Royal Lochnagar Whisky Distillery & Story
How the Royal Lochnagar story began
The first licensed Lochnagar distillery was built on the north side of the river in 1823 by James Robertson, a former illicit distiller.
However, in 1826 the distillery was burned down by fellow smugglers who were unhappy at one of their kind ‘going legit’.
Un-detured Robertson builds another distillery near to Lochnagar. This distillery lasts until 1841 before this distillery burns down.
In 1845 the distillery is rebuilt by John Begg.
Abergeldie Estate grants John Begg a long lease of the Lochnagar site and in 1845 starts’ distilling on the south bank of the Dee. This second distillery is called New Lochnagar.
During 1848 Queen Victoria acquires Balmoral Castle only half a mile from the distillery.
John Begg (somewhat cheekily) sends a letter to their Royal Highnesses’ inviting them to pay a visit and sample the delights of the distillery.
Rather impudently, he mentioned that if they didn’t arrive by 6 pm they would miss the distillery in operation. To him, there was no question that he would extend the routine to accommodate his royal guests.
Prince Albert accepts his invitation and arrives the next day with Queen Victoria and their three eldest Children. The Queen suitably impressed awards Mr Begg with a Royal Warrant of Appointment as a supplier to the Queen
This Royal connection has meant that the distillery has played host to a string of famous visitors, many of them British prime ministers taking an hour or so off between meetings with the monarch of the day at Balmoral.
The Fine Royal Lochnagar, as the brand became known, commands a high price and demand continues to grow.
The distillery increased in size and warehouse and offices are acquired in Aberdeen. Begg also becomes a pioneer in the blended Scotch whisky industry. .
The north-bank distillery was closed by 1860.
John Begg dies in 1880, leaving his only son, Henry Begg, his estate, which includes a large trade in blended and bottled whisky both home and abroad.
Henry Begg lacks his father’s enthusiasm and appoints a manager to look after his interests. Henry Begg dies in1896, having created a trust of the business so each of his children benefits equally.
The distillery is converted into a private limited company, in 1902, John Begg Ltd, after it becomes evident that the business is too intricate to be operated as a trust.
The distillery is renovated in 1906 and acquired by John Dewar and Sons Ltd in 1916.
John Dewar & Sons Ltd joins the Distillers Company Ltd in 1925 which becomes part of Scottish Malt Distillers in 1930
During the post war period a great deal of alterations took place to the distillery building and the machinery traditionally powered by water and steam are replace by electrical equipment. Parts of the farm buildings are converted to a Visitor Centre.
Contributes to VAT 69 blend
The Royal Lochnagar Whisky Distillery
Founded in 1845 by John Begg.
Location; Highland region, Eastern district.
Water source; Springs in the foothills of Lochnagar.
Royal Lochnagar Whisky Distillery Equipment.
5.4 Tonne open stainless steel mash tun.
3 Oregon pine washbacks. With a fermentation times of 70 hours and 110 hours.
1 pair of stills. The wash still is 6,100 litres, spirit still 4,000 litres.
Traditional cast iron worm tub condensers.
Matured in American oak bourbon and European sherry casks stored on site in the one warehouse or at the Glenlossie distillery.
The Royal Lochnagar core range is a 12 year old and Selected Reserve.
Our Royal Lochnagar whiskies
Take a tour of the Royal Lochnagar distillery
The Royal Lochnagar distillery visitors centre is well worth a visit and regularly run guided tours of the distillery throughout the course of the day.
A number of the tours include tasting sessions where you can sample some of the drams they have to offer.