Rosebank 1993 Cask #433

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Remember that magical week in October 2017 when all our whisky dreams seemed to come to life all at once? Monday: Port Ellen and Brora are reopening! Tuesday: Rosebank is reopening! By the Wednesday of that week I genuinely thought there was a chance we would see some residents of Linlithgow kicked out of their beautiful apartments with the announcement that St Magdalene would be reopening. What a time to be alive.

Two and a half years down the line and things have moved on. Plans for Port Ellen were approved by the local council earlier this year, Brora is set to resume production later this year, and the renovation of the mothballed Rosebank site is well underway with the first spirit expected to be distilled in the autumn.

With Rosebank’s new owners Ian MacLeod taking control of the remaining stock from previous owners Diageo, they’ve released two single casks, each filled in the final year the distillery was last in operation; 1993. Both casks are ex-bourbon hogsheads which were released in February, with the initial 100 bottles from each cask being available by ballot for the princely sum of £2,500, before going on general sale thereafter. A revered distillery and a hefty price tag – does the 27-ish year old liquid match up?

Rosebank 1993 Cask #433
Ex-bourbon hogshead
280 bottles
£2,500 via ballot

Nose: Quite oily to begin – linseed, beeswax, and waxed cricket bat. Then orange blossom, lemon cheesecake, ginger beer, papaya, lychee and syrupy melons. Some sandalwood and new pencil add a woody element.

Palate: Green apple, white grapes, and a touch of fresh lemonade up top. Then stewed fruits aplenty – apricot, peach, pear, rhubarb, as well as some sweet limes. Rather floral too, with violet and meadowsweet. Underneath there’s a delicate earthiness too, with pipe tobacco, mocha, and some dark chocolate.

Finish: Starts to show its age now, with drying oak, nutmeg, and toasted vanilla pods. Dried, dusty flowers (maybe old potpourri?) too.

Overall: A wonderful single cask, showcasing exactly why Rosebank was (and still is), regarded as the King of the Lowlands. It has a wonderfully oily mouthfeel, there’s a delicious fruitiness and a delightful floral note running right through it from start to finish. There’s a darker, earthy note here too, which I wasn’t expecting but it adds a real gravitas to the whisky and balances those lighter fruity and floral things very well. That said, the £2.5k price tag is extraordinary – just a couple of years ago you’d have paid that price for the most recent Port Ellen or Brora Special Release from Diageo. Is that where Ian MacLeod want to position Rosebank? Right at the top end of the spectrum? Time will tell, but in the meantime I think I speak for every single one of us when I say I cannot wait for the new distillery to open, and to see the King of the Lowlands rule once again.





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