The distillery was mothballed in 1993 by United Distillers & Vintners (UDV), now part of Diageo, but is being revived by new owner Ian Macleod Distillers (IMD).
Rosebank sits in the town of Falkirk, partway between Edinburgh and Glasgow, and lies within Scotch whisky’s ‘Lowland’ region.
The distillery, which is due to open to tourists in 2024, was renowned for its spirit’s light, fruity and floral character, which was prized by blenders and earned it the nickname ‘the King of the Lowlands’.
IMD is recreating the spirit by sticking to the same production recipe, which involves using triple instead of double distillation, using unpeated malted barley, and using ‘worm tub’ condensers instead of the more common ‘shell and tube’ design.
Triple distillation produces a lighter spirit by heating the liquid three times instead of two, while worm tub condensers are acknowledged for adding complexity and character to the spirit.
The first cask to be used was a refill bourbon barrel, which IMD said would ‘create a rich, fruity and floral whisky, reminiscent of the original Rosebank’s signature flavour profile’.
Distillery manager Malcolm Rennie added: ‘We’ve known all along the magic and majesty that Rosebank retains, and you can really feel this come to life as we start up production once again and fill the first cask with the new Rosebank Spirit, Cask No 001.
‘We’ve assembled a fantastic distillery team and there is excitement among us all as we complete our first distillation runs.
‘This is the first Rosebank spirit to be distilled in more than 30 years, so it’s an absolute honour to oversee the moment, and play a part in returning this once whisky giant to its former glory.’
Rosebank began life in 1840 when wine merchant James Rankine bought the maltings used by the Camelon Distillery, which sat on the opposite bank of the Forth & Clyde Canal.
Canal operator British Waterways bought the site in 2002 and sold it to IMD in 2017, the same year in which the distiller bought the ‘Rosebank’ trademark from Diageo.
Its original stills and mash tuns were stolen during the Christmas and Hogmanay holidays in 2008-9, with IMD installing replacement equipment last year made by fêted coppersmith Forsyths at Rothes in Speyside.