Royal Salute has unveiled an enchanting new expression, the Royal Salute Forces of Nature by Kate MccGwire, as the first iteration from its new pinnacle collection entitled The Art of Wonder.
A Scotch whisky legend with over 30 years of experience in blending Scotch whisky, Sandy Hyslop is Royal Salute’s Director of Blending & Inventory as well as all of Chivas Brothers’ blended Scotch whisky. We caught up with Sandy to talk about all things Royal Salute Forces of Nature.
How did the process of creating Royal Salute Forces of Nature by Kate MccGwire start?
We are constantly looking for new innovations to offer new luxury consumers as well as enter new spaces, such as fashion with the launch of our Couture Collection and collaboration with British designer, Richard Quinn. The art world is one that we have been so excited about getting involved with, as it is one that is a key passion point of the new luxury consumers, and art is seen as the ultimate luxury. We wanted to work with a unique and exciting artist that would truly understand and appreciate the world of whisky. Celebrated British sculptor Kate MccGwire was a natural fit for this.
Tell us about the new Royal Salute Forces of Nature by Kate MccGwire expression and what makes this liquid special?
Royal Salute Forces of Nature by Kate MccGwire is an expression that I am very proud of. It is a really prestigious expression and the first release from the brand’s new pinnacle collection, The Art of Wonder. This is a bold new series of contemporary whiskies that celebrates cutting-edge creativity in art and design, and each limited-edition blend released in this collection will be an exceptionally high-aged Scotch fused with the wonder of art.
With this being the first expression in the collection, I wanted to ensure that the whisky was going to be a landmark moment for Royal Salute. At 53 years old, the expression is one of the oldest that we’ve released. We blended whiskies that had been matured in oak casks for a minimum of 53 years and it truly is the pinnacle of what is achievable with such delicate, high-aged stock laid down by past Master Blenders.
In addition to the 53-year-old expression, the Forces of Nature by Kate MccGWire is accompanied by an exceptional art piece, Paragon, which has been created for Royal Salute by Kate MccGwire. Paragon consists of a limited series of 21 unique sculptures featuring specially selected pheasant feathers and sits proudly alongside the blend housed in a gold leaf-engraved crystal decanter, together creating a stunning and collectable piece of art.
What do you do at home to train your nose, palate and senses to be the best they can be?
I tend to stay away from foods that have a lot of garlic, as it can stay on your palate till the next day. It’s also good to put in a bit of practice too at home, sampling the fruits of my labour. I can justify a dram of Royal Salute as homework!
Why should people invest in whisky instead of art?
I’d advise them to invest in both, if they can, and with the Royal Salute Forces of Nature by Kate MccGwire, connoisseurs are investing in both! The worlds of art and whisky are both rooted in passion, creativity and a dedication to craft.
Each decanter created for the Forces of Nature by Kate MccGwire is in itself a piece of art. The 21 decanters were hand-blown by Dartington Crystal, engraved with intricate feathers and gilded in 24-carat gold leaf, inspired by Kate’s amazing sculptures. By investing in this expression, you are investing in skilled craftsmanship in every element.
The creation of this liquid has been a special process. Can you tell us what it actually tastes like?
With only 21 decanters available in the world, this whisky is extra special and rare. The immediate impact of this blend is powerfully rich and fruity on the nose. I detect a sweet tang of juicy blood orange, but a full unctuous sweetness too of acacia blossom honey, fresh mango and sweet, ripe peach sorbet. There are rounder rich caramel qualities too; all intertwined with spicy notes of cinnamon and – always something special – intense dark liquorice.
What is your favourite food to have with Forces of Nature?
Grilled lemon sole would be completed perfectly by this whisky.
Tell us about the stunning Dartington Crystal decanters that this liquid is housed in?
While I can’t claim responsibility for the design or artwork of the bottle, I have to mention these aspects also as this expression is a collector’s dream! The release is presented in an individual handblown Dartington Crystal decanter. Each decanter has been engraved with intricate feathers and gilded in 24-carat gold leaf, inspired by Kate MccGwire’s enchanting sculptures. Each decanter is housed in a hand-crafted wooden cabinet, sitting alongside Kate MccGwire’s piece of art, Paragon, and complete with a beautiful art book detailing the collaboration.
Tasting the new expression is an experience in itself. What are your top 3 tips for tasting whisky of this calibre at home?
My first tip is that, much like art, whisky can be enjoyed with friends and loved ones. It is a drink that can be served at intimate social occasions and events, where together you can explore the complex flavours of this rare and unique expression.
Take time to choose your glass, make sure your nose can be inside the aperture of the glass to fully appreciate the aroma and taste all at once.
Keep the glass in hand to allow the heat of your hand to gently warm the whisky and release even more aromas. Finally, don’t be frightened to add a drop of water, it will give you the opportunity to appreciate even more flavours in this delicious whisky
Apart from whisky, what do you like to drink at home?
I enjoy many different spirits from all over the world and love experimenting with new flavours. Having said that Royal Salute is such a full, fruity flavoured and delicious whisky, it is supremely versatile when it comes to enjoying it. Ice, water, soda, or I love to make myself a special Royal Salute cocktail, too, such as The Kensington which consists of Royal Salute 21-year-old The Signature Blend, Rose water infused honey syrup, fresh lemon juice and soda water, served in a Royal Salute tumbler and, if you can get hold of it, edible violet to garnish!
What is next for you and Royal Salute?
We are always working on creating new, innovative expressions at Royal Salute, and let me tell you I’m currently working on a lot of different projects! With this being the first of the Art of Wonder collection, you can expect to see us inviting the most critically acclaimed artists to, much like Kate has, draw inspiration from the craft of whisky blending.
Royal Salute Forces of Nature by Kate MccGwire will be available for purchase in October 2022 at selected specialist retailers for RRP $90,000.
To discover more, please visit royalsalute.com
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All imagery courtesy of Royal Salute / Pernod Ricard.