Being asked to pin down the taste of the beach is an exercise in definition. Everyone has a vague idea of what salt-stained air and sea should be on the tongue, but few are ever able to go beyond the dimension of brine, until Sandy Hyslop, Master Blender for Royal Salute, created the whisky label’s latest Beach Polo Edition.
The blend is a composition of whiskies aged for a minimum of 21 years old, which is a feat anyone with a modicum of knowledge about Scotch knows to be a challenge year on year. This expression is the sophomore release in an ongoing series Royal Salute has that pays tribute to polo, with the first instalment being its Polo Edition launched last year.
Beach polo, which stands as one of the hardest permutations of the horseback sport that can be played, is the backbone of the new edition. To capture the entire atmosphere of sun, sand, sea, wind and bonfires into the night, Hyslop has creatively introduced a few peated whiskies into the blend, which is a flavour profile that has never entered a Royal Salute before.
We were among the first in the world to try a dram at the launch of the Royal Salute Beach Polo Edition in Sanya, China. Peat, wood spice and orchard fruit are prominent on the nose, but a taste of the deep amber liquid betrays more vanilla, sunny citrus notes of candied lemon peel, and a soft silken whisper of peat that tastes just like a dash of sea salt. This is a lighter, more seductive peated whisky that remains true to the Royal Salute brand, and is accessible for drinkers of all persuasions, even if you’ve sworn off the punchy Islay malts for good.
Hyslop had to experiment over several months, creating batch after batch of whisky blends before finally getting the right balance of flavours he wanted. To get there, he had to alter the base recipe for the Royal Salute 21 Year Old, introducing whiskies with hints of citrus into the matrix, instead of letting the usual blend — so rich in its fall fruit notes — go head to head with the peated heavyweights.
“It’s the easiest thing in the world to make a big smoky whisky,” said Hyslop. “But it’s not as easy to create a smoky whisky that is sophisticated, rather than one-dimensional and just full of the taste and smell of peat.”
Hyslop has also teased that the Beach Polo Edition is by no means the stopping point for Royal Salute, as there could potentially be another one on the concept board right now. We cannot tell you what it is just yet, but we know for sure it will be a bottle where time and place distilled.
The Royal Salute Beach Polo Edition is available at global travel retail and selected whisky boutiques. It has a recommended retail price of US$140 (S$192).