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Glenrothes distillery is located in Rothes in Speyside and was founded in 1878 by James Stuart (the then holder of the licence to the Macallan distillery), John Cruickshank (a banker) and William Grant and Robert Dick (both from the Caledonian Bank). James Stuart soon left the partnership due to financial difficulties, but the other partners carried on as William Grant & Co. (not to be confused with the William Grant who would later build Glenfiddich distillery). In 1887, Glenrothes merged with Bunnahabhain to form Highland Distillers and early on was recognised as top-class blending material, its most notable destinations being Cutty Sark and The Famous Grouse. The overall history of Glenrothes is rather unremarkable and not much changed over the years except for the occasional damage because of fire, followed by the regular expansion of stills to its current number of 10 in 1989. In 1987, the Glenrothes' long relationship with Cutty Sark brought it into the portfolio of London wine merchants Berry Brothers & Rudd (which owned 50% of the Cutty Sark brand). Berry Brothers & Rudd in turn sold Cutty Sark to Edrington in 2010 in exchange for ownership of The Glenrothes brand. The distillery itself remains part of Edrington and the Glenrothes plays a significant role in the firm’s blends as well as those from competitors. The Glenrothes Robur Reserve is named for the Latin name for Spanish oak, Quercus Robur, and was matured in first-fill ex-sherry casks. It is available as a travel retail exclusive.
The nose is light and fruity with flavours of honey and lemon zest, followed by a hint of oranges. Later on there are notes of dried fruits and a touch of leather.
The palate is light-bodied and spicy. Lemon and honey flavours are back, together with malty notes and plenty of vanilla.
The finish is short and spicy but pleasantly warming. Again, lemons and oranges are there, this time accompanied by notes of caramel.
This is fairly light stuff, in fact a bit too light for my taste. It is really easy-drinking and the impact from the maturation in first-fill ex-sherry casks is less pronounced than you would expect. A typical travel retail exclusive item.