Royal Brackla

Royal Brackla is called Royal Brackla for a reason. Captain William Fraser of Brackla House on the estate of Cawdor Castle originally founded the distillery in 1812. The distillery started distilling that same year.

Information about the Distillery
26 Bottles
Scotland, Highlands
-3.905598 57.540051
Active
Bacardi
2 x 22,000 l
Normal
2 x 21,000 l
Normal
6 x 60,000 l
12 t
1812
2,000,000 l
Average Tasting Notes Calculated from 11 Tasting Notes
Nosing
Sherry
Orange
Spices
Fruit
Nuts
Grape
Sweet
Berries
Vanilla
Almonds
Lemon
Malt
Grass
Raisin
Heather
Barley
Hay
Caramel
Wheat
Ginger
Peach
Honey
Chili
Tasting
Oil
Chocolate
Dark Chocolate
Spices
Sherry
Nuts
Almonds
Chili
Anise
Vanilla
Oak
Orange
Leather
Pepper
Sweet
Finish
Spices
Pepper
Dark Chocolate
Honey
Chocolate
Details about the Distillery

The Whisky

Royal Brackla distillery sits at the bottom of the Northern Highlands, very close to the legendary Loch Ness. The distillery has released a very slim number of official bottlings, which include a 10 year old, 12 year old, 16 year old and a 20 year old. Sadly, this isn't an official range that the distillery keeps releasing, but instead is a series of sporadic efforts. The most consistent of these releases has been the 10 year old which features on the Flora & Fauna range. But it has been discontinued some years ago.

In contrast to the very limited official bottlings, there has been an extensive number of independent bottlings of Royal Brackla. The majority of these independent bottlings have been released by Cadenheads, although Douglas Laing and Connoisseurs' Choice have also released bottlings. These independent releases vary in age from a 6 year old to a 40 year old, and cover nearly all of the ages in between.  

Royal Brackla is a key component in Dewars' blends. In fact, Royal Brackla was at the pioneering end of blended whisky. Andrew Usher, who effectively invented blending, performed his first blending experiments at the distillery. In addition to Dewars, Royal Brackla is also used in the Johnnie Walker Gold and Bisset blends.

The Production

The production capacity of Royal Brackla stands at 4 million liters, the vast majority of which goes towards blending. The water used in production is drawn from the Cawdor burn.

The Royal Brackla distillery
The Royal Brackla distillery

The Pot Stills

Royal Brackla operates with the rather unusual set up of two wash stills and one spirit still. The two wash stills each have a capacity of 22,000 liters a year, while the single spirit still has a capacity of 21,000 liters. The stills have a unique shape, being somewhere between a tall still and a Speyside still, with spherical lids that are less rounded than usual, but with long, tall necks. The tall shape of the stills' necks allows for an especially high level of reflux in the stills and maximum copper exposure.

The Pot Stills of the Royal Brackla distillery
The Pot Stills of the Royal Brackla distillery

The Maltings

The distillery had its own maltings facility up until 1966. The malt used in the production is slightly peated, and some batches of it are more heavily peated than others. The malt is now sourced from an industrial source in Speyside.

The Warehouse

Although there are a couple of warehouses on site, not a single drop of Royal Brackla matures on the distillery's site. All of the maturing single malt is transported to a site owned by Dewars in South Lanarkshire that has 18 newly built warehouses, which are a combination of dunnage and racked.

The warehouse of the Royal Brackla distillery
The warehouse of the Royal Brackla distillery

The History

Royal Brackla is called Royal Brackla for a reason. Captain William Fraser of Brackla House on the estate of Cawdor Castle originally founded the distillery in 1812. The distillery started distilling that same year. The distillery was the first to be granted a royal warrant by King William IV in 1835. Only few other distilleries have ever been given a royal warrant. This distinction gave the distillery leverage over the rest of the market. 

In 1852, the distillery was taken over by Robert Fraser & Company. They operated the distillery until 1898, at which point the original buildings were demolished and the entire site rebuilt, and the Royal Brackla Distillery Company was founded. In 1919, the distillery changed hands again when John Mitchell and James Leict from Aberdeen acquired the site. In 1926, John Bisset & Company took over the entire distillery. In 1943, SMD took over the distillery when they acquired John Bisset and Company. In 1970, the number of stills was increased from 2 to 4. 

The site was mothballed in 1985, and production resumed six years later in 1991. The site underwent a massive renovation in 1997, with more than 2 million Pound Sterling being spent. One year later, the brand Dewar's as well as the distillery had to be sold due to an obligations of the European watchdog. Bacardi bought the distillery and the Dewar's brand from diageo.

Visitor's Centre

Sadly, Royal Brackla is closed to the public and there is no visitor's centre.

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