21 April 2009

Scotch Blogging: The Glenrothes Single Speyside Malt 1985

Its been a while since I've done a scotch tasting. I'm not a big drinker so the last couple of bottles kept me supplied for over a month. Now that I've finished the last two bottles and spent a week or so without drinking any whiskey, its time to crack open another bottle and break out the glasses.

This time I'm trying a really old Speyside single malt: The Glenrothes 1985. Its age shows in bottle, with a rich caramel color in the simple, barely adorned bottle. An understated package with a superb liquor inside.

The aroma strikes me as nothing so much as brandy. The fruity, apricot smell pervades prior to tasting. After a few sips the oak scent becomes more clear. This scotch is extremely palatable. Its smooth on the tongue with only the wee-ist hint of bite at the back of the throat when swallowing. Its a good scotch for the beginner; but, don't be fooled by how easily it goes down. This baby has a depth of character that even the most jaded drinker can appreciate.

The flavor is rich and complex. The oak and apricot are strong from start to finish. Likewise there's a pointed spiciness that almost overpowers a subtle undercurrent of vanilla. The finish is long and appealing. An aftertaste of oak, apricot and spice leave me wanting another dram. There's no hint of peat in either the aroma or the taste, which is sorely lacking.

Overall this is a highly mature scotch. Its a great scotch for introducing the discriminating amateur as well as the experienced scotch drinker alike. The only flaw I can find in the entire delivery is the lack of any hint of peat. This is a Speyside and so peat is not required; but, I think a slight peatiness on par with the strength of the vanilla flavor would make this the perfect scotch. I'm giving this vintage 4.5 glasses. Its is the closest to a 5 rating that I can think of without actually giving the coveted five glasses.

Updated: After a second sampling, I have to admit that this is the best scotch I've ever had. I'd say the brandy flavor was really more of a sherry flavor, probably from the sherry casks used in storing. Its still not a perfect scotch, lacking the peatiness. So I'm not going to bump the rating to 5 glasses. But it is definitely the tastiest and best scotch I've ever had. Its even worth having a dram on a carb night in order to try it with a bread pudding or similar sweet, with which I think it would match wonderfully.

Update II: Third tasting, third different taste. The complexity and versatility of this scotch is impressive. On the third night having a dram the rich vanilla flavors are ascendant, with the sherry taking a back seat. Like a fine wine, The Glenrothes seems to change with the mood and accompaniment. If you see this scotch in your local store, buy it!

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