One mile from Balmoral Castle, Royal Lochnagar Distillery sits at the foot of the Cairngorm mountains, fed by the crystal clear water of the Scarnock springs. Originally called New Lochnagar, it was renamed following the royal visit. Queen Victoria visited Balmoral in 1848 and popped across to the distillery for a visit, at the invitation of John Begg, the owner of the distillery. Suitably impressed, she issued a Royal Warrant, allowing the distillery to add Royal to its name. Today, this small distillery combines the traditional pagoda kiln heads and techniques like the open mash tun with a modern visitor centre to allow for the appreciation of malt whisky.
Royal Lochnagar 12 Year Old has a slightly restrained nose. There are aromas of 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. This is a medium bodied whisky. The flavours are pleasant; an initial sweetness is quickly overtaken by acidity. The finish is dry; medium-length, with an attractive lingering sandalwood aftertaste.
Royal Lochnagar brings out the rich complexity of character in venison sausage, parma ham or even mutton pie.