Recently there was a nice Toronto Whisky Society tasting in which a private whisky owner shared an interesting group of whiskies with a group of us.
It’s interesting to follow what makes you excited. Self-examination, that is. Not judging others like some sort of crazed doctor in the woods.
I realized, for instance, that without aiming for it, I’ve been drinking more and more Glenrothes. Not from the distillery itself, but from independent bottlers. I looked through purchases, pours from friends, and samples from bars/other countries and I’ve had a pattern.
Thus when Glenrothes 1996 Jack Wieber came up, a bell went off and I started salivating. First off, Jack Wieber not only picks good casks (from my experience), but they tend to pick ones that I end up craving.
Let’s be honest too: As the son of a man who worked for the Railway, which ended up being the vast majority of pictures in the house, I like trains and Jack Wieber puts trains on the bottles. Yes, that’s a silly reason to like it, but nostalgia is hard to beat.
Add to that a friend informed me that this was a really, really good Glenrothes. I’ve had many an IB Glenrothes, and enjoyed quite a few. So I said so. And then I was told: These ones better than those other ones.
Well, that’s some hype. Let’s see if it lived up to it, shall we?
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Stated Age: 20 years old
Cask type: Bourbon cask
Cask Number: 17
Number of bottles: 240
Colour: 5Y 9/6
Nose: Grapefruit/floral, oak/vanilla, popcorn, dark chocolate, wheat
Initially citrus and floral move into an oak/vanilla element. Some butter, some cereal. Water opens up more bitter, dark chocolate notes. And develops more of that cereal.
Subtle dram. The nose is showing off some bitter elements, but nicely balanced ones with sweets.
Taste: Floral vanilla, bitter melon, crab apple, cereal, bubblegum
More ex-bourbon now on the taste. Floral, then bitter, though sweet. Interesting apple notes, bitter elements, and overall water starts adding more and more flavour.
For those of you who haven’t been reading my reviews for six years (so basically everyone), a bit of a surprise here: At one point I was named “the bitter brothers” for my hatred of overly bitter notes. It was eventually determined that I wasn’t a big fan of too much orange. So a dram that does something I typically hate so well I keep coming back to it? Sign me up.
Finish: Rapini, dark chocolate, popcorn, black tea, papaya/floral
Finish is all the best bitter things you’ve ever drunk. It’s different, fun, and tasty. And just the right amount of floral.
Conclusion: Water changes it a lot. Beautiful bitter. Alright, you may not love this whisky. This review, more than others, is all about my experience, through and through. I was told this was good, I went into it hyped up, I expected it to be interesting because it’s an ex-bourbon Glenrothes.
What I ended up with was unique, and took an idea of a flavour I thought I personally didn’t like, did the balance perfectly with sweet aspects, opened up with water, and overall kept hitting me with flavours and flavour combinations that I’ve never had in a whisky.
If you’re into Glenrothes, this is a great addition to your collection. If you love unique whiskies, then it’s a good addition. Like bitter flavours, or just dark chocolate a lot? Then grab it.
The only person this may not work for is someone who loves really, really blunt whiskies. Then it may be too subtle.
Scotch review #995, Speyside review #274, Whisky Network review #1559