Saturday, 22 October 2011

Lost Distilleries Chapter 2: Rosebank 21 Year Old

Last week I was fortunate enough to attend the Diageo Special Releases 2011 launch, giving me the chance to sample whiskies way beyond the limits of what I can afford. Over the next week I am going to release my notes culminating with the almighty Port Ellen (this seems suitably dramatic to me). What is most exciting about the Diageo Special Releases is the chance to try those increasingly rare whiskies from the lost distilleries of the eighties and early nineties combined with some different takes on existing whiskies. All I can say is that I was not disappointed. From Caol Ila to Port Dundas, there were a lot of great drams to be had, all at cask strength, all different. So today I start with my first experience of that Lowland classic - Rosebank.

One malt I was particularly looking forward to was the Rosebank. Despite having heard lots about this closed distillery I've never got to try it. Rosebank like most Lowland distilleries, triple distils its spirit. What is particularly sad about Rosebank is that it was closed in favour of the more picturesque and higher capacity distillery at Glenkinchie. A triumph for marketing was a tragedy for whisky. I had heard many good things about Rosebank and after a while I assumed it was just hype, I felt people just wanted another Port Ellen or Brora. So I tasted the Rosebank with suspicions that it would offer less than was anticipated. Naturally I was wrong...

Rosebank 1990
53.8% - 21 Years Old - 5,604 Numbered Bottles Worldwide
Nose: Roses as the name suggests with parma violet aromas woven in to this intensely floral dram. This flowery aroma was followed by a scent I can only describe as citrus fruit petals or lemon grass perhaps. There was also a vinous quality that I found hard to place, I heard Viognier mentioned a couple of times, so maybe that?
Palate: Peaches and stone fruit dominate this silky dram, with lemon and sugar skipping behind.
Finish: Soft and short, with that floral quality returning with a flash of milk chocolate.
Overall: Fantastic, a lot going on without it seeming clumsy. Most surprisingly was that this whisky worked well at cask-strength and I didn't feel it required water. The Rosebank has given me a new appreciation of the potential of Lowland whiskies. Next I'd like to try a independent bottling for comparison so as to see the scope that this closed distillery once offered... Watch this space for more special release reviews!

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