Options: How did you come to join Royal Salute?
Torquhil Ian Campbell: I first started working for a Pernod Ricard distribution company in 1996 in Hong Kong and travelled throughout the region. When Pernod Ricard bought over the whisky business of Seagrams, which owns Chivas Brothers, I came back to work on its integration. We had a subsidiary called Campbell Distillers and, within that organisation, there was very limited experience of working in Asia, which was a very big market for Chivas Brothers. So I ended up working with Peter Prentice [current global VIP relationships director of Chivas Brothers] and the two of us did Asia, the Middle East and India together. I spent a huge amount of time in Asia promoting Chivas Regal and Royal Salute.
In 2007, I sort of officially left the company as a day-to-day employee because I found it very difficult to run my own family business up in Scotland [the breathtaking Inveraray Castle is also his family home] and spend six months of the year travelling the world. I got married in 2002 and our first child turned up in 2004 and so I was probably not being as good a husband and father as I should have been. So I had to kind of just realign my priorities.
They said, ‘We don’t want to lose you. Would you consider taking up the role as a sort of global ambassador for Royal Salute?’, which was more of a consultancy than a day-to-day employment role and I’ve been travelling around the world for Royal Salute ever since and loving every moment of it.
What makes Royal Salute special?
We like to say that Royal Salute starts where other whiskies end, which is not strictly true but the fact that the youngest whisky in our blends is 21 years old makes it different from many others. And the fact that it is such a smooth and balanced blend makes the flavour profile much more appealing to a broad spectrum of people. It’s not a really strong, smoky Isla whisky, nor is it just a rich, floral, fruity Speyside whisky. It just has a little bit of everything in it.
Do you have a favourite?
I like the 21YO signature blend because it’s really approachable and easy to drink. From the whiskies that are more available, my favourite is probably the 38YO Stone of Destiny because it’s big and powerful. I was heavily involved in the launch of that particular whisky and we did it in Korea, Japan, all over Asia. They took a whole lot of artefacts from my castle in Scotland and we did this exhibition around the world. So that has a lot of memories for me.
How do you usually drink your whisky?
It very much depends on what the occasion is and the weather. I would prefer to have it with a little bit of water or neat, rather than a cocktail. That’s my preference. I really enjoy the flavours of whisky, so I try not to mix it up too much.
What are some of your responsibilities as a duke?
Well, they’re not the same as they used to be a long time ago. One of my hereditary titles is Master of the Royal Household in Scotland, so I am one of the [late] Queen’s representatives. I’m the head of a big global family, Clan Campbell — there are 13 million of us around the world — so it’s quite busy, but I don’t go around raising armies as my ancestors used to. I suppose at the end of the day, I’m the owner and managing director of a business.
Your work requires you to travel to London quite a bit. What are your favourite places to eat, stay and drink?
Well, I think my favourite is probably Din Tai Fung in Covent Garden for a bit of Taiwanese dumplings. One of my favourite hotels would be NoMad in the West End of London. And, oh, Scarfes Bar [named after legendary British artist and caricaturist Gerald Scarfe] at the Rosewood London.
What would you recommend someone do during their first visit to London?
I think a great shopping experience for all visitors to London is a couple of hours walking around Harrods in Knightsbridge!
What do you do on a day off?
I’m a very outdoorsy person. I love being outside. I love fishing, shooting, walking, chopping down trees ... I like fresh air.
What does your perfect weekend look like?
Picnicking with my family, making them go out and actually do some hard work. I’m not very good at sitting inside; I have itchy feet.
What is at the top of your post-lockdown travel wish list?
I’ve always been very Asian-focused. That is my favourite part of the world. Always has been. Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand and I love bits of China as well.
This article first appeared in The Edge's London special issue on Oct 10, 2022.