Whisky Magazine Issue 58
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Royal Lochnagar is an iconic distillery that ticks all the whisky lovers' boxes. Ian Buxton visited it
Imagine one of those ‘50 things to do before you die' lists. ‘Visit a distillery' would have to be right up there (even for non whisky drinkers). But which one?
Well, we will all have our favourites, but a very reasonable case could be made for Royal Lochnagar. If you could only ever visit one distillery in your life this might just be the one to choose.
High praise indeed, so what makes it so special?
For one thing, it's small. That means it's easy for the visitor, even one uninitiated in the mysteries of malt, to appreciate what's going on. Everything is on a human scale.
Secondly, it's very beautiful. The setting helps, of course. Royal Lochnagar's next door neighbour is Balmoral, holiday home to our royal family, and they have an eye for the finer things in life.
All the surrounding countryside in the valley of the lovely River Dee is outstandingly attractive. It's sheltered and lush, with gently rolling hills, yet with the Cairngorms at its back. But if the location is a handsome one, the distillery lives up to it – trim, scrupulously clean and tidy and with elegant public facilities.
Thirdly, as we shall discover, there are one or two features that stand out for the enthusiast in the distilling process itself.
And finally, in case I don't mention this later, it makes some very fine whisky.
However, it hasn't always been such an idyllic place. There was an earlier Lochnagar distillery, founded by James Robertson, a former illicit distiller. Having fought t...