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Scotch

Rosebank 31 Year Old

$3,299.00

OVERALL
RATING

8

Whisky Review: Rosebank 31 Year Old

Tasting Notes:

About:
Aged 31 years; un-chillfiltered and triple distilled; 96.2 proof (48.1% ABV); $3299/700ml.
Appearance:
Champagne gold.
Nose:
Banana cake floats in and out of a cherry blossom and lavender breeze, with solid earthiness of malt and virgin oak shavings providing the foundation.
Palate:
Velvety soft dried grass, reminiscent of chamomile tea greets the palate. Light wild strawberries and sweet lemon citrus spray flit in and out over layers of toasted marshmallow. The finish is bubbly champagne and oak with a slight bit of medicinal flavor I could not pinpoint.
Finish:
Comments:
With a powerful reputation like Rosebank and the allure of a 31-year-old age statement, this whisky has a lot to live up to. Fortunately, it neatly fits the Rosebank bill and Scotch enthusiasts and experts will find everything they are looking for in this whisky. However, it is perhaps so subtle, with so much small nuance, that it is not accessible to casual fans of the category who will turn elsewhere for a stronger and more intense experience.

Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs. 

Sometimes, life is hard. Despite our best efforts, a business effort will fail, a relationship will end, your car will get scratched. This is part of what it means to be human. However, joy can arise from these hardships. I think that’s why we love success stories. Hearing how others overcame hardship and persevered makes hope and pride swell in our chests. One of my favorite examples is the rediscovery of actor Keanu Reeves. Reeves, famous in his early life for movies like Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and The Matrix, faced a series of lackluster movies through the 2000s & 2010s. However, Reeves found a true second wind in the John Wick series, and is again a mega-star (and also just a great guy). 

What does this have to do with whisky? Keanu’s story is much like the resurgence of the beloved Rosebank distillery. Started in 1845 by R.W. Rankine, the Lowland distillery came to be known as the “King of the Lowlands” by the 20th century, and was described as “one of the lightest, most floral Scotch whiskies ever made.” This unique profile was due to a variety of factors, including the fact Rosebank whisky was triple distilled (uncommon for scotch), it is non-peated, and uses worm tub condensers (a very traditional style of condenser) for its production.

“Triple distillation promotes a lighter style in a whisky … but then using worm tubs is more associated with a bolder and heavier style of spirit,” says Gordon Dundas, a brand ambassador at Rosebank’s parent company, Ian Macleod. 

It was to the Scotch world’s dismay that Rosebank was mothballed in 1993 after global whisky sales fell. The brand fell into obscurity, except to knowledgeable Scotch enthusiasts. Rosebank then had its Keanu moment. Purchased in 2017 by Ian Macleod Distillers, the group has completed a huge renovation of Rosebank distillery and is on the precipice of re-entering the market.

One of their most recent releases, the Rosebank 31-year-old Lowland Single Malt Scotch Whisky, is the last “old Rosebank” release before the distillery reopens to the public, with the Scotch world waiting with baited breath whether Ian Macleod can restore Rosebank to its former glory, à la John Wick. 

It is thus with great excitement that I am reviewing this year’s release, the aforementioned Rosebank 31-year-old Single Malt Scotch Whisky. A veritable legend given liquid form, the tasting notes are described as “citrus bursts, soft vanilla and candied almonds. Chamomile, berry and baked banana grace the palate, with a signature smooth finish of sweet peaches, oak and herbal notes.”

While I try to not read tasting notes from the distiller before a review, given the gravity of each drop of the dram, I’ll take every advantage I can get to savor its flavor. 

With that said, the dram itself is seductive and subtle, with a dozen slight nuances refreshing the palate every few seconds. I was however slightly disappointed by the fact that all the flavors were nuanced. The floral and slightly medicinal notes will get quickly overwhelmed by almost any pairing of food, drink, or cigar, and it takes a concerted effort and repeated tastings to appreciate.

Yet, much like an explorer, returning to the whisky over & again will yield additional layers and more discoveries to the trained expert. With a $3,299 price point, I assume that if you have a bottle, you already have a well trained palate and will not be disappointed. 

Rosebank 31 Year Old review
We review Rosebank 31 Year Old, distilled over three decades ago at a Scotch distillery once known as the “King of the Lowlands.” (image via Rosebank)

Tasting Notes: Rosebank 31 Year Old

Vital Stats: Aged 31 years; un-chillfiltered and triple distilled; 96.2 proof (48.1% ABV); $3299/700ml. 

Appearance: Champagne gold.

Nose: Banana cake floats in and out of a cherry blossom and lavender breeze, with solid earthiness of malt and virgin oak shavings providing the foundation. 

Palate: Velvety soft dried grass, reminiscent of chamomile tea greets the palate. Light wild strawberries and sweet lemon citrus spray flit in and out over layers of toasted marshmallow. The finish is bubbly champagne and oak with a slight bit of medicinal flavor I could not pinpoint.

Jeffrey Nitschke

I am a Portland area attorney whose career has dovetailed with a love of fine spirits and cigars. With no formal training in the field, my own interest spurred a thorough education through books, articles, visits to distilleries all over the United States, and a few deep dives into Wikipedia. Outside of my career and ever escalating pursuit of good whiskey, I can be found enjoying CrossFit, gardening, and playing music.

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