It’s not every day you have a 30yo from a closed, (although now reinvented) distillery, and certainly not one as well known as Rosebank. So without further ado, lets dive right in.
Nose: A sweet, gentle nose, fresh ripe peaches, with soft lemon there is no sharpness with it, think hard boiled travel sweets, or more specifically the powdered sugar on them. There is a slightly sharper note of fresh gooseberries. Left a while longer there are hints of grilled pineapple, sticky, sweet, with sprigs of fresh mint leaves which really add a touch of freshness. Given time to breathe and on the second nosing this becomes sweeter, inviting with a dessert note akin to just baked apple pie still warm from the oven with thick homemade shortcrust pastry, with crisp apples grown in a back garden and picked fresh that day and topped off with lashings of thick custard with a generous dusting of nutmeg. Right at the very background there is a more earthy note, hessian sacks or potatoes still covered in damp soil. It takes time to develop and you have to look for it, but for me, it is unmistakable and really adds depth and balance.
Palate: On first sip, it’s all very gentle the apple pie from the palate becomes soft red apples which mingle with dessert pears. There is a richer, deeper note and at this time the oak marches to the fore. It’s not overpowering, but comforting, like a walk through the woods in autumn, the leaves starting to turn red, crunching underfoot, acorns starting to drop to the floor, the wind fresh and bracing. Rich, freshy roasted coffee beans make this feel very decedent, very grown up, almost dry, but just then the peaches from the palate come through, although they feel more akin to apricots now, not fresh, but tinned with syrup and with them the pineapple, intense and sweet. Given a little longer in the glass there is an almost musty note, like browsing an antique bookstore or boxes of antique lace. It balances the fruit and oak notes perfectly. Returning to the glass there are lashings of thick clotted cream the vanilla comforting and sweet.
Finish: Gentle, soft like suede. It coats the inside of your cheeks and tongue in a way the lightness in the glass belies. The apples are present throughout from nose to finish, however they continuity evolve from fresh and tart on the nose to cooked and soft on the palate and red and rich on the finish. The heavier, oaky notes from the palate become clotted cream and vanilla pods with a touch of orange blossom, and the pears from the palate. This is a long finish, there are no big surprises, but just when you think it has given all it has to offer there is just a touch of the mint found with grilled pineapple from the nose at the start. It’s elegant and beautiful.
Conclusion: It is no surprise to hear that 30yo Rosebanks do not come along every day, and its no lie to say I was extremely excited and a little trepidatious. I wanted to love it, it was so full of mystery and promise, I was almost afraid to open it. I shouldn’t have worried. There is no denying that this a beautifully crafted whisky. It is grown up and elegant, timeless, a real classic. It isn’t overly complex but this is by no means a negative, in fact it is its simplicity that really shines through. This is a gentle, subtle whisky, where no one flavour pushes itself to the fore for any length of time and no battle for supremacy. Instead each waits its turn, appearing one by one, almost as though waiting in line to dance, and it creates the most beautiful express.
Do not think that its subtly makes it boring as it does not, those 30 years have allowed the true magic of cask and spirit to marry together and to really shine. It is also so very moreish. It really does invite you in for another sip. I am very reluctant to even hint at the term “session whisky” when we are talking about a 30 year old whisky, and not just any 30 year old whisky, a Rosebank and at a rather steep price tag of £1,600, but I cannot deny that this is scarily easy drinking, and I feel that if I were lucky enough to open a bottle, it would not hang around for too long.
We must however address the elephant in the room; the price. It is undeniably pricy at £1,600, however I can understand why the price is as it is. Whisky prices as a whole have exploded over the past couple of years and prices continue to climb. 18yo whisky, which you could up at around the £60 mark a few years ago now regularly retail at the £200 mark, this of course impacts the price of older expressions. Now factor in that this is a whisky from a closed distillery. Yes Rosebank is being revived and that is hugely exciting, but this is old stock, it has lived, it comes from simpler, happier times, it is history; and what price that?
Whether or not you think that history justifies the price tag, only you know. What I do know for sure is that this is a beautiful, classic, elegant expression. One sip is not enough, it calls you back to the glass again and again and I was sorely disappointed to find my glass empty. I cant wait for next years’ release.
Nose: The first thing I notice is a lovely scent of lemons, like putting your nose in a small paper poke of lemon drop sweets. This is followed by creamy fruit, white grapes and gooseberries covered in single cream. Very light, almost floral in places and very inviting.
Palate: Wonderfully sweet, crisp, almost menthol feeling, this gives way to fruit but unlike the nose, this is more like apples that have been coated in toffee. Holding it in the mouth brings light spices, dancing on your tongue, but gently in a very pleasant way.
Finish: I would say the finish brings a freshness, like the first suck on a mint sweet, this lingers while you contemplate picking up the glass again and as you do the last hint of sweet crisp fruits dies away leaving you feeling very satisfied in the knowledge you have been drinking a special whisky.
Conclusion: I’ll be honest I’ve not had many Rosebank in my whisky drinking life and certainly not one as old as this one, so I cannot comment or compare to previous whiskies from this distillery, however what I would say is that this is a fantastic drinking whisky, it is really difficult to put the glass down as each sip positively encourages you to take another.
If you are fortunate enough to be able to purchase a bottle, then I would think it a great shame to leave it unopened on a shelf gathering dust. It may not be an every night dram but is certainly made to be drunk as it really demands tasting.
The only downside I can see is the price. Now I know that certain distilleries have a special aura around them and Rosebank is no exception, but at £1600 is it worth it? Is any whisky worth that? I suppose that is a discussion for another time and I would imagine there will be no problem in selling this, as people who can afford it will surely snap it up.
Available to purchase directly from Rosebank’s website.