The Glenrothes Distillery in Scotland

Two memorable legends are associated with Glenrothes Distillery. One is about the resident ghost and the other of the great fire which saw whisky flowing down the streets. The latter incident had locals scooping up the amber liquid in whatever they could find and it left the farmers’ cattle and the fish in the Rothes Burn rather tipsy.

Glenrothes Distillery is a fine blend of traditional with the modern. It is one of the five distilleries in the village of Rothes in the heart of Speyside. The Glenrothes Distillery sits beside the Burn of Rothes, hidden in a glen in the outskirts of this Scottish village. It was founded in 1879 by James Stuart & Co, leaseholders of Macallan Distillery. Acquired by Highland Distillers in 1887 the capacity of its exceptional Single Speyside Malt whisky was doubled to 300,000 gallons in 1898. This was to meet the demand from blenders.

Glenrothes draws its water from a private spring, ‘The Fairies’ (or Lady’s) Well’ which runs in the nearby Glen of Dounie. The distillery owns all the land surrounding it in order to protect the source of this vital ingredient. Prime Scottish barley is malted in the traditional way in Saladin boxes and then mashed with pure water from the Ardcanny and ‘The Lady’s Well’.

Hundred years after the founding, new stills that are exact replicas of the 1879 originals were installed and the distillery rebuilt in 1979. Today the magnificent still house is home to five wash stills and five spirit stills and the latest technology works in harmony with traditional methods of distilling. The old majestic copper domed Porteus mash tun has been replaced by streamlined stainless steel ones.

The ten Oregon pine wash backs are held together by a fairly unique system of steel ropes, instead of the usual metal hoops of different sizes. They have a mechanism enabling them to be adjusted periodically. Glenrothes also has a very modern purpose built tunroom with eight steel wash backs. Only the drawing of the spirit in the spirit safe is not automated and is still done today as it has been since 1879.

Glenrothes single malt is cherished for its structure, flavor and body and is the ‘top dresser’ or quality enhancer of some of the world’s finest blends such as Cutty Sark and The Famous Grouse. The distillery determines its bottling by vintage rather than year.

The wooden casks have the greatest influence on the flavor of The Glenrothes Vintages. The size, style and previous use of the casks and duration in the cask are important. Glenrothes mainly use Spanish ex-Sherry casks with some ex-Bourbon casks. To date, only a small number of vintages have been released and many are no longer available. They’ve been sold, imbibed and greatly enjoyed.

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