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Royal Lochnagar distillery

The Royal Lochnagar Distillery is located in the Eastern Highlands, on the valley of the Dee and river of the same name. The distillery is named after the nearby Lochnagar mountain. The Royal Lochnagar is now part of Diageo and is marketed as part of the Classic Malts series.

House Style

The distillery is named after the nearby Lochnagar mountain. The Royal Lochnagar is now part of Diageo and is marketed as part of the Classic Malts series.


For Diageo, Royal Lochnagar was something of a training center where new staff got to know the basics of whiskey production. The Royal Lochnagar Distillery is one of the smaller distilleries in Scotland. A mere 450,000 liters of alcohol are produced annually in the two stills of the distillery. The water is drawn from several sources that have their origins in the nearby mountains.

For a long time, Royal Lachnagar was a popular supplier for large blends. For a long time, the malt was the main component of VAT69. In the meantime the distillery has probably become too small for this and most of it is bottled as malt. The standard of the distillery is the Royal Lochnagar 12 years, which is supplemented by the Royal Lochnagar Distillers Edition (with finish in Moscatel barrels). There is also the Royal Lochnagar Select Reserve with individual bottle numbering.

The Royal Lochnagar also appears from time to time at independent bottlers, in particular Signatory. The whiskey is an integral part of some large and well-known blends such as Johnnie Walker Gold Label and Johnnie Walker Blue Label as well as Dimple.


Royal Lochnagar was originally founded as New Lochnagar in 1825 as an illegal distillery by James Robertson. Most likely set alight by smugglers, the young still burned for the second time in 1841. The new distillery was founded in 1845 by John Begg.

Three years after its inception, John Begg invited Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who bought nearby Balmoral Castle in 1845, to visit the distillery south of the River Dee. The very next day he was honoured with the royal visit. Some days later Begg received a letter granting a royal warrant to supply the Royal Family. The Lochnagar distillery was granted permission to use the addition “Royal” shortly after.

From then on, both the still and the whiskey were renamed Royal Lochnagar. The company remained in family ownership until 1916 when it was sold to John Dewar & Sons, which later became the Destillers Company Limited (DCL) and was then bought by Guinnes, or now Diageo. Royal Lochnagar has a visitor center and can be visited.

Royal Lochnagar factsheet

Name Pronounced AKA Region Country of Origin
Royal Lochnagar Highlands Scotland
Status Active Whisky Type Website Tours Available
Active 1826 - Present Malt Royal Lochnagar Not Available
Manager Distiller Blender Owned by Parent Group
Jackie Robertson Diageo

Royal Lochnagar Timeline:

1823: James Robertson, a former illicit distiller, establishes a legal whisky distillery in Crathie

1826: The Crathie distillery is burned down by arsonists

1826-1834: James Robertson of Crathie licensed to distill at New Lochnagar

1841: Destroyed by fire and rebuilt by Alexander Farquharson & Reid

1842: Alexander Farquharson & Reid licensees

1845: A second distillery south of the River Dee was built by Begg & Buyers on a site leased by the Abergeldie Estates

1848: John Begg invited Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to visit the distillery

1851: The distillery south of the River Dee was referred to as ’New Lochnagar’

1851: The partnership of Begg & Buyers was dissolved and the distillery continued by John Begg

1852: Farquharson & Co.

1880: John Begg’s distillery was inherited by his son Henry Farquharson Begg

1896: Passed to Henry Farquharson Begg’s trust

1902: Converted to a private limited company

1906: The distillery is completely rebuilt

1916: Acquired by John Dewar & Sons Ltd.

1925: Passed to the Distillers Company Ltd. (DCL)

1930: Transferred to Scottish Malt Distillers Ltd. (SMD)

1963: Largely rebuilt

1969: Stills became steamheated

1990: The distillery farm site is converted to visitor centre

1992: Licensed to John Begg Ltd.

1999: Owned by United Distillers & Vintners Ltd. (UDV)

2004: Owned by Diageo plc

Can I tour Royal Lochnagar?

Yes Royal Lochnagar distillery is tourable. On Trip Advisor the distillery has been rated as excellent by 830 of 1,039 tours to date. This gives Royal Lochnagar an overall rating of 4.5

Latest reviews

Fantastic, Must Do Experience. by Esther

Amazing tour by Annie yesterday. She made us feel super welcome & had so much knowledge. Would 100% recommend this tour to anyone heading this way. Very educational and a must for even those who aren't whiskey drinkers. Thank you for welcoming us.

Distillery Tour by Chrissyskate

Our tour guide Annie was extremely thorough in providing us with information regarding the origins of the distillery and how they make their whisky. Some really lovely drams to sample at the end of the tour and don’t worry if you are the nominated driver as you’ll get to take what is sampled away with you.

Fun Family Tour by Rebecca Z

Informative and interesting tour of the whisky making process. Tasting at the end was fun and was able to understand the differences in taste and smell that are a function of the barrels used in the maturation process.

Rating Reviews
Excellent 830
Very good 165
Average 30
Poor 9
Terrible 6