[Review] Rosebank - 21 years old 2014 Special Release 55.3%

Today, I am going to look at something a little bit different. A couple of weeks ago, I collected a few samples from a friend of mine and one of them is what I am going to review now: a dram of Rosebank 21 years old. It was distilled in 1992 and bottled in 2014 as part of Diageo's Special Releases. Only 4,530 bottles were available. So what is so special about this whisky apart from the fact that it is a 21 year-old malt sold at the time for about £300. Well, Rosebank is actually a silent distillery, that is to say it is no longer operational. It was mothballed (stopped production) in 1993 because of the cost of investment needed for the distillery to comply with European standard. Parts of the distillery were sold and made way for residential developments and the stills were stolen in late 2000s so I pretty much doubt we will get some new-make Rosebank spirit anytime soon. With that in mind, you now realise that any drams you can get are going to become not only rarer and rarer but also pricier and pricier as the stock is diminishing year on year. 

Rosebank was a Lowland distillery located between Glasgow and Edinburgh and for many, it is the "finest example of a Lowland malt", light, floral, fruity and grassy. I am not very familiar with the Lowland style and have never tried a Rosebank before so I do not have that much of a comparison point to agree or disagree with this statement. So let's get down to the dram itself.


As I mentioned above, this is part of Diageo's 2014 Special Releases. It was bottled at cask strength (55.3%), unchill-filtered and natural colour, which is a lovely gold. The whisky was matured in refill American oak casks.

Nose: Mineral, chalky first with some grassy element. It somehow reminds me of Bushmills. You also get some sharper citrusy notes with orange and grapefruit. There is some fresh fruit sweetness too, vanilla and after a few minutes some lemon cordial. Very pleasant.

Palate: Sweet first before some sharpness and even a slight bitterness. Lemon sherbet, a mix of sweet barley and vanilla with some grapefruit and lemon.

Finish: Quite dry, some barley sweetness and a little spicy heat (ginger?)

With water: The nose is less mineral and fruitier with still a lot of citrus. The palate is sweeter too with more vanilla added to the grapefruit. The finish is creamier but still with a hint of spicy heat.


Overall, I must admit I am pleasantly surprised with this single malt. It is different from what I normally drink and I did enjoy it. It definitely packs a lot of citrus notes! However I am not sure I would be prepared to pay the hefty asking price for it. 


Finally, I must thank my friend Matt for the sample and allowing me to try something I am probably not likely to try again anytime soon! I am now looking forward to trying his other samples...

This picture comes from the Harvey Nichols' website



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