Royal Lochnagar distillery logo, established 1845.

Royal Lochnagar Distillery

  • Scotland
  • Recognition for Traditional Production Methods, Renowned for Royal Lochnagar 12 Year Old Single Highland Malt
Phone Number
  • +441339742700
  • Crathie, Balmoral, Ballater AB35 5TB, United Kingdom

Stone courtyard with green lawn under cloudy sky

History of Royal Lochnagar Distillery

The Royal Lochnagar Distillery, located near Balmoral Castle in the Scottish Highlands, is steeped in history and royal connections. Founded in 1845 by John Begg, the distillery has a notable past.

John Begg, seizing an opportunity, invited Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s consort, to visit the distillery in 1848, just after the royal couple had purchased Balmoral Castle. The visit was a success, and shortly thereafter, Begg received a royal warrant.

The distillery was then renamed “Royal Lochnagar.” Royal Lochnagar primarily produces Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky.

Their whiskies are known for their traditional craftsmanship and distinctive characteristics. The distillery offers a range of whiskies, including the Royal Lochnagar 12-year-old, which is the most widely available and well-known.

This whisky is noted for its delicate balance of sweet and spicy flavours, with hints of oak and fruit.

The distillery is also involved in limited-edition releases and special cask finishes, which offer unique flavour profiles to whisky enthusiasts. These limited editions often become collectors’ items due to their rarity and distinctiveness.

Aside from its whisky production, Royal Lochnagar plays a significant role in the local community and Scotch whisky heritage. It is a part of the Royal Deeside, an area renowned for its stunning landscapes and rich history, which adds to the distillery’s allure for visitors.

The distillery offers tours, providing an insight into the traditional methods of whisky production, from malting and fermentation to distillation and maturation.

These tours are popular among whisky lovers and tourists, keen to experience the heritage and craftsmanship of one of Scotland’s most famous distilleries.

Royal Lochnagar Distillery, with its rich history, royal connections, and range of fine whiskies, is a significant player in Scotland’s whisky industry. It’s not just a producer of fine spirits, but also a custodian of Scottish heritage and traditional whisky-making techniques.

Awards Won by Royal Lochnagar Distillery

  • Renowned for Royal Lochnagar 12 Year Old Single Highland Malt: This particular whisky is often highlighted during distillery tours as an award-winning product, indicating its recognition in whisky circles.
  • Recognition for Traditional Production Methods: The distillery is noted for its adherence to traditional whisky-making techniques, which likely contributes to its acclaim within the industry.
  • Historical Significance: The distillery’s historical background, including a royal warrant from Queen Victoria, adds to its prestige and recognition.
  • Focus on Quality over Quantity: While not directly an award, Royal Lochnagar’s commitment to maintaining quality over mass production is a testament to its standards, which are highly regarded in the whisky industry.
  • Visitor Attraction Accolades: The distillery, as a tourist attraction, has been recognised for providing an exceptional visitor experience, as indicated by the information on their tours and visitor centre.

Royal Lochnagar Distillery Tour Information and Experience

The Royal Lochnagar Distillery offers a range of tours that cater to both whisky enthusiasts and those interested in the rich history and production process of Scotch whisky.

The Essence Tour

This is a 60-minute guided tour where you will learn about the production of Royal Lochnagar’s smooth whisky using traditional methods. It includes a tutored tasting of two Royal Lochnagar Single Malts.

Warehouse Tasting

This tour offers a unique experience of tasting four whiskies, each selected from the distillery’s collection of casks in the Duty Paid Warehouse. The tour is enriched with fascinating stories and insights into the rarity of each dram.

Expressions Tour

Lasting 60 minutes, this tour delves into the depth of flavour across Royal Lochnagar’s limited edition expressions. It includes a guided tour, a tutored tasting of four limited edition expressions, and a complimentary gift.

Royal Lochnagar Tasting Tour

Combining the distillery tour with a tasting session, this tour includes the Royal Lochnagar 12-year-old and the Distillery Only Bottling.

Dram at the Dam Tour

After the distillery tour, this option takes you to the top dam which supplies water to the distillery. You’ll enjoy tastings in a stunning setting, weather permitting.

Warehouse Tour

A unique experience where you get to serve a dram of whisky by yourself. This tour is for a maximum of 6 people and requires advance booking.

The Royal Tour

Offering traditional cuisines and snacks with coffee on arrival, this tour provides an in-depth look at the distillery and its processes, followed by a tasting of special Royal Lochnagar whiskies.

Accessibility and Getting There

  • The distillery is located near Crathie, close to Balmoral Castle. It’s about 9 miles from Braemar and 8 miles from Ballater, easily accessible via road.
  • For those using public transport, Aberdeen railway station is approximately 50 miles away, and there is a bus service from Braemar or Ballater with a stop on the A93, about a mile from the distillery.


  • The distillery provides parking, WiFi, a gift shop, a licensed bar, and picnic area.
  • It’s partially suitable for visitors with limited mobility and offers accessible parking or drop-off points.
  • Note that children under 8 are not permitted in the production areas, and it’s recommended to book your visit in advance, especially if you have specific accessibility needs.

Flask & Barrel Review of Royal Lochnagar Distillery

As a seasoned whisky collector who’s been on numerous distillery tours, I was pretty excited to visit Royal Lochnagar Distillery, and I must say, it did not disappoint! Here’s my take on the experience, a solid 4.7 out of 5.

First off, the setting is just breathtaking. Nestled near Balmoral Castle, the distillery has this timeless charm that hits you the moment you set foot there.

The journey through the traditional pagoda kiln heads and the open mash tun was like stepping back in time – a real treat for a whisky enthusiast like me who appreciates the old ways of doing things.

The tour guides were top-notch. They were not just knowledgeable but also had a way of making the whole experience engaging and fun. Learning about the distillery’s history and the whisky-making process was fascinating, and the guides’ passion for their craft was evident.

Now, the tasting part – absolutely the highlight for me! The Royal Lochnagar 12-Year-Old is a delight. It’s got this refined balance of flavours that’s just right. And getting to try some limited edition expressions?

That was a cherry on top. Each dram had its unique character, and it was evident that a lot of care goes into making these whiskies.

The only reason I’m not going a full 5 is because of the accessibility. It’s a bit out of the way, and getting there might be a bit of a journey for some. But let me tell you, it’s a journey worth making.

In summary, Royal Lochnagar Distillery offers an exceptional experience that combines stunning scenery, rich history, and exquisite whiskies.

Whether you’re a whisky aficionado or just curious about the craft, this distillery is a must-visit. The warmth of the staff, the depth of the tour, and, of course, the exceptional whiskies make it a near-perfect experience. Cheers to Royal Lochnagar for an unforgettable visit!

What To Do Nearby Royal Lochnagar Distillery

After you’ve savoured the delights of Royal Lochnagar Distillery, there’s a world of experiences waiting just a stone’s throw away. Here’s a casual guide to what’s nearby:

  • Balmoral Castle: A must-visit, especially if you’re into history and royal splendour. It’s right next door to the distillery. The castle, with its stunning grounds and gardens, is open to the public from April to July. It’s a great place to stroll around and soak up some royal history. Be sure to set aside at least an hour and a half for the visit. They offer audio tours in multiple languages which are included in the admission price.
  • Cairngorms National Park: This is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. Whether you’re into hiking, mountain biking, or just want to enjoy some stunning Scottish scenery, this national park has it all. It’s a great place to connect with nature and experience some of the most breathtaking landscapes Scotland has to offer.
  • Adventure and Outdoor Activities: If you’re feeling adventurous, the area around the distillery offers a range of activities. From water sports to climbing and mountaineering, there’s plenty to get your adrenaline pumping. And if you’re visiting in winter, don’t miss the snow sports opportunities.
  • Local Shopping and Eating: While there aren’t many shops right next to the distillery, if you’re willing to drive a bit, places like Tesco Superstore in Turriff and Poundland in Inverurie are within 72 km and 58 km respectively. These spots are perfect for picking up any essentials or souvenirs.
  • Historic Sites and Castles: The region is dotted with historic sites and other castles, apart from Balmoral. Exploring these can give you a deeper understanding of Scottish history and culture.
  • Family and Kid-Friendly Activities: If you’re travelling with family, there are plenty of activities suitable for kids in the Cairngorms National Park area, from wildlife watching to family-friendly hiking trails.

Frequently Asked Questions

What restaurants are near Royal Lochnagar Distillery?

  • The Highlanders Bakehouse: It has a rating of 4.9 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you their address is Ben Avon, Crathie, Ballater AB35 5UL, United Kingdom.
  • Clachan Grill: It has a rating of 4.6 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can contact them on their phone at +441339755999. Their address is 5 Bridge Square.
  • The Keiller Brasserie: It has a rating of 4.2 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can reach out to them on their phone at +441339755858. Their address is Old Coach House, 50 Braemar Rd.

What hotels are near the Royal Lochnagar Distillery?

  • Balmoral Arms: It has a rating of 4.1 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can reach out to them on their phone at +441339755413. It is a 5-star hotel known for its traditional setting and cosy restaurant situated at 13-15 Victoria Rd, Ballater AB35 5RA, United Kingdom.
  • Alexandra Hotel: It has a rating of 4.4 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can reach out to them on their phone at +441339755376. This 3-star hotel is situated at 12 Bridge Square, Ballater AB35 5QJ, United Kingdom.