Royal Lochnagar Selected Reserve from 1990s (70cl, 43%)
Bottle No 48957
The label tells the story of how Lochnagar earned its 'Royal' title:
The Diary of John Begg 14th September 1848:
'I asked Prince Albert if he would like to taste a dram. HRH having agreed to this, I called for a bottle and glasses (which had been previously in readiness) and, presenting one glass to Her Majesty, she tasted it. So did His Royal Highness the Prince. I then presented a glass to the Princess Royal, and to the Prince of Wales, and Prince Alfred, all of whom tasted the spirit.'
As a result of this visit the Distillery was granted the privilege of calling itself 'Royal' Lochnagar, the very first to be accorded this honour by Her Majesty.
Royal Lochnagar is so-called after it was bestowed with a Royal Warrant by Prince Albert and Queen Victoria following a visit in 1848. The popularity of the distillery’s Begg’s blend saw it acquired by John Dewar & Sons in 1916, who later became part of DCL, upping the demand for its whisky from other brands in their portfolio, including Johnnie Walker. Today it is part of Diageo, their smallest distillery by some margin, making the modest amount of its single malt spared for bottling increasingly sought after.
Prior to the formation of United Distillers in 1988, the distilleries within the DCL portfolio were often licensed out to its blending companies, and in the case of Royal Lochnagar it was former owners, John Begg Ltd. Their 12 year old bottling replaced the Haig's Glenleven blended malt within the Ascot Malt Cellar range, an early DCL precursor to the Classic Malts range launched later that decade.
When the classic malts was launched, Royal Lochnagar was not included, but United Distillers continued to market the distillery's brand, re-launching the 12 year old alongside this sherry-casked Selected Reserve, which they pitched as the single malt equivalent of their premium Johnnie Walker Blue Label. That was also the moment that the "Royal" prefix returned to the distillery name. Bottlings like this one were labelled simply Lochnagar as of 1974.
For many years this was the most expensive permanent product in the Diageo portfolio.