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Chivas Regal 12 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky

Review: Chivas Regal 12 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky  87.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published February 13, 2014

Chivas Brothers were established at the turn of the 19th century (1801) as a grocery store in Aberdeen, Scotland. The company gained a strong reputation for luxury goods, and as a result they began (in the 1850′s) to produce a premium blended scotch whisky to meet a growing demand from their customers for a more refined whisky than was available at that time. Chivas Brothers cemented their reputation for producing quality whisky, and even today they are considered by many to be the standard-bearer for premium blended Scotch whisky. The company is currently owned by Pernod Ricard, and the home of their blended whisky brand, Chivas Regal, is the Strathisla Distillery (founded in 1786) located at Keith, Moray in the Speyside whisky producing region of  Scotland.

Chivas Regal 12 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky is Chivas Brothers’ flagship whisky. The blend includes both grain and Single Malt Whiskies which have all been aged a minimum of 12 years. Their line-up also includes 18 and 25-year-old blended whisky expressions. Although the Company is owned by Pernod Ricard, in Canada the Chivas Brand is distributed by Corby.

chivasregalIn the Bottle 4.5/5

The Chivas Regal 12 Year Old Scotch was actually the first Scottish whisky I ever purchased (about 30 years ago). I was in University at the time completing my undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering, and what drew me to the bottle was how much nicer and more elegant it appeared than the rest of the scotch in the liquor store. This whisky reflected well upon my new status as a Civil Engineering undergrad (at least that is what I believed at the time). Although that assessment may make it seem that I was somewhat shallow or perhaps even full of myself back then, it also underscores how a solid bottle presentation is related to in-store sales. The bottle has changed very little in 30 years, and it remains one of the nicest whisky presentations in the entire blended whisky category.

In the Glass 8.5/10

When poured, the whisky in my glass has a nice golden glow, and the initial aroma is very pleasant with notes of butterscotch entwined with vanilla and herbal notes of lemon grass and heather. As the glass breathes, I begin to notice more woody tones with scents of willow, and sandalwood mixed in. A bit of sweet maltiness comes through as well as just a small dab of grainy spice.

My overall impression is that the Chivas is very well-balanced, moderately complex and should be quite nice to sip..

In the Mouth 53/60

The impressions in the breezes above the glass are reinforced across the palate as I can taste everything the nose brought forward. Perhaps the wood spice makes the whisky taste drier than I was expecting; but the dryness is quite welcome as is the creamy mouth feel. I taste impressions of lightly sweet butterscotch and vanilla, and the light spicy heat of fine oak and grain. There are fruit flavours of lemon citrus and hints of freshly sliced yellow apples and pears as well. The herbal character the whisky possesses continues to remind me of willow trees and heather. Underneath and providing ancillary support is a mildly bitter almond-like flavour as well as the some lightly sweet malt.

My nose did not deceive me, the whisky is a pleasant and moderately complex sipping whisky which I am enjoying much more today, than I did 30 years ago. (I suspect that despite the hubris of my youth, I just wasn’t prepared for a whisky like the Chivas Regal quite yet. It takes time to appreciate good whisky.)

In the Throat 12.5/15

The finish is of medium length with a moderate touch of spice that taps at the tonsils and lightly heats the palate. After the swallow, I taste ebbing flavours of heather, vanilla and almond.

The Afterburn 9/10

I have always maintained that a well crafted blend can deliver every bit as much enjoyment as a well crafted Single Malt Whisky. Chivas Regal 12 Year Old Blended Whisky is a perfect example of this sentiment. This is a smooth whisky which offers the light creamy sweetness of a single malt coupled beautifully with just the right amount of spice and character. The whisky is not off the charts great, but based upon the 12 year age statement, and the price, the Chivas Regal competes very well with similarly aged Single Malts.

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.

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Suggested Recipe:

Here is a classic cocktail which is said to have been named after the 1922 film Bullfighter which starred Rudolf Valentino. It is usually made with common orange juice, but using the juice of the blood orange adds a certain flair to the cocktail.

SAM_1022 Blood and Sand(I believe that the original recipe in the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book actually specified the juice of the Blood Orange.)

Blood and Sand

3/4 oz Chivas Regal 12 Year old
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth
3/4 oz Cherry Heering (sub cherry brandy)
3/4 oz Fresh Squeezed Blood Orange Juice
ice
Orange Zest
Brandied Cherry

Add the first four ingredients into a metal shaker with ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker frosts
Strain into a cocktail glass
Garnish with flamed orange zest and a brandied cherry

Note: If  you are interested in more cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more mixed drink recipes!

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As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.

0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

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