Chivas Regal is a brand that most, if not all, of you will know. A blended whisky that can trace its roots to 1801 and a grocery store, 13 King Street in Aberdeen, and has defined four different eras of the mixed drink. Recently, the brand has been highlighting the four eras; The Classic Age of 1880-1920, The Post War Boom of 1945-1960, The Disco Years of 1975-1990 and The Age of Revivalism showing the present. Chivas Regal have been active in finding the first ever Chivas Master within the bartending world, asking them to create four cocktails, one from each era, that defines the reasoning behind the years as well as their own experiences. But the brand have also been highlighting a cocktail from each era, using Chivas Regal 12yr, meaning that consumers and whisky lovers can re-create in their own home.
So lets see how they fare.
Two out of the four cocktails presented were re-created, with the other two put aside for this test due to lack of ingredients at the time of re-creation. However that doesn’t mean that we can’t analyse what made a good whisky based cocktail.
The first re-creation was to be the Morning Glory Fizz, from The Classic Age of 1880-1920. The era that saw the birth of Chivas Regal and gave us the likes of the Daiquri, Manhattan and Martini. This certain cocktail came within the 1888 edition of famed bartender Harry Johnson and his bartender manual.
Morning Glory Fizz
60 ml Chivas Regal 12yr
1 egg white
2 tsp fine sugar
2 dash fresh lemon juice
2 dash fresh lime juice
3 dashes Absinthe
Shake all ingredients together over ice and strain into Martini glass. Fill to the brim with sparkling or soda water.
Using the Jade 1901 absinthe variety, and taking away the top up of sparkling or soda water due to the lack of this ingredient at the time, the finished cocktail gave off a noticeable absinthe aroma, rather light and aromatic on the herbs. A slight presence of the Chivas Regal comes through near the end. The palate enjoys a light, yet obvious offering of Chivas Regal, with a bold, soft kick of the Jade 1901 absinthe following. Produces a soft, fresh finish from the citrus elements, with a touch of dryness.
A great cocktail to sample and experience, and although it lacked the sparkling mixer, I personally think this would have dried the drink out a little. The absinthe gave the drink more body, with the citrus offering the fresh element and the Chivas Regal profile of honey and fruit sweetening the sips. A great start to the cocktail eras.
Skipping an era, I moved onto the Rob Roy from The Disco Years era of 1975-1990. Known as ‘The Dark Age’ due to the lack of focus on the craft, merely seeking sugar and colour more than anything, the Rob Roy (or the Scotch Manhattan) became the signature for Chivas Regal during this time. Although not the first time this drink has appeared within literature (Harry Craddock within ‘The Savoy Cocktail Book’ in 1930 or Reginald De Koven and his Rob Roy premier on Broadway), it tried to reign in the cocktail boom of the 70’s and 80’s.
30 ml Chivas Regal 12yr
30 ml Italian Vermouth
1 dash Angostura Bitters
Shake ingredients over ice and strain into chilled Martini glass.
Using Cinzano Rosso as the Italian vermouth, the simple creation offered a rich, floral aroma offered from the Cinzano, with a slight bitter cut from the Angostura near the end. A smooth, velvet texture on the palate, rather light, with the Chivas Regal profile bursting through on the end. A slightly dry finish.
Another great cocktail to experience, and despite its lack of ingredients compared to the other eras, sometimes simplicity is all you need to create a classic.
It’s interesting to see that although I missed the era of The Post War Boom of 1945-1960, the cocktail for this was the Starboard Light, offering the Tiki drink of Chivas Regal 12yr, passionfruit, lemon, honey and egg and being served within a Tiki Mug. The sudden change from the Morning Glory Fizz that shows elegance, sophistication and even maybe a hint of royalty, to luxury items like fresh fruit, honey and tiki mug vessels proves that the world can change drastically when opportunities arise. The opening of cultures after World War 2 brings in exotic ingredients to homes and bars, meaning colourful drinks with similar garnishes are expected instead of hard-hitting liquor only recipes.
To a point, this is fine. It offers more variety, more experiences of flavours, but as mentioned it relies on sugar and colours to sell to many, and the call for The Classic Age is needed to not define a line so-to-speak, but to cater all ages and palates.
The Age of Revitalisation can be said to be the same, with Chivas Regal promoting a 2013 recipe created by Agostino Perrone from the Connaught Hotel, London. This mixes both old and new; Chivas Regal, egg and sugar offering old ingredients, whilst yuzu mix (lemon and yuzu juice) and macha tea powder offers the new. It’s almost as if The Disco Years and Post-War Boom have died down to the point of customers are after a steady mix of bright and colourful from the 1950’s, unique, time-honoured and intriguing ingredients from the present and 1970’s, and classic and traditional serves from The Classic Age.
Who know’s what the future will hold, but I suppose the main point Chivas Regal are pointing out is that whisky has been and always will be a part of classic cocktails, no matter what the era. Chivas Regal have done well to point out themselves towards each, offering something different within. Looking around, no many other whisky brands could really do the same.
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