Old & Rare: Glenury Royal

Old and Rare Show 2020

More delights from TWE Old & Rare Show 2020, and beyond! About as rare as last night’s Glenlochy [WLP] or indeed Glenugie [WLP], tonight I’m exploring Glenury Royal. Interestingly enough, Joseph William Hobbs, who acquired Glenury Royal, also owned Glenlochy for some time. Like Glenlochy, I’d only had a pair of Glenury’s before this session, so let’s hear from the ‘knowledgeables’ about this long-closed distillery.

Glenury Royal distillery.jpg

Malt Madness says: ‘Glenury Royal (a.k.a. Glenury) was founded in 1825. Founder Robert Barclay chose a location near Stonehaven, South of Aberdeen to build his malt whisky distillery. That makes it an eastern Highland distillery, just like its ‘coastal’ neighbours Glenesk, Lochside and North Port‘. 

Captain Robert Barclay Allardyce.jpg
Captain Robert Barclay

Captain Robert Barclay was a Member of Parliament. Perhaps that’s why he was one of only three distillers that managed to get permission by King William IV to put the world “Royal” in front of the distillery name’.

Indeed SW says: ‘The ‘Royal’ suffix was added in its earliest incarnation, thanks to then-owner Captain William Barclay being a personal friend of King William IV‘.

Back to Malt Madness {MM] who say: ‘The Glenury Royal distillery takes its name from the glen that runs through the Ury district. Incidentally, Captain Robert Barclay was also Laird of the Ury district. In fact, he was a multi-talented man. For example, he was the first man (on record) to run 1000 miles in 1000 hours‘ [SW: ‘for 1000 guineas‘].

[MM]: ‘Glenury Royal had a fairly unfortunate start. On April 20th 1825 (a few weeks after production started), a fire destroyed the kiln, the malting floors, parts of the grain loft and considerable stocks of barley. Just two weeks later fate struck again; local distillery worker James Clark fell into the boiler and didn’t come out alive. This was sort of an occupational hazard for distillery staff at the time – James wasn’t the first or the last distillery worker to suffer from a ‘freak distillation accident’‘.

Jumping ahead: ‘It was mothballed by DCL on May 31st, 1985. In 1992 the owners decided to cease the production of malt whisky at Glenury Royal for good‘.

Royal Lochnagar distillery
Royal Lochnagar

Whiskyfun says: ‘Very smartly, Diageo have added to the label that Glenury (closed 1985) was ‘The only distillery ever allowed to use the suffix royal’. It’s true that in the case of Lochnagar, it was rather a prefix, not a suffix. Well played!‘ [,… and Brackla too!]

Whiskyfun again: ‘General Distillery Profile: Tea Oranges Herbal Spirity Paraffin Grassy Waxy Bitter Oil Resinous

scotchwhisky.com says: ‘Elegant, slightly oily and fragrant, think Oolong tea with a little smoke, In the mid 1960s, it was expanded and doubled in capacity, but was another which fell victim in whisky’s era horribilis of the early 1980s. The land was sold for housing and the distillery buildings demolished‘.

Glenury Royal chimney and plaque

All that’s left of the distillery is the chimney base and a plaque [see lostdistillery.com PIC above].

Further reading: Malt & Oak


To the juice!



Glenury Royal 13yo [1979] Cadenhead 80 proof [5cl] WB91[4] WF92&WF89 WM82[4]

WF: Glenury was still doing its own malting until 1968, so maybe this is still from that period.

Glenury Royal 13yo [1979] Cadenhead 80 proof [5cl].jpg

  • N: The level is low, and unlike yesterday’s Glenlochy, I’ve a feeling this miniature might not have survived the test of time. I pick up creamy milky coconut-y waxy dusty bakelite parts stored next to paints, pots and solvents in an old garage. It doesn’t get any more romantic than that!
  • T: With soft [sadly flat] watery prickly beginnings, I get a woody bitter peppery dustiness and sootiness,….. then,….. ,…. and then,….. finally soft yet vivid raspberry and > blackberry fruits – and their pollens – on the front-middle of the palate,…
  • F: ,.. served with dirty dusty sooty > dry oily < whipped cream. The palate becomes slightly maltier after a while, complimented by a waxy malty chew at the death, but that’s me being ultra optimistic. The bitter oak is there till the end, served with green & black tea and seasoned with ground black pepper, but with this particular example it’s all rather inconsequential.  The now-perfumed ever-faint raspberries, however, just keep going and going.
  • C: [Just about] worth trying for the finish, but not to the point of justifying what I paid for this miniature. Damn!

[Not scored]


Glenury Royal 1973/1997 24yo SV Silent Stills cask #6851 [364 bts] 53.7% WB90.26[29] WF90

A single cask Glenury Royal. A rare thing indeed!

  • N: Well well, we are back in the same garage as the 13yo Cadenhead, but this time, the nose is intact, rich and oily with a concentrated orange/blood orange/clementine/nectarine fruitiness in various sun-drying stages. In fact, I’m picking up heaps of different natural sugars in numerous concentrated forms. Then there’s a consistent wave of manuka and Bulgarian honey, more of that dusty bourbon-y waxy cream like beeswax, linseed oil, and a drop of turpentine all mixed together – all strange, alluring, and delicious. Stellar in fact! If this level continues on the palate, we are in for a very high score.

Glenury Royal 1973:1997 24yo SV Silent Stills cask #6851 [364 bts] 53.7%

  • T: I didn’t pick up on the ingrained phenols before, but there’s that move again into strange fruity [kale-like] dry-herbal bitter oak, plenty of soot, grit and more garage-based stuff, and with the same berry pollen moves as the Cadenhead sample. Maybe that Cadenhead sample wasn’t far away from being alright – shame. Serge’s banana note is inspired. I also get sooty creamy citrus touches, and again, the waxy dusty Bakelite beeswax profile as before. Overall sweet and bitter, it’s a concoction profile I’ve not come across before.
  • F: Maybe the last whisky influenced it, but I get a very similar finish on dry dusty creamy raspberries. I clear my palate, and for sure [despite everything], the profile between this and the Cadenhead sample is very close. This sweetens on the turn but the finish is largely bitter wood-dry with more berry pollens stretching out and out.
  • C: A curious intriguing whisky style. Let’s see if the ‘official bottling’ can shed any more light on, and help me define, Glenury’s profile.

Scores 90 points


Glenury Royal 1971/1995 23yo Ob. Rare Malts 61.3% WB91.80[199] WF92 WM90[13] SW87

  • N: Aromatically, this may [or may] not beat the Silent Stills single cask, but its big-boy strength alongside Diageo’s magic wand initially provides huge impact. This is incredibly oily, thick > lactic < oily, which is not surprising given the presentation. Again, I get that waxy dusty sooty thing with,…. I’ve been calling turpentine, but I think [Whiskyfun’s] paraffin note is right. Furthermore, there’s orange butterscotch, sweet citrus buttery honey, demerara sugar,..leather, prune syrup, sweaty peanuts…. There’s little point listing more stuff, it’s all here.

Glenury Royal 1971:1995 23yo Ob. Rare Malts 61.3%.jpeg

  • T: It’s formidable juice, but it doesn’t necessarily benefit from additional water which makes for an enlivening experience. Initially it’s an oily dry > grassy > phenolic < malty < fragrant-fruity chew, with no oak troubles, though again, this also become bitter [as seems to be the Glenury way],…. the berry fruits also present once again.
  • F: I glean a subtly concentrated compote-sweet fruity finish with a salty-pea-dryness, but the fats, oils, and alcohol boils keep this one chugging on for a long while yet. Clean phenolic-bitter finish with more dusty waxy cream over those berries this time around. 
  • C: This further reiterates just what an amazing and important series Rare Malts was, and has become. Old & Rare shows harbour Time Lords who offer the last remaining opportunities to try these bygone whiskies. Make sure you spend at least some of your whisky budget and time on these experiences before it’s all too late, and check in with yourself that you haven’t become an anti-snob.

Scores 91 points






Glenury distillery.jpg

2 thoughts on “Old & Rare: Glenury Royal

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s