So, I’ve been hankering after some Royal Lochnagar for some time, so it seems now is the perfect time with the auction sites overflowing with cheap bottles of this ‘special edition’ to take a stab at it. Off we go...
First off, I have to say I love the packaging. The printing and paper choices are excellent and the tube is a lovely thing.
On the nose, it smells old, musty, cardboard, mace, mustard seed, stewed vegetables, black pepper, it’s quite a savoury affair where everything verges toward a wet and woody shed of a dram. I have to admit, this is not setting my world on fire. There’s a wee bit of banana bread in there to give a hope of sweetness but it’s wrapped up in an old wet canvas bag. Porridge and malt too. Some toast and angel delight toffee, barley sugar and stale Madeira cake. Hopefully this is an ugly duckling.
(Coming back to the nose on one that has stood for a while and the sweetness replaces some of the damp mustiness)
In the mouth and things pick up immediately! Malty, woody, orange oil, some wood spice and ginger, there’s satsuma skins and a slightly bitter note too, watered down pineapple syrup. There’s a varnish kind of tang in there, maybe a solvent based paint note. It’s quite warming too, no rough edges, it’s peppery without it becoming hot but there’s a nagging feeling that it’s so desperate to do more than it is. It feels very constrained and, not so much watered down (it does feel it) as hamstrung somehow. I get the feeling that some of the flavours that are milling about, dawdling on the palate would be served better with an alcoholic kick up the backside with an abv of 43-46%. You can taste the potential. It’s there, just out of reach. It’s a bit annoying.
So, overall, if you can pick it up for £35 it’s worth it just to try. If you’ve had some of the bottles from the 70’s and 80’s it’s likely to be a disappointing endeavour - they are supposed to be excellent. If you’ve got it at cask strength I’m assuming you have the director’s cut as opposed this straight to DVD effort.
So, not bad overall, a good, affordable introduction to RL that, just like the GoT on tv could and should have been better.