Review: Royal Lochnagar 1998 (Bottled 2011) Muscat Cask Finish Distillers Edition

Category: Highland single malt scotch whisky

Origin: Royal Lochnagar Distillery

Bottling: Diageo; Distillers Edition

ABV: 40%

Cost: £59.83* from Master of Malt

royal-lochnagar-1998-distillers-edition

What they say:

This is a bottling of Royal Lochnagar single malt Scotch whisky, which was distilled in 1998 and eventually transferred over to “fine old” Muscat casks for an interesting finish. It was bottled in 2011.

Tasting Note by The Chaps at Master of Malt

Nose: Oak and grassy caramel, some subtle grape-like vinous qualities with some more citrus and fruit salad notes than you might expect from this distillery.

Palate: Sweet fruit and warming spice, nectarine and clean oak.

Finish: Again, there’s fresh oak, although not overpowering, with dried apricot and malt.

Overall: The Muscat plays its part, without dominating.

What I say:

The Distillers Edition from Royal Lochnagar last appeared distilled in 2000 (bottled in 2012), since then their infrequent Selected Reserve heavily sherried special edition was released in the same year and other than a few specials (e.g. the triple-distilled Friends of the Classic Malts edition) there stable line includes only the standard Royal Lochnagar 12 Years Old. Of interest during our visit a couple of years ago, damage to one of the nearby bridges had meant that the steady supply of refill ex-sherry casks for maturing Royal Lochnagar were at a deficit due to the size of the truck delivering them, therefore hogsheads were being delivered for the purpose of maturation – so expect some interesting Royal Lochnagar variants in about 10 years time! Perhaps the Fine Old Muscat Casks used for the extra maturation of Royal Lochnagar 12 into the Distillers Edition are no longer available to Diageo? or this DE release is just more sporadic than most?? Only time will tell.

Colour:

Copper bronze/old madeira wine (13/20), non-resolving or very slow, medium-sized tears leave short tapered legs

Nose:

On the nose it is sweet and fluffy, like candyfloss, a good fruity peach and apricot, red grapes, a little balsamic vinegar, softened demerara sugar, almost caramelised or for making fudge, raisin, plum, cereal barley, malt, woody oak

Taste:

Well rounded, orchard fruit medley with a caramel sauce, toffee apple, maple and pecan pie, sugary and sweet, stone fruits, apricot, peach, nectarine, malty barley and oak wood, with hints of ginger and marmalade

Finish:

Medium-long, fluffy/drying and a touch tannic, sweet fruit/peach skin

Overall:

Perhaps an acquired taste, clearly well-constructed I initially scored this DE the same as the standard 12 Years Old which I have a lot of respect for. Maybe the DE is even more Enigmatic than the standard release and perhaps in this day and age that is not turning a profit for Diageo, or maybe cask supply is the problem/answer. Either way this quaint little ‘teaching distillery’ oft-overlooked will continue to surprise I hope. I am looking forward to sampling the experimentations from here in the interim.

Score: 85/100

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