I don't often write about them, but the recently released Glenrothes Triple Pack release has gotten me thinking about the utility of the gift pack, a purchase that can indeed be worth your while. Now, I'm not suggesting that you splurge on a two-pack of Malibu that comes with a pink swizzle straw, but a sampler pack can be a great introduction to a new spirit or distillery if it's done correctly. Enter Glenrothes, with a release of a flight of three 100 mL samples of their bottlings. This is a great combination pack to purchase for the Dad who's considering becoming a Scotch enthusiast.
The gentle Speyside flavor profile of Glenrothes' whisky is malty and mild, and makes a welcome introduction for those just getting started with Scotch. Unlike their big and brash cousins from Islay, such as Laphroaig or Ardbeg, Glenrothes is barely peated, offering a smoother taste approach to the water of life. Glenrothes also stands out from the pack of other Speyside distilleries with their unusual approach to their product line. Instead of simply having an age range (say, a 10 year, a 15 year, an 18 year, and a 21 year), they release vintage bottlings at non-standard ages. This allows them to release whiskies with different characteristics when they reach maturity, rather than being slaves to a certain age and strict house style.
So a Glenrothes pack allows Dad to pull out a few snifters and treat himself to a private tasting party of three different whisky vintages. (No guarantees that he'll invite you to join, but you can hope). And while this kit may not blow the socks off the whisky guy who has everything, it's a fun experience to taste your way through the range to see the different whiskies that can come out of the same distillery.
Glenrothes Select Reserve
Unlike the other two whiskies in the pack, the Select Reserve has no age statement. It's a distiller's blend of different vintages and casks, mixed to create a whiskey in a consistent house style. The lightest colored whiskey of the group, the Select Reserve's scent has a fair bit of alcohol, with honeysuckle and subdued oak, and is surprisingly spicy for how delicate the rest of the aromas are. The taste is much milder than the scent lets on, with a malty sweetness and orange rind bouncing around. It finishes quickly, and a little hot. This would make a killer hot toddy or Scotch and soda, but it's probably not my go-to for sipping.
The Glenrothes 2001 was bottled in 2012, after aging for 11 years and a few weeks. It's interesting to compare the other bottlings to the first. Though almost indistinguishable in color from the Select Reserve, the scent of the 2001 Glenrothes is much more balanced. There's also golden grain, and an almost beach-y wood thing going on...not saltwater, but rather walking in a sand dune forest, if that's not too crazy! The taste is a huge step up from the Select Reserve. It's creamy and malt forward, with clear vanilla and oak blending very well, and slight hint of baking spices. The finish is medium and warm: this is a great easy-drinking whiskey, and Dad might decide to stick with buying this vintage when the sample is long gone.
But for us, the last contender turns out to be the favorite. Bottled in 2009, this whisky aged for 10 years and (almost) 2 months. Wonderful aromas of spiced vanilla and hints of a syrupy sweetness float out of the glass, and the scent is full and rich. On sipping, I'm struck by how soft and creamy this whiskey is: it's practically malt candy! However it's not overly sweet, and baked oranges and cinnamon round out the flavor profile. Finishing long and warm, it's a wonderfully satisfying, if uncomplicated, dram.
The Triple Pack is available for a limited time, retailing at select outlets for around $40.
Do you buy sampler packs? Hit any winners lately?
About the author: Andrew Strenio is a lover of all things potable. Since sneaking his grandmother's bourbon balls, he's moved on to touring distilleries and sipping snifters. He works by day making documentary television and films for an independent production company in Brooklyn.
Sample provided for review consideration.