There’s a bit of irony surrounding Royal Lochnagar. It is one of the smallest among the portfolio of distilleries owned by the largest spirit manufacturing conglomerate around. Most of the limited output from this lesser known distillery supplies the plentiful and ubiquitous Johnny Walker blends. A smaller portion can be found from time to time in offical distillery bottlings, but not very much of it makes it to bottle as a single malt.
I found this particular bottling at a hole in the wall liquor store about twenty five miles from my house. I’m not an expert by any means, but nearest I can tell working with my friend Google, this bottle looks like a mid to early 2000’s label. It was certainly dusty enough, but any experts out there please feel free to chime in with a more accurate estimate if you have one.
Nose: Floral, almost narcotic smelling, with a very sharp maltiness. Tea leaves with some fruit and molasses hidden behind a few very shaving cream-esque fresh notes. Well balanced, like a French dish: salty, sweet, sour, bitter and savory. Much, much better than any Walker blends I’ve had.
Palate: Fallen apples in the orchard. Sharp, sweet and malty. After tasting it, cider comes to the front of the nose as well. This has a very bright kick, almost like an ice wine. Classically delicious; When I think of good single malt this is one of the first styles I think of.
Lesson learned, even the dregs of the spirit distribution world can have a few hidden gems lurking on their shelves. Even if the odds are against you it’s always prudent to check. I was so taken by this dram (and the price they were charging a decade ago), that I went back and cleaned out their whole supply.