Royal Lochnagar (12 year)

Yet another of Diageo’s stable of “blending fodder” – some malt distilled at Lochnagar finds its way into Johnnie Walker (Blue, in particular) and Vat 69, but the majority of the output of Diageo’s smallest distillery (smallest in production volume, that is) is now bottled as a single malt. This includes a Distiller’s Edition finished in Moscatel casks and an NAS Selected Reserve edition aged in sherry casks. The distillery’s single malt does not seem to find distribution into the US, except via a few independent bottlings which are few and far between.

The official portfolio labels underwent a recent redesign.

Nose: Grain-forward (puffed barley), lemon peel, fresh banana, airy with light fruits and mild floral perfume. A rest in the glass only intensifies the banana notes. I don’t know what banana flowers smell like, but I’d guess it’s something like this.

Palate: Thin body. Some vanilla sweetness and coconut water, tame tongue burn, and a dry austere nuttiness, like unsalted raw almonds. Fresh, though. It reminds me of those scented candles that say “Fresh Laundry” or “Fresh Air”.

Finish: Short. A reprise of the palate notes, but with a bit of mouth-drying tannin and a wash of mild bitterness. Gone in an instant.

With Water: A few drops of water seem to dampen the aroma, and also increase the nose tickle (it wasn’t noticeable before). The palate is a bit washed-out. At 40%, this needs no additional water.

Overall: I mean, it’s OK. A very standard Highland malt from a very standard (likely refill) combination of sherry and ex-bourbon casks. Even at 12 years of age it has little maturity or development and zero complexity. The only off-note is the bitterness on the finish, but it’s not balanced by any interesting characteristics. A disappointment for more than $25. Not something I would bother to carry back to the US on a plane (or pay shipping from the UK!).


About The Distillery

The Lochnagar distillery was built in 1845 and acquired its ‘royal’ tag soon after, when Queen Victoria visited the distillery with her family and then began ordering casks of the whisky for her personal use. The whisky soon became a favorite of the Queen, who mixed it with claret (red Bordeaux wine). Royal Lochnagar malt served as the heart component in the Vat 69 blend. Process water collects in a nearby dam, and is clear and heathery.
Royal Lochnagar (12 year)
40% ABV
ScotchNoob™ Mark:
Price Range: $40 - $55 (not available in the US)
Acquired: (30ml sample bottle) Master of Malt.

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  • I’d read about this stuff, and I’ve long been curious about it. Thanks for reviewing.

    The malt itself may not be all that interesting, but the backstory is. The “Royal” in Royal Lochnagar originated when Queen Victoria purchased a manor in Scotland and the distillery manager at Lochnagar opened his front door one morning to find Her Majesty the Queen along with her family waiting to take a tour of the distillery – the first ever royal tour of a scotch distillery. Her husband Prince Albert always liked the Scottish countryside because it reminded him of his native Germany. The house they built, a.k.a. Balmoral Castle, is still a favorite retreat for British royalty to this day.

  • Okay, I got it as you said and I want to buy ex-bourbon if you have any detail or way that I can buy it online so please send me details. Because I cant buy from UK or US as I live in on another country so help me soon and Thanks in advance.

  • Not a bourbon cask whiskey, but a sherry cask. Maybe do some homework instead of just reviewing something you don’t actually know about! Twat.

    • Mistakes made on the Internet can be fixed (as the one above has been), but you’ll always be an asshole. For the record, Royal Lochnagar uses a combination of sherry and ex-bourbon casks.

  • To each his own. This is my favorite single malt scotch. It is so sad that it is largely unavailable in the USA, I’m not sure why. I always bring a bottle back from Europe.