Glenrothes The Aqua Collection is a set of online exclusive single malt whiskies that pays tribute to the distillery water sources and explores sherry-seasoned oak aging.

Glenrothes, located in the town of Rothes right smack in the heart of Scotland’s Speyside region, is an understated whisky distillery. It can also be a rather misunderstood one. Founded in 1879, the distillery has been making some of the most sought-after whiskies despite its rather checkered history that included a number of fires that had threatened to end its distilling operations.

But it’s really its turbulent ownership changes in the past couple of decades that’s coloured The Glenrothes, along with potentially confusing transitions in house style and direction brought about by new ownership. The Speyside distillery, originally part of Highland Distillers since 1887, was purchased by The Edrington Group – owners of The Macallan – in 1999. Edrington sold the distillery to fine wine and spirits merchant Berry Bros. & Rudd in 2010, where it languished until Edrington bought it back in 2017.

Glenrothes distillery
The Glenrothes distillery is located in the town of Rothes in Scotland’s Speyside region, with close access to five different water sources to produce its whisky. Image credit: Daniel Goh.

Fans of The Glenrothes may remember its core Vintage Collection during its Berry Bros. & Rudd days; that range was displaced by the new Soleo Collection after Edrington took back control. The new core range eschewed high age statement whiskies for a set that were more catered for the masses.

Then in 2019 Glenrothes unveiled The Aqua Collection in the UK, a fresh set of whiskies that were – surprisingly – sold as online exclusives off their official website. As you can surmise from the name, The Aqua Collection pays tribute to water, but in particular the five different water sources available at The Glenrothes estate – Brauchhill, the Fairies Well, Ardcanny Spring, Burnside, and Dounie Wells, and The Rothes Burn.

First to launch as part of The Aqua Collection were the Glenrothes Whisky Maker’s Dram and the Glenrothes 12 Year Old. Both these whiskies take a leaf from its (long lost) cousin distillery The Macallan and its own heavily-sherried heritage, mainly leveraging on sherry seasoned oak casks and eschewing bourbon oak that characterised its more experimental variants of yesteryear.

The Aqua Collection was finally introduced to Singapore earlier this year, although strangely enough both these expressions aren’t available in Singapore. Instead our market will be carrying the recently-introduced Glenrothes 16 Years Old, Glenrothes 21 Years Old, and the Glenrothes 30 Years Old as part of The Aqua Collection. Like pretty much all of Glenrothes’ new whiskies, these expressions are have been 100% aged in sherry seasoned oak, and mostly first-fill at that.

Glenrothes The Aqua Collection 16 Years Old portrait
Glenrothes The Aqua Collection 16 Years Old offers something for both new and seasoned whisky drinkers with its fresh, vibrant flavours. Photo credit: Joel Lim Photography.

The Glenrothes Aqua Collection 16 Years Old that we had the opportunity to taste exuded those sherried characters well. The nose exudes a burst of zesty citrus and fresh blueberry compote with a touch of balsamic vinegar, then evolving to sweet spiced fig and date notes. On the palate is more of the same – think blueberry cobbler fresh out of the oven with a crunchy sugary crust, served with vanilla ice cream. Its medium dry finish leaves your palate tingling with a surprisingly fresh vibrancy, the way it does after you chomp on some fresh berries.

As aforementioned The Aqua Collection is only available online; in Singapore you can purchase Glenrothes 16 Years Old, Glenrothes 21 Years Old, and the Glenrothes 30 Years Old from Edrington’s online store at the price of S$165, $325, and $1,440 respectively inclusive of taxes.

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