Rosebank — “the King of the Lowlands” — shut its doors in 1993. But that hasn’t stopped Ian Macleod Distillers (which bought the brand and remaining stock in 2017) from launching whiskies from the operation, and this release — the second of a planned trilogy — clocks in at a whopping 31 years of age. (A 30 year old expression dropped last year.) Rosebank is in the process of reopening, however, with the stills running now and doors opening to visitors in 2024.
Malcolm Rennie, Manager of Rosebank Distillery, says, “This is the first Rosebank release during my tenure as Distillery Manager and I’m under no illusions as to the importance of this launch. The spirit was distilled before the distillery closed its doors and has matured in casks ever since, waiting to be awoken.”
“It fills me with great pride to know that the 31 Year Old will be the last “old Rosebank” release before the distillery reopens to the public. The revival of this sleeping giant is a huge moment for the whisky community, but most importantly for the people of Falkirk who have patiently awaited its return for three decades.”
Recently, the Rosebank Distillery has completed their first distillation runs since being closed for more than thirty years. In 2024, the distillery will offer a world-class visitor experience for Rosebank fans around the world, with the finishing touches being applied to a series of amazing spaces across the historic site.
While I missed out on the 30 year old, I don’t know if you’ll find a more beautiful expression of the Lowlands of Scotland than this. Lightly nutty and mossy on the nose, there’s just a touch of furniture polish here, which is soon washed away by a beautifully floral elderflower quality. Keep breathing it in and it adds a lemon-scented touch to the aroma, filtered through a cleansing, moderately briny quality.
On the palate, there’s nothing but more love in store. Richer and more enveloping than expected, the light touches of perfume unfold in various directions: tea leaf, sandalwood, vanilla cookies, and some baking spice. Increasingly gingery as it builds on the palate, there whisky exudes life while remaining soft and gentle on the whole — more almond cookie than candied nuts — the finish remaining buttery and soothing. It’s one of those whiskies that feels completely harmless at first but which totally sucks you in. Was that a touch of lychee on the back end? Licorice?
And before you know it, it’s gone.
It probably goes without saying that my sample of this whisky was exceedingly tiny. I’d travel a long way to give it another taste and see what else transpires.
A / $3299 (700ml) / rosebank.com