Royal Sandringham oak used in exclusive �100,000 Diamond Jubilee Scotch whisky
Norfolk connections for anniversary whisky with exclusive price tag
Oak from trees on the Royal estate at Sandringham has been used to create the casks for a very special blend of �6m whisky bottled this week for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
The move was a calculated risk by experts at John Walker & Sons, as English oak is not often used for the delicate art of producing Scotch fit for the wealthiest people in the world.
The stakes were extraordinarily high as this particular whisky costs �100,000 a bottle and only 61 have been created to mark the Royal milestone - with one destined for the Queen.
'We did not know what would happen with English oak. We had no plan B,' said master blender Jim Beveridge when the finished product was bottled on the 60th anniversary of the Queen's accession on Monday.
'Thankfully Norfolk did not let us down and the gamble paid off,' he added.
'I feel an immense sense of pride to be involved in this project. An extraordinary amount of care and attention has gone into every stage of crafting this Scotch Whisky and there has been a great sense of excitement.'
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Norfolk expert whisky writer Dominic Roskrow, of Wymondham, was one of the privileged few to taste the blend this week.
'Jim Beveridge is a genius and what he created is absolutely fabulous,' he said.
Mr Roskrow added that it had been a risk to put such an expensive drink into English oak as it could have gone horribly wrong.
'I have tasted some 50-year-old blends which really were not very nice at all. I would like to think that in this case it was the last process which helped mellow it and make the whisky balanced. It really is whisky fit for a Queen,' he said.
Two hand-made casks were created from the Sandringham oaks to ensure every possible royal connection could be made to the exclusive bottles.
The whisky within was blended in 1952 and was put in the hand-made casks in October last year to create a unique drink which is presented in a diamond-shape bottle. Invitations have been issued to those with the means to buy a bottle with a �100,000 price tag.
The presentation case also includes elements of Sandringham oak but a spokesman for distillers John Walker & Sons' parent company Diageo, said it was unlikely to herald a new line of enterprise for the Royal estate.
'Usually you can get two casks from one oak tree and they need to be grown on a huge scale. I would imagine any oak from Sandringham would be going for cabinet making,' he said.
The Queen and Princess Ann coincidentally planted oak trees on the estate last week as part of a Jubilee Wood project with the Woodland Trust.
The casks used for whisky have to be pre-used and usually come from North America where they have stored bourbon or wine, or from Spain where they have been used in the sherry industry.
'It is unusual to use a new cask and so these were filled with Pedro Ximenez, a powerful dark, sweet, sherry before being used for the whisky,' said the spokesman.
John Walker & Sons used more than 60 artisans to create bespoke pieces to present and accompany the whisky.
The diamond shaped Baccarat crystal decanters stand on a crystal base with six radial legs and are adorned with Britannia silver. The collars are set with a half-carat diamond, the Royal Arms, John Walker & Sons monogram and individually numbered seals.
Each bottle comes with a pair of lead Cumbria Crystal glasses and a commemorative artifact book, hand-bound and personalised for each owner.
All the elements are housed in a chest made by the cabinet makers incorporating oak from Sandringham to echo the casks, and Caledonian pine from the Balmoral Estate.
The bottling was completed on Monday at Royal Deeside at the Royal Lochnagar Distillery near the Balmoral Estate.
The profits from the sale of the special whisky are being donated to the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST) with a guaranteed amount of at least �1m to support the excellence of craftsmanship symbolised by the Royal Warrant.