Glenrothes Whisky Maker’s Cut (48.8%, OB 2020)

When Glenrothes changed hands from Berry Brothers & Rudd to Edrington in 2018, the range underwent a revamp: vintages were replaced by more conventional age statements (Balblair followed suit in early 2019), and the core range focused heavily on sherry cask maturation. The prices of the younger bottles are quite reasonable. However, I did have a soft spot for the bourbon matured vintages in their mid-teens, and there’s nothing affordable in the current range to cater to that. The Whisky Maker’s Cut is a higher strength NAS bottling matured exclusively in first fill sherry. Like the rest of the range, it’s bottled at natural colour.

Nose: Quite a typical heavily sherried nose – sultanas, stewed berries, some leather, and a dry leafy note. Bitter cherries in the background.

Palate: There’s leather here too, as well as bitter oranges, and the kind of spices one finds in mulled wine – cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg. Good texture – at 48.8% it does have ‘grip’, as Roy of Aqvavitae would say! The sherry here is mainly spicy – and surprisingly dry in places – as opposed to sweet. However, after the rather promising arrival, the flavours become more muddled in the development, especially when water is added.

Finish: Medium, on bitter dark chocolate and spices.

Comments: No major complaints overall – I bought it on offer, and for the most part it does what it says on the tin, i.e. delivers a big, uncomplicated sherry hit. The nose is the best thing about it. However, I really wanted to love this – I had a vague hope it would be something like a more affordable version of the Aberlour a’bunadh – and it was not to be. The palate can be rather unfocused and dare I say there’s a certain lack of character compared to some of the more big-bodied heavily sherried whiskies? But I don’t like to end on a negative – the Whisky Maker’s Cut can sometimes appear at around the £40 mark (I guess Edrington are pitching Glenrothes as their affordable malt compared to its more famous sister distillery that collectors love), and for that price it’s worth a punt.

Score: 81/100

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