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Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar

Singlemalting #184 – Day 18 – 4th Edition SWAC – Secret Spirits Glenrothes 19yo Single Malt

Disclosed for the second time in this edition. Today is time for a visit to Glenrothes in Speyside. We have had some exceptional expressions from this Distillery in past editions and I was excited to be able to source one of our own.

Glenrothes is owned by the Edrington group and has been in production since 1878. Beside the burn of Rothes it is most noted for use in famous blends like Cutty Sark and Famous Grouse. With 4 major fires causing extensive damage over the years the success of Glenrothes has not been without some challenges.

Glenrothes Distillery

Lets delve straight into the whisky shall we.

Secret Spirits Glenrothes Single Malt 19 Years Old aged in Bourbon Cask number 261 and bottled at the cask strength of 55.6% with no added colour or chill filtration.

Colour:    A tiny touch of rusty gold as this was a first fill Bourbon cask but still light for 19 years in barrel.

Nose:     White Balsamic drizzled over pear slices with walnuts and brie.

Palate:   Juicy pear brandy, vanilla & lemon pound cake topped with date slices.

Finish:     Lots to find here as this is a delicate expression of Glenrothes but not without a ton of character. Can’t get past the ripe pear and vanilla.

Really fruit driven Glenrothes expression and quite different from the heavily tropical expressions that Wemyss malts have provided the past few editions.

Am really happy with this cask as it is right up my alley. I could spend quite some time sitting and mulling over this dram.

On this day in the 3rd edition we had the A.D. Rattray Loch Lomond (Croftengea) 11 year old.

Every few days Scotch Trooper has something fun for us to check out so make sure you get over to his Instagram page.

Tomorrow we head to the Dark Side again for something from our friends at A.D. Rattray.

The last 6 days leading up to Christmas is nothing but 20+ year old goodness so stay right where you are and get ready to rumble.

If you are after today’s dram just drop me a line and we can help to make it happen.




Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 3rd Edition Day 21 Blog #156 – Wemyss Malts Marmalade Appeal Glenrothes 27 Year Old

G’day everyone and welcome to another comparison tasting. As you know we like to do one or more comparison casks from the same distillery so that you can appreciate both age and cask differences. Today we try a Glenrothes that is 19 years older than the Malt Whisky Company expression we tried earlier on day 8. Wemyss also tend to bottle all their casks at 46% which no doubt will make a big difference as well.

I’m sure that the whisky is not why they have so many permanent residents.

No need to rehash distillery details as you can just re-read the previous blog. I will say that Wemyss have provided some really sensational older casks of Glenrothes in the past few years. We even converted Joshua Hatton who is not normally a Glenrothes fan to concede that the Aromatic Orange Tobacco was “drop dead gorgeous”.

Wemyss Malts Marmalade Appeal Glenrothes 27 Year Old aged in a Sherry Butt cask # 5376 and bottled at 46% with no caramel or chill filtration.

Glenrothes 27

Color:   Light for such an old Sherry aged whisky but no doubt being a butt and potentially 2nd or refill (3 or more fills) we only get a shadow of what we might have if it was a first fill. I actually really like refill for older sherried expressions as a sherry cask can very quickly overwhelm especially delicate malt.

Nose:   Orange oil furniture polish, clove and Terry’s dark chocolate orange.

Palate:   Orange sponge cake and there is that slight bitterness that could be marmalade semi sweet icing that tops and forms a layer right in the middle.

Finish:  A slight burnt character leading me to flamed orange rind topping a rye based Manhattan or maybe just pouring Grand Marnier over the top and lighting it all while you stand back and bask in the stunning beauty of it all.

Yummo again Wemyss. Certainly the cache of delicious Glenrothes casks you managed to acquire have been good to you and also thankfully for me. We have increased with age each edition and now sit at 27 Years Old. Does this mean we may yet have a 30+ year old at some point?

For those that love this delicious old Glenrothes the good news is that there is some available and if you email me at jonathan@secretspirits.com I will be more than happy to point you in the right direction.

In the 2nd edition we had the truly epic A.D. Rattray Glentauchers 22 Year Old that you can re-visit here.

Let’s see is Whiskylassie loves old Glenrothes as much as Joshua and I do over at her blog here.

Now that we are rolling with the old stuff lets see what tomorrow brings from a fantastic independent bottler that is gracing our cubby holes for the first time. The fantastic Alex Bruce from Adelphi is to thank for tomorrow’s whisky and thank him you will.

So all I can tell you is that tomorrow we head South to the Lowland’s.

Until then have a fantastic evening. Only 3 more sleeps till Christmas.


Jonathan – taster of secrets



Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 3rd Edition Day 8 Blog #141 – Malt Whisky Company Glenrothes 8 Year Old

G’day Sherry Cask lovers…. Today is for you. The peat geeks get their hit every week so shouldn’t you have a turn on a regular basis?

In the bustling (I use that term lightly as Scotland is generally anything but) region of Speyside where most of the Scottish distilleries exist there is one that keeps making appearances in our calendars. Glenrothes seen by many as a fairly innocuous house style has really shined for us with these single cask independently bottled expressions.

The Malt Whisky owned by Scottish legend extraordinaire Stuart Nickerson was one of the big hits in the 2nd edition showcasing especially how amazing younger Single Malt can be.

Glenrothes was built in 1878 and started producing the year after. The distillery is owned by the Edrington Group who used the bulk of it’s production for brands like Cutty Sark and Famous Grouse however in a twist that only Scotland can manage the Single Malt brand is owned by Berry Bros. & Rudd. Glenrothes has survived 4 major fires over the course of its life and as such is probably the hardiest distillery in Scotland. In cat lives does that mean it has 5 left?


Malt Whisky Company Glenrothes 8 Year Old – Bottled at the cask strength of 64.2%, no chill filtration or caramel of course. Cask number 37602 a refill Oloroso Hogshead.

Color:   A lovely reddish glow winking at the sherry influence and pretty decent for only 8 years and refill. Every cask is unique and this is a great example of that.

Nose:   Bovril (thick salty meat extract) and dark chocolate, burnt caramel mixed with a bag of asian spices, turmeric, paprika, cardamon and red chili flakes. This nose is immense and broods quietly like a trap door spider waiting patiently for a passing cricket.

Palate:  Freaking delicious and initially no where near the 64.2% on the tongue that I was expecting. Going down however all the way from the back of the throat right past the core to that warm center of my being it leaves a lasting trail. Juicy and coating with an oily parafin feel that keeps pumping flavor into every taste bud. Sweet vermouth and bitters, spices continuing from the nose into rich sherried notes.

Finish:   This whisky will love you for a very long time……. a very long time. The sherry really makes itself felt on the finish finally climbing over those spicy notes and leaving a lasting rich sweetness.

Water:   Just had to try a little splash of water in this beast. Second only to the huge A.D. Rattray Glen Moray of the second edition which was 64.8% this is an anomaly to say the least and especially for a Glenrothes. More of that caramel note and sweetness rises above the meaty spice. More sherry influence here and creamy cocoa with the water taming it a great deal. I think that the raw unbridled power of this whisky at 64.2% is just amazing and today that is how my palate is screaming at me to drink it.

Wow Stuart what an amazing cask of Glenrothes. I never thought I would have something from this distillery that would be so huge. I love my job.

Well sherry faithful did that tide you over for a bit? If you like this whisky lucky for you there are a few and only a few bottles coming to Canada. Please email me at jonathan@secretspirits.com if you want to find out where you can get it.

Whiskylassie is delving deep into this one and has posted her thoughts here.

In the second edition we had on day 8 the Wemyss Malts Dark Treacle Fondant Craigellachie and you can revisit it here.

Tomorrow after we all recover our sense of taste we will be heading back to the Highlands and the first offering from an independent bottler that made their lone debut in the 2nd edition. Single Cask Nation bring something unique and intriguing to the table.

See you then


Jonathan – Taster of Secrets

Day 20 – Wemyss Malts Aromatic Orange Tobacco Glenrothes 1988 | Blog #109

Here we are with our second comparison tasting of the calendar. You will remember back to day 11 and blog # 100 where we tasted the Glenrothes Kumquat Cluster. Well today we have an older Single Cask Glenrothes (sherry butt).

Given how rare Glenrothes is as an independent bottled expression I did not think when looking for 2 distilleries that we could use for double up comparison that this would be on the cards. Let alone both over 20 years old. Don’t know if you have any left or if you took notes on the Kumquat Cluster but it will be interesting to compare the two.

I already delved into the background of the distillery in blog 100 so lets just get stuck into the whisky. I must say given the name this was a whisky that I was really excited about (love a nice cigar).

Wemyss Malts Aromatic Orange Tobacco Glenrothes 1988 – 25 Years Old aged in a sherry butt cask # 420. Bottled at 46% ABV.

Colour:     Rich amber

Nose:     Aromatic…check, Orange….check, Tobacco…check. OK now that we have established that I agree wholeheartedly with the Wemyss team lets see if I can delve a little deeper. Reminds me of a Cognac barrel aged cigar I had last year. The Cognac residue really infused the cigar with hints of burnt caramelized orange. It was a medium bodied cigar and smelt inviting and amazing just like this whisky. An old wood crate full of mandarins. The old wood crate could be the sherry note chiming in but it is very subtle. I would think second fill cask used here. Good descriptive would be an old humidor.

Palate:     Viscous mouth feel like orange infused olive oil, plenty of rich citrus here and all deep, dark and condensed like reduction sauce. Some light peppery notes and very soft delivery. Feels like 40% not 46%.

Finish:     Continuing softly with lingering grilled rind with barely a touch of zest left. The easy tobacco is there as more of an earthy note.

Great after dinner dram. I would like to try this with a light bodied aged cigar. Delicate here was achieved by age and a sherry cask that did not overpower. Could definitely chill by the fire and coax an hour or two of enjoyment out of this one.

Joshua Hatton give us his thoughts HERE

Last year on this day in the 1st edition we tasted the Samaroli Glentauchers 1996 in blog #52

If you want a bottle of this then you had better hurry as only 6 came to Canada.

**They can be found only at the Wine and Beyond stores in Edmonton. (Sorry Calgary)

Well that was a treat and the oldest whisky so far. Tomorrow we head back to A.D. Rattray for a single cask of what was the most popular distillery in the 1st edition.

Until then, hope your Christmas plans are coming together.


Day 11 Wemyss Malts Kumquat Cluster Glenrothes 1993 | Blog #100

100th blog today and I am so pleased to bring up the milestone while blogging through the second edition. For my wife Cindy and I, creating the Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar is a labor of love. We have so much fun putting it all together and getting up and over all the endless array of challenges that come our way.

The real rewards though come from some of the stories we hear about how our creation brings people together. There is something very special about sitting down with friends and family and sharing in a new experience everyday.

Thank you all so much for supporting us and for following along with my whisky ramblings over the past year and a half.

Today we taste our first whisky of this edition that is over the 20 year old mark. As most of you are aware the price of whisky has sky rocketed in the past few years. This is also not helped with a big swing downward by the Canadian dollar against the Great British Pound. Anything over 20 years old now has become super premium and priced out of reach for a lot of people at least for a semi regular whisky purchase. For the 2nd edition however this is only the first of many to come sliding over the 20 year old barrier.

Glenrothes Distillery Glenrothes Distillery

Glenrothes is a Speyside distillery that has seen its fair share of drama with 4 major fires causing huge whisky losses over the years. In 1993 Berry Brothers & Rudd purchased the rights to the Single Malt and started bottling as Vintage expressions rather than age statements. The Distillery was founded in 1878 and is now a very popular brand amongst whisky consumers.

Wemyss Malts Kumquat Cluster Glenrothes 1993 – 21 Years Old bottled at 46% ABV and aged in what I would think was a second or third fill Sherry Butt. Cask Number 3343. Region Speyside.

Wemyss Malts - Kumquat Cluster Wemyss Malts – Kumquat Cluster

Colour:     Very Light for 21 years old especially in a sherry butt which leads me to believe that it was second or third fill. Polished 18k gold.

Nose:     Wow certainly some big citrus hits there I can see why the Wemyss crew found consensus in this name. Tropical citrus i.e. Kumquat is very apt. Oak influence is soft on this whisky. Poached Kumquats in sweet Riesling and cream reduction.

Palate:     Oh so soft… tropical fruits continue with a faint touch of pink grapefruit, lady finger bananas and thinly sliced warmed kumquat rounds.

Finish:     Elegant would be a good word to describe this whisky. Must be easy for Wemyss to find flavour descriptors for whiskies when it is this prevalent. The finish is long and the little Asian citrus just rolls right along even intensifying a little as you sit and think about it.

It is very rare to taste a Glenrothes from an indie bottler let alone one that is as unique as this one. The 2nd or 3rd fill Sherry cask was perfect for this whisky so as to allow these tropical fruit notes to remain so dominant.

A great whisky for my 100th blog and one that I will definitely hunt down a full bottle of for the back bar.


Joshua Hatton is running alongside us everyday with his take on this Advent journey. His notes for the Glenrothes 21 can be found HERE


Last year on this day we tasted the Stronachie 18 in blog #43


You can find one of the only 60 bottles available from the following retailers:



Crowfoot Wines and Spirits

Kensington Wine Market

Calgary Co-Op Wine Spirits Beer

Zyn The Wine Market



Wine and Beyond


I would also like to draw everyone’s attention to a number of other whisky fans that are also blogging their way through the 2nd edition calendar this year if you would like some more perspectives.


The Lethbridge Scotch Society

Angels Share Glass


The Edmonton Scotch Club …well at least so far they are at day 1    🙂


Well tomorrow we head to our lone expression of the biggest Scotch category.


See you then…



Advent Day 23 – Wemyss “Ginger Spice” 1988 Glenrothes 24 Year Old Single Malt | Blog #55

The Glen of Dounie on the edge of the town of Rothes is the location for what has become a very popular whisky in recent years. Glenrothes Distillery, First opened in 1879 and used mainly for the Cutty Sark premium blend the squat round Glenrothes bottle is now instantly recognizable by Single Malt enthusiasts.

Whisky: Wemyss “Ginger Spice” 1988 Glenrothes 24 year old single malt

*Cask # 4249 – Sherry Butt – 46% non-chill filtered*

“Ginger Spice” Glenrothes 24yo

Colour: Tarnished Gold – light for a 24 year old sherry cask (perhaps second fill?)

Nose: Ginger lemon cookies coated in sugar crystals and infused with cinnamon and nutmeg.

Palate: Sweet poached apple/mandarin wrapped in a soft gingerbread layer.

Finish: Evolving citrus character and sweet clove lingering on.

Water: Brings out a lasting slightly zesty sweet citrus finish.

**Curt from All Things Whisky has also been “Tasting” along with the calendar. Check out his notes HERE.

This is a really lovely sherried whisky. The cask has not been allowed to overpower the spirit at all and could be for a 24 year old one of the most delicate sherried whiskies I have ever had.

Just delicious and a great way to continue to celebrate Advent and the last few days before Christmas.

This amazing whisky is available only from the following retailers in the very limited quantity of 60 bottles:


Silver Springs Liquor

Highlander Wine and Spirits

Crowfoot Wine and Spirits

Aspen Wine and Spirits


Sherbrooke Liquor Store

Spruce Grove

Liquor on McLeod


Andrew Hilton Wine and Spirits


Ingredients Artisan Market

Well, I hope you have been enjoying this last little buildup to Christmas.

Tomorrow we head off shore to visit a very rare independent bottling from A.D. Rattray for our Christmas Eve dram.

So finish your shopping early, make sure the kids are in bed and the fire is roaring. Grab your Spiegelau whisky tumbler and join me on the couch for a real treat.

See you on Christmas Eve …



Wemyss Malts Website