Rosebank 31 Year-Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky Review

Drink Reviews whiskey
Rosebank 31 Year-Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky Review

In terms of the classic scotch whisky regions, the Lowlands is never quite afforded the same attention and respect as the industry’s powerhouses. To some extent, this is just a matter of access–there are hundreds of distilleries in the Speyside, Highlands and Islay regions, but only a small handful remaining in the Lowlands despite its large geographic size. But you can add one revitalized name to the Lowlands list, in the form of Rosebank. Mothballed in 1993, the reborn version of one of the region’s most heralded distilleries began producing whisky again in 2023 after being acquired by Ian Macleod Distillers.

Rosebank, like so many classic scotch distilleries, has a long and tumultuous history. They count their founding as 1798, but largely operated from the early 1800s until the late 1900s. Unlike many Lowlands distilleries, they were known for their single malt scotch whiskies rather than producing grain whiskies and malt for various blends, and were occasionally referred to as the “King of the Lowlands.” Eventually, the distiller was bought up by the industry’s giant Distillers Company Ltd. Sadly, during the time the facilities were closed, the original stills were reportedly lost to metal thieves in the late 2000s.

Of course, given the maturation time inherent in reviving a scotch whisky brand that has been out of the market for decades, we won’t be seeing any of the newly distilled Rosebank malts any time soon. What we can expect to see is occasional special releases from the vaults, such as this Rosebank 31 Year-Old, which weighs in at 48.1% ABV (96.2 proof). Suffice to say, none of these are going to be inexpensive drams, with this one carrying an eye-popping MSRP of $3,300. Pretty nuts, right?

If you can track down a dram of this somewhere, though, you will be rewarded with a very elegant and delicious taste of Lowlands scotch whisky history. So with that said, let’s taste this (understandably tiny) sample.

On the nose, this is delicate and elegant, with fruity notes of baked apple and peach, apple butter and a hard-to-place grassy or herbaceous backbone. I’m getting vanilla, light toasted oakiness, some chamomile and subtly earthy character as well. It’s not the most intense nose, but a very nicely composed one.

On the palate, Rosebank 31 Year-Old turns out to be significantly more expressive than it initially was on the nose, almost bombastic in its fruity and sweet notes. Here I’m getting plenty of toffee and glazed nuts, along with vanilla cream, peach, baked apple, citrus and a little cocoa giving a darker edge. The oak has contributed modest tannin over the years, as well as a slightly bitter, roasty edge that balances the big pop of sweetness you’re initially getting up front. All in all, really quite a tasty and well-balanced dram. Ethanol is quite subtle for the relatively higher 96.2 proof.

All in all, “elegant” feels like the watchword here. Hopefully, as distillation continues at Rosebank, the future spirit produced by the facility will retain some of this charm.

Distillery: Rosebank
City: Falkirk, Scotland
Style: Single malt scotch whisky
ABV: 48.1% (96.2 proof)
Availability: Limited, 750 ml bottles, $3300 MSRP

Jim Vorel is a Paste staff writer and resident beer and liquor geek. You can follow him on Twitter for more drink writing.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin