In the sultry hot summer weather of a late August evening, what better way to relieve your customary torpor than to attend a Scotch tasting? OK, well, it wasn’t exactly the first thing that crossed my mind, either. But when I learned that the Scotch in question was Chivas, I was not exactly in a position to decline. Throw in the fact that they were also serving the ultra rare Royal Salute – which I had never even heard of before, much less tasted – and I’m there! So, it was with great anticipation that I headed to Union Square Wines & Spirits for a few drams of this famed brown spirit.
Upon arrival, attendees were greeted with a most refreshing cocktail that I highly recommend – a very summery punch made with Chivas 12 year old and pineapple juice, peach juice and a splash of lemon juice served over ice in a wine glass containing various fruits (strawberries, blueberries and blackberries, on this evening) as a garnish. A real thirst-quencher, you taste a gentlest hint of the spirit, yet its sweetness is not so cloying as to induce puckering.
Between passed hors d'oeuvres and an extensive spread of cheese and crackers, we sampled Chivas 12 Years, their Gold Signature 18 Years, their 25 Years (which was not present on the original menu) and finished with Royal Salute. To commemorate the tasting, the store discounted all featured Chivas products 15%, although the 25 Years was not currently in stock and would have to be specially ordered (even with the discount, however, its $340 price tag was still a bit steep for the likes of yours truly).
Chivas started making Royal Salute in 1953 to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth; it was decided to sell the expression as a 21 year old Scotch because the Queen herself was age 21 at the time she ascended to the throne. Marketed as a 21 year old Scotch, this means it is a blended Scotch which contains other Scotches that are aged at least 21 years; the oldest Scotch in the blend is aged between 40 to 45 years. It is sold in colored bottles – green, red or blue, although only the blue colored bottles are available here in The United States. The Royal Salute product line also comes in more expensive versions that are aged even longer – specifically, 38 years and 62 years.
On its own, Royal Salute 21 has something of a smoky, spicy flavor on the center of your palate; adding a little bit of water will bring out its citrus elements – grapefruit and lemon are those that are said to be frequently found. According to one of the company representatives, this is an excellent Scotch to pair with sushi, of all things!
For more information about Chivas tastings around the country, please be sure to register at the Web site The Chivas Brotherhood. Also, if you’d like to experience a tasting similar to this one, you might want to try contacting Chivas’ Brand Ambassador Peter H. Karras, who might just be able to hook you up with something not too far from where you’re located.