Blended whiskies more often than not, have aligned themselves to years of mediocrity, not really being as experimental as their malty counterparts. There’s now been a huge realisation to adapt and imbibe techniques that were considered quite unorthodox until recently. Johnnie Walker was one of those to take this walk with their Blender’s Batch, moving into varied cask maturation, finishing and blending . Not many blenders took to the habit, and Chivas it seemed certainly wasn’t going to take any more lying down.
To Chivas this was not only it…an opportunity existed in a segment they hadn’t quite capitalised for a while now – an abyss that laid between its 12 and 18 year old expressions. In all fairness, Chivas did have other expressions that filled this slot, though translucently as many of these were NAS offerings that themselves were finding it hard to identify with consumers.
Johnnie Walker was miles ahead, drawing success and popularity over its much prized 15 year old expression – The Green Label. So adored was this whisky that the distillers received much flak for taking it off their shelves and had no other option but to reintroduce it once again.
Came 1st October, 2018 and the world saw Gold! Chivas had taken to whiskies’ most adored shade and painted their whole cavalry in the lush, royal-rich colour – advertisements, boxing, labelling were all 22 carat. The “XV”, was Chivas’ 15 YO answer that not only gave it the push it needed into the segment that it had been ignorant off but also represented innovation with some of its contents being finished in Grande Chapagne Cognac casks.
The bottle of course is typical Chivas, but the highlights and streaks of gold in and around the labelling along with the unorthodox roman numerals make it stand out quite well. The boxing is a simplistic yet eye catching fusion of gold and white, one that oozes swag.
Eye: Deep copper, surely the presence of some E150a
Nose: A drizzle of caramel and butter over sticky honeycombs, smoke and wood greets a mix of raisins, coconut shavings, milk chocolate with hints of green pepper and ginger peels.
Taste: Brown sugar followed by rich raisins, cantaloupe and mulberries. Red fruits, grapes and honey, wood and bits of pepper.
Finish: Medium – Winey with hints of caramel and a welcoming warmth.
The XV is no doubt a Chivas with the traditional flavours rooted at its core. And though I might not be a die hard Chivas fan, there’s a few layers of flavours coming through from the sherry barrels and the cognac finishing which bodes very well with this blended whisky. It’s not absurdly priced, and at $75-80 AUD, it’s better bang for buck than most 15 YO blends.
It’s fun, enjoyable and rather simplistic. Not overly complex with an acceptable range of flavours across the spectrum and can be enjoyed neat, with ice or as a cocktail.