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Exploring the nuances of different whisky expressions bearing the 21-gun salute moniker

Dian Pasquinal Kaur
Dian Pasquinal Kaur • 5 min read
Exploring the nuances of different whisky expressions bearing the 21-gun salute moniker
The Royal Salute 21 Year Old Jodhpur Polo Edition pays homage to the Blue City of Rajasthan, a royal destination in India
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The Royal Salute Polo range is an exquisite collection of whiskies that pays tribute to the thrilling sport of polo, reflecting the essence of luxury and tradition.

“It’s a fantastic aged blended Scotch whisky that goes beyond what others usually offer and starts at an impressive 21 years old. Our master blender at the time, Charles Julian, wanted to create a whisky that was really special to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953 and the 21-gun salute dedicated to her,” says Nicole Cruickshank, a Scotch whisky brand ambassador with Pernod Ricard Malaysia, who hosted a comparative tasting of the Royal Salute range — consisting of the Jodhpur Polo Edition, The Signature Blend, Snow Polo and Polo Estancia Edition — to explore the nuances that set them apart.

This brand is all about tradition. While it proudly boasts its royal association, it is also keeping up with the times. Its ability to blend modernity with tradition is evident through the new and innovative expressions that still honour its rich heritage. A prime example of this can be seen in the numerous partnerships with artistes and fashion designers. It is a whisky that truly combines the best of both worlds!

As the newest addition to the Royal Salute Polo range, the 21 Year Old Jodhpur Polo Edition pays homage to the Blue City of Rajasthan, a royal destination in India well known for its equestrian culture. It is a remarkable whisky created by master blender Sandy Hyslop and endorsed by Malcolm Borwick, the renowned polo player and Royal Salute world polo ambassador.

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Drawing inspiration from the vibrant spices and flavours of India, this distinctive blend comprises meticulously selected malt whiskies, each fully matured in virgin oak casks. The outcome is an exquisite expression that tantalises the senses with enticing aromas of sweet mangoes and coconut, accompanied by luscious caramel and invigorating cinnamon cloves. The whisky leaves a lasting impression with its long and spicy finish, making it a truly extraordinary tasting experience largely due to the unusually “exotic” flavours.

From the Great Indian Desert, we embrace the spirit of winter through an expression that celebrates St Moritz in Switzerland as the birthplace of snow polo. “The Royal Salute Snow Polo is our first-ever blended grain Scotch whisky. It is crafted to a very specific 46.5% ABV (alcohol by volume) for two reasons. First, it’s the exact latitude of St Moritz; and second, because the whisky is crafted to be enjoyed on ice — the ABV is perfect for it to be served on the rocks,” she explains.

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The whisky delivers a vibrant burst of vanilla and caramel with a very fleeting fruitiness. As it touches the tongue, the rich, long and satisfying layers of vanilla and toffee emerge. The finish is crisp and invigorating, leaving a gentle warmth that lingers like the winter sun.

In homage to Argentina, home to the world’s most famous polo players and legendary estancias, Royal Salute Polo Estancia is a harmonious blend of refined flavours. On the nose, it offers notes of ripe plums, warm spices and a gentle whiff of tobacco. The taste unfolds with a velvety smoothness, encompassing flavours of dark chocolate, dried fruits and a hint of leather. The finish is warm and sweet, leaving a lingering essence of oak and berry goodness.

“When you think of Argentinian Malbec, picture a drink with a captivating deep colour and bursting with intense fruity flavours. Similarly, the Polo Estancia blend is truly special. The master blender went the extra mile to have it fully matured in top-of-the-range Malbec wine casks sourced from the high-altitude ‘boutique terroir’ of Cafayate.

“About 95% of the casks that we use are predominantly American oak, which is the main type of cask in Scotch whisky; 4% are European oak and 1% are any other type of cask. So, you can imagine how rare this is,” Cruickshank enthuses.

Lastly, the Royal Salute 21 Year Old Signature Blend greets you with a captivating bouquet of sweet pears, zesty citrus fruits and the alluring scent of flowers. It’s a harmonious blend of aromas that sets the stage for what’s to come.

The initial sip unveils a delightful combination of vanilla and dry oak, crowned with delicate sherry undertones. But that’s just the beginning.

In the mouth, the whisky truly comes alive with a warm embrace of orange marmalade and fresh pears, creating a smooth and inviting sensation. And just when you think you know what to expect, an exciting explosion of spices, hazelnut and a lingering smokiness take you by surprise, adding layers of complexity and intrigue.

Each expression in the Royal Salute Polo range is a masterpiece in its own right, crafted with precision and dedication. It really captures the essence of polo and celebrates the legacy of the sport. Whether you indulge in the regal charm of Jodhpur or savour the time-honoured classic Royal Salute 21, each expression offers an extraordinary tasting experience that exemplifies the pinnacle of whisky craftsmanship.

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