Historic moment as stills arrive at Rosebank distillery

Rosebank Lowland Single Malt Whisky has taken one big step closer to its distillery revival.

Published 14th Mar 2022
Updated 21 st Sep 2023

Rosebank Lowland Single Malt Whisky has taken one big step closer to its distillery revival, with the installation of three bespoke stills. These have been made to the exact dimensions of the originals.

Rosebank’s much-loved signature style was created through a unique combination of triple distillation and worm-tub condensing. The former creates a lighter style of spirit, while the latter gives the liquid a rich thickness.

Newly appointed distillery manager, Malcolm Rennie, who was on hand to greet the stills, said: “Triple distillation is a very important part in the somewhat nonsensical jigsaw puzzle that is the Rosebank spirit.

"It generally enhances the lighter, smoother and fruitier components of a spirit, and so is a vital first step in the ‘new’ Rosebank journey.”

To replicate the distinctive Rosebank style, Ian Macleod Distillers secured the original still blueprints from Abercrombie Coppersmiths when purchasing the distillery to enable it to replicate the distillation process used three decades ago.

The blueprints were then passed to renowned still-makers, Forsyths, who have gone to great lengths to emulate the originals.

The stills have been meticulously crafted to the exact dimensions of those used on-site three decades ago, ensuring every step is taken to emulate that celebrated Lowland spirit of years gone by.

Richard Forsyth Sr., managing director of Forsyths, said that the processes used to make the stills are remarkably similar to what they were decades ago.

He said: “To this day, we still use our forefathers' hand hammering techniques to shape copper into carefully crafted pot stills.

"Of course, we've tried to mechanize it as much as possible, but the finishes we produce are still very much hands-on, and it's a very physical job."

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Obtaining the original blueprints was imperative as the Rosebank stills are “quite different from your average still”, according to Malcolm Rennie.

He added: “The wash still in particular appears to have its traditional swan neck lopped off and capped and the lyne arm attached to the side of the neck, while the Spirit still is on the shorter dumpier side.

"All these variations in shape and size are what ultimately contribute further complexity to the Rosebank spirit.”

Copper Stills Installation, Rosebank Distillery, Falkirk, 5th March 2022

Externally, the Rosebank distillery has made great progress in recent months and is set to be completed by late summer 2022.

Its distinctive 108ft chimney is now complemented by a contemporary sloping, stepped roof.

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This mix of original and modern architecture is an apt metaphor for how the distillery is being brought back to life while still respecting its distillation style and local legacy.

Rennie said: “Unlike traditional distilleries, Rosebank has a beautiful glass façade, so I’m delighted that passers-by will be able to drink in the beauty of these stills from street-level.”

Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne, whisky and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind is the Food and Drink Editor and whisky writer for The Scotsman, as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.
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