Bought: Wine Rack, 28th October 2015
I get the impression that the Royal Lochnagar 12yo is 75% good whisky and 25% snob value. This is reflected in the price because it’s a £30 whisky that sells for £40. The ‘Wine Rack’ off license don’t list Royal Lochnagar on their website but the owner of my local store stocked it on a whim and it sold like hot cakes. The reason? The shop is in a wealthy town in a wealthy area where the word ‘royal’ has stockbrokers happy to break a £50 note.
In fairness to Royal Lochnagar they don’t exactly flood the market with various aged and non-aged bottlings. The Whisky Bible only mentions 3 versions and 2 of those are from independent bottlers. Whiskybase just list 27 distillery releases, which includes seven different versions of the 12yo, seven ‘Select Reserve’ and five ‘Distillers Edition’. Royal Lochnagar certainly like to be elusive as well as exclusive, which is starting to make £40 sound quite reasonable.
84/100 in the Whisky Bible classifies this dram as “good whisky worth trying” and the author, Jim Murray, says “more care has been taken with this than some other bottles from this wonderful distillery. But I still can’t understand why it never quite manages to get out of third gear…or is the caramel on the finish the giveaway?” Nevertheless Mr Murray gives the taste element 22/25, which is 88/100 and into the bracket of “very good to excellent whisky definitely worth buying”. It’s a confused beast!
Perhaps one issue for Jim Murray is his reluctance to add water. He says at the start of his Bible that diluting whisky below 40% means it’s no longer whisky, so don’t do it. The Royal Lochnagar 12yo is 40% but both a voter on Whiskybase and the legendary Ralfy on You Tube say this single malt benefits from adding water. If it helps then why not?! People have been adding water to whisky since day one and whisky is mostly water anyway! Ultimately it comes down to individual preference, which nobody should dictate or criticise.
Ralfy’s 81/100 is quite a low mark from him but he still considers the Royal Lochnagar worthy of a review which can be viewed below (recorded in June 2014):