The most valuable seal of approval for a Scotch whisky, other than the loyalty of a whisky drinker, is the Royal Warrant, a deed that declares the patronage of the British Monarchy for a trader, or company. It is a special privilege to supply goods and services to the Royal Family, an automatic declaration of superior quality, and the right to use the British Monarchy’s coat of arms. Over the many decades that the British Monarchy has presided over the affairs of their kingdom, many trading houses and companies have enjoyed the patronage of the monarchs that reigned over the United Kingdom.
Whisky makers have long enjoyed some amount favour from the British Monarchy ever since King George IV arrived in the Speyside, seeking a dram of the infamous ‘Glenlivet whisky’ in 1822. Thus began a love that has lasted centuries, ensuring the advancement of the Scotch whisky industry under their patronage.
Let us revisit the esteemed and historical institutions of Scotch whisky that are among the few elite holders of the Royal Warrant, a testament to their immense contribution to spread the gospel of ‘the spirit of the Gods’ around the world.
George Smith, the infamous Speyside single malt and King George IV
Littered with illicit distilleries in the 1800s, the Speyside region was the hottest scene in the country of Scotland for whisky lovers. Nestled within the lushness of the Speyside, George Smith was acquiring quite the name for his whisky, one that would go on to be called ‘the single malt that started it all’.
Distilling whisky still being illegal in those days, did nothing to stop King George IV, who requested to taste the ‘infamous’ Glenlivet whisky, and there was no looking back ever since. Within a couple of years the Excise Act was passed, legalizing the distillation of whisky and this moment can be traced back as the catalyst of the British Monarchy’s infatuation with Scotch whisky.
Although never really awarded with a Royal Warrant, The Glenlivet Distillery became the first legal distillery in the Speyside, a whisky that even when illegal, didn’t stop the King himself from asking for it. Perhaps, had it not been for George Smith’s miraculous craft of distillation, Scotch whisky wouldn’t be what it is today.
Now for all the whisky makers who excelled at their craft, enough to be awarded the Royal Warrant, forever etching their names in the pantheon of Scotch whisky history!
One of the very first Scotch whisky brands to have been granted the Royal Warrant by Queen Victoria in 1843, the legacy of the house of Chivas Brothers had only just begun. Pioneers of the blended Scotch whisky category, Chivas Regal have truly embodied the characteristics of luxury and extravagance that one would associate with royalty.
Creators of the world’s first luxury whisky, the Chivas Regal 25, and redefining the art of whisky blending, the Chivas Brothers have truly embraced the qualities of opulent indulgence.
Awarded a Royal Warrant by Queen Victoria in 1895, the house of Ballantine’s Scotch whisky is one of Scotland’s oldest, most successful and esteemed institutions still reigning supreme worldwide.
Ballantine’s blends are massively popular all over the world, with the Ballantine’s Finest, the brand’s standard blended Scotch spearheading the tremendously voluminous sales figures. It has been over a century that the British Monarchy endorsed the Ballantine’s quality, and the brand has done their best to live up to the high standards.
The Famous Grouse
Named after Scotland’s game bird, the Red Grouse, no one can quite pinpoint why the brand adopted the word ‘Famous’ for their name. Although, this blended Scotch whisky brand managed to live up to the name and has now managed to be the bestselling Scotch whisky in Scotland for nearly 40 years.
Awarded the Royal Warrant in 1984, The Famous Grouse has consistently done well both in terms of quality, and in sales figures. The Famous Grouse was awarded the Royal Warrant by Queen Elizabeth II, making it one of the rare whisky makers to have been awarded the honour by the reigning British Monarch herself.
One of Islay’s most successful, and a particular favourite of HRH Prince Charles, Laphroaig was awarded the Royal Warrant in 1994. It has been one of the most recent, and the only whisky maker to have been awarded a Royal Warrant in person by HRH Prince Charles himself.
Enjoying the personal endorsement of the Prince, Laphroaig has also been one of the most remarkable single malt Scotch whisky brands ever. The brand was brought to an unprecedented prominence worldwide by Bessie Williamson, the first ever female distillery manager in the UK. The brand has never looked back since, and continues to thrive.
Another monumental house of blended Scotch whisky alongside Chivas Regal, Johnnie Walker was awarded the Royal Warrant in 1934 by King George V. Entering the whisky blending business in 1865, after John Walker had passed, Alexander ‘Alec’ Walker, and Alexander Walker II created the first proprietary blends for Johnnie Walker.
Popular worldwide to this day, Johnnie Walker blends have gone from strength to strength to create an everlasting legacy that has contributed immensely to the world of Scotch whisky. The Royal Warrant puts Johnnie Walker in esteemed company with brands of a significantly higher stature than the rest.
Built by John Begg in 1845, the Royal Lochnagar Distillery was awarded the Royal Warrant in just three years’ time in 1848 by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The Royal family was visiting the Balmoral Castle, one of the residences of the British Monarchy.
A Highland Distillery, Royal Lochnagar has maintained its relationship with the Royal Family to this day. The distillery was most recently attended by HRH Prince Charles on his 70th birthday in 2018.
These are some of Scotland’s most iconic, and enterprising Scotch whisky makers to have earned the Royal Warrant from the British Monarchy by creating a product that always lived up to the highest possible standards.