The evening dram

In search of greater beauty, I am currently undergoing Invisalign treatment, invisible braces. I’ll save you the wonderful details, but the most life changing aspect of it (besides improving my smile) is that the clear, thin gumshield-like aligners have to stay in 22 hours a day. I’m allowed to take them out for eating and cleaning. I have had to give up grazing, and so am now down to just three meals a day. I have, however, lost a stone of weight, so I’m not complaining too much.


I can drink water, carbonated water, or green tea with them in. Anything else will either stain the braces, or get sugar underneath them, risking my oral health! All alcohol contains sugar to some extent, so I even have to limit my whisky tasting. This has led to something of a dilemma. If I can only have one whisky per day, what whisky should I choose?

You might have noticed that my tastings so far have been unpeated (technically, only the Glengoyne claims to be utterly unpeated). I do like the occasional peated whisky, but the start to this blog came on the back of roughly a year and half of not drinking any whisky at all. I had a rather all too pleasant evening with my father, a barn, and two bottles of whisky – a Lagavulin 16 year old, and a bottle of Whyte and Mackay’s Special (not, perhaps, a standard combination). I have never felt so ill as the morning after. I had been unable to bear the smell, let alone the taste of whisky until just before Christmas just gone. Peaty whiskies still catch in my throat slightly, but it is easing; there will be more peated tastings coming as I re-accustom myself to the flavour.

So I have narrowed it down at the moment to something unpeated, likely a Speyside (though apparently, the concept of geographically linked flavours is a relatively recent development and, according to some, those at Bruichladdich at least, a complete nonsense). The Balvenie would normally be my go to whisky, but I appear to have run out at present. Aberlour, as I talked about last time is superb, but sometimes a little too peppery, depending on what I had for dinner. I have to confess something of an ignorance of the big three glens (Glenfiddich, Glenlivet and Glenmorangie). I suspect this is a little inverse snobbery, the classic “if they’re mainstream, they can’t be any good” concept. I know this to be very wrong, based on what knowledge I do have and I just need to investigate them more thoroughly. So I turn to the Glenrothes, a very recent discovery for me.

Glenrothes originally sold all of its stock to blenders. It was only in 1987 Berry Bros. and Rudd decided to sell a Glenrothes single malt.  Since 1994 they have been bottling vintages, not age statements; every vintage is planned to be unique, more so than age statement releases from other distillers, according to their mission statement. Even the bottles themselves are minimalist works of art. There must be a design concept behind them, like Aberlour’s Victorian medicine bottles, or the shape of the Glenfiddich bottles, which seems to make it easier to hold and pour, but I couldn’t track down any theory behind it.



Glenrothes Select Reserve is a non- age statement or vintage release, created relatively recently to act almost as a character reference for the Glenrothes – here they have aimed to tone down the uniqueness and find the elements that define Glenrothes.

Glenrothes Select Reserve

colour: pale amber
nose: cereal, nougat, citrus
body: light and warm
palate: nougat, citrus, apricot
finish: brown sugar, molasses


Glenrothes 1991 Vintage – bottled 2008.

colour: light amber
nose: pears, toffee, red berries
body: smooth and light
palate:butterscotch, roasted chestnuts
finish: sweetness and berries – peppered strawberries

Of the two, I’d pick the 1991 over the select, but only just – the fact that it is now very hard to get hold of, and costs twice the price therefore makes it harder to recommend – Ronnie Cox, the director of The Glenrothes seems to have a similar concept of situational whisky to me – he suggests this would be an intellectual conversation starter. I beg to differ – I think the 1991 doesn’t need anyone to start the conversation with – a time to reflect whisky perhaps. Thankfully, the Select Reserve fits my bill perfectly at the moment – a wonderful dram to enjoy before I put my teeth back in.