Review – Glenrothes 1987 Vintage

The Glenrothes Distillery sits in the quiet Speyside town of Rothes and has done so since 1878.

Construction of the distillery was almost halted however after a funding issue was solved by a loan from the local Free Presbyterian Church of Knockando.

Glenrothes, due to its mellow and balanced nature, has always been seen as a good malt for blending and has been a constituent part of Cutty Sark and The Famous Grouse blends amongst many others.

When the Cutty Sark brand became part of the Berry Bros and Rudd empire in 1987 so did the Glenrothes brand. The distillery however remained the property of Edrington, who only recently purchased the brand back from BBR.

Notably Glenrothes release their expressions as vintages rather than age statements, perhaps a nod to their wine merchant owners heritage. It will be interesting to see if new owners Edrington continue to do so.

You can read more about the Edrington re-aquisition via the press release and all about a recent Distillery visit by following this link.


Glenrothes 1987 Vintage,OB, 43%abv, from my collection.


Initially on the nose there are raisins, a light twist of spices, some faint but perceptible muscovado sugar and a slight prickle of citrus (orange, not lemon)

Given time it almost changes style to a somewhat more fruity and light character. Red apple and over-ripe pears leave a slight whiff of esters before the emergence of apricots dusted in a light chocolate powder.

The palate is as the nose would suggest, although the lightly sherried nature is soon overtaken by an increasing vanilla presence. The orange / citrus element is still shining through alongside some cinder toffee and lightly stewed fruits.

Orchard fruits and sweetness take over from the mild tannins and for the first time there is a gentle cereal note that appears.

There is a wonderful soft and gentle spiced warmth leading to the finish.

The finish is gentle and mild however lingers very pleasantly. Dry and woody and mildly tannic, it is a cedarwood feel rather than an oaky presence. Black tea tannins mix with a twist of citrus pepper.

This is a fantastic, subtle and gentle dram from Glenrothes with a lively fruity character, intermingled with a beguiling sherry influence. 

This particular release was bottled in 2005.

I’ve always had an appreciation of Glenrothes and this has been my favourite expression from the distillery thus far.


This review was featured in an episode of the brilliant ‘This Is My Dram’ podcast, in which the hosts Stu and Andy matched my tasting notes (not knowing the whisky they were from) to a piece of music and I attempted to do the same with some tasting notes they sent me. 

I’ll be writing more on this in future, but in the meantime check out the podcast to find out more. 

You can find more tasting notes for Glenrothes expressions in The Archive.

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