Royal Lochnagar is a distillery in the eastern Highlands of Scotland. It is owned by drinks giant Diageo and is the smallest distillery in their portfolio with a capacity of only 400,000 litres per year. Much of the whisky produced is used for blending and Royal Lochnagar is an important constituent of Diageo's world famous Johnnie Walker range. The distillery is located close to Balmoral castle and it's proximity to the royal residence has influenced it's name and history. Originally opened in 1845 as Lochnagar, the owner invited Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to visit the distillery. They accepted and visited in 1848. Queen Victoria liked the whisky so much that she issued a royal warrant, so from then on it was allowed to be called Royal Lochnagar. More recently, Prince Charles wrote a series of stories called 'the old man of Lochnagar' and they were based in the local area and mention the distillery. These were later published and he originally made them up to entertain his younger brothers, Andrew and Edward. This 12 years old is the only regular release and independent bottlings are extremely rare due to the low production rate.
It is golden and the nose is quite light. There is a prominent malted barley note but this mixes well with fresher citrus (imagine lemon zest) and herbal (imagine freshly cut grass) notes. On the palate, that maltiness is present and the feeling is richer than the nose suggested. There is a mix of dried fruit (think of sultanas and raisins), vanilla, caramel or toffee (i can't decide which), that grassiness again and a hint of something spicy at the end (like nutmeg). The finish is again fairly rich with a malty and caramel sweetness. Despite this, it is quite refreshing but does get pretty dry in the end. This is a good solid whisky without being spectacular. It would be a good choice if you wanted to try something different for under £30.