The Glenrothes

Distillery Information

The first pure spirit flowed from the stills at The Glenrothes distillery on 28th December 1879.

This Speyside Malt Whisky, draws its flavours from the prime barley of the region, the careful creation of the spirit and the resulting richness of both American and Spanish oak casks. Its flavour, structure and body created a ‘top dressing’ of choice for Master Blenders across the length and breadth of Scotland.  Which is why it is at the heart of some of the world’s finest blends such as Cutty Sark, The Famous Grouse, and it graces many other great names.

In the early 1990’s Berry Bros & Rudd Ltd. decided to create a premium quality niche in the developing Single Malt Whisky market.

The concept, this time, was to find whiskies from the distillery which would represent the “best of the best”. The idea of a declared Vintage came naturally to Berry Bros & Rudd Ltd. And, with whisky as with wine, Vintages would be both finite and rare.

Berry Bros & Rudd Ltd. recognised that the distillers’ advanced understanding of the maturation process had promising implications for future Vintages: The search then began to find casks of such outstanding quality that Berry Bros & Rudd Ltd. could stamp them with the “Vintage” seal and to which The Glenrothes Malt Master could add his signature of approval.

Only 3% of the distillery capacity is bottled as Single Malt to ensure exceptional quality and of the 22 Vintages released to date, 14 have entirely sold out.

The Glenrothes distinctive flavour profile comes from many different factors.  Including their unusually slow distillation process in tall copper pot stills, which deliver the characteristic sweet, fruity and elegant spirit.  Further flavours are derived from our extensive knowledge of maturation in oak casks.  Each expression has its own unique personality, underpinned by the distinctive, hallmark characteristics of the distillery – ripe fruits, citrus, vanilla and an exquisite spicy finish all encased in the creamiest of textures and with a complex and well-poised balance

The Glenrothes is only selected for bottling when it has reached its zenith of maturity; each cask is carefully checked, nosed and tasted many times.  An age statement does not reveal the maturity of the whisky and so the Glenrothes is bottled only when ready, meaning mature and at its peak of perfection. Malt whisky matures at its own pace.


Whisky making begins in Rothes with Glen Grant

James Stuart (co-founder of Glenrothes) takes over the Macallan

Work begins on Glenrothes and continues after Stuart quits leaving his two partners – Robert Dick and William Grant to struggle on.

The first spirit flows from Glenrothes on December 28th – the date of the Tay Bridge disaster

Glenrothes joins Bunnahabhain on Islay to form Highland Distilleries Ltd.
Annual production at the distillery now 80,000 gallons.

The still house expanded to add a second pair of stills

John Smith, an experienced Speyside distiller, becomes distillery manager until 1928, and is followed by his son and grandson.

Capacity at Glenrothes now up to 300,000 gallons a year

Glenrothes closes briefly during the First World War

Start of US Prohibition

Warehouse fire destroys over 200,000 gallons of maturing whisky

Cutty Sark created by Berry Bros. in London

Wall Street Crash

Production at Glenrothes dwindles to 64,000 gallons its lowest for 44 years.

Glenrothes shuts along with almost every distillery in Scotland. Reopens in the autumn following the repeal of Prohibition in America.

The first malted barley (produced in Saladin boxes) arrives from the sister distillery Tamdhu. Floor maltings gradually abandoned at Glenrothes

Glenrothes gets a third pair of stills and the method of heating is changed from direct fire to internal steam coils. External worm tubs are replaced with modern condensers.

Work begins on converting the old malt barn into the new still house and a fourth pair of stills are added.

First discussions between Christopher Berry Green (Director of Berry Bros.) and John Goodwin (MD of Highland) about a Glenrothes Single malt to be sold and marketed by Berry Bros.

Launch of The Glenrothes 12 year-old Single Malt.

BB&R Ltd purchase and start renovation of Rothes House, formerly the manse. A fifth pair of stills are added bringing total capacity to 5.6 million litres a year

Glenrothes officially becomes the spiritual home of Cutty Sark with a new visitors’ centre at the distillery.

Launch of the first ever Vintage Malt in Scotch whisky with The Glenrothes Vintage 1979

Oversupply in the industry leads to Glenrothes working 6 months on and 6 months off in tandem with Tamdhu. Production cut to 2.8 million litres

Glenrothes put back on full production

Work begins on converting the old Brewer’s office into the Inner Sanctum

The first Ambassadors are sworn in to the Inner Sanctum

Established by the burn of Rothes in Speyside in 1879, The Glenrothes distillery has been producing its characteristic Speyside single Malt for over 130 years. The maturity of The Glenrothes is determined not by age, but by Vintage, resulting in some memorable moments, captured forever in specific expressions of this remarkable spirit.




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