Royal Salute offers a taste of its $10,000 Royal Wedding tribute for Prince Harry and Meghan
The Duke of Argyll tells Tempus about the brand's most exclusive – and impressive – whisky to date
A handful of journalists is gathered at the Rosewood London, hosted by the Duke of Argyll, to sample Royal Salute's newest, and perhaps most impressive, whisky to date. At the point of Tempus' arrival the Royal Wedding Edition, created to commemorate the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, has never been tasted outside the workshop of Royal Salute's director of blending Sandy Hyslop.
With only 70 bottles available worldwide, the ambitious whisky is a 100% American oak blend – a world first from the scotch whisky brand – blending a 55-year-old first fill oak with a 33-year-old, laid down on the birth of Prince Harry, and 36-year-old to honour former actress Markle's age.
"This is an absolute first for Royal Salute," said the Duke, who is Royal Salute's global ambassador. "We have a rich history of celebrating royal occasions, the brand itself was created for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, but we have never before produced a whisky that is 100% aged in American oak casks, rather than a blend of oak and sherry casks. Bottle number one will be winging its way to Kensington Palace as a gift for the newlyweds, and then all other bottles will be available for sale."
The Duke was joined by Mathieu Deslandes, Chivas Brothers' marketing director, prestige. "Although we’re a commercial company, this is not a commercially driven project," he said. "It's driven by our values, and the relationship we have with Prince Harry. The honesty of this product is more important than any commercial value, and that for us is the difference between true luxury and a commercially driven business."
The whisky itself is a clear amber colour, thanks to its pure American oak casking which, incidentally, classifies the whisky as kosher. It is bottled at cask strength – 54.5% abv – and produces a creamy, marshmallow flavour with elements of vanilla, fruit and ginger.
"It's a very light whisky," said the Duke. "It's very strong on the nose due to the alcohol content, but there's an amazing vanilla character. I would recommend adding a little water to this whisky, to really bring out the aromas and flavours. I have to say, I think it's absolutely delicious. It has a very long finish, with a creamy finish on the palette typical of the best oak blends." >>
"Royal Salute is very proud that we have one of the best aged collections of whisky in the industry. We've got casks that were laid down on the birth of Prince Charles, casks laid down when Prince William was born, coronation casks, and many other milestones in royal history," he said, speaking of the addition of whiskies aged since the bride and groom's birth years.
The whisky comes in suitably regal packaging that reflects the occasion and heritage of Prince Harry and Markle. The hand-blown Dartington Crystal bottles are hand-engraved with silver flowers – roses, which are the Queen's favourite flower, and thistles and barley to reflect Royal Salute's Scottish heritage and tradition of whisky making. A presentation box made of heavy American Oak – a tribute to Markle's heritage – features a regal brocade interior decorated with flowers, butterflies and birds for a spring wedding, as well as Welsh daffodils the Prince and Californian poppies for the former actress.
"This wedding represents a blend of cultures, nations and points of view – and we consider Royal Salute a brand of blending and diverse whiskies," said Deslandes. "We wanted to make something worthy of commemorating the occasion."
The Duke agreed: "We're incredibly proud at royal salute to have supported Sentebale, one of Prince Harry's projects, over the last seven years. We have mainly done this through polo – a platform we are very involved in – and to date far have contributed about £1.5m to the organisation, which supports children with mental needs and HIV in both Lesotho and Botswana."