Royal Brackla is a Highland single malt distillery located between Inverness and Nairn. It was Scotland's first-ever whisky distillery to receive a Royal Warrant with strong links to the blending industry throughout its history. Used particularly in the popular blended Scotches of Dewar's and Lawson's, this scenic distillery is now gaining a reputation as a single malt brand following major rebranding by the owners in 2015. After multiple changes of ownership, Royal Brackla now seems to finally be settled.
Royal Brackla produces a highly perfumed malty, spicy and fruity style of single malt. This has a distinct combination of green orchard and tropical fruit notes. The spirit is said to have robust elegance with a biscuit-like quality and pinches of spice and white pepper. This style sees the spirit matured predominantly in ex-sherry casks.
The core range forms part of Bacardi's Last Great Malts series, which was launched in 2014 and features single malts from their five distilleries. For Royal Brackla there are age statements at 12, 18 and 21 years old. There is also a travel retail exclusive range plus, the limited edition Exceptional Cask series.
Royal Brackla is a large distillery with an annual capacity of just over four million litres. It is equipped with a huge 12.5-tonne mash tun and operates 17 mashes per week. There are eight washbacks - six made of Oregon pine and two of stainless steel - which has a fermentation time of 70 hours. There are four stills and these work in pairs - two wash stills for the first distillation and two spirits stills for the second. The lyne arms of the stills point upwards to maximise copper contact and reflux within the still.
The distillery was founded in 1812 by Captain William Fraser. It was known as Brackla and located near the Highland town of Nairn. Brackla was granted a Royal Warrant by King William IV in 1833 and was therefore allowed to carry the Royal prefix against its name. It was the first Scottish distillery to receive this honour. It was later followed by Royal Lochnagar and Glenury Royal. As a result, it became known as 'The King's Own Whisky'.
Another Fraser, this time Robert Fraser, took ownership of the distillery in 1852. Further changes were to follow in the late Victorian era with Mitchell & Leict from Aberdeen taking control in 1897. Almost 30 years later in 1926, Royal Brackla changed hands again. The new owner was John Bisset & Co, also from Aberdeen. Then in 1943 Scottish Malt Distillers purchased John Bisset & Co. and therefore acquired the distillery. It then later became incorporated into the larger Distillers Company Limited.
Royal Brackla was closed for a major refurbishment between 1964 and 1966. This saw the production capacity almost doubled. The distillery then fell victim to the 1980s Scotch slump, being mothballed between 1985 and 1991. When reopened it was part of the United Distillers stable, before becoming one of the distilleries sold to Bacardi-Martini, along with the Dewar's brand in 1998. It remains operated by Bacardi under the John Dewar & Sons name.