Royal Salute launch a $25,000 whisky fit for a King

Royal Salute launch a $25,000 whisky fit for a King



Inside the historic Scottish distillery and Westminster Abbey launch.

It's not long until The Coronation of King Charles III. We're in the middle of Westminster Abbey, which will host the global event, surrounded by more than 750 years of history. As we raise a glass of the Royal Salute Coronation of King Charles III Edition, which is available in a limited release with bottles costing $25,000, we feel like royalty. 

FACT was the only media from the UAE to be invited to the launch event, which welcomed 200 guests from around the world. On our journey from Dubai to Archiestown in Scotland and London in England, we learnt about the heritage of the brand – and you can, too. 

Royal Salute Coronation 

Scotland's Strathisla Distillery 

Royal Salute is fit for a king. Produced by Chivas Brothers, the first Royal Salute brand was created as a gift for Queen Elizabeth on her Coronation in 1953. Now, it has come full circle for The Coronation of King Charles. 

The Strathisla distillery is located in the small village of Keith, which is 60 miles north of Aberdeen. While Scotland is home to more than 140 distilleries (and counting), Strathisla is the oldest continuously operating distillery in the Scottish Highlands. 

Founded in 1786, there is an old-school charm to the distillery. We were met by Caris Simpson, who took us around the site, which is famous for its blended scotch whisky. She exclaimed: "If a single malt is the violin, then a blended scotch whisky is the entire orchestra". 

Royal Salute Coronation 

We walked along the cobbled paths, admired the stone building and made our way through the maze of rooms. We climbed the narrow passageways to the mash tun, mill room and washbacks, and learnt about the whisky making process. 

Best of all, we unlocked the door ourselves to the warehouse and were instantly hit by the smell of fermentation and the sight of countless casks. It felt like the finale to Raiders of the Lost Ark, as we were curious about what was in each cask. We even spotted the very cask for Royal Salute Coronation of King Charles III Edition. 

Strathisla Distillery also offers whisky tastings, which are held in the appropriately named, Kingdom Room. The décor is regal-inspired, from royal blue walls to cushions featuring The Tower of London. We sipped our way through The Snow Polo Edition, The Key to the Kingdom, Royal Salute 26, and that Royal Salute 21 Signature Blend, which was made for Her Majesty. 

Whether you're whisky curious or a connoisseur, Strathisla Distillery has created a relaxed yet refined experience. The people are passionate about the product – the souvenir shop staff have top tips, and there's even whisky handwash in the bathroom. Tip: it's open all year, but tie in a visit with the annual Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival around April and May. 

Royal Salute Coronation 

Meeting the Master Blender

We had the privilege of meeting the Master Blender himself, Sandy Hyslop. In 2016, he was appointed the Director of Blending across the Chivas Brothers' Scotch whisky. While people in his position have their noses insured in the millions, he had a down-to-earth demeanour.  

Sandy grew up with an appreciation of craftsmanship, as his dad ran an antique shop in Scotland. When we chat, the keyword is "quality". In his thick accent, he shared, "Quality is right up there for Royal Salute. The quality, the bar, it's set high. We have the Signature Blend that's been available since 1953, and that is a huge responsibility. I do not want anything to go wrong under my tenure. They've got to be absolutely as close as a humanly possible year on year." 

Few industries offer a job for life, but Master Blenders leave a legacy. He revealed: "Stage one, you work with whisky that had been laid down for you. Stage two, you start blending stock that has been laid down under your tenure. Now, I'm beginning to see stock coming around that I checked 21 years ago. I hate to admit it, but I'm at stage three. I'm laying stock down for the next generation." 

When it comes to explaining the Royal Salute Coronation of King Charles III Edition, he has an infectious enthusiasm. He smiled: "Anyone who enjoys Royal Salute will love that whisky. I wanted it to be opulent. We bought in a Spanish oak sherry Oloroso butt, and filled that whisky into a cask and left it for two years. There are over 53 single malts and grains in that, and not many brands have even got that in their inventory." 

Royal Salute Coronation

Westminster Abbey launch

Westminster Abbey has been the setting for 38 Coronation ceremonies. So, it was the perfect place to launch the Royal Salute Coronation of King Charles III Edition. The grand event started with drinks in The Cloisters, and dinner in the Gardens of Westminster Abbey.  

Even the English weather couldn't rain on this parade. We were greeted by a brass band in uniform, and walked down a red carpet. As we ate our way through a three-course meal, it was paired with a Royal Salute Whisky. 

The event culminated with an exclusive tasting experience from Sandy. He declared: "This is a world's first. You are a very privileged group of people who can try this whisky. I'm going to get a bit bolshy. Get your sample and stick your nose in, have a good smell.

Royal Salute Coronation

"For me, there's sweet homemade strawberry jam, toffee, chocolate pralines and sweet cloves. This is very luxurious. Have a little sip. There is sweet pear, sticky figs, and caramel toffee. Pick up on the finish – it takes an absolute age to finish." 

In the age of instant gratification, it's important to slow down – and what better way to do that, than with a dram or three of Royal Salute. Go, taste the legacy, whether it's in the distillery or the drink, and make a toast like the Scots – slainte mhaith (good health). 

Long live Royal Salute. 

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