On the rooftop of the super-trendy Nomad hotel in NYC’s Flatiron District, a few lucky whiskey enthusiasts gathered to get a taste of The Glenrothes Extraordinary Cask. If you want to get your hands on one, prepare to hand over a cool $5k. Whiskey cocktails flowed until the tasting began, which made me wonder whether the attendees, mostly food and wine journalists (if “journalist” is indeed the the right descriptor), were there to get smashed or to appreciate a piece of history.
Eventually the night would culminate in just a small taste (the equivalent of a thimble swirling around in the bottom of glass that couldn’t fit an ice cube if you tried) of the Extraordinary variety of whiskey for everyone, but before we were permitted to taste liquid gold, Anchor Distillery president, David King, was there to walk us through some of the best that The Glenrothes has to offer. Starting at a very smooth, candied 1988 ($180/bottle), and then moving to the more peaty 1978 ($695/bottle), King was careful to teach the whiskey novices in the room how to smell, taste and appreciate a good whiskey – Nose goes all the way in the glass… Let the liquid cover your entire palette and let it linger before swallowing… Close your eyes – And by the time The Extraordinary Cask was opened, everyone in the room was suddenly a self-proclaimed spirits critic in the same way that every smart-phone owner is a professional photographer.
On the nose, the 1970 Extraordinary Cask was more refreshing than one would expect from anything that’s been sitting around for over 40 years. At first, the whiskey tastes light and fruity, but as it begins to open up, a much more complex, spicy whiskey emerges. King reminds us that it’s maturity, not age that matters to him. This rings true with this old batch that was lost for years and found seemingly just when it wanted to be bottled.
The Glenrothes is making only 50 bottles available to the U.S. and expects the supply to go quickly.
For $5,000, any whiskey’s value is more extrinsic than intrinsic. Enjoying The Extraordinary Cask single-malt whiskey from 1970 is a rare experience, and the bottle’s case, decante, and even the cork cap are all beautifully designed. (The cork is made from the wood from the original cask.) By the time you share it with your lucky friends, I’m sure you’ll already have a well-developed personal story justifying every dollar of your new purchase. Although I, myself, may be priced out of the $5k tag, I’d be proud to showcase any of The Glenrothes whiskeys I tasted in my always-dwindling liquor cabinet.