So get this: I am not a tobacco fan. Bias, bam, right off the top!
Thus you’d come to the conclusion that I don’t use a pipe, don’t smoke tobacco, and don’t partake at the hookah bar. Cigars have been offered, wasted on me, and given to my wife (who prefers them).
You can extrapolate from that I avoid some things that have the variety of flavours tobacco can have: That vegetal, sometimes fruity, obvious note that stops me from hurting my lungs outside of the marijuana I partake in (even then, I recommend edibles, my dudes). Some red wines have these notes, and some whiskies.
Enter Glenrothes, which as part of it’s flavour shows off a tobacco note. Now far be it from me to avoid a distillery because I don’t love one of the flavours: I may not sign up for multiple, or buy full bottles.
There, you’ve caught up on the multi-review conclusion I had when a bunch of Glenrothes showed up in my lap.
Then someone said “Oh, what about Glenrothes 13 2003 Single Cask #5578?” And I was like “What about it?”
So this ex-sherry Glenrothes is 13-years-old, released for Kansas (clarification on which one) exclusively, and is at cask strength. It’s a single cask, released by the company, and here we are.
Most people would have given up. However, I’m stubborn. I try things. I try to keep growing these muscles. Heck, I have other multis going on, some of which fellow whisky drinkers look at and start asking/screaming “why?” It’s who I am now.
So let’s see how this one does, shall we?
Cask type: Sherry
Cask number: 5578
Number of bottles: 552
Bottled for: Kansas Exclusive (the band? The state? Just the Chiefs?)
Colour: 2.5YR ⅝
Nose: Red licorice, fruity & herbal tobacco, peach, Xmas spices, cotton candy
Big tobacco and fruity notes. The fruit gets into the tobacco as well. Also, just to repeat, I don’t know my tobacco, however a faithful reader gave me feedback many moons ago that I should note not all tobacco has the same flavours, so I attempt to tell you the type as best I can.
Obvious sherry cask influences, and not bad ones. I think it’s Oloroso? Less rich, more light and sweet. I do prefer PX, though that sudden Xmas spice means I’m not hating on the sherry influence here.
Taste: Red licorice, caramel, nectarine, burnt BBQ sauce
More spice and fake strawberry, some caramel and tart/stone fruit notes, and then this strong, burnt molasses/smoke note. It’s frankly confusing. Do I like burnt BBQ sauce? Kinda, maybe, yes? Which BBQ sauce? Is it Texas, Memphis, that freak one from Kansas (the band this time), or South Carolina, which comes with a side of racism (I’m kidding; they all come with that).
It’s like someone took Texas BBQ sauce, but maybe added a bit too early, and the heat is too high? Or maybe it had too much sugar? Regardless, it’s there, and it’s tasty but confusingly so.
Finish: Tobacco (herbal, mineral), burnt sugar, shortbread, cotton
Herbal, mineral, that tobacco leaf/smoke note, and more buttery/burnt sugar notes. If this was a painting, it’d be a southern town being burnt down, right in the middle of dinner. Lots of smoke and buttery flavours.
Conclusion: This whisky loves water. Initial tasting had simple flavours, like the red licorice or the more complex tobacco. The water brings out the burnt sugar and buttery complexity.
The nose is very nice, and wasn’t something I’d turn down, even with my distrust of tobacco notes. I’m still not a big tobacco fan. That ruins it for me. Makes me live longer, but… well, we’re not here to discuss my life lines or good habits. We’re here for whisky!
I don’t know if these are even still available. I don’t know if Kansas has a glut of Glenrothes lovers. Heck I still don’t really know which Kansas it is (other than not Arkansas).
If you find this, and you’re like me, try it. If you’re not like me, buy a bottle. This is a good whisky at the end of the day. I’m just not refined enough for it.
Scotch review #1485, Speyside review #417, Whisky Network review #2189