Glenrothes 1988 Review

Glenrothes 1988

43% abv

Score:  80/100


I don’t think I’m being an age elitist or anything here (hopefully faithful readers will know by now how much I enjoy some of my spirits quite young), but I truly haven’t found a Glenrothes I’ve enjoyed that came from anything later than the ’70s.  Honestly.  Age does not equal greatness, it’s true, but there is simply no denying that there were a lot of great malts casked in the 70s, and time has been kind to more than a few of them.  Glenrothes falls nicely into this band.

The flipside, unfortunately, is as I stated.  I have not found much to celebrate in the distillery’s more recent output.  Wood policy?  Cask selection?  Vatting inconsistencies?  Who knows.  I would be speculating, and I’d rather not do so.  Suffice it to say that more often than not Aberlour, Glenfarclas and Glendronach get my dollars when it comes to this region/profile.

The nose here is quite unforgiving.  Sharp, floral and slightly bitter.  For this age I would expect a little more subtlety and grace.  The oak is heavy and plodding, while the sherry is aggressive, and not altogether charming, in a rum-soaked Christmas cake way.  Notes of spiced apple and orange tucked way in the back are pleasant, but there is a yeasty bread dough character that works to muffle these.

Barley cuts through the sherry on the palate.  Spiced fruit, apple and notes of damp wood are loud and seemingly in charge immediately on delivery.  Again…slightly yeasty as well.  As expected, it is warming and the finish is moderate and meh…unoffensive.

A disappointing expression, to be sure.  Especially at 20 years on.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

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