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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