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Whisk(e)y Reviews

September 2020

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1970 Glenrothes Single Malt Scotch Whisky

In April, I got an email from The Last Drop Distillers, the subject line of which read “Release XVIII The 1970 Glenrothes Single Malt Scotch Whisky”. I was intrigued and excited because TLD puts out some delicious liquid. So, I opened it up and inside they told about how while things had been rough of late, they wanted to share some good news. They were releasing a trio of single cask Glenrothes Scotch whiskies! 

A particularly important part of the email says: “In many ways, this is a particularly special release: the completion of a trilogy of superb releases from one of the most revered distilleries in Scotland, it also represents the trilogy of friends who founded the company. There is a sense of completion in arriving at the final piece in the set. Many of you will already have received your bottles of the 1968 and the 1969. We can promise you that the 1970 is every bit as good”.

 

So, I reached out to them and asked if it would be possible to get a hold of a sample of the 1970’s cask. Rebecca, the company's Managing Director, wrote me back a few days later saying that they would love to get me a sample and they will speak with the US team to best discuss how to get samples out (they’re based in the UK). After a few emails back and forth and delays because of COVID and the nature of the whisky business I received a parcel 13 days ago. Contained inside was a box embossed with the logo for The Last Drop Distillers, and upon opening it I found not one, but three single cask Glenrothes samples for me to taste.

 

All three single casks were filled on December 6th 1970 and bottled in 2019, making them just shy of 50-years-old and some of the oldest whiskey I’ve tasted to date… All three are in Ex-Bourbon casks. There are no sherry casks in this release.

Glenrothes 1970 Cask # 10586: 45.3% ABV

Appearance: Dark straw and golden honey. The legs on this glass of scotch are very unimpressive.

Nose: On the nose I get prevalent notes of black pepper, followed by notes of ash, and subtle notes of extinguished campfire the day after. While not extremely powerful, there are still noticeable notes of ethanol, almost like a cleaner. Ripe cherry, followed by notes of butterscotch and toffee. Surprising lack of vanilla for an ex-bourbon matured scotch, especially one of this age. There is a present, but not overpowering, note of malt.

Flavour: Refreshingly cool on the palate with notes of vanilla, malt, caramel, oak, cherry and peach. As you enjoy it the liquid warms on your tongue, leaving a nice peppery and malty finish.

 

4.5/5 - While this is clearly an exceptional Scotch whisky, it is by no means the best in class.

 

Glenrothes 1970 Cask # 10588: 44.1% ABV

Appearance: Deep amber, honey. Legs leave much to the imagination.

Nose: Sweet cherries, very mellow nose with a lack of depth. Notes of vanilla, caramel, and molasses.

Flavour: Stark contrast to barrel 10586. This single cask, while still rich, is not as flavourful. Notes of char, vanilla, and almond lead to a slight taste of mocha and chocolate malt. Very spice forward, with notes of chili pepper, black pepper, and of all things, raw white onion!

 

4/5 - Still delicious, though not as good in my opinion as cask 10586.

 

Glenrothes 1970 Cask # 10589: 45% ABV

Appearance: The lightest of the trio of single casks with slightly darkened straw and a gorgeous golden hue. The legs on this particular scotch leave much to be desired in that, while they are present, they’re fairly minuscule and close to the surface of the liquid.

Nose: This has the most bizarre nose as I get notes of rubber, smoke, and iodine. It’s slightly reminiscent of Baijiu with a very sweet “bubble gum”-esque aroma. I do get some subtle notes of oak and vanilla, but not much.

Flavour: Much like the other two casks in this release (though I did not mention it in my notes for #10588), there is a unique “cooling” or refreshing aspect to this whisky. I found a similar note in a Glenfiddich I tried recently. The flavours on this cask are much more subdued; I mostly get malt, followed by the taste of a stone fruit that I can’t quite put my finger on. There is some granny smith apple, both baked and fresh, leading into a flavour of lightly toasted toast.

 

4/5 - A delicious scotch, and if you like Glenrothes or the Speyside style, one you certainly will enjoy. But not something that I feel is a “you must go and purchase this RIGHT NOW” type of bottle.

 

This trio of single cask Glenrothes Scotch whiskies are unique, tasty, and are literal liquid history. While they are not the oldest Glenrothes released to date, they are certainly a close second.

*This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by The Glenrothes. This in no way influenced the final outcome of this review.

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