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A Regal Blend

Jack Bettridge
Posted: September 20, 2002

If you were stuck for the perfect gift to celebrate the fast approaching 50th anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, look no more. Chivas Regal is repackaging its Royal Salute 21-year-old blended Scotch in a ceramic decanter with a satin-lined cigar humidor.

Even if you weren't planning an observance of the Golden Jubilee, this (or the coming holiday season) is a good excuse to try a rare and exquisite whisky. Royal Salute was first created in 1953 to commemorate Elizabeth's ascension to the throne and has been maintained as the ultrapremium in Chivas Regal's line of fine blends, which also includes a 12- and an 18-year-old.

While not uncommon among single-malt Scotches, an age statement of 21 years is considered supermaturated on a blend. The age statement on Scotch whiskies reflects not an average, but the youngest age in the blend. Because grain spirits used in blended Scotch mature rather quickly, the youngest whisky in the Royal Salute is likely to be a grain. The single malts in the blend are probably much older than 21 years and undoubtedly make up the majority of the recipe. Typically a blend formula would contain a preponderance of cheaper grain spirit.

As might be expected, such distinction in a blended Scotch does not come cheap. The price, including the decanter and humidor, is $150. If you love Scotch whisky, this might be the time to suck it up and open the wallet.

TASTING NOTES

COLOR: Gold

NOSE: A warming whiff of peat comes straight at you, before hints of flowers and toffee take over and the smoke fades to the background.

TASTE: Beguiling in its full-bodied complexity. Starts as a layer of honey, which melts to flowers. Anise comes on and then the whisky smacks of oily chocolate. Any peat taste flits around the edges as an afterthought.

FINISH: The flowers continue on the long finish and are met by a subtle nuttiness.

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