What’s a celebration without some spirits? Royal Salute’s latest offering serves up the perfect crowning moment for a Platinum Jubilee
The year was 1953 and Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, held 16 months after the passing of her father King George VI, was the main event of the year. At the Coronation State Banquet, guests were served a delicious menu that included Délices de Soles Prince Charles (poached sole), Carré d’Agneau à la Windsor (rack of lamb) and the queen’s favourite dessert, the Bôite de Fraises Reine Elizabeth (strawberry jelly on a sablé biscuit).
Accompanying this delectable dinner was a rigorous selection of wines—Château Lafite 1934 and Château Yquem 1928, among others—and ports. Of particular note was a royal tawny port that inspired Royal Salute’s latest offering, the Platinum Jubilee Edition. This unassuming entry on the menu was the Promethean spark for Sandy Hyslop, Royal Salute’s director of blending and inventory, who was immediately drawn to its rich, fruity flavour. “I saw tawny port and I was like, we’re going to do that. We’ve never finished whisky in tawny port before, so it’s a first,” he shares.
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The creation process of the Platinum Jubilee Edition whisky started almost four years ago, Hyslop says. From looking at the different spirit stocks the company had at the time to mix together for the all‑important blend (he eventually settled on high‑aged whiskies from more than seven silent stills), to getting the right port casks (tasting and then shipping the freshly emptied casks to Scotland within 48 hours), and sampling the product every eight weeks for the two years and 10 months it took to finish the whisky, it was a veritable labour of love to create.
The result? A deliciously dark elixir boasting gorgeous fruity notes on the nose, a sweet, caramel palate and a spicy finish that lingers long after your first sip. “I wanted it to be sweet, I wanted it to be syrupy, I wanted it to have a viscous character. And that’s what the port casks brought,” Hyslop says. “They brought a real sweet jamminess to the whisky. You get that sweet, fruity, orchard fruit distillery character, but with a texture that I thought was amazing.”
When I tasted it at Royal Salute’s exclusive dinner celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee at the Tower of London on May 30, where a select group of 150 international guests including Torquhil Campbell, the 13th Duke of Argyll, feted the occasion, I heard murmurs of appreciation around the room as drams of whisky were savoured slowly. “Nobody was going, ‘Oh, too strong for me.’ Nobody was doing that, which is where I wanted it to be,” Hyslop says with a proud smile. “I was really pleased.”
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To further tie in with the queen’s remarkable royal milestone and to underscore the brand’s special relationship with the Crown, meticulous attention was paid to the design of the boxes and decanters housing the whisky. All 147 collectible decanters were made from handblown Dartington crystal, with each featuring one of seven brooch designs inspired by the queen’s personal collection and housed in one of seven box designs featuring hues drawn from her colourful wardrobe.
“I think we’re lucky to have been part of the story, because the brand was created for the coronation of the queen,” says Mathieu Deslandes, the global marketing director of Royal Salute. “She’s so iconic and recognised across the world, so it’s been a great journey to come up with something that was majestic enough for the celebration.”
Get an inside look at the exclusive evening here.