Lochnagar distillery, near to the River Dee in Aberdeenshire, is home to a wonderful 12 year old single malt whisky.
The single malt was a favourite of Queen Victoria and her Prince Consort Albert. The queen build a holiday home on the Balmoral estate in the 19th century and stayed there every year, a tradition that remains today with the Royal family. Every summer, the Queen and her family holiday at Balmoral, to escape from the pressures of life in London.
Queen Victoria granted the Lochnagar Distillery a Royal Warrant in 1848. Lochnagar is one of three Scottish distilleries to be named ‘Royal’.
The origins of the distillery go back to 1826 when an illicit distiller set up a distillery north of the River Dee. However, this was brunt down by smugglers. John Begg built the new Lochnagar in 1845.
The water for the distilling process comes from a dam, located about a ten-minute walk from the distillery. Clear and fresh waters rushing off the mountains fill the dam. The distillery offers a tour called ‘A dram at the dam’, whereby they take visitors up to the dam to enjoy a wee glass of the single malt. On a nice day it is quite a unique experience. Actually, even if the weather is poor, getting the warm internal glow from a glass of whisky on the hill is excellent.
Most of the produce from Lochnagar is used in blends such as Johnnie Walker Gold and Black labels.
The distillery takes its name from the mountain, Lochnagar, or Beinn Chiochan. At at height of over 3,000 feet, the mountain is one of the most popular and spectacular of the Cairngorms range. On a clear day from the top, the Lochnagar distillery and the Balmoral Estate can be seen.
The poet, Lord Byron, wrote a very famous poem about the mountain, called Dark Lochnagar.
‘Away, ye gay landscapes, ye gardens of roses! I sigh for the valley of dark Loch na Garr.’
I often feature their 12 year old single malt in my tastings because the whisky is quite unique. It makes a really nice summer dram, with its creamy nose and light smoke and gingerbread taste.