This new Udaipur whisky lounge is as exclusive as it gets. By Riaan Jacob George
India just got its newest luxury address, and like all things truly luxurious, money can’t always buy you access to it. Within the uber-luxe confines of Udaipur’s Taj Lake Palace, the Royal Salute lounge recently opened its doors. The chic lounge welcomes whisky connoisseurs to enjoy a dram or two if you are a resident guest at the iconic palace. This is probably why it is deserving of its super exclusive tag, since you cannot just hop on a boat and sail up to the lounge, even if you can afford to do so.
Tucked away in the corner of the breathtaking marble terrace overlooking the jetty of the Taj Lake Palace and in the shadow of its magnificent white facade, the new Royal Salute lounge banks heavily on the fact that it is situated in a palace that dates back several centuries. No surprise, then, that the premium Scotch whisky brand — which was conceived to mark the coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II way back in 1953 — has a strong royal connection, fitting perfectly with the city of Udaipur.
As I sit on a cushioned marble bench, and the placid waters of Lake Pichola gently lap up against the palace’s periphery, I order a glass of the signature offering — a 21-year-old whisky. What makes it so special, you ask? Well, for starters, the maturing process takes place at Strathisla, the oldest working distillery in the Scottish highlands. As the city of Udaipur rolls out one of its famous breathtaking golden-hued sunsets with the City Palace in the distance, I enjoy this elegant smooth whisky, with a nutty, spicy, and long-lasting finish. To cap the evening, I sample the highly prized 38-year-old variation, with its unmistakable 24-carat gold crest and stopper. This one is an absolute treat. The nose gives me hints of fruits and figs, while the palate boasts notes of tobacco, spices, and chocolate, with a distinctly smooth and smoky finish.
On the beverage card, connoisseurs will soon find Royal Salute’s two new whiskies — The Malts Blend and The Lost Blend — added to the 21-year-old range, both created by Master Blender Sandy Hyslop. All this while enjoying a variety of delectable bar snacks served by the hotel’s chefs.
More than a bar, this lounge is part of a larger global trend of experiential luxury where immersive experience zones are created at iconic spots by luxury stakeholders. Royal Salute, too, plans to gradually roll out such experiential zones across the country. Given that Udaipur is considered one of the world’s luxury capitals, an experience like this would find takers among discerning travellers who, not only want to enjoy some fine whisky, but be a part of a larger luxury experience and story.