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

Rosebank 21yo 2011 Special Release vs 21yo 2014 Special Release

Rosebank survived the big kill off of the 80s and really did make it over to the optimistic side of the 90s, but was unceremoniously mothballed in 1993. The city location next to a canal was a boon in the distillery’s early years where the availability of infrastructure aided movement of goods but ultimately doomed the distillery as the land it sat on became more valuable than the whisky it made. No matter that the whisky it made was amongst the very best of the Lowlands. It didn’t help that the distillery was due for a effluent discharge upgrading that would have cost another 2 million pounds.



Washbank exterior

And so the old Camelon distillery over the canal that operated as Rosebank’s maltings from very early on was sold off and became a restaurant. (‘The Rosebank’, but it could equally be ‘The Camelon’ no?) Rosebank itself was levelled, after it was broken into and stripped of all copper, which really put the final nail in the coffin.

While it operated it was one of 2 Scottish distilleries that triple distilled its standard make, with 3 potsills (2 wash stills holding 3,000 gallons, and a spirit still holding 1,500 gallons) that led to 3 sets of worm tubs. With its closure, a distillery that was already a star passed into legend.

Rosebank stillroom

Here we have 2 21 year old Special Releases from 2011 and 2014, there was also a 25 year old released in 2006 that is becoming quite expensive. These 2 are examples of Rosebank’s 90s period spirit, itself different from the 70s distillate, but known for its freshness and citrus.

Pictures property of Master of Malt.


Rosebank 21yo 1990/2011 Special Release 53.8%


Nose Nose: Sweet zesty lemons. So citrusy fresh. Lemon zest, the sweetness and the acidity match perfectly. Lemon meringue. Not a flimsy nose either despite its lighter tones, and despite its triple distillation it still has a buoyant bobbing weight. Malty biscuits and cream as usual but also something of a celery seed or fennel green herbal pungence.

Taste Palate: Fresh Sweet malty lemony, different citrus notes playing about. not heavy body but no means fragile. touch of cream, More of those same herbs developing towards the finish.

Finish Finish: Medium long, fresh, lemony and increasingly fennel-like.


Excellent stuff, fresh and zesty, great herbal development, goes down too easily.  If producing today, the overall Lowland brand would have been much much stronger. I daresay the lost profitability makes eyes water.


Rosebank 21yo 1992/2014 Special Release 55.3%


Nose Nose: Amazingly similar in profile, except this younger sibling has got more oak tones and more cream. All sort of lemony citrus notes. Maybe a little dialed back on the herbals. Feels a step further away fro the spirit than the 2011, but only just.

Taste Palate: Can it be? Sweeter and more on lemon oils and citrus juices than the 2011, more oak and hence more weight too. Lemon-lime soft drinks. The herbal development is reduced though.

Finish Finish: Medium long, fresh, lemony and rather more oak tannins.


These 2 whiskies certainly stand toe to toe, both are just as good though I personally prefer (through no fault of the 2014) the herbal development and less oak of the 2011. I truly do not understand the short sightedness in closing Rosebank. Rosebank shows how delightful lowland triple distillation is when done well. I am so sure if Rosebank were still producing, Auchentoshan would have been lambasted as a pale failure in management and wood policy.

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This entry was posted on January 24, 2016 by in Rosebank and tagged .
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