Royal Lochnagar 14, 1996 (A.D. Rattray)

Rattray, Royal Lochnagar 14This was bottled for the giant Californian chain, BevMo! This is the only malt I think I’ve had from the Lochnagar distillery (one of a very small number that get to put the appellation Royal before their name). And so I have nothing to say about it other than its name sounds like it could be that of a North Indian town and would thus be perfect for one of those Indian whiskies claiming Scottish antecedents through their names (Bagpiper, Peter Scot, McDowell’s #1 etc.). And so with this useless preamble out of the way, let us to the tasting notes:

Royal Lochnagar 14, 1996 (56.3%; A.D. Rattray for BevMo!; sherry cask #29304; from a reference sample saved from my own bottle)

Nose: Malty and mildly fruity (citrus, melon) along with some pepper and light hints of mocha. Not particularly sherried. With a little more time the fruit expands and gets more acidic, and now there are mild notes of toffee and raisins as well. With even more time some toasted wood peeks out as well. With a drop of water the malt and fruit make a big integrated comeback.

Palate: Very much as on the nose: malty and fruity with light hints of mocha and tasted wood. As on the nose, it’s not overtly sherried with mild rum-raisin notes and a hint of toffee the chief nods at the cask. Gets a little grassy as it goes. With water the fruit gets brighter.

Finish: Medium. More citrussy on the way out but there’s also something mildly soapy and bitter at the very end. Water gets rid of the soapy/bitter thing.

Comments: A decent whisky which probably owes its character more to the type of wood (I’d guess American oak) the cask was made from than from its previous contents. Nothing earthshaking here and apart from the slight soapiness on the finish at first, no real flaws. Better with water.

Rating: 84 points. (Pulled up by water.)