The GlenRothes Three Decades 43% ABV.

glenrothes 3 decades

The Glenrothes have been releasing vintage whisky for some time now. Over the past 17 years or so, they have released whisky from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. The earliest of which was 1971 and the most recent being 1998. The Glenrothes Three decades celebrates these releases by combining whisky from all three decades into one bottle. Previously exclusive to Travel Retail, we’ve finally managed to get our hands on some bottles of this fantastic whisky.

The Whisky Exchange


We have a burnished copper coloured dram here, it presents a nice thick swirl line on my copita, with a handful of very slow syrupy dropping legs.


Straight away you get the sense that there are some deep dark notes in here, we’ll get to them. First aromas I can tell are strawberries and black cherries, jam tarts, it’s not sharp though, this is more cooked and simmering, for a pie. There’s also a cream soda sweetness, and wonderful seared pineapple in a pastry, and this is when the darker heavier notes start to come through for me.

And here we go, there’s loads on the nose now. it’s dusty, that strong cough syrup, dandelion and burdock, cola cubes, pontefract cakes, red and black liquorice, along with cherryade sweetness.

More time and there’s fisherman’s friends, dates, cloves, and a very faint eucalyptus note comes through too.

glenrothes whisky logo
The Glenrothes Logo


The mouthfeel is ok, not watery but not oily either, and the darker notes from the nose are here. There are a couple of seconds of not much going on, then it slowly grows in flavour. For 43% ABV there is quite a bit going on. Like the nose flavours are coming thick and fast. Dark shag tobacco, cola cubes, black coffee, black liquorice, dates, molasses, rum and raisin ice cream, the dustiness also comes across too.

More time and I’m thinking there are some real bourbon notes to this, I like bourbon so it’s not a problem. Red apple strudel and custard, some honey, then figs, and cocoa.


Long side of medium in length, and still spicy and quite a lot of stewed dark fruits. It’s quite “Juicy”, and towards the very end I’m getting blackcurrants.

glenrothes distillery

My thoughts

Well, a Glenrothes bottling made up of whiskies from 3 different decades, sounds a very interesting dram doesn’t it, that’s what i thought when i pulled it out from the back of my sample drawer. What made it even more intriguing is the fact that it’s only available at auction these days, that made me smile somewhat too.

Originally released in 2009 at a price of 100 euros, now only at auction for around 350 euros, it’s quite a price for a 43% ABV bottling. So what did i think of it?

I have to say that for a 43% ABV whisky it does have much to offer, you won’t have to go searching for flavours, though they do develop rather slowly, patience is the name of the game with this whisky. Your patience will be rewarded, largely. But this is where i found an issue. It came across as slightly restrained, i’m positive this is due to the ABV, but i’m tasting a whisky in 2022 that was released onto a very different whisky market back in 2009. In 2009 reducing the strength of a whisky with such provenance was a much more common thing, (as does happen at times these days), but i can’t help but feel conflicted about tasting it today.

It’s obvious that this whisky at a higher ABV could have been an absolute banger, and now iv’e tasted it i feel a little sad for it, a product of a now bygone whisky era. I can’t honestly say if i’d have bought a bottle back in the day, Glenrothes weren’t really on my whisky radar at the time, but i personally wouldn’t spend 350 euros at auction for a bottle these days.

Iv’e been left feeling very conflicted about it to be honest, that doesn’t happen often, and i kind of wished i hadn’t opened it, it should have been left to gather dust in a cupboard somewhere to be found in many years to come, by someone other than a whisky reviewer in 2022.

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