The Glenrothes Alba Reserve
October 2014

The Glenrothes Alba Reserve

The delightful Glenrothes Alba Reserve is an unusual Glenrothes because it’s matured in 100% American Oak.

United Kingdom

Colour Pale straw, clear and bright

Nose Fresh, floral, coconut, American oak vanilla

Palate Soft, mellow, creme brulee and berry fruits

Finish Smooth, sweet, medium length

Food Match Seared scallops with pancetta stack and smashed peas


The Glenrothes is matured in casks of both Spanish oak (Quercus Robur) and American oak whose Latin name is Quercus Alba. These casks are seasoned with either sherry or bourbon and the seasoned oak delivers up to 70% of whisky’s flavour.

This wide ranging wood policy gives The Glenrothes Malt Master, Gordon Motion, the broadest possible selection of tastes and flavours from which to create each individual expression of The Glenrothes. Despite the level of residual sherry in The Glenrothes measuring no more than 1250 parts per million, sherry is not kosher. On that basis former Malt Mater John Ramsay was asked to develop an expression of The Glenrothes to satisfy the many Orthodox Jewish whisky enthusiasts. For The Glenrothes Alba Reserve he selected solely American oak (Quercus Alba) refill bourbon casks – hence the name. Appropriately, Alba is also the Gaelic word for Scotland.


Price: $85.00

Age: No Age Statement

ABV: 40%

Maturation: Matured in American Oak Casks

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Glenrothes’s History

The Glenrothes story begins in 1868 when a local grain merchant named James Stuart took a lease on Macallan, a small farm distillery a few miles south of Rothes. In a bid to raise funds for the expansion of Macallan he and a solicitor from Elgin named Cruikshank formed a company with two local agents from the Caledonian Bank; Robert Dick and Willie Grant. Trading as James Stuart & Co., the business prospered and before long the lads decided to build another, larger distillery in Rothes.

Work on Glenrothes commenced in the spring of 1878 on the site of an old sawmill opposite the town cemetery. With the neighbouring burn providing power via a water wheel and a plentiful supply of pristine spring water, the setting was perfect – except for the timing. That summer, Britain plunged into the worst economic crisis for almost a century and of course, Messrs. Dick and Grant had borrowed heavily from their bank to finance the new distillery only to see the bank itself heading for collapse at the end of the year. With trouble and uncertainty looming Stuart split the partnership and headed back to the safety of Macallan while the other three struggled on as W Grant & Co (not the Glenfiddich one). Remarkably they managed to continue funding the construction and in May of 1879 the local press were shown around what was clearly a smaller distillery than originally planned, however, it was no less impressive with The Moray Weekly News declaring that it “bore the stamp of superiority” and was “extensive yet compact”. 

On 28 December 1879, two momentous events occurred in Scotland. The new rail bridge over the River Tay collapsed, plunging an unfortunate train into the icy waters and killing all 75 passengers. That same day, the first pure spirit flowed from the stills at Glenrothes, a ray of sunshine on an otherwise dark day. Word spread of the quality of the spirit and it was soon highly sought after by Master Blenders as a ‘top dressing’ of choice thanks to its unique flavour, structure and body, so much so that today Glenrothes is still found at the heart of some of the world’s finest blends such as Cutty Sark and The Famous Grouse.

In 1887 Grant & Co. merged with the Islay Distillery Co. to form Highland Distillers Company Ltd and in 1999 things came full circle when the Edrington Group (who own Macallan among others) and William Grant & Sons (who own Glenfiddich) came together to buy Highland Distillers.

Meanwhile, in 1987 Glenrothes had joined the portfolio of London’s oldest established wine merchants, Berry Bros & Rudd (BBR), cementing a relationship that had been in place since 1923 when BBR first approached Glenrothes to be the home for the blended whisky, Cutty Sark of which they had a 50% share.

In 1993, Berry Bros created the Glenrothes single malt brand, but it came with a twist. Being primarily wine merchants, they did what they do in the wine world and changed the releases to vintages, rather than age statements as more commonly seen in whiskies. 
Taking advantage of the distillers’ advanced understanding of the maturation process, the very best of each year’s output was bottled as a vintage release, with less than 3% of the distillery’s whisky ending up as single malt. The vintages were soon joined by high-volume NAS releases like Select Reserve and Alba Reserve.

BBR swapped their interests in Cutty Sark with Edrington, in exchange for ownership of The Glenrothes brand in 2010. The distillery remained under Edrington’s ownership, and they eventually bought the brand back in 2017.

Soon after the range was shaken up again, with the introduction of the new Soleo Collection. The collection focused exclusively on Sherry cask maturation and most notably, introduced age statements for the first time in the brand’s history. Named after the process of sun-drying palomino grapes before they’re pressed for Sherry production – the palomino grape is very pale in colour but grows darker the longer it sits in the sun – this darkening of the grape is reflected in the colour scheme of the Soleo Collection’s packaging, starting yellow with the beautifully light 10 Year Old and getting darker as the whisky gets older through to the dark, sticky 25 Year Old. The range also included the NAS The Whisky Maker’s Cut, which was our Whisky of the Month in December 2018.

Distillery Facts

Region: Speyside

Origin: Burnside Street, Rothes, Aberlour, Moray AB38, Scotland, United Kingdom

Founded: 1878

Water Source: Ardcanny and Brauchhill Springs

Washbacks: 12, Wood, 8, Stainless Steel

Stills: 5 wash and 5 spirit

Capacity: 5,200,000 litres of alcohol (malt dependent)

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