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Issue 65 - A grievous loss (Rosebank)

Whisky Magazine Issue 65
July 2007


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A grievous loss (Rosebank)

In the latest of our series Gavin D Smith looks at the history behind Rosebank

For many aficionados, Rosebank remains the quintessential Lowland single malt, although the distillery stopped producing spirit 14 years ago.

Michael Jackson describes Rosebank as “The finest example of a Lowland malt…” and considers its demise “…a grievous loss.” Overall, time has not been kind to the Lowland classification of single malts, with just four currently in production, while back in the mid-1880s Alfred Barnard visited no fewer than 28. The reputation of Lowland whiskies has become diminished, and there is an influential view that they are drams for novices or ‘the ladies.' In reality, they possess subtle charm, and none is more charming than the elegant, floral, aromatic Rosebank, produced by a triple distillation process in the traditional Lowland manner.

Rosebank distillery is located beside the Forth-Clyde Canal at Camelon, on the outskirts of the industrial town of Falkirk, midway between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Its origins are confused, with claims being made for an establishment date of 1798, when the Stark Brothers were apparently running a distillery called Rosebank. The name crops up again in 1817 when a Rosebank distillery was in the hands of James Robertson.

What we know for certain is that James Rankine constructed a distillery on the present site in 1840, based on the maltings of the Camelon distillery, which operated principally on the opposite bank of the Forth-Clyde Canal.

The canal-side location facilitated the delivery of barle...

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