Continuing our treasured practice of reviewing bottles you will probably never find ever, we continue with an even more rare and hard to find specimen in Cadenhead’s Royal Lochnagar 18. Owned by J.A. Mitchell and Co., Cadenhead’s is the oldest independent bottler in existence and specializes in single cask malt whiskies without chill-filtration or coloring. Independent bottlings have obvious benefits of offering a favorite malt in a new, often bigger in a manner of speaking, expression than what is commonly available on store shelves. Oftentimes these outfits will throw a single malt in a unique wine barrel for a new finishing along with typically increasing bottling strength. You may even find extended aging periods not available elsewhere. In short, independent bottlings are typically worth they increased price tags and are favorites in the whisky community. Keep that in mind before you walk on by.
(Quick note: we distinguish between bona fides independent bottlers versus retail store sponsored brands that source whiskies from distilleries. Not to say you can’t find a decent bottling from one of these brands, but independents such as Cadenhead’s or Berry Brothers & Rudd have long standing relationships with producers and seek to uphold certain standards of quality as opposed to the crass commercialism of cashing in on the whisky boom. Thanks for listening, now, back to the show…)
Royal Lochnagar is a small Highland distillery, previously looked at when we reviewed their dependable 12 year old single malt (reviewed here), so we were excited to try an 18 year old version. This bottle contains malt distilled in 1996 and bottled in 2015. Bottled at 55.9% ABV in a batch of 558 bottles, this particular expression is most likely no longer on shelves but of course newer bottlings are probably out there. Let’s see what we have…
Nose- Perfumed floral notes. Granny smith apples. Plenty of cereal, hay and straw abounding. A soft, white wine quality to it. Cider. Toasted barley and sugar. Vanilla notes and toffee with time.
Taste- Sweet. Layered with toffee and warm fruit. Honey with spice. Like sake, almost.
Finish- Lovely with some smoke, drying and lasting. Peppery barley. Fruit.
Comment- Subtle, satisfying malt from the quiet distillery of Royal Lochnagar. Very cool opportunity to try something like this. Recommended.
SWC Rating- 86/100
Agree? Disagree? Stand and deliver, caballero.