Diageo has really outdone itself with this year’s beautiful sample box of the Special Releases 2021. It’s difficult to choose a starting dram, so I tried three whiskies at once and decided to start with the most unexpected one: Royal Lochnagar 16 Year Old. We’ll be looking at the other Special Releases in the next couple of weeks.
Royal Lochnagar is a rare whisky, and official bottlings like the 12 Year Old are offered at the lowest possible ABV. Here’s a chance to get a better insight.
Royal Lochnagar 16 yo 2004 (57,5%, OB Special Releases 2021, American + European oak refill casks)
Nose: meadow flowers and hay, mixing with bright fruity notes like Granny Smith apples, tangerines and gooseberries. The lightest touch of vanilla pastry, but any excess roundness is countered by hints of yeasty dough and cement. Nutmeg. Brioche. A slightly uncommon profile, but a rather complex one. Nice start.
Mouth: a certain creaminess now, but also a sharper side. Sweet barley and cooked apples. Lots of baking spices: nutmeg, clove and white pepper. A chalky dryness becomes louder over time, with some bready notes as well. Lemon peels. Aniseed. Dried grass.
Finish: medium, on leafy notes and light wood tannins, citrus peels and baking spice.
It’s nice to try Lochnagar at full strength, as it shows heaps of character. The nose is great, but prepare for a spicy delivery on the palate. A bit expensive – still available from The Whisky Exchange or Master of Malt for instance, and plenty of local retailers.