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Monday, 10 November 2008

Glenrothes visit part 2- 'The Breakfast Club'




As we left you in part one of this epic thriller, Caskstrength were heading off to bed, full of roast dinner and the excellent 1978 Glenrothes, safe in the knowledge that Obama was about to wrestle away all the previously red states on the election map from McCain.
One thing I didn't mention however was the house rules concerning breakfast at Rothes House. For the uninitiated, it is customary for the guests to cook an impeccable breakfast for the hosts, on this occasion Mr Ronnie Cox and Mr Marcin Miller.

Now this isn't something to be taken lying down, which I was planning to do (in the shape of a lovely lie-in) that is, until I saw the 'Breakfast Book'- a tome full of reviews for the triumphant and the fallen. It contained a detailed critique from both Ronnie and Marcin on every aspect of breakfast- from the laying of the table, crispness of bacon, seasoning of tomatoes and most critically of all- timing!
Yikes- 'we need a plan' I thought and decided to hit the kitchen at 7.30am with my two fellow breakfast crusaders, Miss Malt and Miss Juniper. The Breakfast Book rules were going to be re-written that day and our names etched into the annals of Rothes House history!!...
well, something like that...
Our timing was crack on - and with a table fit for a Scottish Monarch, complete with Miss Malt's place names, came our starter; Bucks Fizz and a fruit salad, steeped in Berry Bros & Rudd's King's Ginger liqueur
So far, so good. Next, a full cooked breakfast, complete with last nights leftover roast veg re- cooked as bubble & squeak, which hopefully caught the eye of our discerning judges- a few points at least for ingenuity??

With our breakfast (hopefully) well received, it was time to head to the distillery for the serious business of a tour of the facilities and tasting.

The Glenrothes is an impressive site developed around 1879. It now houses 5 pairs of wash/spirit stills, producing nearly 4.5 million litres of spirit annually. Glenrothes house style gives a very light, fresh and clean new make spirit with an abundance of vanilla, hints of spice, citrus notes, dried fruit and ginger.
Ronnie recounted a notable incident in the history of the distillery when in 1922, fire broke out and casks were bursting open right left and centre. It is reported that a river of whisky ran down the nearby streets and people were chaotically trying to bottle what they could before it made its way to the fields and streams. It was later reported that cows were seen swaying and that the local fish were much easier to catch...

We later entered the Inner Sanctum, Glenrothes dedicated tasting room and our home for an extremely pleasant couple of hours, sampling a selection of the distillery's core range and a couple of very special drams. Here are the findings:

The Glenrothes 1967 - single cask - American oak (ex sherry) - 47% -

Nose: Seville oranges, minty/Polo hints, golden syrup, aromas of cereal and slightly waxy, polished furniture notes. Excellent and well constructed.
With the addition of a little water, you find more of the orange zestiness.

Palate: A dry start, but leading into fruity sweetness, more cereal, then hints of hard fruit gums and spice.

Finish: Lovely, lengthy and warming. This was an incredibly comforting dram, like sitting in front of a roaring fire.


The Glenrothes 1966 - single cask - european oak (ex-sherry) - 47%
the tasting of this pair of whiskies gives a clear example of how the type of oak ultimately affects the maturity of the spirit- especially the colour, with the 1966 vintage taking on a much darker hue.

Nose: Lots of dried figs and vine fruit, something slightly musty and oily, (old garages with vintage cars!), hints of drying oak and cracked leather. The age has really made a huge statement on this whisky.

Palate: Spice!! Lots of it. Hints of fudge, vanilla and a glorious sweetness. Delicious.

Finish: Again, long, fruity and sensational. We had a break until this had diminished!

Overall: Two very old but very different aged Glenrothes expressions that set us up nicely for the rest of the range.

The Glenrothes 1985- 43%

Nose: Very clean, with estery notes and a creaminess, reminiscent of Werthers Originals, slight waxiness, but then into fruit- plums and dried vine fruits. Excellent.

Palate: Amazing mouth feel, sweet oily and rich, with more of that Werthers butterscotch flavour combined with cereal, toffee, hazelnuts and sultanas. Sounds like a damn good granola doesn't it!

Finish: Warm and autumnal, with more hazelnuts on the death.

The Glenrothes 1994 - 43%

Nose: Esters, hints of ginger, floral notes, toffee notes and hints of fresh berry.

Palate: Cereal then into a sweetness of demerara sugar and drying spices, perhaps even hot peppers before the mouth is enveloped with sherry and licorice notes.

Finish: More summery, lighter and shorter but echoes of an excellent fruity dram. This would be an great pre-barbeque aperitif.

Overall: Both these expressions sit brilliantly among the others from the range of Glenrothes, all have their own distinct characteristics but offer an individual take on a great Speyside distillery, which we urge you to check out!

Special thanks to Ronnie Cox, Caroline Hendry and the team at Glenrothes Distillery/ Rothes House for their wonderful hospitality, knowledge and time, also to Marcin for his excellent hosting, witty banter and James Lock & Co eight-piece flat cap...