More complex than the standard Chivas and the cognac barrel finishing adds some nice smoothness and depth to an already good whiskey.
Notes: This is the latest release from Chivas Brothers and their master blender, Sandy Hyslops. It is a blend of at least 15-year-old scotch whiskies that are blended and then placed in former cognac barrels for further barrel conditioning/finishing.
This venerable firm dates back to 1801 and is covered in great detail in F. Paul Pacult’s book “A Double Scotch or How Chivas Regal and The Glenlivet Became Global Icons” (a wonderful combination of entertaining and informative reading). This company is currently owned by Pernod Ricard, which also owns numerous other whisky distilleries. This is not a single malt but a blend of various single malt scotch whiskies, all at least 15 years old or older. Two of the major single malts are Longmorn and Strathisla (18-year-olds), neither of which are commercially available but reviewed elsewhere on this website. Chivas has quite a range of blended Scotches ranging from the Chivas 12 to the Chivas 25-year-old with a few special bottlings thrown in. Currently, we have reviews of the 12-year-old and the 18-year-old and hope to post reviews of the other as they show up around here.
Blended scotch has suffered a bad reputation over the years as the single malts (which were before the 1960s virtually unknown) gained popularity and Blended Scotch started to become passe. People turned away from brown spirits and embraced colorless spirits. Blended scotch as a category was ignored, and many brands started to cheapen their offerings. Not so in the case of Chivas and a few others who strove to maintain their standards and preserve blends as something greater than the sum of its single malt parts through skillful blending. One of the newer trends is now to finish a blended scotch in a particular wine or spirits barrel for a final marrying and conditioning. Examples of this include the Chivas 13 Sherry Cask and the Chivas Mizunara Cask.
Gradually, blended scotch has started to gain more followers again and is not just something you see drunk in old movies- especially Noir movies where it was a staple.
Appearance: Light, clear honey color.On swirling leaves, a light coating on the glass with small droplets and legs forming.
First Impression: The cognac and oak finish stand out nicely, mixing with the barley notes. Well-integrated notes of dried fruit and leather are complemented by barrel char, light tobacco, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Taste: Slight to medium smoke/peat entry as it rolls over the tongue. Body is light and smooth. Cognac flavoring notes add some layers of smoothness and complexity for a
Drinks: Good for the classic scotch and soda, and of course, many other classic scotch cocktails, such as a Rob Roy. Remember, most scotch cocktails used blended scotch till recently; it is a lot more versatile and less likely to overwhelm a cocktail than a single malt – and usually a good bit cheaper, too!
Bottle: This bottle is similar to the old-school bottles, with some noticeable differences. The neck capsule is a major pain – it is very hard to find the pull tab to remove; the rest requires a razor to remove. The bottle shape is similar, but the glass is MUCH thinner. The screw-off cap is very flimsy, small, and cheap – I’ve seen better on disposable water bottles. There is not a quality feel to this package. The label is OK but lacks the posh of the older editions. The new back label has a QR code on the back so you can easily scan and look up their information, which is a somewhat useful innovation.
Other: For a lesson on blending whisky, please check out the excellent explanation in the Master Blender Sandy Hyslops Article on blending.
Final Thoughts: This is a great starter whiskey for those wanting to explore Scotch whisky without feeling too challenged by the peat monsters. It is also perfectly adequate as a cocktail ingredient for a scotch and soda.
A reasonably well laid out website with some information about each expression cocktails and some information. It also includes information on how to visit their distillery, which is an unusual and welcome addition to an otherwise rather corporate website.