We are constantly in search of Whisky stories and experiences. Here’s one by Shane Batchler.
All of 30, Shane Batchler leads the tasting bar at the Brisbane International Airport Duty Free Store as their Whisky specialist. Shane has cultivated a penchant for sampling and collecting whiskies for over a decade and now guides discerning whisky drinkers on flavour profiles, tasting notes, special editions, and new releases. Shane also spends a fair amount of his time traversing the globe, visiting Whisky distilleries and attending trade events. We asked Shane to share a memorable whisky experience with us. Read on to see what he has to say about his visit to Royal Salute Strathisla Distillery.
In 2012 I purchased a bottle of the Royal Salute 38 year old blended scotch Whisky, with the bottle came a certificate of authenticity and a complimentary tour of the Royal Salute vaults, as the bottle was released in such small numbers.
Time went by and I unfortunately didn’t get the chance to redeem the private distillery vaults tour, until 2016 I finally had the chance to get my self to Scotland, I emailed the Strathisla distillery in regards to the Royal Salute tour, and to my disappointment the tour had expired. But they put me in contact with Ian, one of the global ambassadors who was more than happy to give me the distillery tour.
After an amazing in depth tour of the distillery we headed down into one of the barrel warehouses.. the dead silence and dark eerie barrel room was definitely a sight to see, the though of so many barrels patiently ageing away to perfection, one day to be consumed was mind blowing, barrels older than I was!
We reached the end of the barrel warehouse to the Royal Salute vaults where Ian handed me the keys to unlock the vault. The medieval like key clunked opened a door to what felt like a dream.. some of the oldest barrels in the Royal Salute distillery were stored here. Then Ian said to me “when you purchased your bottle of the 38 year old Royal Salute did you open it and taste it?” I said no, it has gone into my private collection unopened.
He asked if I would like to try it! “I would absolutely love to!” Was my response! He handed me a copita nosing glass then proceeded to grab a hammer and knock the bung straight out of the barrel of the Royal Salute 38 year old cask, and filled my glass directly from the barrel!
The rich sweet smell of sherry filled my nose, The taste of soft fruit and butterscotch coated my palate; it had hints of dried figs and muscovado sugar. The linger was intensely long with subtle undertones of dark chocolate and sherry on the tail, an absolute work of art.
After sampling this beautiful liquid Ian had pointed out to me that the Royal Salute had been bottled many years ago and now the left over golden liquid had still been ageing away in its barrel technically making it a 42 year old blended scotch whisky! At this point of my life, being the oldest whisky I had ever tasted!
It was an absolute once in a life time experience and something I’ll cherish and never forget, I even took the tasting glass home all the way back to Australia as a memento of my experience.
Thanks to Ian for taking the time to give me a tour and a memory I’ll never forget.
For some vicarious Whisky living, follow Shane on Instagram.
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