From all whisky brands out there to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the name John Walker & Sons, the Scotch Whisky distillers by Appointment to Her Majesty The Queen, holds a special meaning. Only 60 bottles of the Diamond Jubilee Scotch Whisky, made by Johnnie Walker distiller Diageo, have been produced for sale, and are being offered to known collectors of rare and expensive whiskies. One will be gifted to the Queen and the others will be sold around the world for £100,000 ($160,000) each.
The bottling, which took place 60 years to the day since the Queen’s accession on 6 February 1952, is a blend of rare malt and grain Scotch whiskies distilled in and maturing since 1952. At Royal Lochnagar Distillery, on the edge of Her Majesty The Queen’s Balmoral Estate, David Gates, Grantee of John Walker & Sons’ Royal Warrant, filled the the Queen’s decanter, as well as 60 further editions for sale around the world.
The concept was initiated by Richard Watling, ex-Diageo director and now chairman of the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust [QEST] which provides grants to British craftspeople and in doing so, keeps many highly specialized trades alive. He approached David Gates, who holds the Royal Warrant for Johnnie Walker at Diageo, to see whether the firm would create a blend to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
The result is a blend not just of whiskies, but of a host of different crafts. The crystal diamond-shaped decanter is from Baccarat, its silver collar and stopper has been hand-crafted by Hamilton & Inches in Edinburgh and it resides inside a cabinet which has been made with wood from two of the Queen’s estates: oak from Sandringham and pine from Balmoral. There are two hand-etched Cumbrian crystal glasses and the presentation is completed with a white leather hand-bound book personalized by the Queen’s calligrapher (and former QEST scholar), Sally Mangum.
The diamond-shaped Baccarat crystal decanters stand on a crystal base with six radial legs to reflect the decades of the Queen’s reign, and are adorned with Britannia silver, selected for its purity. All the elements will be housed in a chest made by cabinet makers N.E.J. Stevenson, incorporating oak from Sandringham and Caledonian pine from The Queen’s Balmoral Estate.
In case you don’t have $160,000 to spare and are wondering what it tastes like, the master blender for all Johnnie Walker whiskies, Jim Beveridge, said he is surprised and delighted by the way the Jubilee whisky has turned out. With as whisky as old as 60 years, sometimes it can be a bit crusty and the flavours can be a bit subdued. But this one is very vibrant. It has a fresh fruity flavour, and a finish which is smoky and also has an exotic fruit taste, he said.
A minimum donation of £1 million from the sales of Diamond Jubilee by John Walker & Sons will be given to the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST), a registered charity in England.