The everyday whisky – that go to colleague after a hard day’s work; that chum, that ally that brings calm to a rather stormy day or one that’s easy on the wallet. And it’s not any average Joe that can meet this criteria; this bullion distilled brew has to be in a sense multifaceted – interesting and far from boring, easy on the pockets and readily available, not to mention, must tickle most if not all the five God given senses.
Enter The Chivas Regal, a favorite for many vacationers and one that checks most of the boxes! A quick scan at the Travel Retail outlets would prove testament to the quantity of bottles that race past cashiers and into plastic bags only to be filled later into glass tumblers and gulped down with joy, music and loud banter!
The Chivas Regal sells close to four and a half million cases annually with the gap between it and its arch rival, the Johnnie Walker Black diminishing. In some markets though this gap has diminished (rather obliterated), India being one in the year 2016! The Regal is made of a blend of malt and grain from the Speysides, the Highlands and the Islays in the ratio 2:3. Some of these whiskies come from the distilleries of Aberlour, Glenlivet, Laphroaig, Strathisla, Benriach, and the Allt-A-Bhainne; the Allt-A-Bhainne being the most recent.
The Chivas spawned from what was a humble beginning, a grocery store in the year 1801 with the Chivas brothers getting involved much later in 1836. Although initially they sold wines, rums and whiskies, the brothers began experimenting themselves much later, blending various grain and malts, selling them under their own household name.
By the mid-1850s they brought in their first proprietary blend followed by a second a few years later. But it was only by the early 1900s that they introduced their most aged whisky, the Chivas Regal 25 YO meant to target the super premier-luxury segment in the US – and with that Chivas Regal was born. However, with the advent of World War I supply to the Americas was cut off, a major market. The distillers diverted their focus locally as market dynamics went further south with prohibition hitting in the 1920s. The ‘Chivas Regal’ brand was almost forced into hibernation but fortunately relaunched once again in 1938 with the introduction of the 12 YO. The Regal now is in a sense omnipresent, available in more than 150 countries holding the No 1 slot in the Super Premium scotch category in Europe, India and China. The rest they say is history…
Eye: Yellow Gold
Nose: Brown sugar infused with honey, malty butter biscuits and custard. Quite floral with cuts of banana and kiwi combined with sweet-mildly sour green grapes and some white pepper. Not a lot of peat, just enough to catch your attention.
Taste: Vanilla with traces of mulberry accompanied by malt, cream and grain. Wood with bits of peat and some all-spice.
Finish: Medium finish – sweet vanilla and mildly dry.
From the ‘sands of time’ I haven’t really fancied the Regal 12; for me it’s always come as a very grainy spirit, not what I would expect from an old school 12 YO that prizes itself to be a cut above the competition. And so when I went into this review, I really wanted to be unbiased, free from any misconceptions or theories. And now that I’ve spent time with this dram, I’m surprisingly a bit amazed… I didn’t find it all that grainy on the nose, exhibiting layers of sweetness calling out much of the Speysides and the Highlands. The Islays however had very little to play here considering the characteristic peaty DNA was existent though not omnipresent – not a bad thing. The palate was sweet, delicate but somewhat faint lacking that robustness and oomph that you would expect from a 12 YO.
This young Regal is a near fantastic daily dram for those who have a sweet tooth and don’t want to burn a hole in their pockets. It will certainly be ‘the whisky of choice’ for the casual drinker and for those that like their spirit light and non-nonsensical.
For me however, I would have preferred a bit more breadth and complexity, one which the JW Black and many others offer. Better yet, the Teacher’s Highland, a spirit that is more rounded, well balanced and robust, not to mention value for money given the price!