Leonard Russell on the Rosebank Revival

As we pass the first anniversary of the news of Rosebank’s rescue, announced 10th October 2017, we decided to interview Ian Macleod’s MD, Leonard Russell, on the decision to rescue a distillery that had been silent for so long.


How close was Rosebank to disappearing forever?

“Very close. It’s been 25 years since it closed, and it looked like it had gone for good. I think we were the last chance because the building was going to fall down, the site had been sold and the stills had been stolen.”

What made it such an iconic single malt?

“It was the only distillery that used both triple distillation and worm tubs. Triple distillation gives you a lighter spirit, whereas worm tubs give you lots of character. So it’s a unique combination to create a whisky that’s quite complex, contradictory and yet genuinely delicious.”

Tell us about your decision to save Rosebank

“I saw that the distillery was for sale and was going to become a craft brewery, so on a cold, dark, drizzly day in 2016 I drove out to look round it with my 16 year-old son. It was sad to see it so shut down and destined to crumble, but I could see it being alive again. When I finally heard the past owners were prepared to sell us the Rosebank trade mark, I felt it was meant to be. And to be honest, I’ve never had second thoughts.”

What will it mean for Falkirk?

“Well, I can tell you the response on social media has been outrageously positive. I’ve had lots of messages from people who remember the smell of the distillery at the bus-stop on their way to school, or that their relatives worked there. Along with the town’s old brewery it was once the beating heart of Falkirk. I’m really pleased we’ll be bringing tourism and jobs back to the town – I think it’ll be great.”

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2018-10-26T16:53:29+00:00October 26th, 2018|Distillery Build, Distillery Planning, History, Interviews, Whisky|

4 Comments

  1. John Ferris October 26, 2018 at 6:57 pm - Reply

    As a one time resident of Milton of Campsie, I regularly passed the distillery. Although I had moved into England before the closure, I still felt that something had been taken from me when it shut its doors for good. Along with Glengoyne, Rosebank was one of my two local distilleries each one being special in different ways. I look forward to the day when your new make will be in my drinks cabinet and I can introduce my many malt whisky friends to the drink which all the others aspire to.

  2. Stewart MacGregor October 26, 2018 at 8:38 pm - Reply

    Really interested in how the revival start-up progresses, speaking as an avid follower

  3. Peter Gardner October 27, 2018 at 3:14 pm - Reply

    A very strong addition to Falkirk’s ‘edge of town’ major attractions – the Wheel, Helix/Kelpies, Stadium, Callander Park, Retail Park, Falkirk Distillery Co., a brand new college,….. The town centre might be struggling, but it’ll be well supported by such a strong economic and tourist ‘edge of town’ line-up, with the Rosebank adding a really unique historical aspect too – and the new jobs will also be very welcome. All great news. I used to pass the Rosebank regularly going from/to Bonnybridge/Falkirk when I was young and it was fully operational, and it’ll be great to see it coming back to life with new versions of the distinctive spirit available and being enjoyed locally and much further afield. Keep me posted (I’m after a wee job !!). ??

  4. John Gallagher October 30, 2018 at 8:14 pm - Reply

    Well done to Leonard and the Russell family for saving Rosebank. It was a pity that DCL and then United Distillers and Diageo dint realize what they had on their hands. During my short time at DCL I managed to get a bottle to share with my dad and iwas forever converted. Best of luck WITH THE PROJECT

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