The Clue is in the Name
Was ever a whisky better named than Rosebank? It has always been considered a fragrant single malt – supple, complex and undeniably floral. It would be tempting to imagine that the whisky came first, and that its aroma inspired the name. However, Rosebank existed long before James Rankine established the eponymous distillery beside the Forth & Clyde canal in 1840.
The canal opened in 1790 to connect the East Coast of Scotland to the West Coast and allow ocean-going vessels to sail from the North Sea to the Atlantic. The open country west of Falkirk soon became known as Rosebank presumably because the banks of the canal were festooned with wild roses. They certainly grow well in the local clay soil, as is evident from the rose garden you can visit in neighbouring Dollar Park. While just behind today’s distillery there was Rosebank House which was mentioned on maps as early as 1807, and later became the home of James Rankine.
The rose is an obvious emblem for Rosebank Lowland Single Malt Whisky, yet that fact seems to have escaped the distillery’s owners for most of the 20th century. Early labels featured a crest with a small songbird on a nest surrounded by barley. It was not until 1992 that a cluster of shrub roses first appeared on a bottle of Rosebank. It was part of a new series of single malts that the late great whisky writer, Michael Jackson, was to christen ‘Flora & Fauna’ and the name stuck. One can only assume he was drinking Rosebank at the time.