The Glenrothes Peated Cask Reserve
June 2016

The Glenrothes Peated Cask Reserve

Another Australian debut and exclusive import just for the Club, The Glenrothes Peated Cask Reserve is a stunning 20 Year Old malt finished in ex-Islay peated casks

United Kingdom

Colour Mid gold

Nose Bright toffee apple and hints of fresh nettles. New leather mixes beautifully with peat, nutmeg and white wine

Palate Classic Glenrothes sweet vanilla, spices and citrus peel beautifully complemented by a gentle peat smokiness

Finish Spicy and lingering

Food Match Smoked mussels and duck liver pâté, followed by pheasant or guinea fowl with a creamy wild mushroom sauce


This exceptional dram represents two great milestones for The Glenrothes Distillery; it’s both their first cask finish and their first peated expression, the inspiration for this very unusual peated Glenrothes coming from the distillery’s the 1887 merger with the Islay Distillery Co Ltd.

Making a peated Glenrothes required a bit thinking outside of the proverbial “box” because Glenrothes doesn’t produce peated spirit and therefore the only option was to finish some classic Glenrothes in Islay casks. The team decided on Vintage 1992 and the whisky was promptly given a temporary home in Islay casks. We haven’t been lucky enough to be told which Islay distillery the casks came from, but the smart money’s on Bunnahabhain as they were owned by the Islay Distillery Co Ltd. The finish lasted about nine months, in which time the Islay barrels added a kiss of peat smoke to complement the usual Glenrothes characteristics and the result is a deliciously smoky dram, packed with lemon fruitiness and spice.


Price: $105.00

Age: No Age Statement

ABV: 40%

Maturation: Vintage 1992 matured for a minimum of 20 years in refill American Oak hogsheads before finishing for nine months in ex-Islay 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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