Chivas Regal already has a reputation as the most prestigious Scotch whisky in the world and with its pedigree comes a wealth of experience, inspiration and patience dating back 200 years. So when the makers of Chivas Regal decide to create a new whisky, it has to live up to this fame, and honour one of the finest reputations in premium whisky and luxury goods.
The Creation of a Great Whisky
Chivas Brothers has continued the tradition set down by James and John Chivas by building an unsurpassed inventory of aged whiskies – malts from every region of Scotland and fine grain whiskies, each with their own individual characteristics. From these Chivas Regal and other famous blends are made.
When Chivas Brothers produces Chivas Regal 18 Year Old, they are looking for a blend which bears all the hallmarks of the Chivas Regal style - smooth, stylish, impressive. You might assume it is simply a question of ageing the highly acclaimed Chivas Regal 12 Year Old for a further six years and bottling it. Not at all; Chivas Regal 18 Year Old must exhibit the Chivas Regal style, yet offer a different facet of its personality.
Two Very Special Single Malts
Two very special malts are especially reserved for Chivas Regal 18 - Strathisla and Longmorn, two of Chivas Brothers' famous line of malt distilleries set in Speyside.
Strathisla, the oldest operating distillery in the Highlands, and the first distillery bought by Chivas Brothers in 1950, has long been at the heart of Chivas Regal. Purchased to secure it for blending, Strathisla is a rich, fruity malt with a hint of nuttiness, whilst retaining the smooth and mellow characteristics for which Speyside is famous. Strathisla has predominantly been reserved for the Chivas Regal 12, but now, at 18 years old, it has the chance to show an even greater mellow, nutty sweetness and creamy smoothness.
Longmorn distillery is located to the north of Strathisla on Speyside, on the flat gentle farmland that runs down to the sea. It has long been prized for its rich, floral notes and its long, mellow finish. Despite its limited availability, Longmorn has still managed to win some of the industry's top awards, including two Gold Medals at the International Wine and Spirit Competition, the most recent in 2003. Longmorn, matured for at least 18 years old, was an obvious choice to bring depth and exceptional richness to the new blend and contribute to its long finish.
Both malts are bottled in very small quantities as single malts, but at 18 years old, they are reserved exclusively to add exceptional richness to Chivas Regal 18.
Once the final selection of whiskies has been made, the Master Blender adds one final touch to allow the full palette of flavours to develop for Chivas Regal 18 Year Old. Once the malt whiskies, and separately the grain whiskies, are vatted, they are put back into oak casks for a further period of maturation called 'marrying'. This allows the malt whiskies, and separately the grain whiskies, to merge harmoniously over time, before finally being blended together ready to be bottled as Chivas Regal 18 year old.
It is important to do this with older whiskies according to Chivas Brother’s Master Blender. Older whiskies are more complex and it takes time for those flavours to intermingle. This further maturation brings out the full expression of the flavour, finesse, balance and smoothness that makes Chivas Regal 18 distinct.
“Chocolate, lush and fruity - a beauty”
The result is impressive indeed. When first introduced, the new whisky was immediately awarded a Gold Medal at the International Wine and Spirit Competition (1998). Accolades from the most renowned of judges poured in. Michael Jackson marked it 8½/10, Whisky Magazine’s Dave Broom called it “Chocolate, lush and fruity - a beauty” and gave it 9/10. Both famous for their love of malts, they warmed to this sumptuous blend.
In the US, spirits editor of Spirit Journal, Paul Pacult, announced,“This whisky possesses the rare quality of having strength and elegance balanced in harmony” and concluded “This is already a classic; you can take it to the bank that blended Scotch does not get any better; Hats off to Master Blender Colin Scott of Chivas Brothers.”
A Final Accolade