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Whiskymag 137 July _Aug 2016

Royal Lochnagar Single Malt Scotch

Whisky Highland Distillery Information

Royal Lochnagar Distillery,

Ballater, Aberdeenshire

AB35 5TB

Tel: +44 (0)1339 742273


Royal Lochnagar Distillery Visitor Centre Information  


Please contact the distillery to confirm opening times

 +44 (0)1339 742700


Royal Lochnagar Scotch Whisky

Distillery Style Tasting Notes


Nose: Rich and malty, dried fruits, nuts and spices.


Palate: Full bodied. Christmas cake in a bottle!


Finish: Long, rich and malty with a touch of smoke.

Founded in 1845 by John Begg

Location Highland region Eastern district

Water source Springs in the foothills of Lochnagar.


Royal Lochnagar Distilling Equipment.

Mash Tun

3 Oregon pine washbacks

2 Stills

Traditional worm condensers

Matured in American oak bourbon and European sherry casks stored on site

Royal Lochnagar Distillery History

The first licensed Lochnagar distillery was built on the north side of the river in 1826 by a former illicit distiller However the distillery was burned down by fellow smugglers who were happy at one of their kind ‘going legit’. The distillery was rebuilt by John Begg?


Abergeldie Estate grants John Begg a long lease of the Lochnagar site and in 1845 starts’ distilling on the south bank of the Dee This second distillery is called New Lochnagar.


During 1848 Queen Victoria acquires Balmoral Castle only half a mile from the distillery John Begg (somewhat cheekily) sends a letter to their Royal Highnesses inviting them to pay a visit and sample the delights of the distillery (and rather impudently, he mentioned that if they didn’t arrive by 6pm they would miss the distillery in operation. To him, there was no question that he would extend the routine to accommodate his royal guests).


Prince Albert accepts his invitation and arrives the next day with Queen Victoria and their three eldest Children. The Queen suitably impressed awards Mr Begg with  a Royal Warrant of Appointment as a supplier to the Queen


This Royal connection has meant that the distillery has played host to a string of famous visitors, many of them British prime ministers taking an hour or so off between meetings with the monarch of the day at Balmoral.


The Fine Royal Lochnagar, as the brand became known, commands a high price and demand continues to grow.  The distillery increased in size and warehouse and offices are acquired in Aberdeen.  Begg also becomes a pioneer in the blended Scotch whisky industry. The north-bank distillery was closed by 1860


John Begg dies in 1880, leaving his only son, Henry Begg, his estate, which includes a large trade in blended and bottled whisky both home and abroad.  Henry Begg lacks his father's enthusiasm and appoints a manager to look after his interests. Henry Begg dies in1896, having created a trust of the business so each of his children benefits equally.


The distillery is converted into a private limited company, in 1902, John Begg Ltd, after it becomes evident that the business is too intricate to be operated as a trust. The distillery is renovated in 1906.and acquired by John Dewar and Sons Ltd in 1916.  


John Dewar & Sons Ltd joins the Distillers Company Ltd in 1925 which becomes part of Scottish Malt Distillers in 1930


During the post war period a great deal of alterations took place to the distillery building and the machinery traditionally powered by water and steam are replace by electrical equipment. Parts of the farm buildings are converted to a Visitor Centre.


Contributes to VAT 69 blend


Royal Lochnagar Single Malt Scotch Whisky Distillery Bottlings 

Royal Lochnagar 12 Years Old

Royal Lochnagar Distillers Edition

Royal Lochnagar Selected Reserve (no age declaration)


Distillery tasting notes supplied by Diageo


Royal Lochnagar 12 year old Single Malt Scotch Whisky

This fragrant Highland has a delightful balance of fruit and spices.


Strength: 40% ABV  Appearance: Pale amber.


Nose: A relatively closed nose. Planed wood, light toffee, boat varnish. Linseed oil behind, even putty, and later a lychee-like acidity.

With water the acidity comes up (acid drops), and the nose sweetens. Still a pleasant fresh woodiness or leatheriness, the varnish now supported by artists turpentine. Warm sand. After a while, coffee dregs with brown sugar. Not an obvious nose, however.


Body: Medium.


Palate: Pleasantly acidic; such initial sweetness as there is quickly subsumed by acidity.


Finish: Dry to bitter; medium-length, with an attractive lingering sandalwood aftertaste.


Royal Lochnagar Select Reserve Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Highly exclusive, limited edition malt – drawn from a couple of carefully chosen casks at the peak of their development. A very sherryish interpretation of this rich, cake-like whisky.


Strength: 43% ABV  Appearance: Amber red.


Palate: Well rounded with lots of fruit, malty sweetness, more than a hint of smokiness.


Finish: Quite short, with a pleasant smokiness


Royal Lochnagar Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Vintage Older Distillery Bottlings

Royal Lochnagar 1994 The Managers Choice

Royal Lochnagar Aged 23 years 1973 - 59.7% Rare Malts Selection

Royal Lochnagar Aged 24 years 1972 - 55.7% Rare Malts Selection

Royal Lochnagar Aged 30 years 1974 - 56.2% Rare Malts Selection

Royal Lochnagar 2007 Special Release43%  -4710 bottles


Royal Lochnagar Single Malt Scotch Whisky 1973 -  59.7% Rare Malts Selection

Colour; Bright Gold.


Clean, richly appetising palate and nutty dry finish, smooth and soft textured.


Royal Lochnagar Single Malt Scotch Whisky Independent Bottlings

Carn Mor

Duncan Taylor Collection


Harris Whisky Co

Norse Cask (Denmark)

Old & Rare (Douglas Laing)

Old Malt Cask  (Douglas Laing)

Premier (Douglas Laing)

Provenance,  (Douglas Laing)

Platinum Old & Rare (Douglas Laing)


Wild Scotsman House of Macduff