I tried Glenrothes Select Reserve (which will be abbreviated as “SR” for my purposes in this review) for the first time at a local BBQ restaurant that offers Scotch flights. Nothing too spectacular on the list, but there were a handful of things to try, and I was completely new to Scotch at that time (side note: if you want to get into Scotch, or whiskey in general, definitely find a bar in your area that does flights, or at least has a good selection…that way you get to taste, without being committed to a buying whole bottle). I knew immediately that SR was something special. Fast forward a few months and I finally got around to buying myself a bottle of it. As you can see by the level, it’s one of my more often poured whiskies…being someone who simply doesn’t have the capacity to finish off all the bottles she buys on a regular basis means that I don’t have to drink the same thing twice very often, but sometimes I choose to.
The website for Glenrothes SR has a link to download a tasting note, which I find wonderful. I remember feeling completely overwhelmed by the idea of Scotch when I first began drinking it, and their tasting note (and the video of the charming British man explaining how to taste) presented it to me in such a way that it seemed to suddenly make sense. It was a big step for me as far as knowing what kinds of flavors and smells to look for.
Color-wise, SR is a pale, tawny gold…maybe a little lighter than “standard” whiskey. The first smell I get off the nose is a sweet, rich, fruity aroma…almost candy-like. Beyond that is vanilla, which for a brief instant almost seems marshmallow-y, right before the spice comes in. If I let it settle for a few minutes before smelling it, the vanilla takes on an almost musky character and the fruit aroma is much less pronounced. Glenrothes’s own tasting note lists citrus, but I don’t personally get that from it (whether from an unsophisticated nose or some other reason, I don’t know). The taste is soft, very sweet at first, then a spicy kick in the middle, and finally fading into an oaky flavor as it reaches the back of the palate. It finishes fairly quickly, leaving a very faint aftertaste of the oak (and the immediate desire to refresh the flavor by drinking more!).
This is among my favorite whiskies, and even though it was one of the first ones I tried, it still has yet to be topped by anything I’ve had since. I’ve had two expressions from Glenrothes, the Select Reserve and the 1998 vintage – while the 1998 is still a fine whiskey, the Select Reserve is more drinkable and is definitely the one I would recommend to a first-timer.