Drinking a Unicorn

Taste Review 14 – Rosebank 12 Flora and Fauna.

Unicorn whisky is a term that I’ve heard used within the whisky community that refers to whisky that is rare, uncommon and potentially hard to get. And this is probably quite accurate about this bottle, the Flora and Fauna bottling of Rosebank.

Rosebank 12 with wooden box

The distillery sits by the Forth and Clyde canal in Falkirk. It was closed by Diageo in 1993, and has lain dormant since. Some of the buildings were converted into a restaurant, the maltings on the opposite side of the canal were demolished. The rest of the buildings remain, and up to 2008, the distilling equipment was relatively intact until a visit from metal thieves. This is a shame, as Rosebank had many traditional features for making whisky in the old style. Rosebank used worm tubs for condensing the spirit from the stills too, so there would’ve been plenty of copper to steal.

Diageo actually sold the distillery to British Waterways, the owner of the adjacent canal in 2002, but nothing happened. From what I can gather, Diageo kept the remaining stock and trademarks, so it looked doubtful if Rosebank would ever be heard of again. Rumours are the last Flora and Fauna bottles were produced in 2003, so it is long discontinued, apart from the odd Special Release or independent bottler release.

Rumours have been going about for ages that Rosebank is to be reborn. Ian Macleod Distillers, owners of Tamdhu and Glengoyne distilleries announced that they had acquired the trademarks for Rosebank, and they would be reopening the distillery around Autumn 2020 which seems a bit ambitious. It remains to be seen if they rebuild the distillery with worm tubs or if they will continue the lowland style of triple distillation.

On to the taste review. This was tasted in the Grill Bar in Aberdeen.

The nip on the Grill bar.

Region

Lowland

Age

12 y.o

Strength

43% a.b.v

Colour

Straw.

Nose

Light floral honey, sweet. Light summer fruits

Palate

Waxy, oily mouth feel. Very pleasant. Dusty oak, lightly spices, fennel tea is there too. Hints of citrus / Grated lemon zest.

Finish

Medium sharp spicy. Oaky in the finish with subtle fruit.

Conclusion

This is was a great whisky. I’m not very experienced in lowland whiskies, as up until recently, there were only 3. The waxy mouth feel reminded me of Clynelish. The whisky is delicate, floral and very satisfying. Perhaps this is a result of triple distillation. Scottish whisky is typically double distilled (Wash and Spirit Stills) but only Auchentoshan still practices a proper triple distillation with an intermediate still.

I have a bottle of this in my collection but this will be remaining sealed as it is part of a larger collection. Pretty much the only way of getting a bottle of this is through auction. Expect to pay £250 – £300 for a bottle, maybe slightly more if it does it have a wooden box. One nip in the Grill was £18.75 but money well spent.

These aren’t too rare yet, but it will head that way – especially if more decide to try it.

Slainte Mhath!

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2 thoughts on “Drinking a Unicorn

    1. Well, with the distillery reopening, there will be even more chances to taste a Rosebank. However I don’t believe it will be the same as the original. Same goes for Brora and Port Ellen.

      I have the Rare Malts releases of Glen Mhor, Glen Albyn and Millburn, as I am just 70km from Inverness. Also have the 1979 St Magdalene Rare Malt. That’s a cracker I’d love to try but can’t afford to open now.

      Liked by 1 person

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