The Glenrothes Flight at The Highlander Pub, Rideau, Ottawa with Dan, Ryan & Goran

IMG_20131026_195132We had been looking forward to this night for a week or so, a planned sequel to Dan’s bachelor party that I had been out of town for.  The iScotch lads finally getting around to visiting Ottawa’s biggest Scotch selection at The Highlander Pub on Rideau St in the Byward Market. And a good time was had by all.

In the past, I would have milked this out as five posts – one for the bar, three reviews and a BattleScotch! But we talked about the nature of enjoyment, and anechoic chambers, and holistic experientialism and other grandiose topics that are best sorted out in a Scotch bar, and it became apparent that the flight tasting was a whole experience itself and not something to be segmented artificially.

To start with, the bar is quite comfortable and homey, if your home has a couple hundred different Scotches in it. You can see a smattering in the background of the above photo, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I’d called ahead and made a reservation, and we were tucked a cozy corner with a very attentive server, Shannon.  Really great service, really great atmosphere.

I’d done my research on the selection of available bottles at the bar, and figured I’d treat everyone to the Glenrothes flight. We’ve already reviewed the Select Reserve, so we used that as our baseline, our first taste. Lovely chest glow firmly in place, and palates rinsed, we tried the bourbon-barreled Alba Reserve:

Goran – floral, caramel
Dan – lavender, wood, non-oak, spruce, cottage
Simon – lighter, leather, must
Ryan – cedar, maple

Goran – lemongrass, piney
Dan – spicy, tingly, warmth
Simon – Butter, spice
Ryan – cinnamon, piney

Goran – spiciness comes through nicely
Dan – alcohol burn gone but tingle remains, vanilla, floral, sweet, dry
Simon – creamier instantly, sweet & spicy, soft, smooth
Ryan – n/a

The Glenrothes Alba Reserve – 40% 700ml – $69.95 – Speyside

Try it? Yes. Buy it? Yes.

IMG_20131026_192539Up next we had the first of The Glenrothes Vintages that we’ve had, the 1998:

Goran – butter, vanilla, creamier, sweet, “inspiringly sweet”, mcflurry
Dan – caramel, butterscotch
Simon – maple syrup, old wood, soft serve ice cream
Ryan – caramel, butterscotch

Goran – surprisingly spicy, cream to milk
Dan – so creamy, floats to back of throat, more, smoke, less complicated
Simon – coats mouth, light burn, smokiness
Ryan – mild wood, hit one area really well, creamy scotch

Goran – n/a
Dan – curs sweet, more oak
Simon – more wood, more smoke
Ryan – n/a

The Glenrothes 1998 – 43% 700ml – $74.60 – Speyside

Try it? Yes! Buy it? Yes!

IMG_20131026_192548We thought we’d save the most distinguished 1995 until the end, but it turned out not to have the same character as the 1998:

Goran – maple, sappy, caramel, airy finish, lifts
Dan – olive oil, almost garlic, perfume
Simon – burn, savoury, beef
Ryan – chicken marinade, herbs, burnt balsam

Goran – so spicy, no where in the nose than back, flipped from creamy to spicy, sudden oily finish
Dan – damp moss, cottage deck, wet wood, smooth, but diesel?
Simon – spreads, honey, higher proof evident
Ryan – slight peat, damp moss

Goran – more fine, vanilla milk
Dan – spicier with splash, dryer with splash
Simon – pithy wood, wood smoke comes thru
Ryan – n/a

The Glenrothes 1995 – 43% 700ml – $95.00 – Speyside

Try it? Sure… Buy it? No.

and lastly, because we do so love to put things in simple terms here at iScotch, the modified BattleScotch! results, in which we simply rank these bottles first to worst. Worst being exceptionally relative in this case.

Goran – 1st 1998, 2nd Alba Reserve, 3rd Select Reserve, 4th 1995
Dan – 1st 1998, 2nd Alba Reserve, 3rd Select Reserve, 4th 1995
Simon – 1st 1998, 2nd Alba Reserve, 3rd Select Reserve, 4th 1995
Ryan – 1st 1998, 2nd 1995, 3rd Select Reserve, 4th Alba Reserve

In the battle of The Glenrothes, the 1998 takes it handily.

After that, we ordered some food and an Aberfeldy 12y, the review for which will be up in a few days. I gave Shannon one of our super awesome business cards (as provided by Matt Owen’s Fiverr service), and were introduced to The Highlander’s scotch consultant Nelson Simmonds aka the Whisky Whiz, aka @whiskywhiz.  When we got our flights of Scotches, Shannon also gave us a bunch of “$5 for Flighting” cards, for five bucks off the frequent Scotch tastings that Simmonds hosts at The Highlander. We’re hoping to make it to the next session on the 10th of November for some tasty Scotches and snacks.

Keep scrolling for an example of The Highlander’s tasting charts, reprinted without permission (oops) as a demonstration of the level of service you get there. Or skip it if you want to keep a naive palate:


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