Royal Lochnagar

The founding of Royal Lochnagar’s was a tumultuous affair. It was a pretty rough time in the Highlands. In 1823, James Robertson founded and constructed a distillery close to the modern-day site.

Information about the Distillery
35 Bottles
Scotland, Highlands
-3.208852 57.030126
Active
1 x 6,700 l
Normal
1 x 3,720 l
Normal
2 x 27,000 l
5 t
1845
320,000 l
Average Tasting Notes Calculated from 32 Tasting Notes
Nosing
Fruit
Sherry
Vanilla
Malt
Oak
Peat Smoke
Alcohol
Sweet
Pinapple
Dried Fruit
Grass
Spices
Coffee
Heather
Barley
Floral
Caramel
Wheat
Oil
Ginger
Tasting
Malt
Sweet
Fruit
Sherry
Oak
Oil
Spices
Vanilla
Nuts
Peat Smoke
Caramel
Alcohol
Pinapple
Lemon
Chocolate
Grass
Barley
Floral
Wheat
Peach
Honey
Clove
Finish
Malt
Peat Smoke
Fruit
Oak
Spices
Sweet
Sherry
Grass
Barley
Floral
Wheat
Oil
Details about the Distillery

The Production

The water used in production at Royal Lochnagar is drawn from a series of local sources. The distillery has a very small production capacity, standing at only 450’000 liters a year. Only five other distilleries in Scotland have smaller capacities than Royal Lochnagar.

The Royal Lochnagar Distillery
The Royal Lochnagar Distillery

The Pot Stills

Royal Lochnagar operates with one wash still and one spirit still. The wash still has a capacity of 6,700 liters and the spirit still has a capacity of 3,720 liters. The pot stills have a traditional Speyside shape, with a wide, spherical lid and a tall conical neck.

The Pot Stills of Royal Lochnagar
The Pot Stills of Royal Lochnagar

The Maltings

The malt used in the production of Royal Lochnagar is unpeated. This is a major contributor to the smooth, sweet taste of the single malt, for which it is renowned. The distillery used its own malting floors until 1963, when a major reconstruction and renovation was launched at the site. The distillery has since stopped using its malting floors and now sources its malt from Diageo’s central maltings.

The bottom of the Kiln of Royal Lochnagar
The bottom of the Kiln of Royal Lochnagar

The Warehouse

Royal Lochnagar has a very unusual feature; a duty paid warehouse. This exists on the site because Royal Lochnagar is home to Diageo’s Malt Advocate Academy, which is where the company’s employees are trained on the different kinds of whisky. The distillery still fills its casks on site, which is less usual today. All of the warehouses at the site are traditional dunnage ones, complete with earthen floors. The distillery uses a combination of Oak, Sherry and Muscat casks.

The warehouses of Royal Lochnagar
The warehouses of Royal Lochnagar

The History

The founding of Royal Lochnagar’s was a tumultuous affair. It was a pretty rough time in the Highlands. In 1823, James Robertson founded and constructed a distillery close to the modern-day site. In 1826, the distillery was burnt down by competitors, but Robertson, undeterred, decided to rebuild the distillery, this time next to Lochnagar mountain, but upon completion, this distillery was also burnt down by competitors. It turned out to be third time lucky for Royal Lochnagar.

In 1845, a new distillery, ‘New Lochnagar’ was built by John Begg on the shores of the River Dee. This is now considered the opening of ‘Royal Lochnagar’. In 1848, the distillery was granted a royal warrant by Queen Victoria and subsequently changed its name to Royal Lochnagar. When the Queen stayed in summer at the close by Balmoral Castle, she loved to take a short ride to the distillery for a break in her duties. 

The distillery stayed in the Begg family when John Begg passed away, with his son Henry taking over operations in 1882. When Henry passed away in 1896, his children decided to rebuild the distillery.

In 1916, the distillery passed out of the family’s hands when John Dewar and Sons acquired it. John Dewars became part of DCL in 1925, and then in 1930, the administration of the site was passed to Scottish Malt Distillers. In 1963, the distillery underwent a major reconstruction. Following the SMD and Diageo merge, Diageo gained ownership of Royal Lochnagar. Under Diageo, Royal Lochnagar, the distillery has continued to thrive.

Old Casks from Royal Lochnagar
Old Casks from Royal Lochnagar

The Visitor’s Centre 

The visitors’ centre at Royal Lochnagar was built in 1930, making it one of the earliest in the country. The centre includes a gift shop, small museum, and the ability to have a tour of the facilities.

The Visitor Centre of Royal Lochnagar
The Visitor Centre of Royal Lochnagar

Chronological rating history

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Original bottling - Distillers Edition (Diageo)