Royal Lochnagar 14, Distillery Hand-Fill, October 2022

Okay, let’s bring this week of reviews of hand-filled exclusives from Diageo distilleries to a close. You will recall that these are all distilleries located in the highlands—Oban on Monday and Dalwhinnie on Wednesday. We end now with Royal Lochnagar. The Oban was 11 years old and from a refill bourbon cask; the Dalwhinnie was 12 years old and from a re-charred sherry cask. This Lochnagar is the oldest of the three at 14 years old and is from a 2nd-fill sherry butt. While I’ve tasted a few more Lochnagars than Dalwhinnies in my time, this is only my third review of a whisky from the distillery. I was even less impressed  by its entry in Diageo’s Game of Thrones cash grab than I was by the Dalwhinnie and Oban in that series; and I wasn’t super-enthused by the other one I’ve reviewed either—an indie release, also 14 years old and from a sherry cask. In other words, my expectations are low and it won’t surprise me if this manages to exceed them. Let’s see if that turns out to be the case. Continue reading


Game of Thrones Whisky: House Baratheon (Royal Lochnagar)

You’d think that if you had a dragon stuck with a crossbow bolt in one battle, and another taken out by an all-world javelin thrower in another, you’d spend a bit of time thinking about your aerial strategy, but I guess there hasn’t been a flight combat school in the world of Game of Thrones for a long time. Anyway, this is not the House Targaryen whisky I’m writing about today, it’s the House Baratheon whisky. I swear I had this scheduled before it turned out there was going to indeed be a new Baratheon lord.

Well, I’ve complained about the distilleries selected for the Game of Thrones selections not really matching up with the houses in the books and show (a smoky whisky for House Lannister instead of the one that has gold in its name, a mild whisky for dour House Stark) but the Baratheon selection does fit as well as the Greyjoy/Talisker selection. There’s the fact that Robert Baratheon is as close as we’ve had to a legitimate monarch in the series; and also House Baratheon is a small upstart house and Lochnagar is the smallest distillery in Diageo’s portfolio (or one of the smallest anyway). Lochnagar was also destroyed before being rebuilt some years later and it seems the same is happening with the Baratheons. But how about the whisky? Is it anything Robert Baratheon would have wanted to get drunk on? Let’s see. Continue reading

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.)