Royal Salute Lunar New Year 2024 Review – Year of the Dragon

It’s been a while since we reviewed an expression from Royal Salute here on the Great Drams site, so what better time to rectify that than right now?

Royal Salute whisky is a firm favourite amongst the Great Drams team (yes, I know we say that a lot, but we appreciate a fine whisky, what can we say?) Not only does it take the concept of blended Scotch whisky and throw it on its head, but it delivers time and time again, not only in terms of taste, nose, body, and appearance, but also in terms of story as well.

Royal Salute whisky is produced and bottled in the Strathisla Distillery in Speyside, by Chivas Brothers. The whisky itself was launched back on June 2nd, 1953, to pay tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth II on her Coronation Day.

Named in honour of the 21-gun salute fired from the Tower of London on special occasions, whiskies from Royal Salute age for at least 21 years. Now, you can see why we’re such fans of this particular brand.

Recently, in celebration of the Lunar New Year, they released their 21-year-old signature blend to commemorate the year of the dragon. This one is special, so grab a dram, get comfy, and let’s review it, shall we?

Year of the Dragon

Beginning February 10th, 2024, we saw celebrations begin for Chinese Lunar New Year. The biggest celebration in the Chinese calendar, Lunar New Year is all about removing the old, and the bad, and replacing it with all things good and all things new.

The celebration is the most popular holiday in Chinese culture, and is becoming more and more popular here in the West as well. It is a huge celebration, and consequently, it needs a special whisky. Well, Royal Salute have certainly delivered that.

Chivas Brothers are a bit like me, they love a good celebration and they aren’t afraid to go all out. Their whiskies saw not one, not two, but three new limited edition box designs created to celebrate the Year of the Dragon.

Two of these gorgeous designs were for another favourite of ours (yes, we know, we’ve a lot of favourites!) in the form of The Glenlivet, whereas the third was for Royal Salute. Take it from the Great Drams team, the artwork on the box, and indeed, the bottle, is absolutely stunning!

Artwork to Enjoy

This Year of the Dragon special edition whisky is made from Royal Salute’s signature 21-year-old blend of single malt whisky, in a gorgeous blue bottle housed within a decorated red floral box.

Bottled in hand-crafted coated glass flagons and featuring a signature blend box created by Chinese-born artist Yunshu Li, complete with gun salute motif and gorgeous vibrant colours which encompass Chinese New Year perfectly, this is a dram that any collector will surely want to own.

The illustration on the packaging features vibrant flowers, as well as traditional Chinese symbols such as lucky knotwork to bring prosperity, health, and happiness to those fortunate enough to drink it, as well as a dragon.

Royal Salute whisky was created to mark special occasions, and Lunar New Year is most definitely that. The 21-year-old blend itself is unchanged from how it was more than seven decades ago. It’s rich, it’s opulent, it’s full of character, and it’s full of flavour.

Tasting Notes

In all honesty, I could sit here all day and talk about how stunning the artwork on the box and coated glass bottle is, but words just don’t do it justice. See for yourself and you’ll know exactly what I mean.

While I can’t really go into huge detail about how stunning the artwork is, what I can go into detail about is how this special edition whisky tastes.

The Year of the Dragon is all about positive qualities such as strength, resilience, and power, and you certainly get these in abundance, from Royal Salute’s Lunar New Year 21-year old special edition blended Scotch whisky.

The whisky itself, looks almost as inviting as the packaging it is stored within. It’s a deep, golden toffee amber colour that seems to shimmer and glisten in the sunlight.

This is a blended whisky from Speyside, so as you might expect, it’s extremely smooth. At 40% ABV, it goes down far too easily and leaves you with a “wee glow”, rather than a throat that feels as if you’ve swallowed molten lava, or a McDonald’s apple pie fresh from the fryer.

On the nose you get strong orchard fruity notes, particularly pears, lemons, limes, and oranges. The fruity notes are balanced wonderfully by aromas of sweet vanilla, summer meadows, lavender, oak, and a hint of sherry, with bonfire smoke lingering very far in the distance. Some noses might miss it, but if you really put your nose to good work, you should find it.

On the palate is where the magic really happens, though. That first mouthful will awaken your tastebuds, providing hints of caramel hazelnuts, winter spices, sticky marmalade, stewed pears, and a hint of citrus zest. Sip again, and you should pick up slightly floral notes, a hint of toasted oak and caramel, and a very slight murmur of peaty smoke once more.

The finish is as you’d expect from a Speyside of this character. It’s smooth, it’s lengthy, it’s sweet and fruity, and it offers a terrific mouthfeel.

If you’re looking for a selection of rare, award-winning, limited-edition, and delicious Scotch Whisky just like the one listed above, be sure to head on over to our website and browse the huge selection of amazing drams we have available.

Here you’ll find all manner of different whiskies, primarily Scotch, to suit all palates and budgets, that you can’t get on the high street or down at your local supermarket.

Whether you’re looking for smooth and fruity Speyside whisky reminiscent of Royal Salute, a peaty, smoky dram from Islay, a tart and fruity expression, or anything in between, here at Great Drams we’ve got everything you need, and plenty more besides.  

Tags: Lunar New Year 2024Royal SaluteYear of the Dragon


My name is Greg, and I’m a brand strategy consultant, writer, speaker, host and judge specialising in premium spirits. My mission is to experience, share and inspire with everything great about whisky, whiskey, gin, beer and fine dining through my writing, my brand building and my whisky tastings.

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