Royal Salute

Royal Salute

There’s always a brand in the world that I’m intrigued about. It could be something new, or perhaps a re-brand of a timeless classic, or in the following case, a 61-year-old brand that I’ve simply never had the chance to experience. Well I can tick off one from this sub-category as tonight I have had the pleasure of being introduced to Royal Salute via the medium of a tweet tasting.

For those who don’t know, a tweet tasting is a social media (Twitter to be precise) based tasting of a variety of expressions, involving many experts, novices and connoisseurs who give their opinion on the brand as they work their way through the portfolio. For me, it’s a great chance to sit down and get my head around a specific brand whilst chatting to like-minded folk, plus it throws in one or two expressions I’ve never had the pleasure of trying. In the case of Royal Salute though, my slate is clear.

Royal SaluteFirst though, a little about Royal Salute.

Royal Salute came about due to a man called Charles Julian, Master Blender at Chivas Brothers, wanting to mark the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. He worked to create an unheard blend of whisky, a 21yr, and ultimately took the name from the Royal Navy’s traditional 21 gun salute. Created within the Strathisla distillery, located in Speyside and owned by Chivas Brothers, Royal Salute has only ever had four Master Blenders since its inception, and prides itself on being the only Scottish whisky with a range starting at 21 years old. In fact, that very first Royal Salute 21yr was said to have been created with some of the world’s rarest whiskies that were aged in cellars since the 1920’s and 1930’s.

It’s not just the liquid that is rare to create, but the bottles themselves have a story to tell. Or to be precise the Royal Salute 21yr, for example, is housed within a porcelain flagon. Each flagon’s journey can be traced to the Jurassic period, with its Cornish clay from the period being hand-crafted, air-dried and then burnished in one of three colours – Ruby, Emerald and Sapphire – to represent the jewels on Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation crown.
Or how about the Royal Salute 62 Gun Salute decanters, crafted by Dartington crystal. These are individually blown by the Master Glass Blower who creates a midnight blue outer wall and a crystal clear inner wall. The bottle is then hand cut with a diamond-tipped tool so that both the clear glass and the whisky can be revealed through the blue crystal. Each decanter is the result of over forty hours of care and attention.

Not bad eh?

Question is though, how do the expressions fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Royal Salute 21yr – 40%

A marriage of whiskies aged no less than 21 years. Sweet fruits on the nose with plenty of Autumn air aromas coming through. Subtle dry oak with beeswax notes too. Smooth start on the palate, with a slight developing spice. Orange marmalade flavours combine with dry nuts, leather and dry spice to finish. Long.

Royal SaluteRoyal Salute The Diamond Tribute – 40%

Created by Colin Scott to mark the 60th anniversary of HM The Queen’s Coronation. Royal Salute The Diamond Tribute has been crafted from an exclusive collection of whiskies, the rarest of which have been selected from the Royal Salute Vault at Strathisla, the oldest working distillery in the Highlands of Scotland.
Plenty of peach on the nose with soft sherry notes lingering. Very rich and thick on the palate, with sweet raisin and dry plum flavours dominating. Lingering dryness to finish with a slight toffee kick.

Royal Salute 38yr Stone of Destiny – 40%

Crafted from whiskies aged for no less than 38 years, this unique blend shares its name with the Stone of Destiny, the legendary and enigmatic Coronation stone of the ancient Scottish Kings.
Lots of damp sherry oak on the nose with hints of wood-infused vanilla and dried almonds. Very rich on the palate with plenty of dried fruits, floral forest floor and thin honey kicks. Long, rich and mouth-watering.

Royal Salute 62 Gun Salute – 43%

Previous Master Blenders Charles Julian, Allan Baillie and Jimmy Lang, as well as current Master Blender Colin Scott, have all set aside over the years a rare collection of the finest whiskies. With 40 years of maturation, only a few litres are bottled from each cask. Named after the ultimate ceremonial honour in the British tradition, the firing of 62 cannons which is an exclusive privilege of the Tower of London and reserved only for the most special Royal anniversaries.
Ripe plums dominate the nose, with lots of fresh berry notes combined with warm spice. Oh wow! A fantastic palate that develops from light and sherry flavoured to an incredibly rich orange, hazelnut and fresh smoke finish. Bold, intense and absolutely fantastic.

An absolutely cracking range of blended whiskies here, with the 62 Gun Salute one of the best I’ve come across, and I can safely say matches the price. You really get a sense of prestige with these expressions and is a worth-while treat for any whisky lover. One for the cabinet at home perhaps, or at least one to look out for in your favourite whisky haunt.

Don’t miss out.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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York Whisky Festival 2012 Review

Last year I became lucky enough to experience two whisky festivals organised by The Whisky Lounge. I happened to be in York for a weekend and heard that the Whisky Festival was in town, so naturally I decided to spend the afternoon there.

I targeted the whiskies I knew I hadn’t tried in Manchester, as well as some favourites, so below, I give to you my tasting notes on each –

Kilchoman Machir Bay 2012 – 46%

A good combination of smoke and malt on the nose, with a mix of pepper, chocolate and spice on the palate that creates a long-lasting finish.

Kilchoman 2006 Vintage Release – 46%

Delicate smoke with hints of spice on the nose. Bitter orange takes over on the palate with smoke flavours dominating a lingering finish.

Kilbeggan 18yr – 40%

Dominating vanilla on the nose with hints of cinnamon aromas following. Both cinnamon and vanilla present on the palate with the addition of caramel throwing itself in to create a long, sweet dram.

Glen Garioch 12yr – 48%

A mix of fudge and pear blend well on the nose to create a sweet offering. The palate is rather sharp to begin with but mellows quickly. Ripe banana moves to a slight smoke and salt flavour with the pear notes coming through at the end.

Hakushu 12yr – 43.5%

Fresh nose of green fruit with a whisp of smoke lingering. Sweetness on the palate, with pear dominating and the soft smoke creating a dry texture.

Yamazaki 12yr – 43%

A bold floral mix with tropical fruits blending nicely on the nose. Smooth sweetness on the palate with a little spice and wood finish.

Hibiki 12yr – 43%

Lots of pineapple and plum aromas blending nicely on the nose and following through onto the palate to create a soft and sweet flavour. A little spice on the end.

Tullibardine Aged Oak Edition – 40%

Citrus and barley on the nose with a slight aroma of chocolate followed by a vanilla and nut mix on the palate. Rather oily texture to begin but becomes rather dry near the finish.

Tullibardine Rum Finish – 46%

Toffee and vanilla dominating on the nose and palate with a rather sweet offering and a hint of spice. Heavy dose of rum which helps onto a long finish.

Balvenie PortWood 21yr – 40%

A strong yet fresh floral aroma with sweet notes and a hint of smoke on the nose. An extremely smooth and creamy flavour of fruit and honey on the palate.

Berry Bros. Speyside Reserve – 46%

Citrus and honey aromas on the nose with a slight nut scent following. Rather rich on the palate with fruits and malt combining well despite a slightly dry finish.

Speyburn 10yr – 40%

Fresh lemon scents on the nose which develops into fruit flavours on the palate. Sweet toffee also makes an appearance on the long finish.

Speyburn Bradan Orach – 40%

Green fruit mixes nicely with subtle vanilla on the nose. Delicate honey on the palate to begin-with but moves onto a smooth spicy finish.

Old Pulteney 17yr – 46%

Sweet nose of white fruit and butter with a scent of wood on the nose. Rounded hits of vanilla on the palate with the white fruit more delicate on the long finish.

Old Pulteney 21yr – 46%

A good hit of pear and apple on the nose with a little spice following nicely. Sweet on the palate with flavours of vanilla and honey making its presence. Dry finish.

Balbair 2002 – 46%

Floral fruits on the nose with hints of vanilla and toffee following, A good mix of spice and sweetness on the palate with orange and lemons dominating.

Balbair 1989 – 46%

Apple and raisin notes on the nose and then combines with spice flavours on the palate. A long, rich offering with raisin dominating throughout.

Balbair 1975 – 46%

Fresh citrus and coconut notes on the nose. Sweet and spicy on the palate with honey and fruits on the finish. Warming.

Arran 14yr – 46%

Dry notes of vanilla and toffee on the nose but a good hit of toffee on the palate. Chocolate and spice develops a rich sweetness on the finish.

Arran 12yr Cask Strength – 54.1%

Peach and apricot noticeably delicate on the nose, with fresh fruit and spice blending nicely on the palate with a slight kick of citrus at the end.

Arran Sauternes Cask Finish – 50%

Aromas of honey and marzipan on the nose, with citrus, spice and vanilla combining over a long finish with a hint of oak.

Arran Amarone Finish – 50%

Scents of honey and almonds fill the nose whilst chocolate and cherry flavours create a well-balanced match on the palate. Slight oak finish.

Arran Port Finish – 57%

Dry vanilla and citrus on the nose, with spice added to the mix on the palate. A good combination that develops a warmth on the finish.

Arran Machrie Moor Peated – 46%

Fudge hints on the nose that’s dominated by peat. Citrus and spice start off the palate, but smoke flavours follow quickly on a lingering finish.

Longmorn 16yr – 48%

Fresh nose of apple and herbs. Citrus creates a rich palate combining with spice and oak which leads to a dry finish.

Strathisla 12yr – 40%

Soft nose of floral and spice. A good malt flavour on the palate with a good hit of fruit on the long finish.

Chivas Regal 18yr – 40%

Orange and vanilla notes combine on the nose and palate, with hints of wood lingering. Spice flavours revealed near the long finish.

Glenlivet 15yr French Oak Reserve – 40%

Rich butter aromas on the nose with oak following. A combination of fruit and nut with spice and cinnamon making an appearance. Lingering finish of spice.

Glenlivet Nadurra Cask Strength 16yr – 54.2%

Fresh, rich aromas of apple and vanilla on the nose. Slight spice on the palate, with vanilla and soft fruits bursting on a dry finish.

Glenlivet 18yr – 43%

Rich toffee and fruit notes on the nose with honey and walnut flavours mixing with spice as it nears the long ending on the palate.

Glenlivet 21yr – 43%

Cereal and honey aromas create a rich nose, whilst a sweet ginger and cinnamon offering on the palate developing towards a warm, long ending.

Glenrothes 1998 – 43%

Rich vanilla and lemon-grass on the nose with hints of spice following. Rather soft on the palate with flavours of sweet vanilla and cinnamon blending well.

Glenrothes 1995 – 43%

Light citrus and spice on the nose with biscuit and cinnamon mixing nicely. A rich spice on the palate with a cocoa and coffee dry finish.

Glenrothes 1988 – 43%

Rich spice and berry notes on the nose with a hint of orange coming through. Orange and ginger combine well on the palate with a long, creamy finish.

Highland Park 18yr – 43%

Rich oak nose with hints of smoak, honey and floral aromas near the end. Soft honey and creamy spice on the palate with a long lingering peat finish.

Highland Park 21yr – 47.5%

Sweet toffee on the nose with hints of sherry creeping through. Sweetness carries onto the palate with flavours of smoke and spice to round it off.

Macallan Gold – 40%

A good blend of vanilla and citrus on the nose with fresh fruit, vanilla and toffee creating a short spice finish.

Laphroaig 18yr – 48%

Toffee nose with hints of cereal and spice leads to a warm yet rounded flavour of smoke and liquorice on the palate. A long, rich toffee finish.

Laphroaig Triple Wood – 48%

Dry nuts mix with a dominant sweet raisin aroma on the nose. A kick of peat on the palate leading to a vanilla, caramel and dried fruit finish.

Ardmore 25yr – 51.4%

Marzipan, peat and dark fruit dominate the nose with the peat continuing onto the palate with the rich fruits slowly following. Long, fresh finish.

Glenfiddich Rich Oak – 40%

Soft fruit notes on the nose with slight oak whispers. Rather soft and short on the palate, but a fruity offering with rich vanilla thrown in.

Some fantastic whiskies on offer yet again at the York leg of the show. There’s some on the list above that I probably will never get round to trying again so to attend a show like this can really throw towards you some real gems. Highlights for me include Kilchoman 2006, Hibiki 12yr, both Speyburn’s, Balbair 2002, Old Pulteney 21yr, Arran Machrie Moor, all the Glenlivet’s I tried as well as the Laphroaig 18yr.

If you like whisky, then you will love attending these festivals. If you’re not a lover, you can be pointed into the direction of some of the more introductory whiskies on offer in the world. This is the best thing about this category – love it or hate it, there will always be something to convert or possibly soften your initial thought.

Sláinte.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.