The classic malts series is a collection of single malt brands owned by Diageo and of which the smallest is the Royal Lochnagar whisky. When I came across this in a hotel bar I had to try a large measure to see just what it was like.
The distillery is located next door to Balmoral the estate owned by the Royal family in the UK. The Royal part of the name comes after a royal visit by Prince Albert in 1848 by the owner John Begg of the new build distillery. A Mr Robertson had previously built 3 distilleries in the region earlier in the century when illegal distillation was a large industry. The accepted theory is those involved in the illegal distillation did not take kindly to legal competition to their enterprises and sought remove the venture by setting it alight.
Today, the distillery only produces some 400,000 litres per year and most of that ends up in blends. The 12 year old is the only official release and there are rarely any independent bottles out their on shelves either.
The Royal Lochnagar 12 is the entry level whisky from the Diageo owned distillery. The whisky is available globally for around £35 a bottle which is good value but is generally only available in specialist outlets. Matured in ex-bourbon barrels for at least 12 years it has been bottled at the minimum 40% ABV and with a drop of colouring and a finish through the filtration machines.
Colour – orange
Nose – orange rind with quite an acidic sharpness. Nutmeg and more prickly heat persists through pencil shavings and a touch of charring.
Palate – The texture is about a medium density with more of a warmth than harsh heat from the spirit. The oak is again more pronounced with wood sap brings a level of sweetness against more bitter wood notes.
Finish – The finish is as short as the texture is thin. It follows the palate with a touch of cinnamon spice and wood sap from the cask.
Not a bad whisky by any means and a good representation of the sector. Something which is classy and easy enough to drink without anything surprising or complex about it. For that reason it is not something to rush out and buy because ex-bourbon matured Highland whiskies are not thin on the ground and Deanston provides fair more interesting alternatives.