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Rosebank Distillery - Is a 'resurrection' possible ?

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Rosebank Distillery - Is a 'resurrection' possible ?

Postby Triple Distilled » Fri Sep 29, 2006 10:03 am

A couple of years ago (2004), I contacted Falkirk Council Planning Department (in whose area the Rosebank Distillery is/was), to find out what was happening with the buildings and site after the Distillery closure (I am a Planning Consultant). The aim was to find out if there was any 'mileage' in a possible re-opening of the Distillery, under new owners (ideally in the original buildings - but, alternatively - then - elsewhere on the site). I did have some 'key players' who could have put a bid together (they had got sufficient finance !) - keen Rosebank drinkers (?!) - and buy the brand from Diageo. Falkirk Planning WERE amenable to a scheme rebuilding the Distillery ON THE SITE, but a Masterplan had been approved for the redevelopment of the original buldings - and Diageo were prepared to sell the brand. However, after much deliberation, our 'consortium' decided that, without the Distillery buildings, they didn't want to embark on new build - with all the expense and without the 'cachet' of resurrecting Rosebank in its original form.
We went away.
I'm wondering now, if anyone knows a more updated position on Rosebank - the Distillery buildings, the redevelopment of the site and if any other group has tried to resurrect this wonderful Distillery and Whisky - either on the old 'Canal site', or elsewhere.
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Postby kallaskander » Fri Sep 29, 2006 11:42 am

Hi there,

nothing new but a clue why nothing has happened yet. When I was in the area 2001 people there told us that they had been hoping to use money that was available for redevloping the area for the millenium (the right or the false one, no matter) but that there was no money left to revive Rosebank after all the plans were realised. The canals have been rebuild and of course the Falkirk Wheel with them. But that alone cost a pretty penny. Anyway the millenium has passed and nothing has happened. I understood that some of the money came from the EC and was rightly used to redevelop the somewhat neglected area.
It seems that the council betted on tourism and not on distilling. Private capital could probably revive the distillery but it will have to be a lot of money.

Greetings
kallaskander
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Postby Lawrence » Fri Sep 29, 2006 3:54 pm

I think most of the buildings are mostly gone and the others are now a Beefeater Pub. On of the forum members lives close by and has reported that there is not much left. The future for the site as a distillery is not likely.
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Postby kildalton » Fri Sep 29, 2006 4:39 pm

I'd like to ask if the stills are still on the spot or if they have been removed.
Thanks
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Postby Deactivated Member » Fri Sep 29, 2006 4:40 pm

I'd be more interested to know what became of the stills. Without either the buildings or any of the equipment, naming a new distillery Rosebank would seem a bit dubious. A shame, I've had several Rosebanks lately, and it's a lovely dram. I'm afraid we're all a little late jumping on the Lowland bandwagon.

(And cheers to the fellow who resurrected Bladnoch--see you in a few days!)
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Postby vitara7 » Sat Oct 07, 2006 11:45 pm

building started a coule of months backs on the site.
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Postby hpulley » Sun Oct 08, 2006 10:40 am

I say it is a shame once again that it was closed. And again I say more of a shame is that Diageo currently writes, "unfortunately closed" on its Rosebank bottlings without admitting that they are the ones who allowed it to be closed and demolished! Short sighted plonkers running the business in the eighties and nineties IMO. This is no different than other industries of course for whom 4 months is the usual planning window -- planning for a rebound in a decade would have required brilliance or divine intervention but with the benefit of hindsight I can still say they got it completely wrong. They still may not have made back their investment of holding onto the properties for the fallow years but you never know. The real shame is that they let it go so recently; if they'd just hung onto it for a few more years... but we can what if until the end of time.

As you mentioned, just resurrecting the name is shady, though not really much different than some things that have been done in the industry lately. Stronachie seems like the worst example, finding a bottle which resembles an old bottle and calling it that but distillery names are being resurrected by nearby distilleries, used in slightly different recipes coming from the same stills that make other output which isn't much different. So in a way you could even give Raymond the rights to the name and he could make some at Bladnoch -- that wouldn't be much weirder than Bruichladdich making Port Charlotte and Octomore; and Springbank making Hazelburn and Longrow. Sorry to dedge up this old discussion but it is once again apropos here.

Harry
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Postby hpulley » Sun Oct 08, 2006 12:38 pm

Marketing people seem to disagree: they like names and feel strongly about their use on products though a modifaction of one of the bard's famous lines would disagree: "A Rosebank by any other name would smell as sweet..." Rosewood would be a bit of a cocky name but could be an interesting experiment. I will ask Raymond if it is possible to triple distill at Bladnoch, but will first check if he's already answered that question.

Harry
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Postby Rosebankfan » Sun Oct 08, 2006 6:44 pm

Folks,
Although I have been an avid reader of this forum for some time, this is my first post, so please bear with me. Congrats on some very well informed posts - it never ceases to amaze me that enthusiasts from all parts of the world seem to know more about Scotland's ditilleries than many of the locals.

Anyway, I live in Falkirk (hence the username) and am an avid collector of Rosebank (170 bottles and counting). Through British Waterways, I toured the distillery as recently as 2 years ago and was amazed to see that it was fully intact at that time - all equipment was in place, with the electrical switchgear tested twice yearly. The washbacks were still full of water to stop them drying out and the place was immaculate - it is no exaggeration to say that someone could have turned up and got the old girl back into life immediately.

It was indeed a crime that Diageo sacrificed the true queen of the lowlands for Glenkinchie in the early 90's, believing they could market it better on the basis of the strong links with Edinbugh, even although it is not even a classic triple distilled lowlander (I have nothing against Glenkinchie by the way).

The current status of the Rosebank site is that most of the warehousing has been removed and replaced with flats. However, the mash and stillhouses are still in place and I believe the stills are still intact, so you never know !!. In my heart of hearts, however, I don't believe a resurrection is possible, as planning permission has been granted to turn the remainder of the site into office space and, wait for it, a theme bar - of all the humiliations they could heap on the place, they really will be choosing the daddy if they go through with that plan - what a heartbreaker !.

I did have some hope a couple of years ago when the local authorities were making positive noises about trying to trade on the industial heritage of the area and tie this into the tourist boom associated with the canal upgrade and Falkirk Wheel development. However, this all went cold quite quickly and the planning permission was granted around that time, ultimately sealing the fate of the current site - our local authorities are not really famed for their creativity when "business" is at stake I'm afraid.

So, looks like hope is lost for the current site but distilling on a new site - why not ?. I must admit that I hadn't given this much thought until this thread appeared, being a bit of a purist and all that. If anyone is out there looking at this possibility, count me in !.

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Postby kallaskander » Mon Oct 09, 2006 9:07 am

Hi there,

who was it that said that Rosebank was the distillery everybody loved so much but nobody enough to keep it going?
Many say that Rosebank was the best Lowland malt. How much longer will it be with us?

Greetings
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Postby crunchie48 » Tue Oct 10, 2006 12:02 am

Having been born and bred overlooking Rosebank I've taken a keen interest in all things about the place.

To summarise the current position:

Some of the warehousing was demolished but a lot remains. The still house is still intact, save for a few smashed windows. The Worm Tubs were removed and despite protests from Historic Scotland were never replaced. The Beefeater for many years has been resident in about 3/4s of the bonded warehouses, and was at one time connected by a subterranean tunnel which was unearthed during the reconstruction of the canal.

Most of the other buildings are still there. The more modern office block was demolished last Autumn.

My understanding is that if the Worm Tubs were replaced and the pipework renovated and replaced there is not much needed to bring it back to life.

Now we get to the problems:

I believe that as part of the sale of the distillery to the developers there is a clause, insisted on by Diageo, that no whisky is allowed to be distilled on the site. A similar clause was in force at Bladnoch but has since been rescinded following agreement to limit production to a small amount. If this kind of agreement can be put in place at Bladnoch then I could see similar for Rosebank. Would Diageo want to risk their hold on the Rosebank brand?

However the second problem is that the plans for the distillery are fairly well advanced. The current plan is for offices to take up the remaining bonds on the site with a restaurant being installed in the still house with the stills remaining in situ.

So what will it take. Well I still hold out hopes and would be happy to be part of a small consortium that would breath fresh life back into the place.

Is there anybody else up for it though?

Tom
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Postby Rosebankfan » Tue Oct 10, 2006 9:22 pm

Tom,
I would certainly be very interested in any consortium aimed at resurrecting Rosebank. I have waited for a long time and feel we owe it to ourselves to at least see if anything could be done. Please get in touch and we can see if this could be taken forward.

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Postby BruceCrichton » Wed Oct 11, 2006 9:44 am

I'd like to see Rosebank revived but I don't see how it can be, after development has already taken place on the site.
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Postby vitara7 » Wed Oct 11, 2006 9:13 pm

as the equipment and the workings of the distillery are there, you dont really need the ware houses etc, look the likes of allt - a - banne and royal brackla, no warehouses used on site.
the only way personally for their to be a revival of 'rosebank' is for a welthy indavidual to come in or for a group of folk to put money together in on it.
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Postby Drrich1965 » Wed Oct 11, 2006 10:18 pm

Out of curiosity, and I know we might not be able to predict/understand all the factors, how much would this cost?

(note: I am looking at buying a bottle this month, not a distillery, just curious).

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Postby vitara7 » Thu Oct 12, 2006 8:11 pm

the problem is not the cost of the distillery, kilhoman was built from scratch for what im lead to belive under £1million, and benriach was bought for £4.2million (they got old stock with it when they bought it)
the problem is having enough funds to build up the stock of whisky for the future. you would have three years of distillying sprit before you would have the first cask of "whisky", its those three years that you have to have money for, but as you wouldnt be selling it all after the 3 years, it would all be maturing for at least 10 years before decent selling could take place. as with rosebank and the length of time its been silent the gap in production would create such a problem, just look at benromach, they have a traditional that is about 6 years old, and then the next youngest whisky in their range is 21 year old (which is over aged quite a bit im told).
i had a discusion with a man well imformed within the whisky industry asking this basic question a few months back, he had informally looked into such a venture but went no further, he said it would take about £20million of investment over 10 years (thats building up the distillery, the stock and the brand name) to fund the construction and running of a malt whisky distillery.
but think about it, in 10 years time is there going to be the demand as now for whisky? just look at the closures of the early 1980's.
one things for sure though, if we could get 1000 folk putting in 20k each to achive that dream, id shove money into it...
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Postby Triple Distilled » Tue Oct 17, 2006 3:56 pm

Rosebankfan wrote:Tom,
I would certainly be very interested in any consortium aimed at resurrecting Rosebank. I have waited for a long time and feel we owe it to ourselves to at least see if anything could be done. Please get in touch and we can see if this could be taken forward.

Rosebankfan


I started all this 'Rosebank Resurrection' talk off, with a post about the efforts of a 'consortium' I was involved with, in 2004, to try and buy the old distillery. Our interest came to 'nought' because of the advanced nature of the Site Redevelopment Scheme and the degree to which the distillery buildings had been removed. The consortium (at that time) 'went away'.
With the recent posts - from yourself and others interested in a 'future for Rosebank' - I've contacted one or two of the consortium members - to see if they have any desire for 'renewing' their ideas on this. We are ue to hold a preliminary meeting on 24/10 - I'll be able to say more then, hopefully.
SO, "watch this space", all who 'hanker' for a 'New Rosebank' - though don't raise your hopes too soon !
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Postby Triple Distilled » Tue Oct 17, 2006 4:39 pm

Triple Distilled wrote:
Rosebankfan wrote:Tom,
I would certainly be very interested in any consortium aimed at resurrecting Rosebank. I have waited for a long time and feel we owe it to ourselves to at least see if anything could be done. Please get in touch and we can see if this could be taken forward.

Rosebankfan


I started all this 'Rosebank Resurrection' talk off, with a post about the efforts of a 'consortium' I was involved with, in 2004, to try and buy the old distillery. Our interest came to 'nought' because of the advanced nature of the Site Redevelopment Scheme and the degree to which the distillery buildings had been removed. The consortium (at that time) 'went away'.
With the recent posts - from yourself and others interested in a 'future for Rosebank' - I've contacted one or two of the consortium members - to see if they have any desire for 'renewing' their ideas on this. We are ue to hold a preliminary meeting on 24/10 - I'll be able to say more then, hopefully.
SO, "watch this space", all who 'hanker' for a 'New Rosebank' - though don't raise your hopes too soon !


See my post on the 'Whisky Magazine Forum'.
I really feel that if enough 'Rosebankies' contacted the Magazine and asked it to help out in a Campaign to try and bring the distillery back, it would make such a difference to anyone (investors, developers etc) thinking about creating a new Rosebank (or re-establishing the old !).
Even if our potential consortium decide not to 'come back' to the scheme (which, truthfully, I think is more than likely), I know all of us would want to see others 'take the baton' up.
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Postby wandering pict » Thu Oct 19, 2006 3:10 pm

It is many years since I have been through Rosebank and I now live just across the canal. I had assumed that all of the equipment had been removed but if not then there is no reason why it could not be re-started. However there are very strict regulations governing the operations of distilleries which would need to be addressed, particularly environmental ones. This has led to it now becoming easier to operate them in out of town locations, hence the reason that so many distilleries in towns have now moved.
Anyway please keep the rest of community informed as I would be very interested in developments
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Postby Triple Distilled » Fri Oct 27, 2006 4:34 pm

Triple Distilled wrote:
Triple Distilled wrote:
Rosebankfan wrote:Tom,
I would certainly be very interested in any consortium aimed at resurrecting Rosebank. I have waited for a long time and feel we owe it to ourselves to at least see if anything could be done. Please get in touch and we can see if this could be taken forward.

Rosebankfan


I started all this 'Rosebank Resurrection' talk off, with a post about the efforts of a 'consortium' I was involved with, in 2004, to try and buy the old distillery. Our interest came to 'nought' because of the advanced nature of the Site Redevelopment Scheme and the degree to which the distillery buildings had been removed. The consortium (at that time) 'went away'.
With the recent posts - from yourself and others interested in a 'future for Rosebank' - I've contacted one or two of the consortium members - to see if they have any desire for 'renewing' their ideas on this. We are ue to hold a preliminary meeting on 24/10 - I'll be able to say more then, hopefully.
SO, "watch this space", all who 'hanker' for a 'New Rosebank' - though don't raise your hopes too soon !


See my post on the 'Whisky Magazine Forum'.
I really feel that if enough 'Rosebankies' contacted the Magazine and asked it to help out in a Campaign to try and bring the distillery back, it would make such a difference to anyone (investors, developers etc) thinking about creating a new Rosebank (or re-establishing the old !).
Even if our potential consortium decide not to 'come back' to the scheme (which, truthfully, I think is more than likely), I know all of us would want to see others 'take the baton' up.


4 members of our 'consortium' had a preliminary meeting on Tuesday. After much discussion around the threads of this topic, we have decided to hold a site meeting next week - and, if worthwhile, meet with Planning Officers again at Falkirk. I'll keep you all posted.
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Postby les taylor » Fri Oct 27, 2006 4:38 pm

Well done good job :)
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Postby Di Blasi » Sat Oct 28, 2006 4:23 am

That would be exciting if it happened! Would be nice to see a closed distillery reopen!!! Good luck!
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Rosebank Resurrection - News on 'consortium' discussions

Postby Triple Distilled » Fri Nov 03, 2006 12:36 pm

Further to my earlier posts on this, it's not great news I'm afraid.
Our 'consortium' (rather grand title, for a few Rosebank lovers thinking about trying to 'resurrect' the distillery) were going to meet on the site of the distillery this week. However, one of our members, who is on the Scotch Whisky Association Management Board (no names !), spoke to the Diageo rep, at their meeting on Friday and asked him about Diageo's views (now; we did speak with them in 2004 - and they were 'amenable' to the idea of 'freeing up' the Rosebank brand then) on selling the name to interested buyers. The response was, "no way; we're very keen to keep the brand now - especially with sales of stocks in bond and bottlings 'going through the roof', because of increased interest in the name - helped by the 'cachet' of being a closed distillery" !! After this discussion was reported to the rest of us, we simply did not feel it worthwhile going to all the effort of investigating what's left on the site and working up a possible redevelopment scheme to put to the Falkirk planners.
So, it seems that this idea is 'dead in the water' for the moment - at least until such point (if that ever happens, given the expanding sales of Rosebank - and the extensive stocks held in bond) that Diageo feel they can't 'milk' the legacy of Rosebank any more !
It's sad. I can only suggest that Rosebank lovers - and any interested parties (including Whisky Magazine), 'lobby' Diageo whenever possible, to get them to have a change of heart and consider selling the name (and I'm not just talking about our consortium being involved - we're all such devotees of Rosebank, that we'd welcome ANY possible resurrection of this wonderful Whisky)
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Postby vitara7 » Fri Nov 03, 2006 1:36 pm

why would you be talking to diageo about it? british waterways owns the site etc, and also as the site was part of the old camelon distillery, just call the whisky either falkirk or camelon. rosebank is a "brand" not the site itsself, which diageo does not own, they only own the brand name and the rights to use the brand name only.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Fri Nov 03, 2006 3:25 pm

And the brand is exactly what they want, else why bother with that particular site at all? You may find instructive the experience of Raymond Armstrong, who bought Bladnoch with the intent of making holiday cottages out of the site, and then decided to reopen the distillery (which was still reasonably intact). His original agreement with UDV expressly forbade distilling, and it was only after years-long negotiations that he was able to start it up again. I gather that his current agreement with UDV is still rather complicated, with limits on production; I think UDV still owns the old stock and the right to sell it (and thus they are profiting handsomely from Armstrong's work). If you don't have that kind of patience, you would indeed be better off to consider a start-up elsewhere. I doubt Diageo would be even as accommodating as UDV, anyway, as it appears you have learned. Rosebank is indeed beginning to acquire the Dead-Elvis cachet of Port Ellen, and they would be poor businessmen if they did not use the situation to whatever advantage they can. It's a terrible shame that it's more profitable for them to own a defunct distillery than a working one, but those are the vagaries of the industry; where were all us Rosebank fans when the place was alive? Which reminds me, I have to go stock up before Port Ellen-like prices kick in.
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Postby Triple Distilled » Fri Nov 03, 2006 3:34 pm

vitara7 wrote:why would you be talking to diageo about it? british waterways owns the site etc, and also as the site was part of the old camelon distillery, just call the whisky either falkirk or camelon. rosebank is a "brand" not the site itsself, which diageo does not own, they only own the brand name and the rights to use the brand name only.


Our view is that retention of the brand / name is crucial. Yes, 'Rosebank' Whisky (the 'recipe', if you like) is important. I, for one, would want to see a continuation of a triple distilled malt like Rosebank - and would probably be happy if it continued under another name; but, the view of the marketing specialists in our consortium, is that the name Rosebank is THE single most significant factor in trying to (re-) launch the Whisky in the world market - Rosebank is an internationally recognised label and its name alone sets the Whisky apart from most Scotch malts (it is has long been known as THE Triple Distilled / Lowland brand - apologies to Auchentoshan !).
Unless we can persuade Diageo to part with the name, OUR consortium (and I can only speak for us - others may be happy to bring Rosebank back in some other form - and under another name) will not want to further our plans.
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Postby hpulley » Sun Nov 05, 2006 2:12 pm

When the last drop of Rosebank is gone from Diageo's warehouses, you may get the name but that won't likely happen for at least the next 35 years. Prices are already up and IBs are already on the bandwagon.

It's kind of like a record company killing their artist to improve record sales but that's exactly what they did! Makes great business sense: fire the staff, sell the property, save all the operating expenses and make all the warehouse stock go up in price!

Harry
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Re: Rosebank Distillery - Is a 'resurrection' possible ?

Postby peteys » Fri Jan 30, 2009 5:37 pm

http://news.stv.tv/scotland/71852-thiev ... ky-making/

This article explains how thieves have stolen metal from the remaining buildings at a 6-figure value
Only metal woth that much inside those buildings would be the still's or what was left of them

On a positive note, the article also mentions that the buildings are listed

Peter
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