Royal Lochnagar Distillery and Albert’s Cairn

Royal Lochnagar Distillery

Yesterday everything seemed to go wrong with the Glenfiddich distillery being closed and our subsequent failed attempts to find a distillery with a tour that wasn’t fully booked and that permitted children.

Today we planned to go for a hike in the Cairngorms and I decided to check Royal Lochnagar Distillery on the off-chance we could combine our hike with a distillery tour and it all worked splendidly. The tour was one hour, permitted children, and was right next to the walk to Albert’s Cairn where we went first for a picnic lunch.

Royal Lochnagar Distillery
Royal Lochnagar Distillery

Royal Lochnagar Distillery is right next door to Balmoral Castle and was awarded its Royal Warrant in 1848 by Queen Victoria. It’s a very small distillery which made the tour one of the best we’ve ever been on because they still use traditional methods and even have the original open-top masher. It was more intimate and we learnt more about whisky production than ever before.

This was one of the original mills called Boby who is in retirement now.

Once the barley has been malted and milled it goes into the masher where water is added. Here’s the empty masher which will be filled tomorrow. Normally they have lids so you don’t usually get to see inside.

Barley masher

The mixture leaves the masher as “wort” and goes into enormous vats made from Oregon pine where yeast is added and creates a warm frothy beer.

Vats of wort in whisky-making

Distillation comes next. The frothy beer is distilled in copper stills to produce spirit. The stills were open and we were able to look inside. Their production happens on Mondays and Thursdays and the stills would be full and closed on those days.

Elizabeth looking inside a copper stills

After distillation it gets put in barrels where it sits for a decade or more.

Whisky barrels in granite warehouse

Whisky barrels in granite warehouse

At the end of the tour you get to sample four different whiskies, or, if you’re driving they’ll give you takeaway bottles.

Whisky tasting

Lochnagar produces much less whisky than many of the big distilleries and some of it can only be purchased at the distillery itself.

Distillery building

Right next to the distillery is the walk to Albert’s Cairn on the Balmoral Estate. This is a favourite walk of ours as there’s a lovely view at the top of the hill where Queen Victoria built a pyramid in memory of her husband Albert.

Elizabeth and Rachel next to Albert's Cairn
Daniel and Neirin looking at the view
Daniel and Neirin on the side of Albert's Cairn
The view from the top
Rachel, Elizabeth, Ben, and Daniel in front of Albert's Cairn
Elizabeth walking down from Albert's Cairn

It’s forested the entire way until you get to the pyramid which makes it extra good as you can’t beat a forest walk with a view at the top.

Forest walk on Balmoral Estate

On the way home we stopped in Ballater to show Neirin the royal train carriage and waiting room with toilet.

Royal train carriage
Inside the royal carriage
The royal toilet

One response to “Royal Lochnagar Distillery and Albert’s Cairn”

  1. We saw a stone memorial obelisk on a walk yesterday and we were thinking about how modernist it looked, although erected in 1901. It looks similar to Victoria’s pyramid, and that has made me realise that of course erecting stones into geometric shapes isn’t modern at all.

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