IT CHANGED hands like a parcel at a party, and it has burst into flames at least four times, but here we are, drinking their single malts.
The Glenrothes was founded in 1878 by James Stuart and Reverrend William Sharp. It was acquired by Edrington, then called Highland Distillers, and was then bought by Berry Bros. & Rudd. In 2017, Edrington bought it back. Edrington, as a group, is behind Macallan and The Famous Grouse (which carries a Royal Warrant, and was the favorite tipple of Princess Margaret). Within that timeframe, it has recorded four fires: in 1897, 1903, 1922, and 1962; but it’s still a good product. One of its water sources includes a spring called Fairies’ Well, so that might explain their luck. Its new collection, called the Soleo (named after a process in Spain of sundrying grapes prior to pressing), is its first since its reacquisition by Edrington.
BusinessWorld went to taste the Soleo collection early this week at The Brewery in BGC. Three glasses were laid out in front of us: the 12, The Whisky Maker’s Cut, and the 18. There’s a 10 and 25, but they weren’t there that night. We think it’s appropriate that the collection should be named after a process that involves the sun: drinking each one in sequence feels like watching the sun go from East to West. Banana, lemon, and melon mark the 12, and the heat makes it feel as if one were drinking sunlight. The Whisky Maker’s Cut, with notes of vanilla and orange peel, tastes smoky and rich, and while it contains some remembrance of the 12, it is its darker sister; like a sun in the afternoon. The 18, meanwhile, was probably the blue hour, with a refined bite like the first crunch of an almond, and a bit of fire enveloped in something heavy and wet, like rain.
The brand is unique for having its own cooperage (that’s barrel factory), so it doesn’t have to fight for barrels during auctions. Instead, according to Hans Eckstein, Brand Advocate for Edrington, these are sent to Spain, filed with sherry, emptied (the sherry is reused for other things) and then sent back so the casks could season the whiskies. “Sherry has just really been their style, ever since,” he said.
After the tasting, UDD (formerly Up Dharma Down), the indie group favored by the young, alternative-loving crowd, played at a small concert on the second floor of The Brewery. This points to a marketing scheme by Scotch companies to appeal to the young.
“I think they’re trying to update their image, I guess, from being an Old Man’s drink, to being a finely crafted spirit,” said Mr. Eckstein. — Joseph L. Garcia