Big business blending

Posted 21 July 2017 by Matt / In Blend
The Dramble's tasting notes for Chivas Regal 18 year old Gold Signature

Bottle Name: Chivas Regal 18 year old Gold Signature

ABV: 40%
Age: 18

Chivas Regal Scotch is big business - you'll see it simply everywhere. Even some of my non-whisky drinking friends own a bottle in amoungst their oft-times unusual booze cupboards. It's therefore no surprise that its the market leading Scotch, aged 12 year and above, across both Europe and Asia Pacific. The 18 year old 'Gold Signature is a blend of over 20 single malts and grains from across Scotland - a large portion of the blend coming from Strathisla distillery in Speyside, which Chivas Brothers purchased in 1950.

Amongst the elements that make up Chivas Regal 18 year old, the key single malts are perhaps threefold - Strathisla (of course), Longmorn and an undisclosed Islay distillery. If you ever get the chance to take part in a 'deconstructed tasting' where each of the separate 'component' elements are tasted separately (Benromach do an excellent 10yo deconstruction by the way) I'd highly recommend it. A deconstruction of a blended whisky offers tasters the opportunity to understand for themselves how the marriage of malts with grains can produce an enhancement finished product that is greater than the sum of its parts in terms of both balance and complexity. 

In the case of the Chivas Regal 18 year old, the blurb on the Chivas website implies a huge degree of complexity with the suggestion that there are '85 unique flavour notes in every drop'. It's therefore perhaps a bit of a marketing blunder to (in the tasting notes section: only list out 5 exceptionally vague ones. Let's see if I can do any better.

Nose: Straight in with sweetness from caramel, demerara sugar and a reasonable kick of vanilla. There are fruity notes of bananas, sour cherries, stewed pears, and perhaps some light rum-soaked raisins. Smoke is discernible though fairly slight and certainly sweet-smelling. Spiced elements favour gentle cinnamon.

Taste: Less sweet on the palate than the nose might suggest, but still with demerara sugar elements present. A decent arrival with a relatively coating mouthfeel given the 40% ABV. Smoke is more present now, but still of the sweeter variety. However, rather than feeling wispy like the nose it’s more embedded throughout the dram. Hay and a light earthiness are married with toasted cereals and grains, light polish and glue and a waft of pipe tobacco. There's a real buttery almost creamy taste which does not translate itself into silky mouthfeel, but does come across solidly as flavour in the palate itself. There’s a mild, yet vague citrus note here – not clear enough to be classed as lemon or lime, but it does provide some zing and freshness.

Finish: Medium in length, and with some astringency. Polish and glue notes (no bad thing here) are apparent alongside some overt pepperiness.

A solid, easy-drinking and generally balanced blended Scotch – in fact, a good benchmark for others to aim at. Coming in at around £50 this represents good value for money vs. quality in the bottle. I’d love to see the list of 85 unique flavours that are apparently in this bottle – It just isn’t that complicated a proposition as far as I’m concerned. I’ll stake my claim to discerning 16 flavours here across the whole experience – proof once again that tasting notes written by marketing bods are generally just hilariously awful.

Score: 83/100

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