Majestic Malt

Royal Lochnagar Selected Reserve ($210) will soon arrive on American shores, an event eagerly anticipated by ardent Scotch whisky lovers who are based here. The single malt originally gained favor with the British Royal Family about 150 years ago, when Queen Victoria and Prince Albert—shortly after purchasing Balmoral Castle—visited the nearby Lochnagar Distillery. Her Majesty was so impressed with the small-batch whisky the distillery produced, she had the spirit supplied to her by appointment, as did King Edward VII and King George V after her.

Though a rare find in the United States, this majestic malt is not exactly foreign to the cultivated American palate: It’s a key component in Johnnie Walker Blue Label, lending the ultra-premium blend its malty sweetness and lush notes of sherry and toasted nuts. The amber-colored Royal Lochnagar Selected Reserve has a smooth mouth feel and a distinctive Highland profile, with flavors of blackberry jam, spiced apple, green moss, freshly chopped wood, toffee, and hints of ginger and honey. The spirit’s sweetness is derived in part from aging in 50 percent sherry oak casks (the other 50 percent is aged in second-fill American oak). The spirit has aged a minimum of 20 years, but you will not find an age statement on the bottle as the distillery marries a variety of barrels from its stock.  Drinks well on its own or paired with food, such as smoked salmon or rib-eye steak.  (www.malts.com)

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Photo by Jeff Elkins
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