• Special edition Royal Salute expression commemorating the whisky’s partnership with the world of polo

  • Lighter blend designed to be sipped throughout the day while watching the Sport of Kings

  • Presented in a special edition turquoise bottle

  • The perfect spirit for a particularly superb champagne cocktail

Sailing and rum; shooting and sloe gin; Formula 1 and a severe waste of champagne, most sports seem to have their alcoholic counterpart in one way or another. For polo that partner is Royal Salute.

Granted it’s probably not the best idea to saddle up, racket in hand and try to smack a tiny ball after too much of the stuff, but among the be-tweeded gents and ladies in their summer dresses along the side-lines, a tipple or two doesn’t go amiss. Usually more.

Given their origins it’s no surprise that Royal Salute above other Scotch have that special relationship with the Sport of Kings. The whisky was created for the Queen’s coronation and who else frequents the polo but the British gentry? Me I suppose, but I do at least have the airs and graces to match.

All that said – and in many instances drunk, Quaich on head – the long-standing partnership hasn’t yielded much on a material level. Sure, it’s introduced many an epicurean to the fine world of 21-year old blended scotch, but most of these partnerships lead to something a little more tangible.

Well, now it has in the form of the Royal Salute 21 Polo Edition and it certainly stands out. The turquoise bottle in fact is striking just short of the point of vulgarity, complete with players clashing front and centre. Even the Royal Salute logo has been crossed with a pair of polo sticks, just to drum the connections home.

Still, regardless of how different it looks, this is still very much the premium brand sequestered in the liqueur cabinets of the good and great. The bottle is the same high-quality porcelain as the queen’s crockery and the minimum age of any whisky included inside is 21 years old.

The question then isn’t whether it lives up to the same standards as previous expressions of Royal Salute, but whether it’s actually any different from the standard 21. After all, the whisky can wear all the pretty dresses it likes but if it’s the same old liquid, why buy it?

The answer is a thoughtful – if not resounding – yes. It has all the same hallmarks as the Royal Salute 21 but has been blended with long days of sunshine, of standing in green fields in mind.

I personally can’t remember a polo match where it wasn’t raining – the two seem to go hand-in-hand – but the thought it still a good one. Better to think of the Polo Edition as (to steal a slightly worrying phrase from brewing) a session whisky.

It’s brighter and livelier than its less horsey cousin, with notes of sweet, fresh melon and rich berry jam and toffee. It’s as smooth and sophisticated as other Royal Salute expressions, but accessible enough that you won’t be knocked for six having it early afternoon.

It also goes exceptionally well in cocktails, in particular the so-called Royal Salute Polo Spritz. Basically, throw in a little fruity syrup, top with champagne and add a fair bit of orange. It’s like a buck fizz with the kick of a 21-gun salute. It’s also damn good, flavourful but light and playing off the whisky’s fruit touches. A few of them and the polo will get a lot more interesting, even if you’d best leave stomping the divots to the other spectators.

Words by: Sam Kessler