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Chivas Royal Salute 21 Year Old

Happy Birthday To Me!

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@talexanderReview by @talexander

1st Jun 2013


Chivas Royal Salute 21 Year Old
  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Two days ago I turned 42, and have spent the week with my daughter (my celebrations that night consisted of steak and a diet coke at a Jack Astor's. She had pasta). So on this quiet Friday night, as my little one slumbers, I decide to open a special dram.

Chivas Regal premiered the Royal Salute 21 Year Old on June 2 1953, to celebrate Queen Elizabeth's coronation (a 21 gun royal salute marks royal special occasions). At the time, this was the most premium of Scotch whiskies. Bottled in a ceramic decanter which has changed colour many times over the years, it features malts from Aberlour, Glenlivet, Longmorn and Strathisla, among others. As with many older premium blends, this is very popular in Asia.

I purchased this particular bottle at an LCBO auction in Ontario, as part of a lot with two cognacs (Hennessy XO and Martell XO Supreme); luckily, the cost of the total lot was about what one would pay for any one of these three bottles on its own. It is definitely an older bottling, with a brown ceramic flagon (by Spode) in a matching velvet opera bag, with a very old looking cardboard box featuring lots of medieval images and highlighting Strathisla distillery in particular. There is no spirit strength mentioned anywhere, though all sources indicate this has always been bottled at 40%.

The colour is copper with ruby red highlights. The nose is pretty malty for a blend, quite floral and fruity. Red berries like raspberries and strawberries, freshly cut grass, chocolate ganache. A rather closed nose at first, it takes time in the glass to open up, developing more tannic notes, soft leather, cinnamon and, interestingly, walnuts. Rich and quite luxurious, almost velvety. Water brings out more malt, giving it a profile similar to Taketsuru Pure Malt 21 Year Old.

On the palate, rich sherried deliciousness! Dark fruits, rum raisin, cocoa. Mouth-drying but not too woody. Peppery and a very slight hint of smoke just in the background. Simply delicious, and definitely has a Strathisla profile. Water just makes it richer, deeper and seemingly more sherried, with some real bite from the grain. Has that meaty, savoury note you find in older Scotches.

The finish has more smoke and spice than you would expect, and slowly and gently lingers, becoming orange pith and wet slate. This is the kind of whisky that tastes expensive (if you know what I mean), a complex mingling of senses that scream old and rare Scotch. Or perhaps that's just perception: although there is no date of bottling here, the ceramic flagon is quite different from the modern Royal Salute - a few minutes of online research shows bottles that look the same are dated from the 1950s! A fitting dram to celebrate my advancing years.

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talexander commented

Looking at some auction sites, it looks like it is more likely that this bottle comes from the 1970s rather than the 1950s.

10 years ago 0

GotOak91 commented

Late Happy Birthday!

10 years ago 0

WhiskyBee commented

I'll probably never get to try a '70s Chivas Royal 21, but it was another great review anyway.

"Advancing years"? Some of us would trade a Brora '78 to be 42 again. Well...maybe half a bottle.

10 years ago 0

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