In a spectacularly decorated private apartment overlooking the clock tower of St Pancras International Station, Royal Salute revealed a special edition release which goes beyond the world of the ‘special’ and entered the ethereal world of the utterly extraordinary.
2019 was a frenzied year for this luxury blended scotch company founded in 1953. Having sat steadily, regal and majestic, atop their reliable range of premium whiskies for some time, all of a sudden they changed up a few dozen gears to move into a prolific new era of ambitious creation. In doing so they achieved something spectacular, like a DeLorean hitting 88 miles per hour.
On that bitter, frosty night, a small group of lucky journalists were chauffeured to this lofty venue which had been kept entirely secret from them. It’s an unnerving experience just getting into a black cab bound for… somewhere… without knowing where that somewhere may be, but all my experiences of everything to do with Royal Salute meant that I was able to deduce it would be something remarkable, and I certainly was not disappointed.
Royal Salute, in a celebration of true opulence and calculated daring, have created an incredibly rare expression as part of the seductively named ‘The Time Series’. When a whisky, or a collection of whiskies, start approaching the half a century mark in terms of their age there are many different variables at play. The most obvious one is the cost. At an evaporation rate of around 1.5% to 2% per annum, after five decades or more there just isn’t that much left in the barrels which were lovingly laid down around about the time that the Beatles recorded ‘Abbey Road’ and man first stepped foot on the moon… This of course means that the remaining malt is phenomenally rare.
However, the key element which often gets overlooked when discussing scotch of such tremendous age is just its ‘drinkability’. We are so eclipsed by awe of such an ancient malt that we neglect to ask how it really tastes. With each year that goes by, past a certain stage, the risk is that the flavours from the wood, all those oaky tannins, simply become overpowering and after all that time the end result is something which frankly isn’t terribly pleasing to the palate and tastes instead like sucking on an old bit of musty driftwood. Old and rare driftwood, certainly, but what about lip smackingly, breath takingly, run your finger round the inside of the glass levels of deliciousness?
This is where The Time Series 52 Year Old Single Cask Finish steps forward. Not only is unthinkably old but it is utterly superb and rich with the complexities which you would hope a whisky of this age would exhibit. Royal Salute’s greatly revered Master Blender Sandy Hyslop has commented “The longer the whisky matures, the more intricate it becomes and with 52 years of ageing the delicate balance of some of the rarest of our whiskies, has created an unrivalled depth of flavour and unbelievably complex characteristics, making for a remarkable expression that perfectly shows that time is a key element of our creations.”
The Time Series 52 Year Old Single Cask Finish is available from selected specialist global retailers with an RRP of US $30,000.