The Brackla distillery was built in 1812 by Captain William Fraser of Brackla House on the estate of Cawdor Castle.
The whisky produced was selected by King William IV of the United Kingdom to be his whisky for the Royal Court, which turned Brackla into the benchmark of Quality.
In 1833 Brackla Distillery became the first whisky distillery to be granted a Royal Warrant by order of King William IV of the United Kingdom. This made Royal Brackla one of only three distilleiess ever honoured to bear the name ‘Royal’, the others being Royal Lochnagar and Glenury Royal which has since been demolished.
In 1839 William Fraser & Co took over the Royal Brackla Distillery and it remained in the family until1879. The then sold distillery was reconstructed as the Brackla Distillery Co Ltd.
The 1897 Prospectus reveals that the capital of the company was £100,000, divided into 40,000 preference and 60,000 ordinary shares. The Directors of the company were James Anderson, Wine Merchant, Leith, Andrew Usher of Northfield, John Usher of Norton and Walter C. Newbigging, distiller at Brackla. The Prospectus also reported:
“Brackla’s whisky has long been known as one of the best Highland malt whiskies in the market. The demand for it has for years been much in excess of the supply, and in order to cope with this demand considerable additions have recently been made to the distillery.”
The distillery and warehouse, at this time, was on a site of over 13 acres, this was held under lease from the Earl of Cawdor.
In 1919 John Mitchel and James Leith of Aberdeen acquired the company but then sold it in 1926 to John Bisset & Co Ltd of Leith. They were taken over by the Distillers Company Ltd in 1943.
Due to restrictions on the use of barley for distilling during the Second World War a majority of Scotch Whisky distilleries closed, including the Royal Brackla Distillery from 1943 until 1945. An airfield was built beside the distillery in 1940, to provide a landing ground for operational training and air gunnery.
1964 saw the distillery close its doors again until 1966, this was due to major reconstruction and re-planning. The traditional method of coal-firing the stills by hand was changed to internal heating by steam generated from a coal-fired boiler. In 1965 an underground supply of water, created during the Second World War for an airfield, was acquired and used for cooling spirit vapour.
In 1970 the distillery was expanded by adding a second pair of stills and converting the coal-fired boiler to oil-fired. New racked warehouses were built in 1975 to replace the older traditional warehouses that were still in use at the time.
The Royal Brackla Distillery closed again in 1985. The casks of whisky remained on site in the warehouses where they continued to mature and be used for blending, as required by the owners. The distillery reopened in 1991.
The distillery’s water sources are Cawdor Burn, Cursack Springs and Airfield supply.Royal Brackla has a mash tun, 12.5 tonnes and eight wash backs with a total volume of 480,000 litres.
A light golden colour on rolling around the glass is syrupy and leaves long legs around the glass. I added a teaspoon of water and left the whisky to develop for 10 minutes.
The nose has notes of chocolate, orange, pepper and peaches. There are soft salt notes hints of confectioners sugar and pear.
The flavour is creamy with hits of citrus, pear, chocolate and spice. There are notes of boiled sweets and red berries in the background.
The finish is long lasting with a silky feeling in the mouth,
A fantastic dram!
In my view this is a more overlooked Highland distillery which is very worth seeking out as it’s one of the best drams I’ve been lucky enough to taste!