Review: Royal Salute 21 Year Old

We put together a show of professional carousing and review a bottle of some of the finest blended scotch on the planet: Royal Salute 21 Year Old

The proper drinking of Scotch whisky is more than indulgence: it is a toast to civilization, a tribute to the continuity of culture, a manifesto of man’s determination to use the resources of nature to refresh mind and body and enjoy to the full the senses with which he has been endowed. – David Daiches

This close to Christmas and New Year’s and some of us are no doubt still feeling the lingering finish of a few fine spirits. Far from embracing thrills and spills though, or embracing nihilism for that matter, we put together a show of professional carousing and reviewed a bottle of some of the finest scotch on the planet: Royal Salute 21 Year Old. Well, to be precise it is blended scotch and, as the picture shows, it is a flagon.

We have had plenty of opportunities to enjoy Royal Salute 21 over the years and we simply call it Royal Salute. The brand, an imprint under Chivas Regal, does produce other even more sophisticated and prestigious whiskies today but Royal Salute 21 Year Old is how it all began. Besides the Royal Tenenbaums, this is our favorite Royal.

As a matter of fact, Royal Salute is quite closely tied to proper royalty, launched as it was in 1953 to celebrate the ascension of Queen Elizabeth II to the throne of Great Britain. Chivas Regal of course was granted a royal warrant in 1843 to supply Queen Victoria and Royal Salute can thus be said to follow in the brand’s traditions. This is a matter of pride and prestige, not only for Chivas Regal but for people who buy Royal Salute for their own satisfaction. Before we get to that though, we shall address the liquid that gives Royal Salute its substance.

Review Royal Salute 21 Year Old 10

The velvet bag that holds each flagon of Royal Salute usually matches the color of the flagon. Quaich sold separately

Hold the Water

To begin with, Royal Salute is typically deep amber but still in the color range of ale, not Guinness. It does not look too different to Chivas Regal for example. On the nose though, a difference is immediately noticeable. For a blended scotch that includes no whisky younger than 21 years, Royal Salute is remarkably mild on the nose. Dominated by floral notes supported by vanilla, toffee, and old oak (of course), there is an underpinning of something altogether fungal here. The entire affair is quite subtle in this writer’s view – you can nose this quite comfortably, as is common with most Speyside and Highland malts. In other words, there is neither a smoky nor pungent note to be found.

On the palate, Royal Salute is defined by sweetness; we surmise that this comes from the Strathisla malts in the blend. Interestingly, there is some sourness here too in the form of cider vinegar. Hazelnuts and ginger round things off, in the subtlest ways possible. We also detect something grassy and altogether cereal-like about the taste and this can only be from the grain whiskies that are holding the blend together. Once again, there is perhaps the barest hint of an intimation of smoke and peat here, if one cares to imagine that it exists.

Review Royal Salute 21 Year Old 7

The rich amber color of this scotch is to be expected, given the collective age of the whiskies blended together


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