The Royal Lochnagar: A quick Review
(This review comes from Nathan and does not reflect the opinions of myself or bourbon drinkers at-large, but he's probably right)
So now that the Game of Thrones hype has died down... or crashed and burned into a smoldering pile of dropped storylines, forgotten character arcs, and “subverted expectations”, I wanted to take some time to look more closely at the scotches we drank during the show.
The Royal Lochnagar 12, bottled at 40% abv, comes from a distillery that is owned by Diageo, but unlike Lag, Caol Ila, Tallisker, Oban, etc. you will rarely see the single malt expression on your shelves. It’s a single still distillery that can produce around 450,000 liters annually, which is not a terribly large amount next to one the largest producers, Glenlivet, who produce 10,500,000 liters annually (I pulled these numbers off some quick Google searches, don’t crucify me if they’re wrong). Most of the Lochnagar that is produced goes into JW Black and Blue, so rarely do we get a single malt offering like this one.
Just a bit more history here. The distillery is named after a nearby mountain, and took on the “Royal” status in 1848 as an official entity that provides goods and services to the crown. This highland distillery is located only a few miles away from the Balmoral Castle. I’ll leave further research on that subject for the British History buffs. As most highland malts today, you can assume it’ll be lightly or unpeated, have a sweeter profile, and not contain that smell of burning hospitals, unlike their Islay counterparts.
Time to look at the scotch:
The nose is very soft and mellow. I get some fruity notes, perhaps a hint of citrus, and something that conjures up the color green. I wouldn’t say that it’s grass, or tree, perhaps just a hint of aloe? It’s a very light nose, but it’s extremely pleasant, foretelling a delicate dram.
As you’d expect, on the palate this scotch is very light. There is a sweetness to it, chased with round fruits with the most dominant taste being perhaps honeydew melon. The softness of the palate could easily be overwhelmed by other flavor, but by itself this is a lovely scotch. As I keep sipping, the honeydew melon comes out more strongly, and it is a lovely complement to the soft touch of oak. As I’m revisiting this now, it is also a thinner dram. That could be due to the lower abv, but it could also just be a feature of the product itself. I would love to taste this at cask strength or even that ubiquitous 46% abv that seems more common lately.
The finish is fair in length without being anything stellar. It doesn’t linger for days, but compared to other 12 year scotches, it is perfectly solid and sweet. Overall I’m a huge fan of this scotch! Now that the weather is getting oppressively hot, this is a perfect pour for something that stands very well alone, and will be enjoyable without demanding your attention. If this was something regularly available, I’d always keep a bottle of it on my shelf. If you were lucky enough to grab one last December when they were released, I hope you enjoy it too!