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The Rainbow Kingdom of Royal Salute

Royal Salute whisky range

The era of ceramic whisky bottles, which peaked in the 1980s, has come to an end. However, Royal Salute is one of the few brands that still bottles its whiskies in ceramic. The brand has taken significant steps in the last 40 years, leaving behind yesteryear's iconic golden brown colour and introducing an array of colours, from the Signature Blend's sapphire blue to limited edition bottlings in all the rainbow colours.


The Royal Salute blend was created by Charles Julian, the Chivas Brothers' master blender, in 1953 to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's coronation. Julian carefully selected whiskies casked in the 1920s and 30s, including Strathisla malt, and bottled them at a minimum of 21 years old, inspired by the 21-gun royal salute.


The number 21 has since become a key number for the blend. The royal salute, which is fired from the Tower of London, includes 62 shots—41 to mark a significant royal event and 21 shots for the City of London. The minimum age for the Royal Salute blend is also 21, and this number has been used for a number of bottles produced for their luxury special bottlings.



Some limited releases aged more than 21 years were introduced in 1993, including a 25-year-old release to celebrate the wedding of the Prince of Japan and a 40-year-old blend cased in ruby Baccarat crystal. However, the trend of bottling older expressions of Royal Salute took off in 2016, and since then, multiple limited expressions have been bottled in an array of colours.


Following Queen Elizabeth II's passing, Royal Salute seems to have dedicated more time to expanding its repertoire to appeal to a wider audience. They have chosen a lion as the king of the jungle and adopted the catchphrases 'You Have Arrived At The Kingdom of Royal Salute' and 'Enter a New Kingdom'.


You Have Arrived At The Kingdom of Royal Salute

Image by Royal Salute


This article contains information on 96 different Royal Salute bottlings. Please use the links provided to learn more about a specific bottling or release.



The Whisky Ardvark has compiled all images in this article



 

The Evolution of Royal Salute


The Royal Salute blend is a premium range of blends created by Chivas Brothers and owned by Pernod Ricard. It is an extension of the Chivas Regal range, and the current master blender of both blends is Sandy Hyslop, who was appointed in 2005. The Strathisla single malt forms the backbone of the Royal Salute blend, with other Pernod Ricard distilleries playing supportive roles.


The core expression of the Royal Salute blend has always been 21 years old since its inception in 1953. The ceramic bottle has undergone only a few updates in the last 70 years. While the first bottlings of Royal Salute featured the Queen's Royal Warrant, it is unclear if the blend was ever granted one or when the icon was removed. Chivas Brothers held the Royal Warrant from 1843 to the early 1990s. By the 1970s, the icon was changed to display Robert the Bruce, King of Scots, from 1306 to 1329.


The blue sapphire flagon Wade ceramic decanter was first introduced in 1960, followed by the red ruby flagon in 1985. The standard brown Spode ceramic was discontinued in 1990 after the emerald green ceramic first appeared in the 1980s.


Royal Salute Blended whisky icons

In 2014, Royal Salute underwent a rebranding, including a new design featuring a lion head and two cannons. As part of the rebranding, the standard 21-year-old blend was available in three colours: sapphire, ruby, and emerald.



In 2018, Royal Salute reorganised its range, introducing three distinctive blends with designated colours. Sapphire blue represents the standard 21-year-old blended whisky, emerald green is for the 21-year-old blended malt that consists of at least 21 different malts, and black is for the 21-year-old blend made for travel retail that features whiskies from lost distilleries.


The range was further expanded in 2022 by introducing a 21-year-old peated blend in black ceramic with a black label and a blended grain whisky in a glass bottle. All core range expressions are offered at 40% ABV.


Instead of enjoying their signature blended whiskies neat, Royal Salute recommends savouring them in cocktails or on the rocks to enhance the tasting experience.


Royal Salute Blended whisky early releases 1950 197
Royal Salute Blended whisky early releases 1950 197
Royal Salute Blended whisky early releases 1950 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010

The Royal Salute Signature 21-year-old blend has been presented in various design boxes over the years. Below are examples of the different designs used to create limited editions of the same blend.


Royal Salute Signature Sapphire Flagon box designs


 

Royal Salute & Richard Quinn


Talking about different clothes the 21-year-old blend can be dressed in, in 2021, Royal Salute teamed up with fashion designer Richard Quinn to create a series of limited editions. The celebrated young designer is known for his floral prints.


The 2021 Couture Collection by Richard Quinn included two designs. Both colours feature a blend of 31 malts—one for each year of the designer's age at the time of the blend's release.


In 2022, the collaboration resulted in a single 21-year-old limited bottling, 'House of Quinn by Richard Quinn'. This expression was limited to only 200 Dartington crystal decanters for travel retail.


The 2023 release, The Fashion Collection II, was released in three designs: Roses, Purple Violet and Daisy. The 21-year-old blend includes whiskies from multiple distilleries, including Braeval, Strathisla and Caperdonich.


The batch sizes of the two Richard Quinn releases from 2021 and 2023 have not been disclosed.


Royal Salute & Richard Quinn collection releases
Royal Salute & Richard Quinn collection releases


 

Royal Salute 'The Jewel Toppers'


These special releases of Royal Salute have been created to celebrate royal affairs and feature a jewelled stone. The first of these releases is Stone of Destiny, launched in 2008. It is a 38-year-old blend that pays tribute to the Scottish throne, also known as the Stone of Scone, one of the Scottish monarchy's most ancient and revered symbols. It's worth noting that the first releases of the blend were bottled in a 70cl decanter, which was later changed to 50cl around 2014.


In 2011, a limited edition of 21 decanter release called Tribute to Honour was created as a tribute to Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee. This 45-year-old blend is presented in porcelain decanters, each encrusted with over 400 diamonds, and it is considered one of the most dazzling Royal Salute bottlings ever. At the time of the release, Tribute to Honour was priced at £150,000.


The 62 Gun Salute, a 40-year-old blend, was launched in 2011 and has been a continuous limited release since. As the name suggests, the whisky pays tribute to the royal 62-gun salute, fired from the Tower of London to commemorate significant royal events.


The Union of the Crown, a 32-year-old blend, was released in 2016. It was followed by Precious Jewel (32-year-old) and Key to The Kingdom (30-year-old) in 2022. The three blends are all bottled in 50cl ceramic decanters.


Royal Salute The Jewel Toppers releases


 

Royal Salute Platinum Jubilee Collection


The Platinum Jubilee Collection was launched in 2022 to celebrate the Queen's 70th anniversary on the throne. The collection features seven unique bottlings inspired by the Queen's collection of brooches and colours from her wardrobe. Each bottling is accompanied by a matching brooch designed and crafted by jeweller Bentley & Skinner, featuring yellow gold and 70 diamonds.


Old whiskies from seven now-defunct distilleries, including Inverleven, Lochside and Caperdonich, were used to create the blend. The blend was then aged for two years in ex-tawny port casks and bottled at 50% ABV. Only 21 bottles of each design were ever produced, making the collection a rare and exclusive addition to any whisky enthusiast's collection.


Royal Salute Platinum Jubilee Collection


 

Royal Salute The Age Collection


The Royal Salute Age Collection I was released in 2015 and included ten expressions aged 21 to 30, all bottled at 40%. As the first bottlings presented in Dartington crystal, these bottlings set a new standard for the exclusive, high-end range of Royal Salute. This release was sold only as a set, with 21 sets in total made available.


Royal Salute The Age Collection I and II

The Age Collection II, the second and last of the Age Series, was launched in 2017 to commemorate the Queen's sapphire jubilee, marking her 65 years of reign. The collection consisted of ten bottle sets, with only 21 sets produced. Each set contained age statement whiskies starting from 25 years old, the age at which Elizabeth II was crowned the Queen, to 55-year-old whisky.



 

Royal Salute The Time Series


Released as a separate special series from the Age Collection, the Time Series has had three releases, all bottled at more than 50 years old. The first of the bottlings, 52-year-old, was released in 2017, with only 106 bottles made available. The second release, 51-year-old, followed in 2021, with 101 bottles. The last release, the 50-year-old, was a single-bottle release sold through Sotheby's auction house.


Royal Salute The Time Series


 

Royal Salute The Art of Wonder Series


In 2022, Royal Salute unveiled The Art of Wonder, a new collection that pays homage to exceptional British artists by blending their unique artforms with whisky.


For the first release, 'Forces of Nature,' the company collaborated with London-based artist Kate MccGwire, who is known for creating art using feathers.


The bottle was hand-engraved and gilded in 24-carat gold by Dartington Crystal and contains a rare blend that has been aged for 53 years. The set comes with a custom Scottish oak cabinet and an original art piece by MccGwire. Only 21 sets of this limited edition are available worldwide, and owning one costs around £70,000.


Royal Salute The Art of Wonder Series

In 2023, Royal Salute released the second edition called 'Time Chamber'. For this release, they partnered with British artist Conrad Shawcross, known for his complex and mesmerising mechanical structures that play with balance and physics.


The Time Chamber is a crystal decanter with a hand-spun glass plate and an oak spindle, creating a gyro-top-like ensemble. The release pattern follows the form already set by the first edition. The bottle features 53-year-old Royal Salute blended whisky, and only 21 decanters were produced. However, this time, the suggested retail price was around £94,000.



 

Royal Salute The Polo Collection


According to Chivas, the Royal Salute Polo Collection is designed for daytime enjoyment. Royal Salute, a long-time sponsor of international polo tournaments and events, has bottled several colourful ceramic decanters for the games.


All releases are bottled at 40% ABV (except for the Snow Polo edition) and aged for 21 years. However, some of the releases have special twists to them. For instance, the 2019 Snow Polo Edition was bottled as a blended grain, the 2023 Jodhpur Polo was finished in virgin oak casks, and the 2024 Miami Polo was finished in ex-rye whiskey barrels. The number of bottles in each release has not been disclosed.


Royal Salute The Polo Collection


 

Royal Salute - Other Limited Releases


In this section, we've collected several limited releases of Royal Salute blends. These include the 40-year-old red Baccarat crystal blend released in 1993, the 50-year-old Coronation blend released in 2003, The Royal Wedding of Harry & Meghan in 2018, and the upcoming Coronation of King Charles III in 2023. Some of these bottlings were produced in very limited quantities.


In 2021, Royal Salute also launched a cask finish range with a 26-year-old blend finished in Scottish oak. Since then, the range has included releases finished in Pedro Ximenez, Cognac, and Amarone casks, with multiple age statements higher than the standard 21-year-old.


It's worth noting that since 2021, Royal Salute has released expressions commemorating the Lunar New Year aimed at its vast consumer base in the Asian market. The market has played a crucial role in the brand's long-lasting success.


Royal Salute Limited Releases
Royal Salute Limited Releases
Royal Salute Limited Releases
Royal Salute Limited Releases
Royal Salute Limited Releases Lunar Year Bottlings
Royal Salute Limited Releases
 

Thank you for reading The Whisky Ardvark. Please take a moment to explore some of our other informative articles listed below.



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