BlogSpirits & Wines

Introduction by: Peter Marshall

A great first feature for us on Pernod Ricard Global Travel Retail’s recent launch of Royal Salute Miami Polo Edition. We take a deep dive into reviewing the strategy behind the launch as well as cover the unique elements of the blended Scotch whisky itself.  Our thanks to Liya Zhang, VP Marketing, Pernod Ricard Global Travel Retail for a very insightful interview. 

Peter Marshall (PM): Welcome to, Liya. Can we start this conversation by asking one simple question: why Miami for the latest Royal Salute edition? What sets the city apart? 

Liya Zhang (LZ): Royal Salute’s aim is to capture the cultural dimension of iconic places linked with Polo. Miami is a modern-day polo destination and an integral stop on the international polo circuit. It’s well known for its vibrant cultural scene that makes it a great source of inspiration to craft an exceptional new Scotch whisky. The Americas travel retail market also represents a new growth opportunity for Royal Salute and one with huge potential. 

PM: Why did you decide to focus on US travel retail for this expression? Does this mark a shift in wider strategy, or is it simply because of the Miami focus?  

LZ: This represents a huge growth opportunity for Royal Salute not only in the US but across the Americas; the prestige category is gathering momentum, in correlation to the high-net-worth community in the US. 

PM: The use of rye casks as a finish is interesting. Can you share what proportion of casks in the blend were finished in rye? 

LZ: Whilst we can’t share the exact proportion of casks in the blend, what we can tell you is that it holds all the characteristics of Royal Salute’s sophisticated house style, with a unique twist. Royal Salute Master Blender Sandy Hyslop continuously looks at ways to innovate with our high-aged inventory, but always ensuring it is done at the right moment. When the inspiration to capture the dynamism of Miami came along, Sandy knew that finishing the blend in first-fill bourbon and first-fill rye casks would tell the story in a multi-faceted way, specifically through the hand-picked American oak casks, chosen to echo Miami’s golden beaches.

PM: Why are rye casks particularly compatible with the Royal Salute blend? Did you make any tweaks to the blend recipe to make the pairing more harmonious? 

LZ: Royal Salute blends are orchard fruit forward. Floral and opulent blends make a perfect pairing for bourbon/rye casks. The result? A superbly smooth whisky with notes of vanilla and coconut from the bourbon and a subtly spiced finish coming from the rye, that captures warm city sunsets as a nod to the city’s glamorous lifestyle.  

PM: To what extent are cocktails part of your strategy for Royal Salute? How are you educating consumers in GTR about how to mix whisky/give them confidence to mix drinks at home? 

LZ: We encourage consumers to enjoy Royal Salute neat, on the rocks or as part of our cocktail strategy, but of course, Royal Salute expressions should be served according to personal preference. Cocktail recipes for polo Miami can be provided upon request.

PM: Global travel retail sales declined 3% in your most recent set of half-year results. To what extent and how will major activations like this one help make up ground in H2? 

LZ: We believe the performance tracks with a normalisation of the trading environment, however this has not dampened our commitments to offer travellers the very best portfolio of products and elevated retail experience they have come to expect from Pernod Ricard Global Travel Retail. Innovations such as the Miami Polo Edition; the 360 degree amplification campaign and a stunning experiential pop up at Miami Airport which support it in travel retail are testament to these commitments.

PM: Chivas Brothers has been widely and rightly celebrated for its sustainability progress in Scotch, especially at production level. How are you making sure that launches and activations like this one are also as sustainable as possible? 

LZ: Pernod Ricard Global Travel Retail launched its award-winning life-cycle analysis tool for all retail activations in 2021, ensuring that we uphold ambitious circular making goals. We have managed to reduce the carbon footprint of all our retail activations (collectively) by over 50% since introducing it. 

In addition to this, we follow strict sustainability and responsibility guidelines for all of our events – sourcing locally, reusing and recycling build materials where possible, promoting responsible drinking – underpinned by the principles of our Good Times from a Good Place Roadmap. And, as you may already be aware, Royal Salute has introduced in recent years a coated glass flagon as a high quality but more sustainable way to present our Scotch whiskies, and the Royal Salute 21 Year Old Miami Polo Edition flagon has been created using that material. Although this expression is designed to be treasured for years to come, the coated glass flagon is easily recyclable around the world. To date, Royal Salute has focused on transitioning the flagons to be recyclable, by 2025 the brand aims for all bottles and outer boxes to be fully recyclable, reusable or compostable.

Peter Marshall

Founder: Arts
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