Well, if this Rosebank doesn’t do it for me I think it’s pretty likely that Rosebank may just not be my thing, or that its charms somehow elude me. This is a bit of a cheat of a setup because I actually already know I like it a lot. I tried some of this at the whisky blowout birthday party I attended in St. Paul earlier this month. Still, that was not a very large pour and in a far more casual context and so I’m very glad that Rich generously shared some more for me to review. (This last bit is going to be a bit of a refrain for a while.) Let’s see what I make of it tonight when I have far more time and undivided attention to give to it.
This was part of Diageo’s Special Release in 2011, and can still be found easily in the US, usually between $200 and $250.
Rosebank 21 (53.8%; Diageo Special Release; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: Strong lemon, edging into citronella, with a woody note that grounds it. With time a fruity note develops, a little musky, a little bright and citrussy (pineapple perhaps, maybe some melon? certainly some lemon). More malt too now and some cream/vanilla. With time gets really quite intoxicatingly fruity (and sweeter now) without being over the top. Water brings the lemon back but it’s lemon curd now. After a minute or so the sweet, creamy note is back in full force but there might be something peppery in there too now. Continue reading
Okay, the cold is done. I’ve rechecked my nose and palate against a previously reviewed whisky (the Glen Moray 12) and I’m back. And I’m back in search of a Rosebank that might turn my head. This 20 yo from Chieftain’s is a bottle I’ve considered taking a chance on every now and then and I’m very glad I get to try it first. I’ve actually had a bit of it before–this at a tasting at a local liquor store (the Cellars) back in 2011 when this whisky was released. That tasting was conducted by one of the head honchos of Impex, the company that imports Chieftain’s and other Ian MacLeod whiskies to the US, and featured a number of the Chieftain’s releases from that year. The circumstances of the tasting were such that nothing made any impression on me. Actually, I lie. Something did make a strong impression on me and that was the conviction that I should never attend such a tasting again, and I never have. Continue reading
My third Rosebank and my first from a sherry cask. There are some who say that Rosebank’s distinctive quaIities are best appreciated in bourbon cask matured malt, but I’ve obviously not had enough from the distillery to have any opinion on this front. This is from Duncan Taylor’s defunct Whisky Galore line.
Rosebank 13, 1990-2003 (46%; Whisky Galore, sherry cask; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: Obviously sherried but not overbearingly so. Raisins, some honey, mild citrus. With time there’s an increased maltiness and a leafy quality. The citrus becomes a little stronger–somewhere between orange and lemon. Water takes it closer to lemon.
Palate: Hmmmm a little blank and flat on the palate. There are some sherried notes but this feels far more watered down than a whisky at 46% should. With time a little bit of lime maybe. Hmmm the palate seems to wake up a bit with some air–some indistinct sherried notes but a little more spark now. Dare I add water? Well, why the hell not. Water brings out some sweetness (simple syrup) and brightens it up a little. Odd how a few drops of water make it taste less watered down.
This is only my second Rosebank. I thought the first I tried was very pleasant but not very much more. This one is also from an ex-bourbon cask, and was also distilled in 1990. Will this one have more to recommend it than the other did? Let’s get right to it.
Rosebank 15, 1990-2006 (56.6%; Signatory, Bourbon Cask 1509; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: Bright, lemony, slightly grassy. Below that is a nice malty sweetness. With time the lemon comes to the fore and intensifies quite a bit (as in it gets to be a concentrated lemon flavour) and a little later it gets somewhat preserved/musky. Just a hint of peppery wood spice too. Not a whole lot of change on the nose with a few drops of water.
Rosebank is another lamented, closed distillery. It was located in the Lowlands region and was closed in 1993. I am not sure if Rosebank’s whisky was triple-distilled all the way to the end (as used to be traditional in the Lowlands)—some sources seem to suggest it was, others are less confident. As with most closed distilleries, Rosebank has its adherents, though they are neither as fanatic as those of your Port Ellens, Broras or even Caperdonichs and Banffs, nor as perverse as those of your Brechins or Dallas Dhus. There’s not a lot of Rosebank around in the US—mostly some bottles in Gordon & Macphail’s Connoisseur’s Choice line—but it was featured recently in Diageo’s annual cash grab, I mean, prestigious slate of annual releases, with a 21 yo released a couple of years ago. They don’t seem to have had much luck convincing a lot of people to buy it, however, as there seems to be a lot of it still around in the US. (It’s sort of funny how much money Diageo is making off distilleries it closed without a second thought in the early 80s and early 90s–sometimes I wonder that more distilleries don’t just close down to increase their prices and cachet.) Continue reading