Since the purchase of the Glenrothes brand by Edrington last year a rebranding has been widely expected and last week I was invited to a preview tasting of the new range.
The first and most obvious point to note is that they have moved from vintages (perhaps at the time a nod to the then owners, Berry Bros. & Rudd, a wine and spirits merchant of note) to age statements. The distinctive bottle shape is retained, as is the ‘frame’ style of box. I’m not quite so sure about the colours but it certainly gives it that ‘shelf presence’ brands are always looking for.
The new range is called The Soleo Collection in reference to the traditional sun drying process used in Jerez to prepare grapes for making Sherry. The colour of each expressions packaging gets darker and therefore ‘richer’ as it gets older.
Each expression in the Soleo Collection is exclusively matured in sherry seasoned casks.
The point was made very clearly that they are sherry seasoned casks rather than sherry casks. The casks used are prepared for the Whisky industry, rather than having been previously used in the production of Sherry. Glenrothes are by their own admission trying to remain as transparent as possible and were quite free with details during the evening.
Each expression is comprised of a differing proportion of first fill and second fill sherry casks (the higher the age, seemingly the higher the proportion) and each is presented at its natural colour.
What follows are some brief tasting notes and observations. I do hope to be able to sit down and take more comprehensive notes and publish a full review of the range in the not too distant future so please bear with my quick notes for now.
The Glenrothes 10 (40%abv)
Initially earmarked as a supermarket only release the 10 is surprisingly good and a very easy drinker. Limited amounts of width or depth but has a nice, zesty and biscuity profile with some solid vanilla and slight spiced based undertones.
The Glenrothes 12 (40%abv)
The 12 year old is fruity and fresh with some delicate spice. Less vanilla present here than in the 10, but a noticeably deeper flavour. A good entry level expression with no nasty surprises and a good introduction to the range. RRP set at around £38.
The Glenrothes Whisky Makers Cut (48.8% abv)
Probably my favourite on the night and the only NAS expression in the range. The reason given by Glenrothes for the lack of age statement is to allow the Whisky Makers Cut to be flavour led, rather than age led. This initial batch is 16 years old but future batches may be younger or older to match the flavour profile but without the restriction of an age statement.
The increased abv helps it to attain some punch and helps it nicely deliver the dominant spicy and orangy flavours, leaving a nice drying feeling.
Sort of an Aberlour A’bunadh style expression in terms of positioning and style (although not as punchy it is certainly more of an easy drinker) RRP set to be around £55.
The Glenrothes 18 (43%abv)
The 18 is very mellow and leans away from being freshly fruity and more towards some dark fruit elements. Feels very smooth and well balanced. More first fill sherry casks (sorry, sherry seasoned casks) at work here which gives a much deeper and rounder flavour profile. RRP set to be approx £100.
The Glenrothes 25 (43%abv)
Really rather good this one. A step up in flavour depth wise and in mellowness from the rest of the range. Very balanced and smooth, quite an elegant style with a nice mouthfeel. Warming spices as well as touches of ginger and stone fruit make for a lovely flavour profile. RRP £300
There is a 40 year old also to be included the range but no sign of that one as yet.
Travel retail expressions will remain unchanged for now and there looks to be an additional collection of expressions entitled The Aqua Collection but details are scarce. More info as and when I get it.
Hopefully a more comprehensive review will follow, probably closer to the launch date in early September.
Find many more tasting notes and whisky news in the Amateur Drammers Archives.
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