Royal Brackla Single Malt Whisky
Royal Brackla was the first of only three distilleries (the others being Lochnagar and Glenury) to earn the 'Royal' epithet, receiving the industry's first Royal Warrant in 1835 from King William IV.
The whisky was also reported to be a favourite of Queen Victoria when she ascended to the throne shortly afterwards, and was one of the malts from which Andrew Usher created the first blended whisky in the 1860s.
These days, not much is heard of Royal Brackla, although this is an old and, as evidenced above, historic brand. The distillery was founded as far back as 1812, and changed hands a few times before being aquired by Scottish Malt Distillers (later to becomepart of Diageo) in 1943. During WWII, the distillery was taken over by the RAF and used as a school for new pilots.
After major renovations in 1966 and 1997 (the latter costing £2M), Royal Brackla was sold by the newly-created Diageo group to Bacardi-Martini, who incorporated it into their Dewar's portfolio (also recently acquired from Diageo). The vast majority of Brackla's spirit now goes into Dewar's White label and Bacardi's other blends.
Bacardi does little to promote Royal Brackla, preferring to spend its malt marketing money on Aberfeldy. For this reason the malt is rarely seen on shop shelves. A 10 year-old is the standard bottling, although an official 25 year-old was briefly available several years ago. This followed on the heels of some impressive Rare Malts bottlings done by Diageo in the 1990s, and a 10yo bottling under the Flora & Fauna rubric that is now extremely rare and valuable.
Independent bottlings of Royal Brackla are relatively regular, with Gordon & Macphail and Douglas Laing occasionally releasing interesting expressions. The house style was described by Michael Jackson as 'Fruity, cleansing, sometimes with a dry, hot finish. A refresher or a pousse-cafe.'