Rosebank is put to sleep

Rosebank, together with Talisker and Lagavulin, was one of the first single malts bottled by DCL in the mid-1980s. It was well-loved by the trade, by critics and by whisky drinkers – so why on earth did its owners decide to close the distillery a decade later?

In the early 1990s Rosebank found itself in the wrong place at the wrong time, and that explains why it was put to sleep. The Whisky Loch – the result of years of over-production by the Scotch whisky industry, was now full to the brim and this led to the culling of almost twenty distilleries. Although Rosebank survived that first wave of closures, it was not selected to be one of the so-called ‘Classic Malts’ launched in 1988.

Foolishly, in the eyes of many people, Rosebank’s owners instead chose Glenkinchie to represent ‘the Lowlands’ in this line-up of six regional single malts. That decision sealed the fate of both distilleries, but it had absolutely nothing to do with quality. “It was a big mistake,” says Leonard Russell, MD of Ian Macleod Distillers. “Being small, Rosebank was one of the more expensive whiskies to produce, but in my view that’s no reason to close a distillery.”

With its solitary pair of spirit stills, Rosebank was too much of a boutique distillery, and it suffered from being beside the Forth & Clyde canal which closed in 1963. This once vital waterway, whose bustling trade had attracted Rosebank to the site in the first place, had become lifeless and stagnant. After the last cask was filled, the distillery was closed on June 30th 1993 with the loss of all 15 jobs.

Eight years later the canal was reopened, signalling a real sense of revival in the region. In 2002 the magnificent Falkirk Wheel was installed, followed by the giant horse head sculptures, known as the Kelpies. Sadly it all came too late to save Rosebank … or so it seemed.

2018-07-24T23:55:03+00:00July 24th, 2018|Distillery, History, Whisky|


  1. Francis Aubrat July 24, 2018 at 5:15 pm - Reply

    Hi, All this is great news to me and everybody. Rosebank whisky is a landmark and I am so pleased we will see it again some time soon.
    However, I remember the information that the stills were stolen a few years ago with other equipment so how can you guarantee the new whisky will be the same as when it was produced before the closure ?
    I am sure I am not the only person to wonder this.
    I thank you very much in advance for replying to me.
    Kind regards

    • Rosebank July 24, 2018 at 9:10 pm - Reply

      Hi Francis, We will be replicating the stills from the design drawings we received from the Diageo archive and we know who made them, so they will be an exact match. Same goes for the recipe where we will be sourcing the same ingredients that were used then. You are right, many people have asked us, and we are delighted to share the amount of effort we are going to to ensure a proper Rosebank Revival.

  2. John Lamond July 24, 2018 at 6:56 pm - Reply

    But what you don’t say is that United Distillers had growth plans for each of the Classics and the extremities of the canal, the road and the hillside mean that Rosebank could not expand the way that their marketeers were seeking.

  3. John Ferris July 24, 2018 at 7:39 pm - Reply

    You can’t, and shouldn’t, interfere with royalty. Welcome back, Rosebank. Used to be my local distillery and i have gone through a few bottles of it over the years.

  4. Frank Murphy July 24, 2018 at 9:18 pm - Reply

    Pair of stills?

    • Rosebank July 25, 2018 at 9:28 am - Reply

      SPIRIT stills!

      • Brian J Murray October 15, 2019 at 9:00 pm - Reply

        Was Rosebank not one of only three Triple Stills which is one of the reasons for its reputed Quality. Also the original Rosebank Label depicted the three stills.

        • Brian J Murray October 15, 2019 at 9:02 pm - Reply

          PS. When the Stills were last replaced, not sure of the year, there was a reported incident that the Manager Dripped a large Rock on one of the New Still’s to replicate a large dent that was in the previous still.

        • Rosebank October 16, 2019 at 10:27 am - Reply

          You’re correct, we did use triple distillation and we will absolutely do this again in the future. Although the original stills were unfortunately stolen, we will look to replicate these as closely as possible.

  5. Stephen Carr July 24, 2018 at 9:55 pm - Reply

    The planning application for the development at Rosebank looks fantastic. If approved by Falkirk Council the site looks like it will be a great attraction for distillery visits and a food and drink destination. A very exciting project is on the horizon.

  6. Philip Morrice July 25, 2018 at 3:05 am - Reply

    Great news about Rosebank. If anyone would like to read a bit more about the distillery go to, click on Rare Scotch Whiskies, go to Ghost Distilleries, click on Rosebank, access one of the old Rosebank whiskies for sale and you will find a personal insight into the distillery and an original drawing.

  7. Matthias Bassüner July 25, 2018 at 10:50 am - Reply

    It is indeed great news. A Rosebank of 1991 was my first single malt and I was very sad once the bottle was empty. Now I am looking forward to a new one-although it may take another decade….

  8. angela fotheringham February 6, 2019 at 7:43 am - Reply

    Rosebank, first tasted in the precurser to the Vaults. My favourite tipple till the day it vanished. Can we really see this come again and bring back memories and joys long lost? I wait with anticipation, expectation and trembling copied,

  9. Andy Howard February 9, 2019 at 10:51 pm - Reply

    I know how excited everyone involved feels. I’m very priviledged to be part of the team involved in re opening Brora and Portellen. Will most definitely visit Rosebank when she opens.

    • Rosebank February 15, 2019 at 12:23 pm - Reply

      Thanks Andy, it’s certainly a very exciting time for the whisky world! Best of luck to your team as well.

  10. Brian J Murray October 15, 2019 at 9:15 pm - Reply

    The Park Hotel at one time was the only hotel in Falkirk that stocked Rosebank in the bar and was where all the visiting senior management stayed when visiting the distillery.

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