Delighted Ian Macleod Distillers managing director Leonard Russell
Delighted Ian Macleod Distillers managing director Leonard Russell

The long way back for Rosebank began a year ago

It’s been 12 months since it was first revealed that the famous Rosebank Distillery was being brought back to life.

When Rosebank closed in the summer of 1993 its loss was soon felt by whisky lovers, but as the years turned to decades even the most ardent fan began to accept its fate.

The distillery buildings came close to collapse and its heart was ripped out when the stills were stolen in 2008, meaning that things looked bleak for Rosebank, its hometown of Falkirk and for Lowland whisky in general.

But last year, on 10 October, Ian Macleod Distillers announced plans to bring Rosebank back to life.

The firm’s MD Leonard Russell has revealed that Rosebank was on the brink of disappearing forever.

He said: ‘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.

‘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.’

Delighted Ian Macleod Distillers managing director Leonard Russell

Leonard’s bid to save Rosebank was a very personal one.

He revealed: ‘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.’

The decision has brought nothing but a good reaction, and a happy Leonard said: ‘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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