The British monarchy has been the source of inspiration for Royal Salute whisky ever since the conception of the original blend, created to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. Named after the 21-gun salute, fired as a mark of respect at royal occasions, the signature Royal Salute blend is an expertly crafted combination of rare and prestigious 21-year-old Scotch whiskies with an exceptionally smooth and rich flavour.
For summer 2018, Royal Salute has released an exclusive 28-year-old expression, inspired by the aromatics of the Kitchen Garden at Kew Palace. The limited-edition blend sees the signature flavour of Royal Salute enhanced with notes of fruity ripe pear, aromatic autumnal leaves, floral violet, sweet honey and scented flora to create a distinctive whisky that is perfect to enjoy during the summer months.
Set within the grounds of The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Palace was built in the 17th century, originally as a mansion for the silk merchant Samuel Fortrey. It became a royal residence in the 18th century when King George II and Queen Caroline began to use it as a weekend retreat to escape the ceremony of public life, and later as a summer residence by King George III, Queen Charlotte and their 15 children. Adjacent to the palace, the Royal Kitchens have been preserved from Georgian times, and the Kitchen Garden has been revived to grow a wide selection of heritage fruits and vegetables, including 15 different varieties of apple tree.
The 28 Year Old Kew Palace Edition whisky has been created by Royal Salute’s director of blending Sandy Hyslop and perfumer Barnabé Fillion, who has joined Royal Salute as a creative advisor. The duo found the collaboration to be an insightful experience, with their individual working methods enhancing and complementing one another’s approach.
‘We found we described the same flavours but in very different ways, which is really interesting,’ said Hyslop. ‘It was really good to work together and I learnt some great words from Barnabé that really triggered flavours inside my head and imagination. I’m sure it worked both ways.’
‘I’ve learned so much,’ Fillion agrees. ‘Watching the way Sandy noses and tastes each sample, and the language he uses to describe what he is taking in is amazing. I am, of course, used to smelling in my job, but I don’t typically get to taste so Sandy has really opened up an additional dimension to my flavour experience. Sandy and I have had very different life experiences to build up our flavour memory, but are absolutely steadfast in our agreement that so much of the tasting experience comes from what we smell. Together we were able to create a new sensorial language, and use our different experiences to make something truly unique.
The similarities and differences [in our craft] are in the art of blending. Sandy works with ingredients of single malts and grains just like I work with different ingredients and scents when I blend my perfume. But Sandy also works with time as an absolutely critical component, which is unique to whisky and not for perfume. So while Sandy plays with maturation to bring quality and a special-ness, I need to work with extremely fresh elements – so the maturation stages for our ingredients are different, but the process of blending them together is quite similar.’
‘I’ve learned that it’s really good to stretch the boundaries when creating whiskies,’ said Hyslop. ‘Experimenting with different flavours can really bear fruit, especially when you have creative license to develop a product as innovative as this. The new Royal Salute 28 Year Old Kew Palace blend has its heart firmly in the Royal Salute family, but it’s complemented perfectly by the inspiration of Kew Gardens and the floral scented aromatic, autumnal elements that really tell a story. Our brief was clear: to create an exceptionally aged Scotch whisky that was inspired by the magnificent Kitchen Garden of Kew Palace. The result is still very characteristic of Royal Salute but it’s also unlike anything we’ve seen from the brand.’