Plans to resurrect Rosebank Distillery given green light

An independent bottling company and whisky specialist has been given the go ahead to start work on multi-million pound plans to revive one of Scotland’s most famous lost lowland distilleries.

Published 29th Jan 2019
Updated 21 st Sep 2023

Ian Macleod Distillers has been granted planning permission to start work on restoring the Rosebank Distillery in Falkirk to its former glory.

Following the lodging of a planning application in June 2018 and a subsequent extensive public consultation process, Falkirk Council has now given the green light to the project.

Dubbed the ‘King of the Lowlands’, by many, Rosebank was a hugely respected and sought-after Lowland single malt before it ceased production in 1993 when former owner UDV (now Diageo), mothballed the site.

Its maltings were eventually converted into a restaurant.

25 full time jobs will be created for the local economy when the revitalised distillery eventually commences distillation and opens to visitors around Autumn 2020.

Situated on the banks of the Forth & Clyde Canal, the revived Rosebank Distillery hopes to attract around 50,000 visitors a year to Falkirk and will offer a wide range of distillery tours, with some featuring the very last drams of Rosebank distilled prior to the distillery’s 1993 closure.

Plans include a new circa 1,000-square metre contemporary and energy-efficient distillery with a production capacity of up to one million litres of alcohol per year.

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The iconic Rosebank chimney will remain in place and other historically significant canal side buildings will be retained and refurbished for use as a visitor centre, tasting room, shop and warehouse space.

The current state of the old Rosebank Distillery site. Picture: TSPL

Leonard Russell, managing director of Ian Macleod Distillers, owners of Rosebank, said: “We’re delighted to have reached this significant milestone of the Rosebank redevelopment project. To bring back to life an iconic distillery and quintessential Lowland single malt is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.

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“Our investment goes beyond production. We’re proud to be investing in Falkirk by adding to the town’s flourishing economy and tourism scene with a new Rosebank Visitor Centre, to help tell the story of this remarkable whisky.

“Rosebank Distillery has a very special place in Scotland’s whisky heritage and we’re committed to ensuring this remains the case. We will strive to replicate the unique Rosebank style by once more employing the unique techniques of triple distillation and worm tub condensers, for which this iconic Lowland single malt is famed.”

Russell added that following planning approval from Falkirk Council, Ian Macleod will be purchasing the Rosebank site from its current owners, Scottish Canals.

He said: “We would like to express our sincere gratitude to Falkirk Council and Scottish Canals for their support of our vision to revive Rosebank Distillery.

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"The backing from both parties has brought our vision to life and enabled the smooth running of this initial phase of the project. We look forward to continuing these relationships as we progress through the next stages.”

Councillor David Alexander, Falkirk Council’s spokesperson for Economic Development said: “It’s great to see the Rosebank Distillery coming back into use and this large investment on the site is to be welcomed. We’ve worked closely with Scottish Canals and Ian Macleod Distillers to ensure that this site can become a great tourist attraction as well as bringing investment to the local economy and new employment opportunities.

"We look forward to seeing this historic site transformed and producing whisky that will be recognised across the world.”

Ian Macleod Distillers also acquired the Rosebank brand and last remaining stocks from former owners, Diageo, in October 2017.

The company expects to use this limited Rosebank whisky for a small number of releases from 2019, distilled in the last few years before Rosebank Distillery closed its doors in 1993.

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Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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