By Richard Thomas
To many, Glenrothes is best known as the scotch distillery that labeled its releases not by a title or by an age statement, but by vintage. In other words, instead of saying “this is 14 years old” and releasing a steady supply of 14 year old single malt, Glenrothes might release a batch of “2000 vintage” whisky. Since Wemyss Malts shifted to a similar labeling style for its single cask line, perhaps it is fitting that they do a Glenrothes every once in a while.
Glenrothes is a Speyside distillery, located on the Burn of Rothes. It dates back to 1878, and its history is noteworthy mostly for the number of times the distillery has caught fire. They are currently owned by Berry Brothers & Rudd, the British wine and spirits merchants, but prior to that they were part of Edrington, and continue to supply stock for that company’s blends, The Famous Grouse and Cutty Sark.
This particular Glenrothes is a 1988 vintage, making it a 26 year old. The butt it came from yielded 730 bottles at 46% abv, a large run for a Wemyss single cask release, where 200 to 400 bottles is usually the norm. A name like “aromatic orange tobacco” conjures up a certain flavored hookah expectation, but as to whether it delivers or not I cannot say, because I don’t smoke.
The color in the glass is a golden amber, or a very light copper if you will. Take gold, add a drop of red, and you get the idea.
The nose oozes of citrus oil, with a little toasty wood and cereals stirred in. On the palate, the whisky opens up further. The oily texture carries over, along with orange, grapefruit and apricot flavors, balanced with dry wood and pepper, and a very understated wet tobacco note. The finish has a peppery bite to it, with a slight tobacco aftertaste, and although it lingers for a time, it is very light and not overtly warm.
Although it has some nice sipping qualities, I’d say the forte for Aromatic Orange Tobacco is as an after dinner scotch, where it would be superb. In that, it is in keeping with much of what Glenrothes does.
Retailers have not listed Wemyss Aromatic Orange Tobacco at this time, so the specific pricing is not yet available. However, the summer 2014 single cask release has a stated price range of £80 to £700, and given that Aromatic Orange Tobacco is a double-sized consignment, I imagine it will be on the lower end of that scale.