KWM Advent 2018 Day 21 – Cadenhead Glenrothes 2001

by Andrew

I can’t believe the journey is nearly at an end, there are just 4 whiskies left in the Kensington Wine Market 2018 Whisky Advent Calendar includuing this WM Cadenhead Glenrothes 2001. This is the final Cadenhead bottling in the Kensington Wine Market 2018 Whisky Advent Calendar, and there have been a few of those. But I hope you’ve appreciated the different styles these whiskies have showcased over the last 3 weeks. We also gone deep into the history of Scotland’s oldest independent bottler, which is a part of J & A Mitchell & Co. We’ve talked a lot about Cadenhead this month, and there is no wonder why, they are a huge part of our business here at KWM, as their exclusive Canadian partner. We also have a huge selection of Cadenhead whiskies in the store.

In 5 years of KWM Whisky Advent Calendars, it is hard to believe that today malt is the first Glenrothes to feature. The distillery is a pillar of the Blended Scotch Whisky industry, especially for brands like Cutty Sark and Famous Grouse. The industry used to regard Glenrothes as a top dresser malt, a whisky used sparingly to finish Blends. Glenrothes spirit profile is influenced by a short fermentation and a long distillation in tall stills with boil bulbs. The result is a malty, floral and citric spirit. The owners, the Edrington Group, who also own Macallan and Highland Park, fill the spirit predominantly into ex-Sherry seasoned European and American oak casks. Many experts feel Glenrothes needs a long maturation to reach its potential, and I would agree that I have not often looked favourably on the whisky from the distillery. The spirit seems to hit its stride in its mid-late teens. But I also don’t think the distillery has done itself any favours by bottling at 40 or 43%. The best Glenrothes bottles I had over the years have almost all been from independent bottlers like Gordon & Macphail and Cadenhead.


Glenrothes Stillhouse - from


Glenrothes distillery was built along the Rothes Burn in the town of Rothes, just 10 minutes south of Elgin, near the heart of the Speyside whisky region. The distillery was built in 1878 at the beginning of a major boom in distillation, never the less the owners nearly went bust even before they finished construction. The collapse of the Glasgow bank left them without financing. Three of the original investors, all of whom were also owners of Macallan, soldiered on with the project. The financing they required was provided by a loan from the nearby United Free Presbyterian Church of Knockandoo. Curiously, said Church was part of the teetotalling movement prevalent throughout the UK at the time. Presumably, they either saw the loan as a shrewd investment or the right Christian thing to do.


Image from


Glenrothes’ fortunes turned after it finally opened. In 1887 it merged with Bunnahabhain Distillery on Islay to form Highland Distillers. Robertson & Baxter took on the brand as agents around this time, and so began its association with the Famous Grouse and Cutty Sark Blends. A fire in 1897 and an explosion in 1903 both caused considerable damage, but the distillery persisted. According to local legend, the fire led whisky spilling into the Rothes Burn which runs through the town of the same name. The locals and cattle were said to be drawn to and for a time inseparable from the stream.

The 1960’s boom saw the production at Glenrothes skyrocket from 4 stills before 1963, to 10 stills by 1989. Glenrothes Distillery’s long and sometimes confusing relationship with Berry Brothers & Rudd, a London wine merchant, began in 1987. Berry Brothers owned 50% of the Cutty Sark Brand. In 1993 Berry’s began to bottle Glenrothes as a single malt. The bottlings were single vintages, bottled without age statements. In 1999 the Edrington Group, owners of Macallan & Highland Park, acquired Highland Distillers including Glenrothes. In 2010 Berry’s sold the Cutty Sark brand to Edrington in return for ownership of the Glenrothes brand. Edrington continued to own the distillery and its production, which was integral to several of its blends. In 2017 Edrington bought the Glenrothes brand back, in an effort to grown the single malts growth internationally, in light of declining sales for Blends. The timing was convenient for Berry’s too, who were in the midst of a restructuring.

Image courtesy of @frombarreltobottle

Cadenhead Glenrothes 2001 – 54.3% – 16 Year – Bourbon Hogshead –

Andrew’s Tasting Note

Nose: honeyed and nutty; very floral with cool mint, dried cranberries and orange peel; Demerara sugars and maraschino cherries; a touch of creamy vanilla fudge.

Palate: big, honeyed, floral and fruity; warming with decadent sugars and juicy fruits; more cool mint makes way for baked apple and poached pear; also melons creamed honey and more vanilla fudge; there is a big coating body with a lovely mouthfeel.

Finish: Medium-light, but long, coating, fruity and floral; elegant, fresh and doughy.

Comment: I am a self-confessed Glenrothes skeptic, I find it disappoints more often than not, but we’ve had a lot of good luck with Cadenhead Glenrothes, and this one is no exception!” $11.99 (50mL Mini bottle only – if you are interested in a full-sized bottle we may be able to get some!)

Playing catch-up on our 2018 Kensington Wine Market Whisky Advent Calendar?

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