The Famous Whisky Distillery Most Loved By Queen Victoria

In 1837 Queen Victoria ascended the throne at only 18 years old and reigned for nearly 64 years, making her the second longest-reigning English royal after Queen Elizabeth II. Her lasting legacy includes strengthening the monarch's role and overseeing the expansion of Britain's empire during an age of innovation and industrialization. Yet, it wasn't all politics all the time for the royal family. In 1842, Queen Victoria visited Scotland for the first time on holiday and fell in love with the serene landscapes of the Highlands. 

As she began to frequent Scotland more as an annual holiday destination she also grew fond of the luxurious whiskies distilled there. A few, in particular, caught her attention, including the blended Scotch whisky distilled by James and John Chivas, the originators of Chivas Brothers whisky.

Blended Scotch whisky is made by combining malt whisky (made from malted barley) and other grain whiskies (such as wheat, rye, and corn). Around the late 1830s James Chivas began blending aged scotch whisky in the cellar of a high-end grocery emporium in the town of Aberdeen in Scotland. His brother John, eventually joined him, marking the start of Chivas Brothers whisky. Their goal was to deliver a smoother, more decadent blended whisky to their high-class customers. They ultimately became known for their luxury whiskies that were sold to customers worldwide, including Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert.

A royal warrant of appointment for Chivas Brothers

In 1843, Queen Victoria issued a royal warrant to James and John Chivas as a supplier of luxury goods. For those unfamiliar, a Royal Warrant of Appointment is a mark of recognition to people or businesses that regularly supply goods or services to the monarch, in this case, Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert. It is a great privilege to receive and a sign of luxury. Distilleries with a Royal Warrant often have a coat of arms on their bottles as a badge of honor and to indicate high quality. 

Queen Victoria gave royal warrants to other Scottish distillers, including Brackla Distillery (first given by her uncle William IV, and renewed by herself), Glenury Distillery, and Lochnagar Distillery which received their mark in 1848, the same year the royal family purchased Balmoral Castle. Brackla and Lochnagar continue to hold royal warrants today.

In the 1860s Chivas Brothers released their popular 10-year-old blend aptly titled Royal Strathythan, a name to reflect their royal approval from Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. By 1895, after the deaths of James and John, Chivas Brothers whisky was assumed by Charles Stuart Howard and Alexander Smith. In 1909 the master blenders introduced Chivas Regal, a 25-year-old blended scotch whisky, the oldest available at the time. Eventually, it became a 12-year-old blend, which is what they are known for to this day.