words by Anandhi Gopinath
For the last 70 years, Royal Salute has maintained the same flavour profile of the stalwart blends that fly the flag for the house – the Signature, Malts and Lost Blends. Also in the brand’s permanent collection are the Inspired blends, which are more expressive and experimental. They also utilise much older whiskies in its mix, ranging from Key to the Kingdom (30 years old) to Stone of Destiny (38 years old).
But within its limited-edition collections is where the genius of its master blenders truly take flight – inspired by everything from royalty to fashion and sport, the unique drams in this vault of spirits invite new audiences into the wondrous world of Royal Salute.
As impressive as its tributes to the royal family are – the Platinum Jubilee edition, the floral- inspired Richard Quinn bottling and the commemorative Coronation of King Charles III edition – it is the house’s polo inspired whiskies that truly exemplify its creative, innovative spirit. After all, for a whisky inspired by a Queen, it is only appropriate that Royal Salute was to throw its support behind this oft-considered sport of kings. The collection, which aims to celebrate the iconic destinations where polo is played, began with the Polo Estancia edition launched in 2021. Paying homage to the nation universally known as the home of polo, Argentina, the whiskies were finished in Malbec casks that lent it a deliciously berried profile.
In the intervening years, Royal Salute explored the idea further with the Snow Polo and Beach Polo editions – the former being the maison’s first grain whisky that is most enjoyable with some ice, and the latter focusing on salty, smoky flavours reminiscent of the sea. This year, it continues its journey around the world with the Polo Jodhpur edition. As the birthplace of modern polo and with its authentic roots in royalty and ritual, the Blue City of Jodhpur, India, was an organic inspiration for the fifth release in Royal Salute’s increasingly popular Polo collection.
Informed by the rich spices and flavours of India, this unique blend of carefully curated malt whiskies fully finished in virgin oak casks is a stunning expression with notes of sweet mango and coconut, rich caramel and warming cinnamon cloves, leading to a long and spicy finish. The tropical notes are most evident in the bouquet – bury your nose in the glass, close your eyes and enjoy whiffs of pomegranate along with the more traditional notes of butterscotch and vanilla custard. On the palate, that melding of Eastern and Western flavours continues: tummy-warming cinnamon, cloves and ginger and overlaid by dark chocolate, caramel and creamy honey.
Although in some cases it felt like the whisky and the food were jostling for attention, this was a battle that more than benefitted the diner. An array of Royal Salute expressions provided with our 10-course meal (ordinarily, a pairing option with Royal Salute’s core range is available) certainly showcased the breadth of its wee drams, allowing those present to pick a favourite.
Unsurprisingly, the new Polo Jodhpur won its fair share of fans, especially after tasting it in a cocktail. The Royal Pineapple was a relaxing aperitif, combining fresh lime juice, cardamom syrup, pineapple juice and soda water, while post-prandial drinks starred the Polo Express, enriched with sweet chai. (Should you be so inclined, both recipes are available on royalsalute.com)
In every sip of Royal Salute whisky, one can taste the legacy of a time-honoured tradition, an elixir that encapsulates the essence of regal refinement. As the world evolves, this distinguished spirit remains a constant, an enduring testament to the craft of whisky-making and a toast to the storied history it embodies.