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This is a classic malt in my book. The Glenrothes distillery is a favorite of mine, and this whisky is the "classic" profile that the distillery produces. It is the essence of what makes a Glenrothes, so it in turn is the essence of what is a Speyside (in MY opinion!)
Nose: Complex, with a hint of salty notes combined with heather, malt, flora and citrus, as well as a bit of vanilla. Almost sherry notes, but not quite. Just a bit of vanilla to balance the malt. I'm getting just a bit of fruit, maybe unripe apples. Not quite sweet, but maybe dried fruit. Coming back after a taste, the nose is much more alive with berry fruits, and sweet vanilla.
Body: This is a light whisky, not heavy in the mouth. It is smooth, but not VERY smooth.
Palate: The tongue is awash with spicy notes, warming the tongue with complexity. The individual notes of citrus and vanilla are gone, but the mixture is intriguing. There is just the hint of smoke, filling the mouth with a complex layer of goodness. Clean and fresh are not quite the words I would use to describe this whisky. It has a complexity to it that is inviting, calling me to taste it over and over, promising me I will be able to detect the exact flavor on the next sip.
Finish: The finish is long, sending off spice into the back of the throat. The smoke comes out more in the finish, releasing a darker profile than that which hit the tongue. This bit of smoke warms the mouth, but nothing like an Islay or even Highland Park. It is but a whiff of smoke, just enough to darken the flavor, keeping it from being confused with a "light and refreshing" whisky.
At its price-point ($39), it is an exceptional whisky. The Balvenie 12yr Signature might be a decent comparison. The Macallan 12yr would not be as complex as either the Select Reserve or the Signature. However, both the Macallan and Balvenie are more expensive than the Glenrothes. As stated, the Glenrothes is an exceptional whisky at its price-point.