Royal Brackla

The Royal Brackla distillery is located in the village of Cawdor. It was the first distillery to be allowed to carry the "Royal" in its name.

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Information about the Distillery
98 Bottles
Scotland, Highlands
-3.905598 57.540051
Active
Bacardi
2 x 22,000 l
Normal
1 x 21,000 l
Normal
6 x 60,000 l
12 t
1812
4,000,000 l
https://www.royalbrackla.com/
Average tasting notes Tasting notes
Calculated from 451 Tasting Notes
i
Nosing
Sweet:
Fruit:
Sherry:
Spices:
Vanilla:
Oak:
Zitrus:
Nuts:
Orange:
Caramel:
Herbs:
Grape:
Herb:
Almonds:
Berries:
Honey:
Malt:
Chocolate:
Raisin:
Apple:
Cherry:
Heather:
Fig:
Dark Chocolate:
Peat Smoke:
Tropical Fruit:
Floral:
Sweet:
Oil:
Grass:
Dried Fruit:
Peach:
Pear:
Green Apple:
Leather:
Cake:
Vanilla:
Coffee:
Fruit:
Ginger:
Tobacco:
Grapefruit:
Anis:
Banana:
Caramel:
Pineapple:
Plum:
Nutmeg:
Date:
Pepper:
Raisin:
Walnut:
Barley:
Hay:
Strawberry:
Lemon:
Wheat:
Zitrus:
Alcohol:
Fig:
Herb:
Date:
Tobacco:
Chili:
Apple:
Spices:
Malt:
Nuts:
Sherry:
Hazelnut:
Cinnamon:
Mint:
Tasting
Sweet:
Fruit:
Sherry:
Spices:
Oak:
Nuts:
Chocolate:
Zitrus:
Herb:
Vanilla:
Caramel:
Oil:
Almonds:
Malt:
Dark Chocolate:
Orange:
Pepper:
Peat Smoke:
Honey:
Chili:
Raisin:
Berries:
Sweet:
Dried Fruit:
Blackberry:
Cinnamon:
Herbs:
Apple:
Peach:
Coffee:
Tobacco:
Barley:
Pear:
Fig:
Cherry:
Leather:
Anis:
Plum:
Vanilla:
Ginger:
Wheat:
Grape:
Alcohol:
Floral:
Heather:
Banana:
Fruit:
Lime:
Date:
Hazelnut:
Cake:
Oak:
Walnut:
Tropical Fruit:
Honey:
Caramel:
Zitrus:
Green Apple:
Cake:
Raisin:
Pineapple:
Malt:
Spices:
Pineapple:
Grapefruit:
Black Currant:
Grass:
Kiwi:
Cinnamon:
Hay:
Pear:
Oil:
Sherry:
Chocolate:
Finish
Spices:
Sweet:
Oak:
Sherry:
Herb:
Nuts:
Fruit:
Chocolate:
Pepper:
Dark Chocolate:
Oil:
Herbs:
Malt:
Peat Smoke:
Coffee:
Zitrus:
Heather:
Alcohol:
Leather:
Almonds:
Sweet:
Cinnamon:
Chili:
Caramel:
Vanilla:
Lemon:
Berries:
Green Apple:
Alcohol:
Oak:
Caramel:
Pepper:
Floral:
Walnut:
Dried Fruit:
Cherry:
Hazelnut:
Raisin:
Spices:
Banana:
Apple:
Cake:
Malt:
Peach:
Cake:
Fig:
Mint:
Honey:
Cinnamon:
Chili:
Chocolate:
Herbs:
Herb:
Cherry:
Oil:
Grape:
Floral:
Raisin:
Coffee:
Hay:
Vanilla:
Nuts:
Zitrus:
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.

At the end of 2022, Royal Brackla relaunched its core range with Malt Master Stephanie Mcleod. As part of this, the alcohol content was increased to 46% vol. and the bottlings are non-chill-filtered and uncoloured. The core range includes the 12-year-old, the 18-year-old and the 21-year-old.

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 distillery has a production capacity of 4 million litres, most of which goes into the blending industry. The distillery uses spring water from the Cursack Springs for production. Royal Brackla also has another spring, the Airfield Springs. In the past, water from the Cawdor Burn was used, but this is now only used as process water.

The Pot Stills

Royal Brackla operates with four pot stills. The two wash stills each have a capacity of 22,000 litres a year, while the spirit stills have a capacity of 21,000 litres. 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 distillery character that Royal Brackla aims to achieve is therefore fruity, light and pleasant, with little grassiness.

The Maltings

The malt used in production is not smoky. The distillery had its own malting plant until 1966. Nowadays, the distillery sources its malt from an industrial malting plant in Speyside. Royal Brackla grinds 13 tonnes of malt, which then goes on to be mashed.

The Mashing

The crushed malt is mixed with fresh spring water from Cursack Springs in the modern Stainless Steel Lauter Tun.

The first mash is carried out at 64.5 degrees. The distillery does not have a traditional second and third water. Instead, after the first water, there is a "continuous" water that starts at a temperature of 75 degrees and is raised ever so slightly as the mash is sprinkled with water and all the sugar is dissolved.

The Fermentation

The distillery has a total of eight washbacks, six wooden ones made of Siberian larch (also native to Scotland) and two made of stainless steel, which are located outside.

The Mash Tun fills exactly one washback with 59,000 litres. The fermentation time is a relatively long 70 hours. In this area, the flavours change from earthy, grassy, malty to fruity, which also defines the distillery character of Royal Brackla.

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 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. From this point on, the distillery was allowed to use the addition "Royal" in its name and was also known as "The King's own Whisky".

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.

The Visitor Centre

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

Visitor information

Royal Brackla Distillery
Cawdor
Nairn
IV12 5QY
+44 (0)1667-402002

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