Shortly after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert took up residence at Balmoral castle, John Begg, owner of the new Lochnagar distillery, sent an invitation for the regal couple to visit the distillery. Both were fervent malt whisky drinkers and Prince Albert also had an interest in technology and industry and the couple arrived the next day. Shortly after, Lochnagar supplied the Queen with whisky and as such was awarded a Royal Warrant in 1848.
The whisky distillery draws its waters from springs at the foothills of its namesake hill and the buildings overlook Balmoral. A distillery was founded in 1823 in Glen Feardan on the banks of the River Dee by James Robertson. A few years later, Robertson’s rivals burnt down the distillery and accordingly he built Lochnagar at the foothills of the namesake mountain. A little over a decade later, another fire destroyed the distillery.
In 1845, John Begg built New Lochnagar on the south banks of the River Dee. Following Begg's death, Royal Lochnagar was passed down to Henry Farquharson Begg in 1882. Henry died in 1896 and his children rebuilt the distillery a decade later. Following the death of Henry's son Albert, John Dewar and Sons acquired the distillery in 1916.
Today, the Royal Lochnagar distillery is under the watchful eye of Diageo, following Dewar’s amalgamation with Distillers Company Limited in 1925, and the subsequent creation of the drinks giant. The distillery is decidedly small; the total capacity being at less than half a million litres annually. This makes Royal Lochnagar Diageo’s smallest distillery, though the premises are used for whisky education and training purposes. The new make spirit is filled on site though and 1,000 casks are matured in-house, with the remainder sent to Glenlossie.
Nose: Creamy, aromatic nose with hints of hay, malted barley, oak and mixed peels.
Palate: Soft smoke and gingerbread, oodles of toasty spices, Demerara sugar and boiled sweets.
Finish: The finish is all about grass and honey.