Whisky Magazine Issue 12
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It's one of the easier whisky trivia questions. Which three Scottish distilleries are allowed to append the word 'royal' to their titles, asks Gavin Smith.
The answer is Royal Brackla, Royal Lochnagar and Glenury Royal, and, sadly, there are no liquid prizes for being correct. All three distilleries date from the first two decades of the 19th century but they have experienced decidedly mixed fortunes since those halcyon days.
Brackla is located some six miles south of Nairn and the Moray Firth and was the first of the trio to be granted a Royal Warrant. Today the standard expression is a very elusive dram. The malt is available only in UDV's ‘Flora & Fauna' and ‘Rare Malts' ranges, and in occasional bottlings from independents such as Signatory and Murray McDavid. The distillery's latest owners (Bacardi) have not launched a proprietary bottling and as there is no designated visitor centre the whisky's regal heritage remains largely untapped.
Those trivia buffs who got the opening question right may not know, however, that Royal Brackla was one of the malts used by Andrew Usher in creating the very first blended whiskies around 1860.
Brackla was built in 1812 on the site of a malt brewhouse by Captain William Fraser of Brackla House. Due to the fierce local competition from illicit distillers, based around the Cawdor Burn, he worked hard to establish his new whisky in the Lowlands and in England. He is said to have complained that although he was surrounded by whisky drinkers he could not even sell one hundred gallons a year close to home!
Fraser's policy clearly paid dividends as by 1835 the Brackla make was...