Elegance. Heritage. Superiority that endures. Christened liquid gold for all the right reasons, whisky has come a long way since its purported origins as a result of an arcane form of Babylonian chemistry. It has permeated the cultural whirlpool, stood the test of time and emerged as the pinnacle of refinement that any bottle or glass can convey. A ‘man’s drink’ no more, its revelations are enjoyed by discerning audiences of all genders.
Made with muscle
Now, with The Glenrothes’s historic unveiling of The 42, we reminisce on the evolution of what many regard as the finest of spirit through the ages. For all its hallowed complexity, the production of whisky in the early stages rested on arduous, labour-intensive processes helmed almost exclusively by men. As it was a hard-won, exclusively made commodity, it was the prerogative of society’s upper crust, enjoyed by nobles, aristocrats, ecclesiastics and gentry, while the peasants found their happiness-in-a-glass in the form of ale and beer.
The masculine connotations orbiting whisky took off thence. It became the province of affluent, privileged males, including the writer William Faulkner, who once quipped, “Civilisation begins with distillation”, the wisdom of which adheres to whisky’s longstanding and dutifully perpetuated reputation as a mark of (male-led) notion of refinement. Countless James Bond films later (one of the most effective commercials for whisky ever conceived, in the traditional sense), the point that whisky was the quintessential gentlemen’s tipple was driven home. But, as glass ceilings continue to shatter in the ongoing story of human history, that, is one tradition that would fall by the wayside.
The tide turned
The evidence is unignorable: So much esoteric phenomena becomes fashionable but meaningless when they are embraced by bigger audiences. But this not so with whisky. In the gender-inclusive world we live in now, whisky is enjoyed by more people than ever and not to the detriment of the craft and attention to detail that has cemented its legacy as as a signifier of the exquisite.
Globalisation, gender and generational shifts have converged in the wider public appreciating and understanding whisky at an unprecedented level. Sipping whisky from an isolated remove (around a fireplace, for example) isn’t as popular as it used to be. Disruption is giving more people a stake in an industry the gates of which were bolted from within for centuries. The fare of Old World whisky founts (Scotland, Ireland, The United States) now joins that of emerging markets such as Japan, Taiwan and India, testifying to a demand that is resolutely global.
Consider this: In a recent report, the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) revealed that global Scotch whisky exports surpassed six billion pounds for the first time in 2022. This marked a 37 percent increase from the previous year’s revenue. Also as illuminating is the finding that Asia-Pacific has surpassed the European Union as the largest regional market for whisky.
The general slant of all this is that if you’re a whisky lover today, you’re living in a bona fide golden age, a time of actual plenty.
“From the very beginning, The Glenrothes has had a deeper penchant for exploration, looking beyond the blueprint of the expected”
Enter The 42
Perfection. What a lofty, irrational proposition. But, yet again, whisky proves us wrong. Behold The Glenrothes 42, beautifully and sublimely conceived, patiently crafted, and bottled only at the moment of perfection, after a 42-year-long maturation in oak casks.
Though exclusive—only 1,134 bottles are available worldwide—it’s here. The 42 is now out in the world and is the first of its age to release from the esteemed Speyside institution, which has transcended its own legacy with this unveiling. The spirit in those bottles was selected by Master Whisky Maker Laura Rampling from just four casks that she ascertained to have attained an apex of flavour worthy of the mantle of perfection. In terms of a realisation within the world of whisky, The 42 is a synonymous with sheer majesty. From its aroma, redolent of sun-ripened apricots, orange peel and sugared almonds, its palette-blessing taste, invoking the sweetness of brown sugar and honeycomb and the creaminess of vanilla and toasted almonds, to its colour, the hues which reflect the Rothes landscape across earth, land, sun and sea.
From the very beginning, The Glenrothes has had a deeper penchant for exploration, looking beyond the blueprint of the expected. It’s this mindset that has allowed the brand to continue crafting some of the world’s finest whisky for more than 140 years. Its time-honoured four pillars of production include crystal-clear water, uncommonly patient distillation, sherry-seasoned casks and natural colour, eliminating impurities to achieve a lighter, fruitier signature taste that makes The Glenrothes incomparable to its counterparts.
Science, alchemy and magic truly come together in a gorgeous glass bottling—as much a testament to tradition as a beacon of evolution, regardless of gender and time.
Discover The Glenrothes 42 at theglenrothes.com.
Creative producer Vanessa Caitlin
Director of photography Alvin Choon
Video editor Hazirah Rahim
Fashion direction Jasmine Ashvinkumar
Stylist Effie Goh
Makeup artist Dollei Seah
Hair stylist Lydia Thong
Production assistant Jesslyn Lye
Story Indran Paramasivam