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The first pure spirit flowed from The Glenrothes Distillery more than 140 years ago. Nestled in a leafy gorge in the heart of Speyside, it was built during the flourishing distillery boom of the late 19th century by a local whisky connoisseur and the village priest. With its long history, presiding status as a collectible brand, and multiple rankings amongst the Ultimate Spirits Challenge World Best Single Malts, Glenrothes has long been sought after by aficionados––but it is still to be discovered by many a discerning drinker.
The distillery is located in the village of Rothes at the foot of the rugged Mannoch Hills from which peat-softened waters flow along a river crossing the estate. This spring water is part of what makes the whisky so distinctive to those in the know. Glenrothes is one of the few distilleries left in Scotland which uses its own water source for production, processing, and spirit reduction, which ensures purity of the liquid at every point.
Just as the source of water has been consistent since its earliest days, so too has the value placed on patience in the distilling process. The new make spirit is nurtured in tall copper stills for longer than usual, contributing to a signature lighter, fruitier spirit. Slower distillation also removes more impurities, creating space for the more delicate flavors to emerge over time.
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Beyond the cathedral-like arches of the stillhouse is an on-site cooperage, another increasing rarity in Scottish distilleries. Here the coopers source and repair casks, applying generations of knowledge to the craft. They opt for the finest sherry-seasoned casks from Jerez, Spain, made with a careful balance of European and American oak, which imparts the unique aroma and complex flavor profile across Glenrothes’ range, with notes of dried fruit, citrus, and nuts. The casks are also to thank for the rich 100 percent natural color.
After maturation, master whisky maker Laura Rampling noses each and every cask individually, hand-selecting those which are ready to be bottled or putting aside remarkable casks for special editions of collectible bottles. In 2020, Glenrothes unveiled its oldest ever single malt Scotch whisky, aged for half a century with only 50 bottles on sale globally.
Their core range, however, includes The Glenrothes 25-Year-Old, with its heavy woody notes, which was named The World Best Single Malt in the 2018 Ultimate Spirits Challenge (SRP $600), and The Glenrothes 18-Year (SRP $160), which took that top title in 2020. With notes of sweet vanilla, pear, and fresh ginger, it’s rich, well-rounded and soothing––best discovered while gathered around a crackling fire on the winter nights to come.