As with many distilleries Royal Lochnagarís routes lie with the Illegal distilling that took place up until the early 1800ís. James Robertson a local man began distilling legally around the area of Lochnagar in 1826; this was aptly named Lochnagar Distillery, situated on the North side of the Dee. It was believed that competitors were responsible for the fire that burnt the distillery to the ground in 1841. This distillery was re-built and he continued distilling in this area until 1860. During this time John Begg from Aberdeen leased a 120 acre site from Abergeldie Estates. He built the distillery on the south banks of the Dee and this became known as New Lochnagar Distillery. At this time the annual production capacity was 10,000 gallons and the original rent for the land was £12 per annum. In the 1848 Queen Victoria selected Balmoral Castle as her holiday residence, the original castle was deemed to small and unsuitable and the present was built in its place. Only three days after they arrived, John Begg made an invitation to Prince Albert to visit his distillery knowing he was interested in all things mechanical. To his surprise Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and their three eldest children visited the next day. So impressed with the fine Lochnagar whisky, John Begg received a Royal Warrant of Appointment as supplier to the Queen. It is not until 1861 that John Begg used the Royal name, with trademark being obtained in 1876. The Lochnagar brand went from strength to strength, with warehouses and offices being built in Aberdeen to accommodate demand. It was during the 1850ís to late 1870ís that the market for blended whiskies took off, with Begg being at the forefront of the industry.† John Begg passed away in 1880, leaving his only son Henry Farquarhson Begg with the business. Although he did not have the same passion and enthusiasm as his father, he was left with a large trade in blended and bottled whisky home and abroad. After the death of Farquharson Begg in 1902 the distillery was converted by to private limited company. John Dewar Ltd and sons acquired the distillery in 1916. Shortly after the acquisition, Royal Lochnagar like many distilleries during the First World War was closed to conserve barley for food. It was in 1925 that John Dewar & Sons Ltd joined the Distillers Company Ltd. At that time the Royal Lochnagar was licensed to John Begg Ltd with exception of the early 1940ís when the distillery closed again for the 2nd world war. The next 60 years saw the distillery gradually modernised, the traditional water wheels and steam engines were replaced by electricity to power the machinery. In 1987 the farm steading was converted to a visitor centre, a large team of guides toured 70,000 visitors a year around Royal Lochnagar. Over the years the company underwent a number of mergers and acquisitions. It was in 1997 that saw the merger of Grand Met & Guinness into Diageo and the creation of UDV (United Distillers & Vintners). In 2002 Guinness UDV ceased to operate as a separate division of Diageo. As neighbours to the Royal Household the distillery has been keen to keep connections alive. In 1998 Prince Charles visited the distillery to commemorate our 150th anniversary. Pictured here with Lord MacFarlane of Bearsden, enjoying a tipple of our finest! Today we are proudly known as 'the home of malt whisky' within Diageo. Since 1999, the distillery has been playing host to Malt Advocate courses. These are specifically for Diageo employees in Sales and Marketing roles, designed to explore the intricacies and mysteries of malt whisky. The course attracts employees across the globe and with tutors such as Charlie MacLean and Dave Broom; the advocates leave us with new found knowledge, expertise and most importantly passion!
Colour: Old gold.
Nose: Medium body, wood.
Flavour: Oaky and, malty, creamy with a hint of peat.
Finish: medium sweet, light smoked, long.