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The Glenrothes Bourbon Cask Reserve

Review: The Glenrothes Bourbon Cask Reserve    (86/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published February 8, 2017

Berry Bros. & Rudd is one of London’s oldest Wine and Spirits Merchant with over 300 years of experience and tradition from which to draw upon. The company began its operation at 3 – St. James’s Street (in London, UK) in 1698, and still operates from that same location today. Although they are primarily merchants of wine, the company has a strong presence in the sale of distilled spirits as well.

Their presence within the spirits industry had its beginnings approximately 100 years ago when Berry Bros. & Rudd developed the Cutty Sark brand in 1923. In 2010 Cutty Sark (the brand) was sold to The Edrington Group. As part of the arrangement Berry Bros. & Rudd acquired The Glenrothes Single Malt Whisky brand.

The Glenrothes Bourbon Cask Reserve was formerly known as Alba Reserve. It is a Kosher expression which has been matured entirely in ex-bourbon barrels. The Glenrothes Reserve whiskies such as the Bourbon Cask Reserve are blended from selected Vintages of different years and thus do not carry a Vintage nor an age statement. The whisky is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

sam_2904In the Bottle 4/5

The Glenrothes Bourbon Cask Reserve comes in a squat round clear decanter.  The decanter is protected to come extent by a light brown cardboard sleeve container which is windowed  on the front and the back so that you can see the front and back labels of your bottle. The sides of the cardboard box contains information first about Berry Bros. & Rudd (on the right hand side), and then also about The Glenrothes Speyside Single Malt Whisky (on the left side).

I appreciate that the front label of the bottle provides tasting notes to help guide our purchase decision, although I wish there was some information regarding the Vintages used for this bottling. I also wish that the fact that this is a Kosher Single Malt expression was noted more prominently (I believe I found a Kosher symbol on the back label of the bottle).

My final quibble would be the box itself. I found the bottle somewhat cumbersome to remove from the cardboard package, and even harder to place back inside. I would prefer a non windowed box which would not require such a puzzle box approach to opening and closing.

In the Glass 8.5/10

The Bourbon Cask Reserve reveals itself as a light amber whisky in the glass with both yellow and orange hues apparent. When I tilt and twirl that glass I see many small leglets forming at the crest which drop slender legs back down into the spirit. The breezes above the glass bring fine oak spices forward which are accented with almond and vanilla as well as some light malty butterscotch. There is also a lightly fusel scent of varnish in those initial breezes.

As I let the glass breathe the light fusel component disappeared as the fine oak spices gained momentum. I begin to notice new smells of roasted coconut, canned apricot, and interestingly some fresh-cut corrugated cardboard. The oak and sandalwood spice has brought a few willow trees into the breezes, and the almond and vanilla seem to have morphed into a plate of graham wafers. The overall effect of the decanted glass is very nice and my appetite for this bourbon cask whisky has been whetted.

In the Mouth 52/60

The whisky has a lightly peppery bite with clean oak spices and hints of orange peel heating the palate. Tempering this heat is a touch of honey and a light beer-like maltiness. The overall effect is that the whisky seems lightly spicy and lightly sweet, yet it also carries a lightly bitter undercurrent (similar to citrus pith) which piques my interest.

As I sip from my glass, I notice that the nose translates very well once the glass has had time to breathe. Firm flavours of roasted coconut, vanilla, and almond are present, as is a building sense of lightly honeyed graham wafer. With ice, the whisky becomes creamy and loses some of its mild spicy bite. I found this more enjoyable, although I suspect many will prefer the whisky with a drop or two of water instead which brings out some more of its malty sweetness.

In the Throat 13/15

The whisky has a crisp short to medium length finish which is lightly spicy. Ebbing flavours of vanilla, almond and mild butterscotch provide a nice counterbalance. With a touch of water the whisky becomes slightly creamy lengthening the finish and adding just a touch more butterscotch sweetness.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

The Glenrothes Bourbon Cask Reserve is a nice representation of Bourbon Cask Single Malt Whisky. The malt flavour carries the typical bourbon cask flavours of vanilla, almond and coconut winding through fine oak spice. I enjoy this style of whisky very much!

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


Suggested Recipe

Here is a cocktail which combines a tasty Single Malt Whisky (The Glenrothes Bourbon Cask Reserve) with a wonderful dry gin from Berry Bros. & Rudd (London No. 3 Dry Gin). The two spirits are complimented by the light sweetness of Bols Triple Sec (chosen because of its crisp orange flavour and its lower alcohol content).

alpine-meadows-sam_2971Alpine Meadows

1 1/2 oz  Bourbon Cask Reserve Single Malt Scotch
3/4 oz No.3 London Dry Gin
3/4 oz Bols Triple Sec (sub any quality triple distilled orange liqueur)
Citrus Zest

Add the three ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker begins to frost
Strain into chilled cocktail glass
Garnish with citrus zest

Note: If  you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!


As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.

0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

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