Glenrothes Distillery

Located in the Rothes area of Speyside—not to be confused with the town going by the same name in Fife—Glenrothes whisky was first distilled in 1879, although the distillery was founded the year previous. Over the course of history, they have shared the same little patch of Speyside with some illustrious neighbours: Caperdonich, Glen Grant, Glen Spey, Imperial and Macallan. It wasn’t to be a calm beginning for Glenrothes. Indeed, the first 25 years were what could be called tumultuous. Following a few changes in ownership, the distillery was brought under the stewardship of the newly-formed Highland Distillers Company Ltd. This provided some stability to counter what would come next. In December 1987, a ferocious fire ripped through the young distillery, followed by a gigantic explosion a few years later in 1903, wiping out the renovations undertaken after the previous fire. Things settled down, only for another destructive fire to plough through their warehouses. Yet, following this initial period of instability—to put it mildly—was a calm remainder of the century. In 1999, the Highland Distillery Company was bought by a partnership of William Grant & Sons (owners of Balvenie and Glenfiddich) and the Edrington Group (Highland Park, Macallan, Tamdhu). Since then, the ownership complexion has changed a bit, but the distillery is now owned by Edrington.

Glenrothes gradually added more stills throughout the 20th century, with ten currently in situ. All liquid in matured on site in one of the 16 warehouses situated throughout the grounds; twelve of which are the traditional dunnage style, with a further four modern racked warehouses. For many years, Glenrothes was an outlier in the way their whiskies were released. Vintages, rather than age statements of say 10 year old, were commonplace. Now, the range comprises 10, 12, 18 and 25 year old whiskies, along with various no age statement releases—such as Whisky Maker’s Cut—and vintage releases. Independent bottlings are common, showing the diverse range of characteristic Glenrothes can offer.

Sherry cask maturation is the order of the day here. Glenrothes’ fruity, sweet character matches perfectly with the dusty spice and dried fruit character derived from the use of ex-Sherry cask, and is also a perfect partner to ex-Broubon casks too. Ultimately, the whiskies of Glenrothes are full of Sherry character, but perhaps to a lesser degree than the intense displays produced by Glenfarclas and GlenDronach.