Falkirk Rosebank distillery preparing to come out of mothballs

26-06-2019. Picture Michael Gillen. FALKIRK. Rosebank Distillery. Central Demolition on site preparing area for the new owners Ian Macleod Distillers who will reopen the distillery in autumn 2020.
26-06-2019. Picture Michael Gillen. FALKIRK. Rosebank Distillery. Central Demolition on site preparing area for the new owners Ian Macleod Distillers who will reopen the distillery in autumn 2020.

The manager of Falkirk’s born-again Rosebank Distillery has marked his first month in the job with a realistic appraisal of the huge task facing owning company Ian MacLeod Distillers.

Robbie Hughes speaks with pride of the work carried out at other iconic names in the Macleod stable, notably lowland malt Glengoyne, but frankly concedes the Falkirk distillery may be his biggest ever challenge.

Rosebnk manager Robbie Hughes

Rosebnk manager Robbie Hughes

He said: “Rosebank was never ‘mothballed’ – it was just closed, and pretty much became derelict.

“The site needs a lot of tlc – it is in a sad state and it’s going to be a huge challenge.”

However, he says that with the scale of the task goes the opportunity to not only recreate but possibly even improve upon whiskies regarded as truly special single malts.

Triple distillation will be key to success, he says, bringing back Rosebank’s sweet and floral taste characteristics.

“Nobody else is producing these types of whiskies,” said Robbie.

He says the science of distillation has moved on since 1993, when the distillery closed, and says he’s optimistic that a once famous name will ultimately live up to its one-time stellar reputation as a classic among Lowland malts.

Last month Ian Macleod gained the vital planning permission needed to begin the resurrection of the Rosebank site, and after years of decay and dereliction a former icon of Falkirk industry is finally being recreated from scratch.

The company said: “Over the coming months it will become a bustling building site that will leave the canal-side buildings carefully restored and converted into a visitor centre, tasting room and warehouse.

“On the other side it will look strikingly different with a modern, glass-fronted stillroom breathing new life into the distillery.

“In the middle, proudly connecting Rosebank’s past with its present and future, stands that towering chimney – a Falkirk landmark as it ever was.”

The company is currently in the middle of a 13 week demolition process which is due to end mid-September and will see the road side half of the building carefully taken down to create room for a brand new stillhouse.

The iconic chimney will remain the landmark for Rosebank.

A decision on the building contractor is expected shortly and this work will begin at the end of the demolition.

Meanwhile, recent accounts disclosed for Ian Macleod Distillers show it to be well-placed to take on the major challenge of recreating Rosebank in Falkirk.

In the 12 months to the end of September both pre-tax profit and profits rose sharply, with revenue in the UK increasing by almost half to £48.9 million.