So much whisky, so little time | Singapore | Tasting Notes

Rosebank 1989 Signatory Vintage cask 723 + 724

Apparently there have been a few other Rosebank distilleries one time or other – one opened in the late 18th century by a pair of Stark brothers, another popped up in the early 19th century run by one James Robertson – it is unknown if this is the same distillery as the Stark’s. James Rankine built another in 1840, which is the Rosebank we know, built opposite the maltings of the old Camelon distillery across the canal, and now Scottish Canals (who bought over the site from Diageo in 1993) plans to revitalise the area by granting the abandoned buildings a new lease of life. In the works: Rosebank micro brewery. The name,it seems, does not give up the ghost so readily.

By all means this was a successful distillery, well located for transport, abundant water. James’ son R.W Rankine rebuilt Rosebank in 1864, and the next year went so far as to demolish Camelon distillery to expand the maltings for Rosebank’s use. The 2 sites were once connected by a bridge.

Times were less auspicious in 1914, when conditions precipitated by the war prompted the owners of Rosebank to merge with four other distilleries to form Scottish Malt Distillers, which of course became part of the future DCL and United Distillers, and by May 1993, United Distillers had closed Rosebank, leaving it to deteriorate sadly along the banks of the Forth & Clyde Canal. It’s fate was finally sealed in 2002 with its sale to Scottish Canals

Now the reputation of Rosebank is such that a few urban legends surround it’s ‘grievous loss’ (Michael Jackson). Chief among them is that United Distillers, in considering the lowland entry for their Classic Malts range, chose Glenkinchie over Rosebank not due to the quality of its malt but because Glenkinchie was prettier to the eye and deemed more attractive to visitors, whilst Rosebank bordered on industrial along a busy waterway. The question of quality of whisky is a nebulous one, not to cast aspersions on Glenkinchie’s malt, but enough well-regarded writers have commented on  the superiority of Rosebank’s whisky that if anything, one walks away recognizing that there is no smoke without fire.

The triple stills (1 wash + 2 spirit) that produced this fine whisky were known to be ‘dumpy’shaped and utilised worm tubs present another mystery. Several sources have it that Rosebank was triple distilled till the end, yet:

One source (Brian Townsend’s Scotch Missed) claims triple distillation was used in Rosebank for decades, but according to Ulf Buxrud and the DCL archives partial triple distillation, much in the lines of Benrinnes, was used in the 20th century.

From here. It is a worthy mention that Jim Murray also believes Rosebank was 2.5 times distilled.

Alas the facts are lost to history, what you and I have left are liquid testament, at least while stocks last.


Washbank exterior washbacks warehouse 2 warehouse

Rosebank 1989/2002, 05/04/1989 ~11/04/2002, Signatory Vintage, cask 723+724, 43%

Rosebank 1989

Nose  Nose: Fresh pears and floral! Hugely scented with lots of little white and purple flowers on the kitchen table. It’s a sunny morning, with malt biscuits, cut pears and vanilla custard cream. Also new pine wood and citrus oil wood rub.

Taste  Palette: Fresh and zesty with lemon and prickly something – white pepper I think. Sweetly malted, biscuits and cream again, and new wood, but now getting sour will these herby dill and caraway flavours. It actually gets more and more sour. Lemony before the finish.

Finish  Finish: Long, lemon zest and white pepper.

Score 70


Just look how pale and unadulterated it is. On the simple side but so clean and fresh, what you expect when you think refill lowland –  it’s not the huge valentines bouquet, its the wildflower on the wall.  Simple elegance.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on May 22, 2014 by in Rosebank and tagged .
Follow whiskyrific on WordPress.com

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 39 other subscribers
Whisky Advocate

So much whisky, so little time | Singapore | Tasting Notes


So much whisky, so little time | Singapore | Tasting Notes

The Whisky Exchange Whisky Blog

A Whisky-Lover's Whisky Blog


So much whisky, so little time | Singapore | Tasting Notes

Whisky Science

So much whisky, so little time | Singapore | Tasting Notes


So much whisky, so little time | Singapore | Tasting Notes

映画 一気見

So much whisky, so little time | Singapore | Tasting Notes

%d bloggers like this: