Dizzy Recap: Glenrothes Tasting at Mary Queen of Scots

From guest blogger Carmen Operetta:

It’s a new year and hopefully you have survived the winter season swimmingly. In most parts of the temperate countries in the world, snow has been a no show or just a wee bit of a tease this year! Whisky drinkers are used to snuggling up in front of a warm crackling fire with a proper dram in hand in these wintry months, cold snap or not. Well, I have a whisky for you to revisit and indulge in, along with a new release and an expression that is about to be out of production!

Glenrothes recently held a spirits tasting and dinner at one of NYC’s top Scottish restaurants, Mary Queen of Scots. The whiskies were paired with sandwich selections from the menu, such as the Tobermory (Scottish cheddar, crispy figs and sourdough bread) and the Pawlet (American gouda, pancetta and roasted pears on a brioche bun).

The Tasting Menu and Notes:

  1. The Glenrothes Select Reserve: No age statement, slightly fruity with caramel on the nose, vanilla with orange and lemon on the palate, elegant, complex, and terrific for cocktails. Great before and after dinner.
  2. The Glenrothes Vintage 1985: Get this one if you can!! It’s almost out of stock, and it’s hard to say with every expression tasting amazing, but this is one of my favorite! This fantastic almost rum-like dram is very chocolatey with honey and spicy notes on the nose. Oak, vanilla and orange on the palate with a silky long finish. A delectable after dinner dram.
  3. The Glenrothes Vintage 1994: Ahh….. what another great expression.This is amazing in cocktails too! On the nose, toffee and honey. Full of zesty lemon, orange, creamy vanilla, and toffee. Medium to long finish. An incredible before and after dinner dram.
  4. The Glenrothes Vintage 1995: So silky on the palate that I didn’t want to add water, but did it anyway to experience the full flavor profile. Loads of vanilla with some red grapes on the nose. Butterscotch, lemon, vanilla and honey on the palate. Medium to long finish…..such a lovely after dinner dram.
  5. The Glenrothes Editor’s Cask: For all of the lovers of tobacco and full-bodied whisky, you’ll love this one! The super dark chocolate color is very appealing and tempting on the eye. Orange and syrupy on the nose. It’s rich in dark fleshy fruits, dried fruits, orange, honey, tobacco leaf, spicy, and coffee notes. A long finish with more coffee and dark chocolate notes. This is an all of the time dram!

We were also treated with custom Glenrothes Cocktails by Mary Queen of Scots bartender John McCarthy:

The McQueen (Glenrothes Select Reserve, Fidencio Mezcal, dark agave syrup, orange and chocolate bitters)

Presbyterian Revenge (Glenrothes Select Reserve, Cynar, lemon juice, simple syrup and soda)

The Highland Fling (Glenrothes Select Reserve, Yellow Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, lemon juice and grapefruit bitters)

While the limited-run Editor’s Cask is being sold for $375, the Glenrothes Select Reserve used in these cocktails is an easy-drinking Speyside retailing for about $35, making it a smart choice for mixing at home.

Glenrothes Editor's Cask, a limited release, retails for $375.

Carmen Operetta is the CEO/Founder/Writer of Planet Operetta Productions, a primarily whisky-based production company which consults, presents events/seminars, and creates programming for the whisky category. She is currently launching a NYC based whisky consultancy division and continuously researching whisky between NYC and the UK in order to distill the first American Scottish peated style whisky.

“Malt drinkers are for thinkers and blended drinkers are for drinkers” – Ronnie Cox


Dizzy Recap: Compass Box Dinner at Parlor Steakhouse



If you had told me a year ago that I would be drinking scotch whisky every now and then, I probably would have scoffed and continued slurping my dirty vodka martini–boy, am I glad those days are over. To me, scotch was always an old man drink, something only hardcore drinkers and Wall Streeters turned to. Well, at some point in the past year I grew some cojones, thanks in part to having a roommate who specializes in Japanese single malt. I started dabbling in scotch, usually either sipping a small amount neat, or having it mixed in a cocktail (yes, this is possible, if done right). I think it’s been essential in expanding my taste for classic drinks and fine spirits. But until a Compass Box whisky pairing dinner at Parlor Steakhouse (90th St. & 3rd Ave.) earlier this week, I was not getting the most out of my tasting of scotch whisky. Thanks to brand ambassador Robin Robinson, I learned that scotch is best with a few splashes of bottled water, which helps open the aromas and flavors, as well as dilute the potency a bit. Robin took us through Compass Box’s custom blending and aging process, as well as giving us a general introduction to what scotch is and which regions it comes from. Compass Box was founded in 2000 by John Glaser, who approaches whisky-making from a wine-maker’s angle. Casks from different Scotland distilleries, such as those in the Speyside and Islay regions, are handpicked by Glaser, leading to an array of handcrafted, non-chill-filtered blended whiskies. Even the bottles are designed like wine bottles, signaling that Compass Box is offering something different. Following a cocktail reception featuring Gilles Bensabeur of St. Germain (I had a delicious Peat Monster scotch, St. Germain, and muddled pineapple cocktail), here’s a rundown of what we tasted:

  • Asyla: A blend of scotch and malt whisky, this was a really nice place to start–lightly fruity and oaky with prominent vanilla. This was by far my favorite, being a novice whisky drinker. I recommend this to anyone–be sure to let it swish over the top of your tongue and enjoy the delicate, spicy finish. Paired with mushroom risotto.
  • Oak Cross: Whiskies aged in American and French oak casks offer a subtly spiced medium weight. There’s hints of vanilla and clove, and it’s soft and rich. Paired with a pile of deliciously rare prime porterhouse and sides.
  • The Peat Monster: As the name insinuates, this a heavy, peaty Islay malt blended with Speyside malt. Smoky and bold, it’s almost spicy. With a 46 percent ABV, this packs a punch. It paired with cheeses perfectly, but was a little too strong for me–I was definitely splashing in that water. Paired with Quickes Cheddar and Pyrenee Brebis.
  • Hedonism: A rare style of 100 percent grain whisky, sweet toasty notes of toffee and vanilla. Considering this goes for about $80 a bottle, this was a treat. Paired with molten chocolate cake and butterscotch ice cream–pure heaven.

Following dinner, we dashed to Lexington Bar & Books (73rd St. & Lexington Ave.) to drink Plymouth Gin cocktails mixed by Jake Sher. I had a refreshing Southside (gin, mint, lime juice), a French 75 (gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, champagne), and a Ginger Cobbler (Domain de Canton, gin, muddled ginger, lemon juice). Ben’s variation on the Martinez also went over well. Hell, I even puffed on a cigar for the first time–what can I say, the environment beckoned it. I must mention that I drank water constantly throughout the night. I was in bed by 1 a.m. and only slightly dizzy.