Whiskies Fit for a King: Toasting the Coronations
May 2, 2023 –––––– Jonny McCormick
On May 6th, millions of people will watch the pageantry and ceremony of the coronation of King Charles III in London. The day will be marked by a procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey, where every British monarch has been crowned since 1066. There, the ancient rituals of the investiture will be conducted as the new king swears the coronation oath. He will take the throne in the presence of heads of state, royalty, senior politicians, and other dignitaries in scenes not witnessed for 70 years. Afterward, a 62-gun salute will be fired from the Tower of London. The king and queen will then travel back to Buckingham Palace and appear on the balcony to wave to the crowds below. The following day, Windsor Castle will host a coronation concert featuring a lineup of stars including Katy Perry.
King Charles III is known to enjoy whisky and has visited numerous scotch distilleries during his official engagements, and as Prince Charles, he granted his Royal Warrant to Laphroaig Distillery in 1994. We’ve rounded up a list of the special commemorative whiskies that whisky distillers are releasing to mark the occasion. Don’t be frightened away by the first few entries—further down the list are some whiskies to suit the budgets of us mere commoners. Understandably, these coronation whiskies are mainly available in the UK and some will sell out quickly. Whisky lovers in the U.S. should be able to source some of these bottles online for international delivery or seek them out at auction. So if you’re a whisky-loving royal watcher but your invitation from the palace seems to have gotten lost in the mail, you can still pour yourself a whisky and watch the pageantry unfold.
Royal Salute Coronation of King Charles III Edition, 52.3%, $25,000; 500 bottles, 56 for the U.S.
Royal Salute master blender Sandy Hyslop selected 53 rare malt and grain whiskies to represent 1953, when the first Royal Salute whisky was created to commemorate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. The whisky is housed in a sapphire blue Dartington crystal decanter to reflect the color of stones set in the state crown, and is presented in a wooden box inspired by Westminster Abbey.
Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection 1948 from Glen Grant Distillery Celebrating the Coronation of King Charles III, 50.4%, $30,000; 281 decanters, 14 for the U.S.
Gordon & MacPhail selected a Speyside single malt distilled the same year King Charless III was born, that was then matured in a first-fill sherry cask. On October 15, 1998, Prince Charles participated in the re-opening of Benromach Distillery on Speyside in its centenary year, following five years of restoration work by owners Gordon & MacPhail.
The Mark Littler Coronation Reserve (distilled at Macallan) 27 year old, 41%, £2,599 ($3,236); 90 bottles sold by ballot, worldwide shipping available
An independent bourbon cask-matured Speyside single malt from Macallan bottled by Mark Littler, a whisky broker based in England.
Highgrove Coronation Whisky Private Cask, 50.2%, £295 ($367); 340 bottles
This English single malt whisky bottled by Cotswolds Distillery was distilled in May 2017 from Plumage Archer barley grown on the Highgrove Estate, the private country residence of King Charles, and finished in a shave-toast-recharred red wine cask.
Glenfarclas 12 year old, 40%, £86 ($107)
The Glenfarclas bottle is engraved with the coronation emblem, though the liquid inside is the standard 12 year old.
The English Coronation, 46%, £85 ($106); 5,000 bottles
The English Distillery has marked a number of royal births, marriages, and jubilees with keepsake bottlings. Its coronation whisky is an English single malt matured in bourbon and PX sherry casks.
Fortnum & Mason’s Coronation Royal Brackla 12 year old, 46%, £97.50 ($121)
Hunter Laing & Co. selected this Highland single malt finished in cabernet sauvignon casks since 2018 for Fortnum & Mason, the famed department store on Piccadilly in central London.
The Great Drams Blended Cask Series King Charles III Coronation Blend, 50.2%, £55 ($69) per 50cl; 50 bottles
A limited edition smoky, fruity blend of whiskies from Scotland, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
The Great Drams Single Cask Series Coronation 2023 Special Edition Girvan 15 year old, 48.2%, £65 ($81); 50 bottles
This independent single grain bottling was matured in a first-fill bourbon cask and chosen due to Girvan’s sustainability credentials in line with the king’s lifelong commitment to environmental issues.