Glenrothes distillery

Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Mashing is speedy, while fermentation in a mix of steel and wood is on the shorter side. A ratio of two wood to one steel balances any differences in character, while the length of the fermentation introduces a cereal note beneath the fruit. Distillation, however, is long in very tall stills with boil bulbs which help to maximise reflux and allow the full range of Glenrothes’ complexities to be teased out.

The bulk is then aged in ex-Sherry casks (European and Spanish) which again necessitates the need for lengthy maturation. Ex-Bourbon is also used. The result is a multifaceted single malt which combines nuts and fruits with a distinctly sweet spiciness. 

  • Region
    Speyside
  • Production type
    Single malt
  • Distillery Status
    Working

Glenrothes History

Built in 1878 at the start of the third wave of distilleries, Glenrothes almost foundered before it was even completed. Like any number of what were still speculative ventures, the initial investors (all of whom owned Macallan at the time) fell foul of wider economic circumstance, in their case the collapse of the Glasgow Bank. The group split, with William Grant (not the same as Glenfiddich), Robert Dick and John Cruikshank continuing with their Rothes plan which was only completed thanks to a timely loan from the United Free Presbyterian Church of Knockando who though strict Rechabites (teetotalers) were clearly imbued with the spirit of Christian charity.

Glenrothes prospered after this less than happy start and when it amalgamated with Bunnahabhain in 1887 brought Highland Distillers into existence. With Robertson & Baxter as agents, Glenrothes was immediately marked out as top-class blending material, its most notable destinations being Cutty Sark and The Famous Grouse.

As with many distilleries, the 1960s boom saw an increase in capacity (here from four to six stills), and continuing optimism saw another pair being added in 1980 just as the rest of the industry was calming supply down. In 1989 it once again defied the market and upped the number to ten.

In 1987 its long relationship with Cutty Sark brought Glenrothes into the portfolio of London wine merchants Berry Brothers & Rudd (which owned 50% of the Cutty brand). This was given greater impetus in 1993 when Berrys repackaged the single malt and began releasing expressions as vintages rather than standard age statements. These smaller single year batches allowed Berrys to express different aspects of the whisky’s evolution during maturation (rather than differences between flavour from year to year).

In recent years the vintages have been joined by larger volume no-age-statement releases such as Select Reserve and Alba Reserve.

In 2010, Berrys sold Cutty Sark to Edrington (the firm formed out of Highland Distillers) in exchange for ownership of The Glenrothes brand. The plant itself however remains part of Edrington and the liquid plays a significant role in the firm’s blends as well as those from competitors. 

Timeline

  • 1878 James Stuart & Co builds a new distillery in Rothes with William Grant, Robert Dick and John Cruikshank
  • 1979 The distillery opens under William Grant & Co, and minus the involvement of Stuart who suffered financial setbacks
  • 1884 The distillery changes its name to Glenrothes-Glenlivet
  • 1887 Glenrothes merges with Islay Distillery Co, owner of Bunnahabhain, to form Highland Distillers
  • 1897 A fire breaks out at the distillery, and an explosion six years later causes significant damage
  • 1863 Glenrothes' stills are expanded from four to six. Over the next 26 years the figure rises to 10 stills
  • 1987 Glenrothes begins its relationship with London wine merchant Berry Brothers & Rudd by joining its portfolio
  • 1993 Berry Bros. repackages the brand and begins to release single vintages
  • 1999 Edrington, along with William Grant & Sons, buys Highland Distillers
  • 2010 Edrington buys the Cutty Sark brand from Berry Bros, giving the merchant the Glenrothes brand (not the distillery) in return
  • 2013 The Glenrothes no-age-statement Manse Brae collection is released

Glenrothes Facts

  • Capacity (mlpa) i
    5.2
  • Condenser Type i
    Shell and tube
  • Fermentation Time i
    55-60hrs
  • Grist Weight (t) i
    5.45
  • Heat Source i
    Indirect steam
  • Mash Tun Type i
    Lauter
  • Spirit Still Charge (l) i
    14,000
  • Spirit Still Shape i
    Onion with boil ball
  • Stills i
    10
  • Warehousing i
    40,000 butt equivalent of dunnage and racked
  • Wash Still Charge (l) i
    12,000
  • Wash Still Shape i
    Onion with boil ball
  • Washback Size (l) i
    24,000
  • Washback Type i
    12 wood, 8 stainless steel
  • Washbacks i
    20
  • Water Source i
    Spring
  • Yeast Type i
    Cream

Owners

Parent companies

Current owner

  • BB&R Spirits

Previous owners

  • Highland Distillers 1887 - 1999
  • William Grant & Co 1879 - 1887
  • James Stuart & Co 1878 - 1879

Contact

Address
Glenrothes Distillery
Burnside Street
Rothes
Moray
AB38 7AA
United Kingdom
Visitor Opening Hours
Not open to the public

Map

See also

  • Highland Park Highland Park Highland Park Distillery & brand

    Highland Park

    Orcadian distillery owned by Edrington.

  • Macallan Macallan Macallan Distillery & brand

    Macallan

    Speyside powerhouse with a luxury focus.

  • Cutty Sark Cutty Sark Cutty Sark Brand

    Cutty Sark

    Blend with its roots in Prohibition.

  • Glenturret Glenturret Glenturret Distillery & brand

    Glenturret

    Small farm-style distillery.

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