There is nothing quite so edifying as a post-dinner wee dram of scotch. Now, while the palatability of one label over another may be just a matter of individual preference, when it comes to distilleries — to quote Twelfth Night’s Malvolio — some are born great, others achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.
And while Shakespeare’s Illyrian Puritan would surely have objected to us employing these sage words to refer to makers of the caramel nectar, we’ll still point out that the Strathisla distillery in Speyside, Scotland, was clearly born into whisky-making greatness. The oldest working distillery in the Scottish Highlands, as well as the home and heart of the prestigious whisky blend, Royal Salute, it employs to this day the same artisanal methods it has used for the past 200 years to craft its fine whiskies. A fitting backdrop, then, for the resplendent Royal Salute Tribute to Honour, Royal Salute’s most exclusive creation yet.
The Honour in question refers to the Honours of Scotland, the oldest crown jewels of the British Isles, which comprise a crown, a sceptre and a sword. Always present at the coronation of British monarchs — including that of Mary, Queen of Scots — they are a central aspect of Scottish history, shaping and defining the identity of the Celtic kingdom. The sword, in particular, is the creative touchstone for a blend that pays tribute to British regality with an exceptional statement of luxury and age.
The blend is not just an ode to Scottish history, but to the grand heritage of Scottish whisky-making as well. Carefully crafted by Royal Salute’s master blender, Colin Scott, the Tribute to Honour is composed of the rarest and most exquisite whiskies from the Royal Salute Vault at Strathisla, all having been aged for at least 45 years. “Many years of passion and craftsmanship went into creating Tribute to Honour,” explains Scott. “We carefully selected the very best of these whiskies that had been laid down for extreme ageing, ensuring that the final blend is compelling, valiant and noble in its richness and complexity — the ultimate tribute to the Honours of Scotland.”
“We carefully selected the very best of these whiskies that had been laid down for extreme ageing, ensuring that the final blend is compelling, valiant and noble in its richness and complexity”
Because of the natural evaporation process that occurs during cask ageing (two percent a year — known as the ‘angel’s share’), whiskies of such an age come in extremely limited stock. So limited, in fact, that only 21 bottles of Tribute to Honour were produced — one of which is kept at Strathisla for posterity — and, at the time of its release, the only person in the world who had tasted it was its creator, Scott, who says that the power and smoothness of the blend shapes its character. And while the only way to find out just how it tastes is to invest in a bottle yourself, it would in the meantime suffice to say that it embodies the qualities of the classic Royal Salute blend — elegant spices and fruit — wrapped in decades of slow embrace from casks that would certainly impart an incomparable mellow oakiness to the mix.
Containing such an alchemical mix of water, yeast and malt in anything but the most exceptional vessel would be inappropriate, and Scott collaborated with legendary French porcelain creators Revol, which has been crafting the nest pottery since its establishment in 1789 (the year of the French Revolution), to create the hand-cast black porcelain flagons used to store this Scottish lifeblood. Hundreds of pieces were produced in the company’s Saint-Uze kiln using pure volcanic clay from New Zealand, out of which only 21 were handpicked for use, in order to ensure the most perfect and flawless pieces.
Engraved and embellished by hand, the flagons are dressed not in borrowed robes, but in magnificent precious metals and stones by Garrard, the oldest jewellers in the world, with 277 years of experience under their belt. Their honours include being the longest-serving Crown jewellers, cutting the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond and crafting the sapphire engagement rings for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The Tribute to Honour flagons each feature 413 flawless white and black diamonds, set in gold and silver. Intricately engraved golden lions sit on either side of a diamond-encrusted sword that represents valiancy and regality. In fact, we can’t think of a more noble post-victuals tipple.
Source: TheRake.com Photo: TheRake.com