Photo by Caper13 via Wikimedia Creative Commons License


Rosebank distillery as it is currently known was founded in 1840 by James Rankine, although there are reports of another distillery, not on the same premises, being founded in 1773, or in the 1790's .....

It is a Lowland distillery situated in Falkirk, Stirlingshire and in 1861 James Rankine purchased the nearby Camelon distillery to extend Rosebank and have his own maltings.

In 1914 Rosebank was one of the founding distilleries of SMD who became part of DCL and eventually, Diageo.


Rosebank was closed by United Distillers in 1993 (UD who became UDV and as I mentioned above, eventually Diageo). The land was sold for redevelopment in 2002.

Some more great distillery info here thanks to Malt Madness



  Rosebank General whisky characteristics: Floral, very aromatic, sometimes a little liquorice too.  

Rosebank,  Unblended, 15y, 50% ABV

The Distiller's Agency, Zenith Italian Import, rare clear glass bottle.

Typical cost of this bottle; Now

The picture is of the 61% version.


Nose: Is there a slight hint of peat in this Rosebank? Surely not! Then what is that very slight smokiness / peatiness on the nose? There is definitely some Scottish heather and moorland in this glass. Once again not exactly fruity, but then my experience of Rosebanks is usually floral.

Palate: Wow, at 50% this is quite strong for a Rosebank and it certainly hits the palate with some force. The over-riding first taste is one of violets, perhaps even those strange little sweets from my childhood called "Parma Violets". Even on a second taste, that violet floweriness just spreads across the palate and gently warms the mouth. Have I ever tasted a whisky which warms in this particular way? I really don't think so, I certainly can't remember one.

With 3 drops of water: The nose has evened out a little, it's no longer so powerful, the flavours are more complex too. The violets are still there, but now accompanied by many more floral notes. That Scottish moorland is certainly still evident, as is the heather basking in Autumnal sunshine, but there is more, much more ....

2 more drops of water: create a spiciness which wasn't present earlier .... but now ...... unfortunately, that's the end of my sample.

Overall Impression: Oh boy, this is a glorious dram and I wish I had more.



Rosebank,  Unblended, 20y, 57% ABV

The Distiller's Agency, Zenith Italian Import, rare clear glass bottle.

Typical cost of this bottle; Now


After the extreme pleasure of trying the 15y version last year, I was really looking forward to trying this 20y version from the same range.

Nose: A bouquet of flowers sitting on a bale of fresh hay in the middle of a peat bog. Yes, the flowers and hay are there, but the nose is also surprisingly peaty. Can this be a Lowlander, a Rosebank with this much peat?

Palate: Rather strong flora, but again surprisingly peaty!

With 3 drops of water: The peat has left the nose and just the floral elements remain.

Palate: But the peat hasn't left completely! With the water this is now very smooth and slightly more peaty on the palate.

3 More drops of water: Even smoother and even more peaty, but the typical Rosebank floral attributes are there in the background.

Overall Impression: I was really looking forward to this one and was not disappointed. These old Rosebanks are excellent whiskies and are also surprisingly peaty. Not 'in yer face' Islay-like, but gently smooth peat which grows and shows its presence in a slightly more subtle way. Then, behind that gentle peat, this is still a Lowland whisky with light floral notes which make it a very pleasurable experience.




Rosebank,  Rare Malts, 20y, distilled 1981, 62.3% ABV

Bottle No.471

Typical cost of this bottle; Unknown, now a collectible


Glass: Glencairn

Colour: Rich yellow gold

Nose: Nutty and creamy with suggestions of perfumed grass. All very light and all very nice.

Palate: Dry and nutty, in fact this is quite heavy and very mouth-coatingly rich compared to the lighter nose.

Finish: Long and slightly dry with a distinct nuttiness.

Overall Impression: Did I mention the nuttiness? Very nice indeed.




Rosebank,  21y, 1990-2011, 53.8% ABV

Bottle No.2884 of 5886

Typical cost of this bottle;


Glass: Glencairn

Colour: Pale yellow

Nose: Lightly perfumed grassiness with an extra depth of citrus. Perhaps light furniture polish for a few seconds too but this quickly fades to leave a delightful floral herbiness.

Palate: Creamy applie pie and vanilla. This feels as though it will benefit from a few drops of water ...

With 4 drops of water: More floral and perfumed notes on the nose whereas the palate has more grassiness with those citrus elements. Lime blossom?

With 4 more drops of water: The nose is weakened too much and the palate exhibits only light vanilla, this was too much water.

Finish: Very long.

Overall Impression: A truly delightful whisky, but be careful with the water. It needs a few drops but not too many.




Rosebank,  25y, 1981-2007, 61.4% ABV

Bottle No.428

Typical cost of this bottle;


Glass: Glencairn

Colour: Amber

Nose: Initial bursts of furniture polish and banana stem dominate but after some minutes a rich leatheriness alongside coffee beans and dark chocolate develops.

Palate: Very dry, big and mouth-coating with dark cherries and a woodiness. There's also something much lighter and floral trying to come through from the background, but never quite makes it
to the fore.

Finish: Long and dry.

Overall Impression: A very nice whisky but most unusual, heavy and rich for a Rosebank. Is that a bad thing? Not at all.





Independent Bottlers


Signatory Vintage  Rosebank, distilled 20.4.1989, bottled Oct. 1997, casks 894 & 896 43% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle;


Nose: Perfume and only very slightly medicinal herbs. Really quite fresh.

Palate: The flavours include an enduring maltiness over something slightly floral but still quite fresh. There is almost some juniper in there too. That freshness does linger on the tongue and it is indeed almost slightly minty. The flavours are now definitely reminding me of a small herb garden, but to be honest, I can't exactly place which individual herbs as it's a complete bouquet.

Overall impression: A good fresh dram, ideal for a warm evening in the garden with friends.



Murray McDavid  Rosebank,  distilled 1990, bottled 2003, 46% ABV

 Orange box version

Typical cost of this bottle;


Glass: Glencairn

Nose: Slightly sweet and floral, but not too strong.

Palate: Smooth with vanilla, fruit and liquorice.

Overall Impression: Quite a strong tasting Rosebank and slightly different from the 'norm' as it's not so light and floral.



D. Laing Old Malt Cask, Rosebank, distilled 1990, bottled Aug. 2006, 16y, 50%,

Typical cost of this bottle;


Nose: An Alpine farm! Some typical farm aromas of barns, hay and cows being overpowered by a nearby Spring-time Alpine meadow full of wild herbs and flowers.

Palate: Wonderfully smooth with an initial burst of liquorice being quickly joined by one of a bouquet of wild flowers.

Overall Impression: This is a good Rosebank which I personally like.



Montgomeries, Rosebank, distilled 1990, 16y, 46%,

Montgomeries is the premium range from McKillop's Choice

Typical cost of this bottle;


Nose: The nose of my ideal Rosebank; Light, floral and slightly perfumed

Palate: Just as the nose leads one to expect; floral and perfumed but very short!

With 3 drops of water: Still floral and perfumed, but much more intense and also with a longer finish.

4 more drops of water: Now even longer on the finish and as more water is added, a little vanilla comes in to play and dances around the tongue.

Overall Impression: Although I usually add 2-3 drops of water for comparison, I do prefer whiskies without water, but I was advised that the 'Montgomeries' range is one which needs water to get the best from the bottlings. This certainly proved the case here as without water, the finish was so short it was almost non-existent. The whisky opened to an impressive dram with water and the finish not only appeared, but hung around much longer too.



Weiser, Rosebank, distilled 1991, 57%,

Typical cost of this bottle;


Nose: Floral, but rather weak.

Palate: Unlike the disappointing nose, the palate offers a stronger variety of spices and liquorice.

Finish: Long and with plenty of tingle on the palate.

Overall Impression: Not one of my favourite Rosebanks



The Whisky Exchange, Rosebank, distilled 1991, 19y, 46%,

Typical cost of this bottle;

Dram-atics live review


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Light yellow gold, bright and sunny

Nose: Fresh and light, almost gentle mint, but not quite. There's some vanilla alongside grainy straw making this one of my 'outdoor' whiskies in a light and fresh way.

Palate: Creamy-smooth mouth-feel followed by black pepper right on the front of the palate. Also a fruitiness with some light liquorice.

With 4 drops of water: A slightly lighter and more aromatic nose. The palate is creamier and fruitier with much less pepper.

Finish: Very long with fruit and vanilla.

Overall Impression: This makes a great start to a warm evening on the terrace or patio. I like it, very nice!












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