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Scotch Whisky

Whisky Review: Royal Brackla 12-Year-Old

Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by Royal Brackla. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

A renowned name in Highland Scotch whisky, Royal Brackla has spent two centuries at the forefront of the whisky conversation. Founded in 1812, Royal Brackla was the first Scotch to be given a Royal Warrant by King William IV. That Royal Warrant granted the brand a seal signifying the highest quality, and whether that distinction holds much weight nowadays, it certainly elevated the distillery in the early days of Scotch.

Malt Master Stephanie Macleod has re-imagined a classic expression for a new generation of Scotch drinkers with Royal Brackla 12-Year-Old. This rich, complex whisky offers something for everyone; a familiar flavor profile with an elevated ABV, up to 46% from 40%, while avoiding use of caramel coloring or chill filtration.

In a prepared statement, Macleod says of Royal Brackla, the whisky “possesses a clean acidity which allows it to cut through the powerful flavours taken on during ageing in ex-Sherry casks. The type of cask is always chosen to complement the distillery’s signature character, not mask it.”

The Royal Brackla 12-Year-Old was aged in Oloroso casks, giving the whisky a darker, more oily profile, with a surprising tameness of the expected smokiness that one thinks of when tasting Scotch. As I mention that point though, I have thought the same thing about other Scotch whiskies I’ve recently reviewed, and feel that there may be a pivot toward less smoke-forward offerings in the attempt to attract a younger clientele.

There may be quite a separation in the older class of Scotch drinkers who appreciate a deep smoky flavor and the younger generation who may be more accustomed to flavored whiskies and cocktails. Consider it a mere guess from this humble reviewer, but I can’t imagine that it is a coincidence that much of the Scotch I receive is noticeably tame and drinkable.

Whisky Review: Royal Brackla 12-Year-Old

Royal Brackla 12-Year-Old (image via Royal Brackla)

Tasting Notes: Royal Brackla 12-Year-Old

Vital Stats: Aged 12 years and finished in Sherry Oloroso casks. 46% ABV. SRP $70.99.

Appearance: Clear and clean, orange-gold with low viscosity.

Nose: Pleasantly fresh, with notes of orange and cocoa and very light whiffs of tobacco leaf and maraschino cherry.

Palate: The whisky has a slightly slippery texture, with a sharpness that carries cherry and peachy notes. There are elements of charcoal in the mid-palate and a finish that holds most of the smokiness. There’s tobacco and turbinado sugar that linger after I’m done with the tasting, almost like it’s been a few hours since I’ve smoked an unfiltered cigarette.

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