Monkey Shoulder’s Ultimate Bartender Championship’s (UBC) UK winner has been crowned, with Chelsie Bailey from Red Light bar in Bristol taking this year’s title. Bartenders up and down the country had their skills put to the test – with the 2017 competition seeing entrants quizzed on everything from pouring and nosing, to stock take and tray service.
Chelsie fought off tough competition from over 100 entrants who battled their way through heats in six cities – with the last heat taking place in London on Sunday 14th May. Despite the outstanding efforts of entrants from all areas of the country over three months, it was Chelsie that proved she indeed has the “skills to pay the bills”.
The Ultimate Bartender Championship will now bring together all the global winners at this year’s Tales of the Cocktail – the world’s premiere cocktail festival. Chelsie, along with other winners from around the world will enjoy an all-expenses paid trip to New Orleans, where they will have the opportunity to network with the industry’s most influential personalities and other UBC winners from across the world.
“There is no doubt that it was a hard-fought battle – but it is amazing to see Chelsie win for the UK and head off to Tales of the Cocktail this Summer – it’s going to be epic! UBC is intended to challenge the best bartenders across the UK, and the stiff competition this year proves that it is doing just that” commented Grant Neave, Monkey Shoulder brand amBADASSador.
The whisky world is diverse, with many ways of producing the wide range of flavour profiles we seek and enjoy. It’s fitting then that the Spanish Sherry producers Gonzalez Byass, specifically Master Distiller Antonio Flores, have partnered with Master Distiller Richard Paterson to offer a different kind of blended whisky to the market.
Essentially, 26 malts and six grains, aged between 5 and 8 years, are blended together in Scotland within American oak barrels for three years.The whisky is then transported to the Gonzalez Byass Bodega in Jerez, where it is finished in Perdro Ximénez sherry barrels for a further year (Oloroso and Fino casks were also experimented with, but deemed surplus due to the Ximénez being more enticing to the flavour profile required).
It may seem short and sweet, but with a release of only the fall of last year, there’s really only one thing left to say, how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Nomad Outland – 41.3%
Soft sherry notes on the nose, with a light vanilla scent following. Raisin flavours hit the palate, with a very light, thin texture of vanilla, followed by a slight spice with a fresh finish.
There’s always a brand in the world that I’m intrigued about. It could be something new, or perhaps a re-brand of a timeless classic, or in the following case, a 61-year-old brand that I’ve simply never had the chance to experience. Well I can tick off one from this sub-category as tonight I have had the pleasure of being introduced to Royal Salute via the medium of a tweet tasting.
For those who don’t know, a tweet tasting is a social media (Twitter to be precise) based tasting of a variety of expressions, involving many experts, novices and connoisseurs who give their opinion on the brand as they work their way through the portfolio. For me, it’s a great chance to sit down and get my head around a specific brand whilst chatting to like-minded folk, plus it throws in one or two expressions I’ve never had the pleasure of trying. In the case of Royal Salute though, my slate is clear.
First though, a little about Royal Salute.
Royal Salute came about due to a man called Charles Julian, Master Blender at Chivas Brothers, wanting to mark the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. He worked to create an unheard blend of whisky, a 21yr, and ultimately took the name from the Royal Navy’s traditional 21 gun salute. Created within the Strathisla distillery, located in Speyside and owned by Chivas Brothers, Royal Salute has only ever had four Master Blenders since its inception, and prides itself on being the only Scottish whisky with a range starting at 21 years old. In fact, that very first Royal Salute 21yr was said to have been created with some of the world’s rarest whiskies that were aged in cellars since the 1920’s and 1930’s.
It’s not just the liquid that is rare to create, but the bottles themselves have a story to tell. Or to be precise the Royal Salute 21yr, for example, is housed within a porcelain flagon. Each flagon’s journey can be traced to the Jurassic period, with its Cornish clay from the period being hand-crafted, air-dried and then burnished in one of three colours – Ruby, Emerald and Sapphire – to represent the jewels on Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation crown.
Or how about the Royal Salute 62 Gun Salute decanters, crafted by Dartington crystal. These are individually blown by the Master Glass Blower who creates a midnight blue outer wall and a crystal clear inner wall. The bottle is then hand cut with a diamond-tipped tool so that both the clear glass and the whisky can be revealed through the blue crystal. Each decanter is the result of over forty hours of care and attention.
Not bad eh?
Question is though, how do the expressions fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Royal Salute 21yr – 40%
A marriage of whiskies aged no less than 21 years. Sweet fruits on the nose with plenty of Autumn air aromas coming through. Subtle dry oak with beeswax notes too. Smooth start on the palate, with a slight developing spice. Orange marmalade flavours combine with dry nuts, leather and dry spice to finish. Long.
Royal Salute The Diamond Tribute– 40%
Created by Colin Scott to mark the 60th anniversary of HM The Queen’s Coronation. Royal Salute The Diamond Tribute has been crafted from an exclusive collection of whiskies, the rarest of which have been selected from the Royal Salute Vault at Strathisla, the oldest working distillery in the Highlands of Scotland.
Plenty of peach on the nose with soft sherry notes lingering. Very rich and thick on the palate, with sweet raisin and dry plum flavours dominating. Lingering dryness to finish with a slight toffee kick.
Royal Salute 38yr Stone of Destiny – 40%
Crafted from whiskies aged for no less than 38 years, this unique blend shares its name with the Stone of Destiny, the legendary and enigmatic Coronation stone of the ancient Scottish Kings.
Lots of damp sherry oak on the nose with hints of wood-infused vanilla and dried almonds. Very rich on the palate with plenty of dried fruits, floral forest floor and thin honey kicks. Long, rich and mouth-watering.
Royal Salute 62 Gun Salute – 43%
Previous Master Blenders Charles Julian, Allan Baillie and Jimmy Lang, as well as current Master Blender Colin Scott, have all set aside over the years a rare collection of the finest whiskies. With 40 years of maturation, only a few litres are bottled from each cask. Named after the ultimate ceremonial honour in the British tradition, the firing of 62 cannons which is an exclusive privilege of the Tower of London and reserved only for the most special Royal anniversaries.
Ripe plums dominate the nose, with lots of fresh berry notes combined with warm spice. Oh wow! A fantastic palate that develops from light and sherry flavoured to an incredibly rich orange, hazelnut and fresh smoke finish. Bold, intense and absolutely fantastic.
An absolutely cracking range of blended whiskies here, with the 62 Gun Salute one of the best I’ve come across, and I can safely say matches the price. You really get a sense of prestige with these expressions and is a worth-while treat for any whisky lover. One for the cabinet at home perhaps, or at least one to look out for in your favourite whisky haunt.
Chivas Regal, the world’s first luxury whisky, has launched The Venture – a global search for the most promising social entrepreneurs: those with businesses or ideas that use enterprise and innovation as a force for good.
‘The Venture’ is an international fund which provides aspiring social entrepreneurs with $1 million of financial assistance, global exposure for their company or idea and support from world-famous business mentors. Chivas Regal will support those who aim to succeed whilst making a positive impact on the lives of others by providing mentorship and financial backing.
Up to 20 new social entrepreneurs from different countries will be invited to a week-long, training-camp in Silicon Valley, California – home to some of the world’s leading start-ups. These finalists will have the opportunity to meet leading technology companies, be mentored by experts, and to pitch for a portion of the $1 million in funding to take their business to the next level.
The most exciting businesses with the potential to succeed ‘the right way’ will be showcased on a new dedicated website, http://www.TheVenture.com. From April 2015, the public will be able to support their favourite ideas by voting and donating through the website. The site will also feature short documentaries about social entrepreneurs from around the world, providing insights into their success as well as daily articles with advice and features about the business of ‘doing good’.
The launch of The Venture coincides with the release of one of the most comprehensive independent reports ever conducted on the growing relevance of social entrepreneurship around the world. Commissioned by Chivas Regal, the report is entitled Redefining Success in a Changing World and has been co-authored by experts from the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford’s Saïd Business School.
Richard Black, Chivas Regal Global Brand Director, says: “We have always valued entrepreneurship, and generosity is at the heart of Chivas, so supporting those who use their success to create value for others feels like a natural fit. We are committing significant resources through The Venture to find and support the most inspiring social entrepreneurs around the world, and hope that each of those businesses will inspire other entrepreneurs to use business as a force for good, creating a growing movement with real momentum behind it.”
Helping to launch The Venture is the next instalment of the successful Live with Chivalry campaign – Win the Right Way – a series of advertisements and short films that deliver a powerful provocation for social entrepreneurs around the world. Oscar-nominated actor Chiwetel Ejiofor (of 12 Years a Slave fame); Golden Globe nominated actor and singer Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis) and Winner of Best Actor Silver Bear at Berlin International Film Festival 2014 Liao Fan star as the story-tellers in the different language version of the film, introducing the stories of social entrepreneurs from around the world and calling on others to follow their lead.
The promotional short films can be viewed from today at http://www.TheVenture.com, with further information about the competition plus interviews with Chiwetel Ejiofor, Liao Fan and inspiring business leaders all featured on the website.
Win the Right Way aims to inspire a new generation to achieve success whilst making a positive impact on the lives of others and is the latest instalment of Chivas Regal’s successful Live with Chivalry campaign, which launched in 2008.
Blended Scotch whisky, Black Bottle, has made a bold appointment for its newly created position of Global Ambassador with the highly respected and well-renowned Scottish bar expert Mal Spence taking up the reins. The Burn Stewart-owned whisky is on an ambitious roll-out plan to ensure it becomes the blended Scotch whisky of choice for the world’s best bartenders.
With more than 15 years experience tending, managing and building up the reputation of some of Scotland’s best bars, Mal brings with him a wealth of knowledge and inspiration that will help the brand achieve its aims. Mal has a close connection with Black Bottle, having created the whisky’s key simple serves and working with bartenders around the world to develop more complex cocktails.
During his career, Mal’s expertise and influence has been recognised with a number of awards and accolades – he is the only Scottish bartender ever to make the Havana Club Grand Prix World Final; a former SLTN Mixologist of The Year two years running; winner of Maxxium’s Liquid War competition; and industry bible Class Magazine bestowed the 2011 Best Bar Menu award for Mal’s work at the Blythswood Square Hotel in Glasgow.
In addition to his role with Black Bottle, which will see him visiting key markets around the world, Mal will continue to direct operations at the much-feted Kelvingrove Café in Glasgow, winner of the Best Cocktail Bar at the 2013 Scottish Bartenders Network Awards, which he helped establish in 2013.
Plans for taking Black Bottle to new audiences in its key markets around the world are well underway. The inspirational story of its creator, Gordon Graham, the striking new-look packaging first unveiled last year and the flexibility of its liquid in creating a vast array of serves, ensures Mal has a credible and quality product to present to key influencers in these markets.
Commenting on his appointment, Mal Spence said: “The Black Bottle Ambassador job really shone out as an opportunity I just couldn’t say no to. The story of its creation and the life of Gordon Graham is a truly inspiring one among so many in Scotch whisky history and it will be a big part of the exciting and informative education plan we create for bartenders and passionate drinkers around the world. It is all in keeping with the inspiring stories I have looked for when developing numerous drinks menus over the years.”
“Blended Scotch whisky has been unjustly forgotten by many bartenders in recent years and with its liquid profile and striking presentation, I’m confident we can encourage bartenders and drinks enthusiasts to reconsider the category and put Black Bottle into their speed rails,” added Mal.
Welcoming the appointment, Marco Di Ciacca, Global Marketing Manager, Black Bottle said: “It is a real coup to secure a man of Mal’s standing as our first brand ambassador. For Black Bottle to succeed, we need to be more relevant to today’s drinker. Mal’s approach to creating drinks and all-round knowledge of the on-trade will really help us engage the bartenders around the world who are the gate-keepers to many of these drinkers as we expand in many new markets.”
Having set the standard and re-energised the tradition of hotel bars with his award-winning work at Blythswood Square Hotel in Glasgow from 2009, Mal has become a leading figure of the Scottish bar industry. Mal will start his visits to key markets in September and report into Marco Di Ciacca, Black Bottle Global Marketing Manager.
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.
Chivas Regal, the world’s first luxury Scotch whisky, is collaborating for the second year running with an acclaimed British craftsman as it continues its successful Made for Gentlemen campaign.
The new release sees the brand link up with Patrick Grant, a modern icon in luxury menswear credited for reinventing bespoke London tailors, Norton & Sons of Savile Row. The limited edition, which contains a bottle of Chivas 12, showcases four silhouettes that each features a different style accessory associated with modern gentlemen: a tie, a cufflink, a watch and a pocket square.
Richard Black, Global Brand Director for Chivas Regal, comments: “Last year’s collaboration with Tim Little was our most successful to date, distributed in over 60 markets. With our new limited edition, we wanted to celebrate the values of craftsmanship and heritage that are integral to Chivas Regal and we’re delighted with the result. It has been a pleasure to work with Patrick Grant, a renowned figure in the tailoring industry and we hope Chivas Regal fans will enjoy and treasure this unique collectible.”
Patrick Grant remarks: “The collaboration with Chivas Regal was a natural alliance of artistry and shared vision. The tailor’s obsession with mastering complexity in achieving perfect balance in form and finish are values also held dear by the Master Blender of Chivas Regal, Colin Scott. Ultimately, we both strive to give our customers stand out experiences and luxury goods of lasting value.”
The launch will be supported by a new Made for Gentlemen App – which allows fans to create a personalised Facebook cover image, composed of modern and luxurious men’s accessories. An introductory video for the limited edition, featuring Patrick Grant explaining the craftsmanship behind bespoke tailoring and its synergies with Chivas Regal, will also be available at http://www.chivas.com/gents
The Chivas 12 Made for Gentlemen by Patrick Grant limited edition is available from September 2013 in over 60 markets, both domestic and Travel Retail.
1896. A year that would produce a brand that would be proud to say that it’s Scotland’s number one selling whisky for the last 30 years. The name? The Famous Grouse.
But how did this happen?
A Perthshire grocer and wine merchant named Matthew Gloag is the founder of The Famous Grouse after his father set up Matthew Gloag & Son in 1800. Matthew Gloag became a house-hold name after he was invited to supply the wine for a banquet for Queen Victoria on her first visit to Perth in 1842. Gloag purchased whiskies from distilleries around Scotland and in 1860, his son, William Gloag, took over the company and began producing blended whiskies. In 1896, William’s nephew, also named Matthew after his grandfather, took over the company.
Matthew creates a whisky called The Grouse Brand. Matthew’s daughter Phillippa draws the Red Grouse that adorned each bottle and became their trademark. He added the word “Famous” to the name in 1905. Sales boomed and two years later, re-located to a bigger purpose-built facility in Perth called Bordeaux House. After retiring in 1910, son Matthew ‘Willie’ Gloag took over the company reigns. 60 years pass until the acquisition by Highland Distillers (an Independent Scottish Company), where in 1984 it was granted a Royal Warrant.
The Famous Grouse can even add a BAFTA to its mantlepiece, winning for its The Famous Grouse Experience after it opened to the public at its Glenturret Distillery in Crieff in 2002.
The Famous Grouse have a portfolio of five as well as their new The Famous Grouse Ginger Grouse, and I’ve been lucky enough to try some. With this, below, I give to you my tasting notes –
The Famous Grouse – 40%
A marry of The Macallan and Highland Park with grain whiskies for a long period in fully seasoned oak casks. Toffee aromas dominate the nose with a malted barley scent at the end. Well-balanced on the palate with a slight sweetness. The barley comes through again with hints of spice that develops over the long finish.
The Black Grouse – 40%
A marriage of The Famous Grouse with Islay malt whiskies. Soft peat on the nose with hints of smoke drifting around. Smoother on the palate with the smoke becoming more noticeable over the peat. Creates an incredibly long finish.
The Snow Grouse – 40%
Produced using an extra process in Smoothchill Filtration. Designed to be drunk cold. Smooth on the nose with a fragrant aroma of vanilla coming through near the end. On the palate, a sharp, slightly harsh flavour of vanilla with an almost tequila like taste lingering around giving a warm after-taste.
The Naked Grouse– 40%
Matured The Famous Grouse within sun-dried sherry oak casks. Buttery vanilla on the nose with aromas of dry wood following. Lots of weight on the palate with toffee and caramel flavours mixing well to create a slight sweetness. Whisper of smoke to finish.
The Ginger Grouse – 4%
A ready-to-serve The Famous Grouse and ginger beer. Fresh ginger aromas on the nose with hints of citrus darting through. Light and refreshing on the palate with burst of ginger and sweet flavours. The Famous Grouse is light but still noticeable on the lingering finish.
A great range of blended whiskies, and one to include in a rather simple drink if required –
Grouse and Sparkling Apple
50 ml The Famous Grouse
1 Fresh apple
Place a generous amount of ice in the glass and pour The Famous Grouse. Add the Appletiser without drowning the whisky and drop in a thin sliver of apple.
Simple, but sometimes that’s all it need to be! A worthy addition to any drinks cabinet, and indeed on a visit to any The Famous Grouse bar. It’s not as bad as you’d expect for the stigma that blended whisky has. Honest!
March is nearly at an end, and last night we could say the same for the third instalment of Manchester Whisky Club. Catering for those who want to meet up regularly for a chat with like-minded whisky fans, and a couple of drams to of course chat over.
Held at the Lass O’Gowrie, the third meeting had a theme compared to last months Tomatin led evening. Club founder Andy brought along with him 5 blends to do battle in the aptly named ‘Battle of the Blends’.
Soft fruit nose with hints of citrus and vanilla. Smooth on the palate with a slight spice lingering. Sweet toffee flavours mix with the vanilla nicely to create a long finish.
Chivas Regal 12yr– 40%
Punch of fruit and honey on the nose with lots of fresh notes. Well rounded fruit and nut flavours on the palate, with a slight spice lingering near the end. A very long finish that warms.
Tweeddale 12yr – 46%
Light notes of vanilla and toffee on the nose, with the palate a heavier wood and herbal blend, although lightens off near the end. Hints of spice and salt linger.
Black Bull 12yr – 50%
Sweet aromas of sherry and molasses, with hints of fruit following. The palate enjoys a kick at the start, with treacle and green fruit flavours creating a lingering after-taste. Slight dry spice also.
Compass Box Spice Tree – 46%
Fruit aromas on the nose with a rich, spicy flavour igniting the palate that evolves into a lively well-rounded after-taste.
Sheep Dip– 41.8%
Toffee and chocolate powder aromas on the nose with an underlying sweetness that develops. Rather smooth and soft on the palate with a slight kick near the end of marshmallow. Short.
Feárr Cuideachd – 40%
Our very own Manchester Whisky Club blend from Whisky Blender. Strong, sharp nose of green fruit that carries over onto the palate. A slight spice with an herbal flavour coming through. Lingering finish.
A rather delightful collection showcased, with the Black Bull 12yr being a surprise favourite for me. Great to try the Monkey Shoulder, Compass Box and Chivas Regal again, as well as the workings of the Whisky Blender.
Next month will be the ‘Old and Rare’ evening where according to Andy, we will ‘crack out the history books and look at some more mature and rare bottlings over the course of the evening’.
It’s about time I showcased a brand that has been a part of the culture for over 200 years, Chivas Regal. With brands like Monkey Shoulder paving the way for the introductory whisky, there are still some of the faithful who are after the more established brands like Chivas Regal or Johnnie Walker, and they have stood the test of time meaning only one thing – they’re actually rather good!
To give you an idea of how Chivas Regal has come through with flying colours, it makes sense to start at the beginning.
James and John Chivas, aka the Chivas Brothers, traces its roots to the opening of a grocery store at 13 King St, Aberdeen in 1801. The store sold luxury items such as coffee, exotic spices, French brandies, and Caribbean rums to a wealthy clientele. In 1842, Chivas Brothers were retained to supply provisions to the royal family at Balmoral Castle upon Queen Victoria’s first visit to Scotland. With this royal connection, 1843 saw the Chivas Brothers granted a Royal Warrant to supply goods to Queen Victoria.
During the 1850’s, James Chivas decided to respond to his affluent customers’ demands for a smoother whisky, by beginning to blend whiskies to create a proprietary blend to Chivas Brothers. Their first blended Scotch whisky named ‘Royal Glen Dee’ was launched, followed in the 1860’s by their second blended Scotch whisky, ‘Royal Strathythan’.
In the early 1900’s, Chivas Brothers decided to create their most aged blended Scotch whisky to export to the U.S, where the booming economy after the turn of the century was fueling demand for luxury goods. Chivas Regal was born. Its success with the Chivas Regal 25 yr, launched in 1909, heralded the company as the leading brand in the US right up to Prohibition in the 1920’s. Expansion came in 1949 in the form of Seagrams purchasing the company, which provided a much wider distribution.
Following the end of Prohibition and World War 2, Chivas Regal relaunched itself in the USA with Chivas Regal 12 yr and became associated with the big names from the Rat Pack era. 1950 also saw the purchase of Strathisla distillery in Keith, Moray. Built in 1786 on the banks of the river Isla, it is today the oldest distillery in the highlands of Scotland.
The late 1990’s saw the Chivas Regal range expanded to include the 18 yr (launched 1997) and 25 yr (launched 2007), as well as now being marketed under the banner of Pernod Ricard.
Over the years, Chivas Regal select their whisky from casks that have been matured for at least twelve years. It is the skill of the Master Blender Colin Scott to select the casks of malt and grain whiskies to create the range that also includes a Brother’s Blend for Duty Free.
2014 saw Chivas Regal expand their awareness too, launching The Chivas Masters to the bartender world. Competitors are asked to create four cocktails, representing the four cocktail eras – Classic Age (1880-1920) which saw the birth of Chivas Regal; the Post War Boom (1945-1965) during which time, Chivas 12 was introduced; the Disco Years (1975-1990) which saw the brand become a global icon, and the present modern Age of Revivalism. With heats around the UK, with the overall winner off to the global final has made this competition one of the one’s not to miss. Brand Ambassador for Chivas Regal Phil Huckle says that “the competition is set to stand out, to challenge bartenders to think about the history of the brand, instead of just the flavour profile from the expressions”. Most of all though, Phil says that he wanted it to be fun. A tall order creating four cocktails each in one heat, but with a craft of bartenders willing to stretch that extra mile, elements of fun will no doubt be a part to stand apart.
Consumers though will not miss out on these creations, with Chivas Regal looking to promote the winning cocktails within Chivas Regal events around the country. One such event has been the Chivas Regal ‘Art of Blending’, where you can learn the tips, tricks and conjure up your very own deluxe whisky blend using several of Chivas Regal’s malt and grain whiskies.
In 2016, Chivas Regal launched the Chivas 18 Ultimate Cask Collection, a limited edition series that reinterprets the brand’s celebrated Chivas 18 expression. The Chivas 18 Ultimate Cask Collection First Fill American Oak Finish will introduce the series, and is available exclusively in travel retail.
Gently rested for a period of time in first fill American Oak casks. Subtle peach and vanilla notes on the nose, with honey and citrus rind softly following. A sharp start on the palate of citrus, followed closely by pear, subtle stoned cherry and prune. A long, fresh finish.
So back to the range, how do they fare? Well I’ve been lucky enough to try three expressions under the Chivas Regal banner, which my tasting notes can be found below –
Chivas Regal 12yr– 40%
A blend of many different malt and grain Scotch whiskies, matured for at least 12 years.
Punch of fruit and honey on the nose with lots of fresh notes. Well rounded fruit and nut flavours on the palate, with a slight spice lingering near the end. A very long finish that warms.
Chivas Regal 18yr – 40%
Includes over twenty of Scotland’s rarest single malt Scotch whiskies.
Orange and vanilla notes combine on the nose and palate, with hints of wood lingering. Spice flavours revealed near the long finish.
Chivas Regal 25yr – 40%
The world’s first luxury whisky launched in 1909. 15 whiskies blended within, all aged for a minimum of 25 years.
Light wood notes on the nose with a slight orange and peach blend coming through. Very smooth on the palate with lots of aromatic, light peach flavour with slight grapefruit notes. A dry, lingering finish.
Three great expressions, worthy also to add a couple of ingredients to them –
50 ml Chivas Regal 12yr
35 ml Fresh pineapple juice
15 ml Fresh lemon juice
15 ml Simple syrup
2 dashes of Angostura bitters
50 ml Soda water
Fill a highball glass with ice cubes. Shake all the ingredients and strain into the glass. Garnish with an orange wheel and a piece of candied pineapple.
or to be a bit more adventurous,
50 ml Chivas 18
25 ml 12 year-old Oloroso sherry
1 whole egg
6 ml Honeyed spice syrup
1 drop Fee Brothers’ Aztec Chocolate Bitters
2 tsp black cherry jam
To make your own honeyed spice syrup, bring 200 ml white sugar, 200 ml water, 3 tsp honey, 0.5 tsp ground cinnamon, three whole star anise and half a vanilla pod to the boil. Simmer for five minutes. Strain and leave to chill in the fridge.
Add all the ingredients into a dry cocktail shaker (no ice) and shake for 30 seconds. Fill the shaker with ice and shake for a further minute. Finally strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
So even though it has stood the test of time for 200 years, it’s still managed to come into the 21st Century and win the cocktail enthusiast over with simple and extravagant serves. Easily found too, it’s a brand that should be the staple to any drinks cabinet or bar.
Thanks to Phil Huckle for his time and to chat all things Chivas Regal with him.