Complex, full and beautifully balanced, each dram of The Glenrothes is a statement of the whisky maker's craft.
The story of The Glenrothes distillery begins with the stories of two exceptional men. James Stuart, who first had the vision to build a new distillery in the town of Rothes, and the Reverend William Sharp, who raised the funds needed to save the distillery from ruin and helped turn James Stuart's dream into a reality.
The Whisky Maker: Mr. James Stuart
James Stuart, born and bred in the town of Rothes, had a passion for whisky. He saw the potential for a bright future in distilling and decided to set up a new distillery in his home town of Rothes capable of producing a lighter, fruitier spirit than his peers in the region.
James Stuart was a whisky connoisseur. He also knew that to make the finest single malts, the essential ingredients are wood and time. It was this conviction that led him to impose the criterion that his distillery should not speed up the distillation process in order to increase production. On the contrary, the precise time was extended, without skimping for a moment, until a spirit was produced that had the fruit flavour to create a lighter, creamier whisky. He also had a firm belief that each of the casks he owned should be carefully sourced and served by local coopers, who would bring their ancestral knowledge of the magic of wood to the table. At The Glenrothes there would be no shortcuts.
With the contribution of local businessmen Robert Dick and William Grant, work began on an old mill by the Burn of Rothes River. But with the financial crisis that hit the country in the summer of 1878, his partners could no longer finance the construction of the distillery. James stepped aside and left Robert and William with the dilemma of the final decision.
The priest: Reverend William Sharp
Reverend William Sharp, a priest of the United Presbyterian Church in the nearby town of Archiestown, was known for his sermons warning his parishioners of the sins of temptation. Yet despite his reputation as a firebrand, William Sharp was a man of principle, whose devotion to God was matched only by his commitment to the community. And in Speyside, whisky was at the heart of the community.
He knew that Rothes needed a second distillery to provide steady employment for the copper coppersmiths, coopers and grocers whose livelihoods revolved around whisky. William Sharp was not a rich man, but he was persuasive. In a short time, by appealing to the good nature of prominent members of the community, he managed to raise £600, enough funds to complete the construction of the new Glenrothes distillery.
The new distillery - the pride of Glenrothes
In the summer of 1878 work began on the new distillery with the construction of the still room, raised under an imposing pagoda roof. This was followed by the large warehouse and the mash room. And finally, on 28 December 1879, The Glenrothes distillery's first pure spirit was born. Thanks to the watercourse built to power the mill, water from part of the stream turned a wheel that supplied the distillery with all the power it needed. A railway spur brought in the barley and out came the full casks. Most importantly, fresh water from the hilltop springs ensured an abundant supply of cold, crystal clear water to soak the barley at the beginning of the process and reduce the alcohol at the end. In a tribute to the people of Rothes, the road through the estate was kept open so that local people could travel freely around The Glenrothes distillery.