This post, the 65th, happened to coincide with my 50th whisky review which now meant I needed to open something a bit out of the mundane (based on our recent poll this had to be a blended whisky). The month of August too had several highlights which gave all the more reason that I pick something really Regal – and what’s more Royal than the Chivas 18 YO ‘Gold Signature’!
The whisky is a blend of around 30 different malt and grain spirits, with much of the former coming from the Speysides – Strathisla and Longmorn, while a few from Islay. As the name suggests, all of the whiskies that make this blend are of a minimum of 18 years, matured in a combination of American and European Oak barrels. And it is this very maturation and blending that have the distillers claiming it to inherit around 85 different flavors.
Though released in 1997, this Chivas did face some harsh criticism when the idea of an older blend was initially placed on the table. The 12 YO at the time had already been well established as a Premium brand and introducing another bottling, albeit more aged brought a sense of doubt as it might confuse their consumer base, needing more initiatives around customer education and awareness. Inspite of this skepticism, the distillers still went ahead with its release and sold well it did both in European and American markets!! It even managed to bag a Gold Medal at the ‘International Wine and Spirit Competition’ the following year and many more in the years to come.
Visually, the bottle keeps very much to the classic ‘Chivas’ designing; with minor nuances and shades defining each expression. This specific expression comes with an eye catching Royal Blue, both on the labelling and the collar of the bottle; the bottom base is thicker which to me adds more to its Super-Premium appeal.
ABV : 40%
Eye: Deep Copper
Nose: Initially greeted with the sweetness of sherry and caramel, you soon sense oak-wood and smoke. Hints of grain and lots of fruit – pear, red grapes, berries, and tangy grapefruit followed by some peat, milk chocolate and ginger shavings.
Taste: Sweet vanilla with a mild pungency from the peat. Rich fruit cake with bits of dates, raisins and dried fruits. Butter, honey toffee with a mild hit of menthol and white pepper.
Dilution broadens the range of woodiness, opening up shades of honey, some peppermint and a light spice on the nose, while also introducing a lot more sweetness from candies, cherry and christmas cake on the palate.
Finish: Medium – Sweetness from the sherry and a mild spice.
An amalgam of what’s young and aged – crisp, fresh and sharp while also mildly viscous and velvety with a light play of wood. The 18 brings a mild warmth on the palate with sufficient depth – layers of sherry sweetness. On the nose, there is an abundance of fruit and flowers; very aromatic and lively, most likely traits inherited from the grain. The whisky in my view does however miss the mark in terms of its complexity, albeit a bit.
Surely a pleasurable blend keeping with the Chivas DNA – good for a warm summer afternoon, a dram in celebration of something eventful or even as a treat to yourself, the Chivas 18 Gold Signature would certainly fit right in! And a testament that blends too can hold their ground, breaking the rather flawed ideology that Single Malts only hold the key to true whisky bliss
Preference: Neat/diluted mildly with a tsp or two.