The Glenrothes Vintage 2004 Is One of the Best Scotch Bargains of the Season

Glenrothes Vintage 2004
 Courtesy image

Here at Men’s Journal, we love a good bottle at a great price. We taste a lot of whisky for our readers (it’s a hard job, but hey, you’re welcome), and over the hundreds of drams a year that go over our desks, we have to say there’s nothing quite like the experience of loving a whisky sample, looking at the fact sheet, and having the price be a pleasant surprise.

Glenrothes Vintage 2004 is one such whisky. With just over 3,100 bottles in the market here in the United States, it’s a limited edition and a practical steal when you realize how well it has been crafted.

Well, a relative steal. At $65, it’s hard for anything short of an automobile or Hamilton tickets to be a steal. But whisky is edging toward Broadway seat exclusivity. Demand has gone up for whisky as supply has dwindled, and single malts have gone up in price over the last decade, to the point that some bottles cost double what they did the last time we saw them on shelves.

This is particularly true for sherry casks, because nobody drinks sherry, but every scotch lover can appreciate the impact of the sweet, nutty, syrupy fortified wine casks on their favorite malt spirit.

Glenrothes Vintage 2004 is a sherry cask whisky, and was for all 13 years of its aging process, but they cut the corner, so to speak, by using American oak instead of the standard European variety for the sherry casks. It works surprisingly well for this whisky, adding both sweetness as well as a bright, not-at-all-heavy character that you’d expect from some of the other famous sherry casks out there.

Honestly, that’s why it took us so long to try it. VIntage 2004 has been on shelves for nearly two months now, and we stuck it in the back of the pile because, well, warmer months don’t always play well with heavy, syrupy whiskies.

Our expectations were wrong. This stuff is delicious, and it’s totally seasonally appropriate. Glenrothes doesn’t do a lot to turn heads, and like Four Roses in the bourbon world, it tends to shy away from some of the flashier promotions, in favor of delivering solid, interesting releases at regular intervals.

Tasting notes are always a subjective endeavor, so relating flavors in a given glass of whisky to other things we’ve tasted could be like trying to communicate in two different languages. While Glenrothes describes the whisky with oaky vanilla, fudgy honey, mango, citrus, and a hint of eucalyptus, we picked up on caramel and apple pie notes, plenty of baking spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, clove), and a hint of earthy, chocolatey fudge.

Needless to say, it’s a delicious dessert-style dram, but with the creamy, fresh sweetness of a fruit trifle. For $65, any single malt lover would do well to see what we mean. It’s still on shelves, at least until more people catch on.