Chivas Regal

Review: Strathisla 21 Year Old 1992 Single Malt Scotch Whisky (Douglas Laing Director's Cut) by Jason Hambrey

ABV
57.6%
Aging
21 Years; Refill hogshead
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Strathisla (Keith, Scotland)

Strathisla is the oldest continually operating distillery in Scotland (by their claim, although the truth here is a bit dubious - in the Highlands - yes), but, because most of its distillate goes into blends like Chivas Regal, we don't see many official bottlings (i.e. from the distillery) coming from Strathisla - the 12 year old is the most common, I believe. Thus, the distillery's profile has to be accessed from independent bottlings, like this one from Chivas Regal.

Douglas Laing, an independent bottled, used to have this Director's Cut as its oldest and rarest whiskies - but now XOP - extra old particular - contains these.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: Cask 9541, distilled 1992

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2013

A big, malty, fruity nose – with lots that comes through especially with some added water. Fresh grape, raisin, butter tarts, apples, pear, stewed fruit, vanilla, peach crumble, and light oak. Quite a terrific nose. Very light oak, custard, parmesan cheese, and a bit of earthy barley.

The palate follows suit, with sherry, grape, cinnamon, orange peel, and Thompson raisins coming to the fore with some absolutely terrific maltiness and butter. The finish evaporates quite quickly and is lightly bitter, but has some raisins, malt, and caramel and milk chocolate truffles. 

I prefer this one with a bit of water added in – the complexity really shines through. At cask strength, it might be called a sherry monster – but there’s not quite enough sherry, and it’s balanced terrifically by some solid malt. Very nice! Too bad about the lacklustre finish, or this would be a step higher.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Low, at $295.


Review: Chivas Regal 18 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
18 years
Recipe
Scottish Malt and Grain Whiskies
Distiller Multiple (Scotland)

This blend, originally produced in 1989, is very well respected among connoisseurs - indeed, I originally sought it out because of Whisky Advocate's 96 rating of the blend. I've read elsewhere that many bloggers said this was a game changer for them - I have found that with many blends, particularly the older ones, that complexity is very high and patience is rewarded if you take time nosing and tasting (as can be easily seen through other old blends like Ballantine's 17). I like that you can often find mini bottles of this (200 or 375 ml) which make terrific gifts.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: LKPG 0648 2015/02/20 09:42

  • Bottling Date: 2015

The nose is rich, with lots of apple, pear, and vanilla. Lots on the nose – typical fruitcake spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, clove), oak, grape, stewed pear, toffee, nut brittle, confectionary coconut, and some beautiful malt as well.  Light bitterness, and ever-so-light floral notes as well.

The palate shows lots of malt, raisins, with a bit of earthy barley coming in before the oak takes hold of the end. Light cloves in the background throughout. Some very nice stewed apricot in the background as well. Decent mouthfeel, and the grains come in quite nicely providing a nice elegant base – but the malt is still driving the flavour. And the more I have this, the more I am appreciating the malt in it. The finish has oak, spices, raisins, malt, and the earthiness of the barley coming through as well. And a touch of asparagus. Complex on the finish. Elegant.

The nose shows a lot of complexity – very terrific. The palate just doesn’t quite punch enough flavor. Still, very well blended and complex. If it had a bit more body on the palate, it’d do much better. Oh for 46%...a whole lot better than the 12.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: The lower end of average, based on $100.


Review: Chivas Regal 12 Years Old Blended Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
Scottish Malt and Grain Whiskies
Distiller Multiple (Scotland)

One of the biggest blended Scotch whiskies, which originally supplied the Royal Household in Scotland with whisky, and hence the name “Regal” along with Chivas, the last name of the brothers (who were grocers like many of the early blenders) who originally blended the whisky. This whisky originated in Aberdeen, and, like the original blends – was suited to the palate in its market – light, in this case, on the eastern coast unlike the bolder whiskies (and blends such as Johnnie Walker) which came on from the west. The brand is owned by Pernod Ricard.


Review (2014)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2013

Nose: Pears, roasted malt, vanilla, brown sugar, sour green apple, hay, and vanilla. There are light sherry notes on the nose as well; and the nose seems quite green – it reminds me of green shoots and grass. There is, additionally, some almond and just a tiny touch of oak. As it sits longer I do just sniff tiny hints of the peat.

Taste: Quite light, with maltiness and fruit (pears) dominating at first before some fruitiness and a touch of earthy peat on the finish come up on the finish with some salt. It’s odd as I didn’t detect much peat on the nose, but it is definitely present in the taste at the end. It’s not often you taste what you don’t smell. It’s fairly quiet, light, and simple (at least as far as whiskies go!). There’s some lovely, slightly sweet malt with little trickles of vanilla. And there’s also a bit of light, milky chocolate too!

Finish: the peat clings on for a bit, donating a good mossy character to the finish, and then it fades as quickly as it came, and we are left with a strong malt character and then the earthiness comesout again from the peat, which I do quite like. There is also a touch of a vegetal note, perhaps green bell pepper, as well. Also a little bit of brown sugar. It is very clean overall.

It’s quite bright and light, and there are no big problems with it, which is a plus – but I do wish for a bit more. It’s very light, easygoing, and drinkable. It could, in my opinion, be balanced a bit better and demand a bit more attention.

Value: Average, based on $53.


Review: Longmorn 16 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Longmorn 16.jpg
ABV
48%
Aging
16 Years
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Longmorn (Elgin, Scotland)

Longmorn is well known as a sought after component of blends, lying at the core of many of the Chivas blends. On its own, it is well regarded as a great single malt by many - and this 16 year old was terrific. It has recently been replaced by a whisky which is the same age (16 years old), but has a higher proportion of first fill American oak casks and therefore less sherry and European oak casks. But, might I add - the price also jumped up considerably with the new bottling, almost an extra 50%. I'd raise an eyebrow to both of those moves...


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: 2014/04/01 08:40 LPN10465

  • Bottling Date: 2014

Brilliant – you can just tell when you get a nose at it with all the grape and edgy malt,along with the apricot and dried, marshy corn stalks you smell in bourbon with some cheesy sherry notes coming through as it sits. It’s flowery, malty, sweet, earthy, grassy....on the palate a bit sour with some very nice, complex showing of barley and a good enduring creamy finish full of grape, butterscotch, barley, and dried peaches and apricots. Complex, and the weight of the whisky at 48% is just fantastic. One of my best tastes this year, continually outshining others in side-by-sides.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: High, based on $100.