Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by Chivas. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
“Not for all the whiskey in heaven,” said Charles Bernstein. If there is a heaven, it will have whiskey. I just hope it’s good whiskey.
Chivas Regal is a blended Scotch whisky brand. Its portfolio of aged whiskey spans from a 12-year-old standard offering and up to a 25-year-old ultra-premium bottle. With origins reaching into the 19th century, Chivas needs no introduction for the whisky consumer. For an excellent historical breakdown of the brand, please read: Chivas Regal 12 year old.
The bottle for review today is their 18-year-old offering, which is composed of 20 different grains and malt whiskies. Boasting “an incredible 85 unique flavour notes in every drop,” Chivas 18 strives to be seen as a bellwether for the sophistication of blended Scotch.
In the world of Scotch, it’s important to understand the difference between a single malt and a blended whisky. Some consumers read “single malt” and reflexively believe that the product is a single barrel. Instead, a single malt must be made at a single distillery from 100% malted barley and distilled on a post still. Most single malts are blends of many barrels with those specifications, a process typically referred to as “vatting.”
Blended whisky, on the other hand, can combine spirits from multiple different distilleries, and usually contains grain whisky distilled on column stills from other wheat or corn, as well as whisky distilled from malted barley on pot stills.
Blends by their nature are cheaper to produce, as grain whisky ingredients are less expensive and it can be produced in larger quantities more efficiently. To illustrate my point on price, compare this Chivas 18 blend, which is roughly $80 a bottle, against the Macallan 18-year single malts, which are usually well over $300. For many of us, cost is synonymous with quality. I am not going to wade into the waters of which is the better Scotch, that’s not the purpose of this review.
However, what I want to illustrate here is both Scotches are bound by the same rules around age statements, both are making Scotch, and both are very successful brands. Ultimately you might not have to pay north of $300 to find a nice 18-year-old Scotch, and you shouldn’t be made to feel you’re receiving a “lesser” whiskey if you opt for a blend.
Chivas Regal “Gold Signature” 18 has a consumer friendly price and a long history of production. Ultimately, as in all things, you may find blended Scotch isn’t your preference. You may enjoy the robust flavors more synonymous with single malt. That is part of the journey. What I hope to illuminate for you is not to turn your nose up at a blend because it isn’t a single malt.
Why do I think this is so important? Because that’s exactly what I did with this whiskey, and Chivas Regal 18-year-old blended Scotch humbled me a bit. With that, we turn to the glass.
Tasting Notes: Chivas Regal 18-Year-Old
Vital Stats: Blended Scotch whisky. ABV 40%. MSRP $72.00.
Appearance: a new copper coin
Nose: Lemon rind with a touch of alcohol gives way to fresh pine but not quite new timbers. As the fresh scents decay, there is a hint of peat smoke overlaying the initial smell. The first breaths from the glass are rounded out by leather and what can only be described as a green jolly rancher.
Taste: There is sweetness here, like a hard candy, but it doesn’t overwhelm. The palate opens with wisps of peat smoke, but it is extremely light and approachable. Across the mid-palate we have rich vanilla and creamy chocolate milk, although there is some acidity through the initial taste. It doesn’t burn going down and is extremely light.
You would almost believe this is a non-alcoholic Scotch with how easy it goes down and feels in the mouth. In a phrase, this felt like a sampler platter of Scotch, a little bit of everything.