the whisky blog

March 5, 2009

Rebirth of Rosebank?

Filed under: 1 — bill mackintosh @ 8:45 am
rosebankFrom The Scotsman, March 5, 2009
WITH its distinctly fruity nose, it was regarded as the finest of all Lowland malts. But connoisseurs might have thought that Rosebank, 16 years after the demise of its Falkirk distillery, had joined the list of revered Scotch whiskies that had been consigned to history. 

However, a £5 million plan to revive production of the triple-distilled single malt is on the verge of approval, in a scheme that would bolster the number of distilleries in the Lowlands. Spearheaded by a group of local developers, the Falkirk Distillery Company (FDC) hopes to produce 60,000 litres of spirit every year, using the 19th-century copper stills and mash tun rescued from Rosebank. Though the Rosebank name remains under the ownership of the drinks giant Diageo, Alan Stewart, of FDC, told The Scotsman he was confident the new distillery would produce a malt that was its equal in every way. He said: “We have a good water supply which has the right mix. This is a development that would bring whisky back to Falkirk and create scores of jobs at a time of recession.” Comprising a restaurant, visitor centre and gallery highlighting Falkirk’s proud history of whisky production, the distillery would create 87 full-time jobs and scores of construction posts in the process. Its future, however, rests with Falkirk Council. Its planning committee has voted to continue the application to allow a site visit, after concerns were expressed as to how it would sit with local planning policies. If approved, the distillery would still require the go-ahead from the Scottish Government. Welcoming the plans to revive the Falkirk business, a spokesman for the Scotch Whisky Association said: “This is part of a wider trend in the industry, with investment in new distilleries and the expansion of old distilleries, driven by the growth of international demand.” Rosebank was closed in 1993 by United Distillers. Only four Lowland distilleries – Ailsa Bay, Bladnoch, Glenkinchie and Auchentoshan – are still in production.


Robin Laing writes about the rare chance to bloom again for triple-distilled ‘romantic’ malt as floral as a buttercup meadow ROSEBANK’s malt whisky was considered the best in the Lowlands. When the whisky historian Alfred Barnard visited the distillery in 1886, it was delivering 123,000 gallons of triple-distilled pure malt a year, and had an excise officer called William Bastard. It survived industry closures in the early 1980s, but its fate was sealed when United Distillers created the regional Classic Malts. Only one Lowland, Glenkinchie, was allowed – a sad decision for many. Michael Jackson, author of the Malt Whisky Companion, called Rosebank “the finest example of a Lowland malt” and “a grievous loss”. Jim Murray, who wrote the Whisky Bible, said it was one of the top ten distilleries in the world. “If there is a God,” he said, “it will surely one day reopen.” Rosebank whisky, pre-1993, is still available in Diageo’s Flora and Fauna and Rare Malts ranges and from independent bottlers, though it is becoming rare. It has been described as being as flowery as its name, a whisky for lovers. I have written notes for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society casks with titles such as: “A field of summer flowers”, “Lemonade in a buttercup meadow” and “Grassy, flowery and romantic”. The plans for the new distillery should be good news for lovers, bringing sunshine and flowers back to the Forth and Clyde canal. • Robin Laing is chair of the tasting panel of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society and author of The Whisky River: Distilleries of Speyside, the first in a series of books about Scottish distilleries.


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