In 1801, a man by the name of John Forrest opened a Grocer and Wine Merchant at 13 King Street in Aberdeen, specialising in luxury items like Coffee, Exotic Spices, Brandy from France, Rum from the Carribean and of course, Scotch Whisky.
Later, Forrest employed one James Chivas who was followed not long after, by his brother John. Within a few years the brothers had taken over the business and began to develop something of a reputation. Indeed, in 1842 they were selected to act as a supplier of goods to the Royal Family upon the occasion of Queen Victoria’s first visit to Balmoral, leading to the Queen granting her Royal Warrant the following year.
By the time the 1850’s came along, James had begun to note a desire amongst his affluent customers for a ‘smoother’ scotch experience and began experimenting with the vast stocks held in his cellar. His first concoction was named ‘Royal Glen Dee’ and its success placed the Chivas Brothers name at the forefront of the newly growing whisky industry.
Seeking to capitalise on the stateside boom of the time, Chivas Brothers launched a premium blend at the turn of the century. Aged for 21 years, this was an attempt to appeal to wealthy Americans seeking luxury products. Their ‘Chivas Regal’ blend became an instant hit, but the arrival of prohibition, closely followed by the Second World War, saw their sales slowly grind to a halt.
When the post-war American market reopened however, Chivas Regal was reintroduced as a 12 year old, which very quickly became one of the most fashionable brands in Hollywood, favoured by Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack as their backstage tipple of choice. This popularity led to the companies acquisition in 1949 by Seagrams, who went on to purchase Strathisla distillery in it’s entirety the following year, securing a regular flow of the malt often found at the heart of the Chivas blend.
First launched in 1997, the Chivas Regal 18 year old is bottled at 40% alcohol by volume and retails in the UK for around £55 a bottle.
Smell: Fresh Fruits, Citrus – Orange & Lemon, Vanilla and Toffee, touch of Oak.
Taste: Lots of Toffee with Oak, Dark Chocolate, Orange and soft Spices.
Value for Money: Like so many big name blends, you sense that it has been put together to appeal to as many people as possible – and to offend no-one – but that’s OK so long as the quality justifies the price and there is a well put together blend to be enjoyed here. Can’t help thinking of the other wonderful drams you could buy for £60 though…
A decent blend that will appeal to those who desire a subtler, more sophisticated dram. For the price there are other bottles that would certainly capture my interest first but as an example of a well-aged, traditional blended scotch, the 18 year old Chivas Regal has something to offer.