the nose - imagine raisins, sultanas, caramel, candied orange peel and baking spices (cinnamon especially), which are all complimented by a slightly bitter nuttiness.  The candied orange and raisins are particularly prominent.  Further background notes of very buttery shortbread, ginger and a very pleasant hint of bitter tobacco all add depth and complexity.

The finish is of decent length.  The sweeter elements disappear quickly to leave the tangy orange, bitter nuttiness and the more savoury notes to fight it out.  Add a good dose of cinnamon spice in too and it makes the finish increasingly dry.

What's the verdict?
The nose is delicious and the palate feels warm and comforting.  The dry and tangy finish takes the whisky in a different direction, but a pleasant one.  This final twist stops the whisky being too sweet and rich.  This also makes it one of the nicer ex-Sherry cask matured whiskies at this lower price point that we have tried recently.  Very good.

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