By Lauren Jade Hill
The director of blending for Royal Salute, Sandy Hyslop, talks to Elite Traveler about his role in creating new blends for the prestigious Scotch whisky brand, the responsibility he holds in continuing the distillery’s legacy and the latest product to look out for in time for the festive season.
What led to you becoming director of blending for Royal Salute?
I’ve worked in the whisky industry since 1983 and during my first year I showed an aptitude for being able to identify and memorize different flavors on the nose. Very early in my career, I started nosing samples regularly while spending time in other areas of the whisky making process to increase my knowledge across the business as much as possible. I was inspired by all the different flavor notes that were present in whisky and how the influence of great quality casks can transform the whisky and pull the flavors in different directions. I now have more than 34 years of experience in the Scotch whisky industry.
What sets Royal Salute apart from other whisky brands?
Royal Salute is an exceptional blend of malt and grain whiskies, with our youngest blend matured for a minimum of 21. This expression—the Royal Salute 21 Year Old—is the most iconic in the range. Royal Salute is steeped in tradition and proud of its royal lineage, having been created to mark the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and the 21 gun salute that honoured her, but it is also firmly engaged in the modern world by constantly pushing the art of blending into new forms. These elements combined make Royal Salute the ‘King of Whisky’, if you ask me.
What would you say is the most significant contribution you’ve made to the brand?
I hope people would say I’ve made many, but joking aside, Royal Salute is an extremely high quality and prestigious whisky brand with an outstanding reputation and it is a great honor for me to be responsible for the quality and continuity of these whiskies. To be part of the history of Royal Salute is incredible and to lay down whiskies now for blending many decades in the future is a responsibility I relish and hope that this is my biggest contribution that will stand true for many years to come. It is imperative that I have the best whiskies maturing in the appropriate casks to ensure the quality of Royal Salute is maintained long after I have retired.
What future aspirations do you have for Royal Salute?
I would like to ensure the continuation of a modern approach that balances our traditional background, by further coming up with innovations in whisky and pushing the art of blending into creative, inspiring and ambitious areas. I am always experimenting with different cask types and trying new formulations so the future is likely to be very exciting for this distinguished family of whiskies. Gifting has always been at the heart of Royal Salute, which was first created as a gift for the Coronation of the Queen in 1953. We are currently looking forward to 2019 to see how we can continue this tradition.
Do you have a favourite Royal Salute blend?
I am proud of each and every blend that we produce, however I must hero our signature blend, the Royal Salute 21 Year Old which is the definitive luxury whisky of the portfolio with an unparalleled richness and depth of flavor. Due to its richness and complexity, it is hugely versatile when preparing different types of drinks. It is magnificent when enjoyed neat and can make a huge impact on a cocktail. One of my personal favorites on a summer’s afternoon is a Royal Salute highball with crushed ice and soda. This blend was first created to commemorate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and the 21 gun salute that honored her, so it’s been a whisky fit for royalty since its inception.
What new products can we look out for?
Our latest limited edition is a stunning show of craftsmanship both in design and quality. The Royal Salute Regent’s Banquet Festive Gift Pack is part of the ‘Royal Celebrations at the Palace’ annual series and has been created in partnership with the wallpaper designer Angela Groundwater who was inspired by Royal Salute’s theme of ‘Royal Celebrations at the Palace’. The gift pack features a laser cut lid and interior print in blue and gold. The design pays homage to the Regent’s Banquet of 1817, one of the earliest recorded banquets held in the formal royal residence, the Brighton Pavilion. The gift pack includes Royal Salute’s signature Royal Salute 21 Year Old whisky, and a miniature version for collectors. You can expect more products from us in the coming months.
The new gift pack is now available in Duty Free across the world for $130 and at Harrods for $199. royalsalute.com