Host's Guide Holiday 2012: Crowning Glories

  • Photo by Cordero Studios
    John Walker & Sons Diamond Jubilee Whisky Photo by Cordero Studios
  • Photo by Cordero Studios
    Royal Salute Diamond Jubilee Whisky Photo by Cordero Studios
  • Photo by Cordero Studios
    Gordon & MacPhail Diamond Jubilee Whisky Photo by Cordero Studios
  • Photo by Cordero Studios
  • Photo by Cordero Studios
  • Photo by Cordero Studios
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"Each expression of Royal Salute has its own story to tell, and each has a relationship to sovereignty and the monarchy," says Scott. "This year the eyes of the world are on London because of the queen’s 60-year reign, and to have a brand that has grown up with her through all those years is Royal Salute’s great strength."

Consequently, for Royal Salute’s Diamond Jubilee offering, the company decided to return to the whisky’s beginnings by showcasing the original blend. "We did talk about doing something different," says Neil Macdonald, brand director for Royal Salute, "but then we decided, no, this is the blend that started it all; this was the whisky that was created for the queen back in 1953. So we felt it was very important to keep the whisky the same, but to present it in a very collect-ible, distinctive limited edition for the Diamond Jubilee."

The 80-proof whisky is a personification of the Royal Salute style, which Scott defines as "all about the power of the whiskies and their intensities after extreme aging, and yet it’s very smooth and gentle, possessing a harmony of flavors." The 21 Year Old is characteristically floral and fruity, with a faint smokiness intermingled with sherried spices and honey from the blend’s Strathisla single malt, which Scott refers to as "the spiritual heart of Royal Salute."

The porcelain flagon and its display box set the Royal Salute 21 Year Old Diamond Jubilee Edition, priced at $164, apart from its six predecessors. The bottle’s rich blue glaze is slightly lighter and glossier than that of the Royal Salute 21 Year Old flagon, and a distinctive embossed appliqué in silver foil bears the legend "Royal Salute Diamond Jubilee Blended Scotch Whisky." A silver-and-blue embossed foil neckband depicting the Royal Salute lion accompanies a stylized depiction of its age.

In keeping with the royal family’s tradition of recognizing premium Scotch whisky, Queen Victoria’s grandson King George V granted John Walker & Sons a Royal Warrant in 1934. This year, the maker of the world’s most widely distributed blended Scotch honored Queen Elizabeth by creating 63 spectacular limited-edition decanters, one of which is reserved for Her Majesty. Two others were sent on a world tour during this Diamond Jubilee year; one is still on the road, while the other is currently housed on display at Gleneagles in Perthshire, Scotland. The remaining 60 decanters—each representing a year of the queen’s reign and priced at $163,000—will be sold to benefit the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST), the charitable arm of the Royal Warrant Holders Association that grants scholarships to gifted individuals so they can pursue advanced studies with acknowledged masters of their crafts.

Appropriately, the talents of numerous British artisans came to bear in crafting the 63 stunning Diamond Jubilee by John Walker & Sons ensembles. Each consists of a diamond-shaped Baccarat-crystal decanter cradled on a base of six radial legs representing the decades of the queen’s reign. The decanters are decorated with Britannia-silver ornamentations by Scottish silversmith Hamilton & Inches and include a representation of the John Walker & Sons monogram, the royal arms, a numbered seal, a Diamond Jubilee hallmark, and a silver collar accented with a half-carat diamond. A silver transit stopper tops off the presentation.

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