Established in 1879

Glenrothes distillery is located by the Rothes burn in Speyside. The distillery was founded by a group of investors who owned the Macallan distillery, but before the project was even completed it suffered at the hands of the economic turmoil ensuing from the collapse of the Glasgow Bank. Many of the investors pulled out, leaving only William Grant (not he of Glenfiddich fame), Robert Dick and John Cruikshank to continue. The distillery was saved thanks to a loan of £600 (around £50,000 in today’s money) from the United Presbyterian Church of Archiestown.

High regard

This blessing helped set the distillery on the right path, with the reputation prospering and the spirit being marked out as top-class for blending. In 1887 the company merged with Islay’s Bunnahabhain distillery to form Highland Distillers, a firm that would go on to become a prolific distiller and blender, eventually becoming the modern day Edrington Group. In the 1930s, Highland Distillers’ sister company Robertson & Baxter, a broker and blender in Glasgow, were commissioned to produce the Cutty Sark blend by brand owners Berry Bros. & Rudd (BBR), an ancient and distinguished wine merchant. Glenrothes became the chief component in the blend and in 1987 Highland Distillers licenced the Glenrothes single malt brand to BBR who released the first proprietary bottling that year.

A timely malt

In 1993, taking lead from the wine trade, BBR began to bottle the Glenrothes by vintage rather than by age as was the norm in the whisky industry. These single vintages were released in smaller batches and allowed for greater expression of different aspects of the whisky’s evolution, rather than maintaining a consistency between different batches of an age statement. In 2017, the Glenrothes brand was purchased from BBR by Edrington (who had taken over Highland Distillers in 1999), bringing the brand back to the distillery which Highland Distillers had retained. In 2018, the core range was overhauled with the vintage expressions replaced by more standard age statement expressions at 12, 18 and 25 years old, alongside a non-age statement expression called Whisky Maker’s Cut. The distillery is known for its fruit and nut profile with sweet spices, with much of the spirit receiving a long maturation in ex-sherry casks.

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