Last year, I met Susan Webster at a Dewar Rattray tasting in TastToe. As you may know, her father is working at the Glenrothes distillery. I have a decent Glenrothes collection, and she told me the 1979 vintage was one of her favourites. It was also one of the favourites of John Sutherland, the distillery manager until 2007.
The 1979 is special in the history of The Glenrothes because it was their first vintage ever to be launched, back in 1994. It was also by coincidence the centenary year of the first spirit distilled there.
It’s also special because in 1979, Glenrothes converted the old malt barn into a new, computerized still house and added a new pair of stills. In a way, it’s true that the vintages of 1979 and earlier are more hand-crafted. Around 50.000 bottles were made of the first batch (there were new releases of the 1979 in 2002, 2004 and 2005).
Glenrothes 14 yo 1979
(43%, OB 1994)
Nose: the label is right: this one is delicately peated which makes it a rather unique Glenrothes (in the 70’s, they still used some peat smoke to dry the malted barley). Really pleasant and complex. Fruity as well: cooked apples, moscatel, citrus, light honey. Some spicy notes (cinnamon, cloves). Marzipan.
Mouth: very rich. Sweet and fruity (oranges). Honey. Some toasted flavours as well, and the smoke is still present.
Finish: gets a bit drier but soon the candy takes over again. Roasted nuts. Fades away on vanilla, chocolate and smoked wood.
A real gem and a multi-layered Speysider. In fact, it’s a shame that they’ve lost this delicate, smokey profile in later years. The smoke makes it powerful and adds to the complexity of the dram.