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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

June 17, 2022


  Little Duos, today Royal Lochnagar (including the new Prima & Ultima)

Diageo's new Prima & Ultima series 2022 edition is out. As expected, the selection is a little crazy and, in fact, rather reminiscent of the first Special Releases, except that the whiskies that used to be 20 yo within those early selections are now very roughly from 30 to 40 years old or even older. Lagavulin 1993, Mannochmore 1990, Glen Ord 1987, Talisker 1984, Lochnagar 1981, Cragganmore 1973… And there is even a Port Ellen 1980, bottled to celebrate the Queen's Platinum Jubilee. Remember she visited the Distillery that year, as we noticed when we first tried that famous PE 12 yo 'Queen's Visit' that's just fetched £100,000 (gasp!) plus commission at an auction this month. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the Brora, a 1981, but we might rather try that one on Whiskyfun's 20th Birthday, in July this year. Indeed, this lousy website is getting older than most of the whiskies we taste.

Anyway, instead of rushing to the 'stars' within this new selection, and as we like to do, perhaps is it sensible to first try the, well, the smaller stars, such as the Royal Lochnagar of Balmoral. But first, a carefully selected sparring-partner (well, we had only one untasted Lochnagar in the library anyway).

A neighbour visiting Royal Lochnagar Distillery in 2018.
'... And so, would this size be a tun then?...' (picture Diageo)



Royal Lochnagar 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2021)

Royal Lochnagar 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2021) Three stars
An earlier version, bottled around 2016, was pretty okay in y opinion (WF 79), but I'm not sure 2019's Game of Thrones edition was not a regular 12 as well, under a fancier label (WF 80). Colour: bright straw. Nose: this feeling of soaped porridge at first, then various mashed vegetables (potatoes, turnips and celeriacs, perhaps?) and rather a lot of totally unrefined brown sugar, which would lead us to thicker brown ales, with whiffs of bitterer ales in the background. Some fir honey too, ink, old magazines, cardboard, we're almost inside an Amazon dispatch centre now (all right)…. Mouth: a rather thick texture, starting with Madeira-like flavours and mustard, green pears, a distinct musty side (very old white wine), then bitter oranges, some pepper, this little cardboardy side again, an even notes of fino sherry. Rather bittersweet, and there's a little paraffin too. Finish: medium, more on 'fino', although I'm almost sure there isn't a single drop of fino in there. Notes of burnt caramel in the aftertaste. Comments: certainly a singular distillate. It's great that they would not alter this rather dry, old-school style, maybe is it about to become fashionable again?

SGP:361 - 80 points.

Royal Lochnagar 1981/2021 (52.5%, OB, Prima & Ultima Third Release, refill American oak hogsheads, 1,100 bottles, 2022)

Royal Lochnagar 1981/2021 (52.5%, OB, Prima & Ultima Third Release, refill American oak hogsheads, 1,047 bottles, 2022) Four stars and a half
Nicknamed 'A Duel with the Angels', this one stemmed from a batch of casks they had been experimenting with to diminish evaporation (so the angel's share). Remember Lochnagar is Diageo's 'school Distillery', where some experiments are being done, although the main trials would be conducted in Menstrie A.F.A.I.K. They wouldn't tell today, but I remember Diageo had been experimenting with some kind of cling film, maybe was that the 'experiment' they're talking about? In any case, that experiment 'of some kind' was then stopped – I suppose it failed - but they had kept some of the whisky and transferred it to regular oak casks. I also remember well quite a few funny stories unofficially told at Lochnagar (after a bunch of drams) about The Royals at nearby Balmoral Castle and their relations with the Distillery. But shh… Colour: straw. Nose: wonderfully all-natural, pretty tight, with green fruits in abundance, limes and lemons, then rather some fudge (vanilla), pancakes and zucchini flower beignets. Chamomile tea, whiffs of an empty old tobacco jar, perhaps. Upmann jar? Also a little basil and coriander, we could almost use this in a (very expensive) pesto. With water: pretty gentle, soft, with even more cakes. Scones, muffins, pancakes… This is almost the five o'clock tea at Edinburgh's moderately dusty… Balmoral Hotel. Seriously! Mouth (neat): awesome, with first some piney notes, liquorice wood, marzipan, all from the oak I suppose, then more beeswax and overripe apples. Excellent, if perhaps less idiosyncratically (wow) Lochnagar than the 12. With water: I had feared it would have become a little drying, it has not. Fruit peel and a little cinnamon. Finish: medium, with some muscovado sugar and some earl grey tea. At The Balmoral… Orange blossom water and grape pips. The aftertaste is a little drying, while I was about to go for 90 pts. Comments: mind you, this one is 40 years old, I'm almost sure since it was bottled in December of 2021.
SGP:461 - 89 points.

Next, either Ord or Talisker, I'm hesitating, whole different ballpark…

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Royal Lochnagar we've tasted so far







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