Friday, February 5, 2010

Chivas Regal 12 years old - Review






My first encounter with Chivas Regal 12 year old blended scotch whisky was in law school.

One time following a Christmas time exam that finished at noon, I and a couple of classmates piled into a taxi and dropped by a local bar on the ground floor of a hotel, Sheraton, at that time. The dimly lit bar would be mostly empty except for the odd business types eating club sandwhiches and maybe cougars travelling in packs of two, who were feasting on salads. Myself, a mature student, who left a career as an insurance adjuster to return to school, Gordon, a failed businessman who thought law would lead to days of wine and roses, John, a top student suffering soul searching angst about whether he should go to med school instead (wish I had that problem) and Brian, not really a friend, but like a bad penny, we just couldn’t shake, would tumble into the bar and attract stares of consternation from the aforementioned patrons and bar staff. Brian, I might add, was cruelly nicknamed Barney after the character on the “Simpsons” because he was disheveled, smelled bad and looked like a drunk who just woke up on a park bench or under a bridge.












In any case, we would drop into red leather wingback chairs, dark burnished wood panel walls behind us and stare out the massive windows at the winter river that was mostly frozen. To warm ourselves up, and defrost our minds from the frantic study leading up to the exam, we would order Rusty Nails. This drink was composed of 60/40 mix of Drambuie and Chivas Regal 12 years old plus a couple of ice cubes. What a nice drink! The Drambuie and Chivas melded into an incredible drink.

In those days, I did not enjoy scotch neat, matter of fact, I had no appreciation of scotch whatsoever. Two weeks ago, I found myself in the liquor store scanning a wall of scotch, thinking what will I review next? Chivas Regal 12 years old appeared and I remembered I liked it as an active ingredient in a Rusty Nail, but would it work on its own?

Nose (undiluted)
Citrus, apples, maybe damp leaves.

Palate (undiluted)
Smooth, sweet honey, applesauce and hazelnut. Mid-palate: creamy vanilla, ocean spray of sea salt and heather.

Finish (undiluted)
A little Oloroso sherry? I think so. Some peat/smoke, heather and sea salt linger nicely and dry across the palate in an expansive manner.










General Impressions
The taste starts out sweet but finishes dry. I am impressed!

Frankly, I had very low expectations. Anything so widely available can’t be that good I thought to myself. I was wrong. This blended scotch exhibits no bite, bitterness or rough edges. It is designed to be smooth and totally inoffensive. It succeeds in this aim.

I am also pleased by the lack of a certain graininess that is very common in many blended scotch whisky. By graininess, I mean an unadulterated alcohol/bitter flavor that I associated with cheap blends.

It is a 12 year old blended scotch whisky, and compared to other 12 year old blended scotches, it does very well. Matter of fact, it can hold its own against the gold standard of 12 year olds, Johnnie Walker Black Label. Chivas Regal 12 years is priced competitively too so you are getting good value for money. Unfortunately, when you upgrade to the 18 year old bottling of Chivas, you could buy many superior single malt blends for less.

The limitations to this scotch are if you compare it to single malt scotch whisky. Of course it will come up a bit short in such a comparison, but you are not making a fair comparison. General Motors manufactures Chevrolet and Cadillac, but comparisons are not helpful as you are not comparing apples to apples.

Nevertheless, I do prefer this to some single malts. Depending on my mood, I could enjoy this blend just as much as Glenfiddich 12yrs or Glenlivet 12 yrs. But, there are certainly single malts that are superior like Cragganmore, Dalwhinnie and others!

Chivas Regal 12 years old serves up a rich, smooth blended scotch that most certainly is dominated by Speyside single malts. At the core of this blend is Strathisla single malt. You probably never heard of Strathisla and that is due to the fact that the Chivas and Glenlivet Group (the corporate owners of Chivas Regal) do not promote the brand. The principal purpose of owning Strathisla is to cement a steady supply of the main single malt ingredient making up the Chivas Regal blends.

I am so impressed with Chivas Regal 12 years old that I will have to reconsider my review of the 18 year old bottling.  I truly think I prefer the 12 to the 18.  Here is my review of Chivas Regal 18 (click here). Too much money for a mediocre blended scotch whisky is what the 18 is.



Jason

Copyright © Jason Debly, 2009-2017. All rights reserved.

88 comments:

  1. I largely agree with the notion of the considerable value of Chivas 12 yr old, for the buck. Your notes on the nose-ing is interesting, not sure how much apple and citrus I've detected when noseing the scotch, but then again, I have only sampled the 12 yr old...three times, perhaps? Enjoyed the review!

    I know you must get a share of "suggestions" to your annoyance, but I was wondering if you had considered at any point reviewing Jamesons 12 yr old Irish whiskey? I revisited the sauce very recently, and was impressed highly as compared to my former times of sampling it in dissapointment. Cheers!
    -Yochanan

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  2. are* interesting...

    Wow! Maybe the scotch is finally going to my head!

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  3. I do not mind suggestions to review. I welcome them matter of fact. My only limitation is my pocket book, as I do not accept samples, and the selection where I live. Fortunately, Jameson 12 yr is available. So, I will put it on the list to review.

    Thanks for posting!

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  4. sir, you are absolutely correct when you said that chivas 12 years is value for money. its new year's eve and i simply enjoy sipping this scotch whisky as i celebrate the ocassion. thanks!

    brian

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  5. Thanks for posting Brian. Chivas 12 is great and frankly better than the 18 year old.

    Have a Happy New Year!

    Jason

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  6. I have a bottle of CHIVAS REGAL 12 YR OLD Scotch Wiskey that my Dad left at my house over 16 yrs ago. I was wondering if this bottle may still be good. It has been on a shelf in my bar and didn't know it was there till recently.

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  7. I think if the bottle has never been opened, the whisky is not cloudy, there is no debris of cork floating in it, then your whisky is fine to drink. Unless it was in direct sunlight and exposed to extreme temperatures, then you are ok.

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  8. I tried on a American Airline flight and was pleasantly surprised, normally I buy JW Black but this is very good and about 12 bucks cheaper...good stuff

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  9. It is surprisingly good! People just assume it is not great because it is massed produced and readily available everywhere!

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  10. Got my first sip of Chivas Regal 12 in a Sheraton hotel as well :-)
    Had to go there for a company training week, so the evenings were spent in the hotel lounge and bar...
    From that moment on, there's no other scotch in my bar but Chivas... Perfect value for money!!!

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  11. Hello Anonymous! Glad you like Chivas. It gets a lot of sneers from time to time from self-professed scotch experts or fans. But its huge sales globally speaks volumes as to how good it is!

    Cheers!

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  12. In years past I was being transferred to Connecticut for employment purposes. My best friend showed up at the door with two bottles of Chivas 12 the night before my departure. This was my introduction. I've been enjoying it ever since. Oh by the way, I did make it to the flight on time.

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  13. Now that gives new meaning to the word "friendship"!

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  14. Hello Jason and other malt addicts,

    This time I tend to disagree a bit with you guys on the Chivas 12. It certainly is not a bad blend and it's not very expensive. Well actually in Brazil it is. Around USD 65,--. But I found it to be quite uneventful.Here is what I thought:

    Nose: Oak and Malt followed by some Sherry and Fruit (Orange and Peach). Not much else there but still pleasant enough
    Taste: Creamy Delivery with some toffee ,sherry and spice. Then suddenly something of a bite on the palate.
    Finish: Short, some spice .Not much here as well. A bit of hazelnut after a while.
    Conclusion: The nose, as so often, is the best part of this rather unbalanced blend. The rest is a bit agressive .It’s not really bad but not something I would recommend .Buy a miniature bottle first (as I did).

    I rest my case

    Saude!

    Jan

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  15. Its was surprisingly very smooth!! And for $21 i got a bottle and two glasses... well worth it!!

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  16. I think the "whisky critics" beat up on Chivas far too much. As you can tell from my review, it's great scotch and for $21 you cannot go wrong!

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    Replies
    1. Well I finally bought myself a bottle of this, and though far more expensive here (like everything else) I am finding it immensely drinkable, which I know is why it was put on this planet.

      I've also come to the conclusion that the light and fruity speyside profile is just not in style with the critics right now. It's not challenging and therefor one can not be an elitist with these drams. Chivas 12 is a lot like Glenfiddich 12 to me, though the latter has a much fuller, creamier body. Chivas is also not as simple as people like to dismiss it as, but because most of what you taste falls into the fruity range, it's just not seen as very interesting these days.

      I am enjoying

      Delete
  17. I have two bottles of CHIVAS REGAL 8 Year old Scotch Wiskey, that purchased approx 5 year before. Still I hav't used these bottles. Alchohol having any expiry period? Can i use this now?

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  18. Hello Anonymous,

    There is no 'expiry' date on an unopened bottle of scotch. A five year old bottle will be fine to open and drink.

    However, I have never heard of a Chivas Regal 8 year old bottling. You should make sure that this is a genuine offering by Chivas Brothers. Visit their official website (www.chivas.com)and email them a picture of the bottles in question.

    My concern is that your bottles may be counterfeit. The danger with counterfeit bottles of whisky is that the contents may be harmful. Sadly in countries like India and Turkey each year counterfeit whisky is responsible for deaths due to poisoning.

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  19. Chivas Regal 12 vs JW Black Label vs JD Gentleman Jack. Please comment.

    Thanks.

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    Replies
    1. For me, I think Johnnie Walker Black is the best. Chivas is a very close second and way back in third place is JD Gentleman Jack.

      I think most would agree, though if someone wanted to put Chivas 12 in first place, I would totally understand and not think it was odd in any regard.

      The reason JW Black edges out Chivas is that it is more complex flavor profile. Johnnie Walker Black is just one of my personal all time favorites.

      As for Gentleman Jack, being a Tennessee whisky, the nature of its flavor structure is very different from the aforementioned blended scotch whiskies. For someone to prefer those over the other two, they would have to prefer Tennessee and bourbon whiskies in general over scotch. Nothing wrong with that, just a different preference.

      Cheers!

      Delete
    2. I feel a bit odd to comment on something that was posted almost 4 years ago! However, here's my take.
      First, as Jason pointed out, do not compare a Tennessee whisky to a scotch. It's like comparing apples to aeroplanes. Gentleman's Jack is a good whisky, but it certainly lacks complexity. If you're one for straight notes, this is your drink. It's been a while I last drank it, but if my memory is not failing me, GJ had a superb palate but the after-taste or finish was short and nothing to write home about that.
      Now, comparing JW Black Label and Chivas Regal 12 years, I am all for the latter. The blast of honey in the palate does it for me. The nose is beautiful. However, a caveat must be in place that if you do not have a sweet tooth as I do, you may find Chivas a bit too sweet for your taste. However, it is full-bodied, robust and seamless. On the other hand, JW Black Label is a thinner whisky, with a much complicated palate, but certainly a weaker nose and shorter finish.
      Personally, if I need to rate a whisky, my preference is in this order: Palate, Nose, Finish. I can do with a whisky which has a weaker finish but if it comes short in palate or nose, that puts me off. Chivas Regal 12 years is one whisky that never let me down.

      Delete
    3. Great comment Amitava! Much appreciated. Chivas is sweet for sure and in my heart of hearts, I prefer Black Label.

      Thanks for commenting. While the post is several years old, plenty of new readers visit each day and are informed by comments such as your own.

      Delete
    4. Yes, new reader here. I just bought a bottle of Chivas and it tasted so sweet that I googled 'Chivas too sweet?' and it led me here. I am enjoying it, but the sweetness is almost overwhelming.I almost bought
      JWB, but there was 20% off on the Chivas. JWB next time.

      Delete
  20. great blog Jason... i was a chivas fan for 11 years until my bartender pal placed 3 shots in front of me and i selected dewars white label time & again, contrasted with johnnie black, red , cutty, j&b, and my ol' pal chivas, so i've been a dewars sipper since, however the dewars 15 isn't as nice as any of those others i've listed. i can't wait to sample many of your single malt selections / suggestions. thanks, ferryboater

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    Replies
    1. Hi! I have a single malt suggestion for you: Cragganmore 12

      I think you would like it based on your favored blends.

      Delete
  21. Jason
    Many years ago I loved Haig & Haig five star. In 1960 a liter cost about $3.25 USD in Germany....class 6 store. I had to give up scotch upon return to CONUS...could not afford........fast forward to today.........cannot acquire taste for scotch, prefer Crown Royal.......what happened to H&H? Wonder why my taste buds think scotch is too sweet?
    Jim H

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    Replies
    1. Hi! Certainly over time your likes and dislikes may evolve. I believe that in general, young people and scotch newbies tend to prefer sweeter and smooth flavor profiles like your choice back in 1960.

      But, don't give up on scotch whisky or Irish. If you can afford Crown Royal, why not try some Jameson 12yrs, Bushmills Black?, Glenlivet 12, Highland Park 12. There are a lot of options. Maybe email me and tell me what flavors you like and I can suggest some more possibilities. Email me at jasondebly@gmail.com

      Cheers!

      Delete
  22. I really like Chivas as a base to mix with a smokier single malt or blend. It has a nice richness to it that younger single malts don't have. A reasonably priced 50/50 mix these days is 1/2 Teachers Highland Cream and 1/2 Chivas 12. Teachers used to be great by itself but it now needs the extra age of the Chivas to bring it back to it's former glory.
    Peace

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    Replies
    1. Interesting! I have been intrigued with the idea of doing my own vattings of single malts or blends. Sounds like I will have to try your experiment. 50/50 Teachers and Chivas. Sounds good!

      Delete
  23. Jason,

    Thank you for your excellent and thoughtful reviews. As a relatively new Scotch drinker, I find them both informative, direct, and -- most importantly -- courageous, as you are willing to praise the cheaper stuff (e.g., JW Red Label) if you happen to like it.

    I recently bought the Chivas 12, and have to say that it is exactly as you described -- and, just as important, a fantastic value!

    I would have never tried it if I hadn't happened upon your well crafted blog, so here's to you -- Cheers!



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    1. I am glad to hear that my reviews are consistent with what you like.

      Chivas is great stuff, and you know what, I do like a lot of cheap blends. I genuinely like them and it is not because of the low price point.

      I would encourage to try: Teacher's, Black Bottle and White Horse. As for bourbon, Jim Beam Black. Wow! What a bourbon and at a great price.

      JW Red Label is not that bad. I mean it is not incredible, but it is not horrid or offensive like say Ballantine's Finest. I taste a lot of Talisker in Red Label.

      Cheers and thanks for taking the time to comment today.

      Delete
  24. Jason,

    Thank you for your kind reply. It is funny that you mention the Jim Beam Black as I just bought a bottle yesterday and am enjoying it immensely. Just as you say, the low price points are beside the point; it is the taste that matters.

    BTW: I am not averse to higher priced stuff -- I am a great fan of the Royal Salutes, preferring the 21 year old to the Diamond Jubilee (although both are excellent). I also very much enjoy the JW Green Label, and think Diageo is making a great error by discontinuing it.

    My next stop will be Teacher's and perhaps the Black Bottle, although Islays are not entirely to my taste (my friends always force Ardbeg upon me); perhaps I will prove to be mistaken.

    Keep up the great work with the blog!


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    1. With respect to the Islays, appreciation of them will come with time. I was not a fan at all in the beginning. I would strongly recommend either Black Bottle or White Horse as fantastically friendly and approachable introductions to the Islay flavor profile. Ardbeg is not the place to start. Drinking Ardbeg is like learning to play golf on an impossibly difficult course like Augusta National.

      Cheers!

      Delete
    2. Sounds good. I will try them and report back.

      Cheers!

      Delete
  25. Black is the greatest. No question. All hail black. But there's nothing better than polishing off a bottle of Chivas 12.

    Black is huge in Australia and rightly so, but Chivas 12 is always greeted with a smile and a kiss.

    If you like getting drunk, or you're an Aussie, give Chivas Regal 12 a go. You won't be disappointed.

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  26. Hi Jason

    I just discovered this blog a few weeks ago, and as a novice Whisky drinker I really enjoy your writing.

    As for the Chivas 12 I must say that it is a very enjoyable scotch. I think the keyword is “inoffensive”. It appears to me very rounded and smooth. Of course the more hardcore drinkers would probably like to be challenged more. But at this price range it's probably hard to find something better. I will have to try black label again (it has been a long time). You seem to suggest it has a more complex profile.

    Cheers

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    Replies
    1. I think your observations are bang-on. Chivas fairly inoffensive and there is nothing wrong with that. As you are a novice whisky drinker, if I may make a suggestion: Enjoy blended scotch! It is where every serious whisky fan started. Enjoy those blends and don't be in a rush to jump into single malts, until the blends start to be a little boring. For some people, that day never comes, and there is nothing wrong with that.

      As for Johnnie Walker Black Label, it is a challenging blended scotch. To the complete novice it is a bit overwhelming and kind of capable of turning you off to scotch whisky, something we don't want to happen. So, yet another suggestion, stick with Chivas for a while, get to know it well, maybe try some other gentle blends before moving on to ol' Johnnie Black. Black Label introduces smoke and peat very well to the newbie. The key is to take tiny sips, as the flavor is lot more robust.

      Anyhow, thanks for taking the time to comment, welcome to the blog and I hope you will post comments as you enjoy your spirits!

      Delete
    2. Hi again

      That sounds like excellent advice and I'm sure I will enjoy blended Whisky for a long time. I guess I may end up as one of those heretics who prefers a well rounded and smooth blend to a power-full single malt :)

      I currently have a Ballantines Finest in my “collection” as well and I may post some notes about it.

      Cheers

      Delete
  27. Johnnie Walker is great if you like the taste of rotting metal. I seriously doubt the opinion of anyone that calls JW Black the "gold standard of 12 year olds". I suppose you think Jose Cuervo Gold is a good tequila as well eh?

    The CR12 more than blows away any JW, including the ridiculously overpriced Blue (the Green is the best of the lot, but thats not saying much).

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  28. Here in Canada Both Chevis and Black are near $60. My daughter brought me home a duty free litre of Chevis and it's very drinkable but you can get a good single malt for the price.

    A new one that just arrived is BenRiach 12yo matured in sherrywood. Opening the bottle for my nightly dram, the aroma just filled the room. Up here it costs $57. I won't review it for you; I'll let you do that if you please. I will highly recommend especially if you like a dry finish.

    Chevis and Black will have to wait for duty free :)

    cheers

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    Replies
    1. Chivas Regal and Johnnie Walker Black are getting ridiculously expensive in Canada. Certainly approaching the price of many entry level single malts. Of course, just because a bottle happens to be a single malt, does not mean it is better. I can think of a number of 12 year old entry level single malts that I would turn down in favor of Chivas or JWB.

      As for BenRiach 12, I will put it on the list to review sometime.

      Cheers!

      Delete
  29. Bought a bottle of Chivas 21(Green Decanter) in 2009;the best scotch I've ever had.However,I bought a bottle(Blue Decanter)in 2011,and another (Blue Decanter) in 2013.Both didn't even come close to the taste of the 1st one(in the Green Decanter).Has anyone else had this problem,or can tell me why? Larry e-mail: carinolawrence@yahoo.com

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    Replies
    1. Larry, I have not noticed variation based solely on the color of the decanter and suspect that none is intended by Chivas Bros either.

      There may be a couple of reasons for the variation. First, while the master blender and his/her team will make best efforts to maintain consistency from batch to batch that is bottled, there will be some variation over time. Why? The underlying grain and malt whiskies used to make the blend vary themselves. One year the peat, water and wood is of a certain quality and the next it is not. Maybe an important grain or malt whisky is no longer available and so, there was a substitution in the blend that can be discerned on the palate.

      that's a thought. Others feel free to chime in!

      Delete
    2. I have been making homemade vanilla extract with various types of alcohol, including vodka and Everclear. I had purchased a sampler variety pack of beans, so I needed some small glass bottles to make the extract in. I went to my local liquor store and they had some cool glass shooter bottles, but I needed ones that the label could be removed.

      I chose two of the Chivas Regal 12 scotch whisky bottles, not for the liquor, but because the bottles were just so darned cute! Since I don't know any scotch drinkers, I was going to toss the scotch. However, after a quick Google search, I saw where some folks had good luck making vanilla extract using whiskey, so I thought, what the heck.

      I've got 100 ml of the Chivas Regal 12 "brewing" with some Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans. I'll be able to tell you in about four to six months how it tastes. It should be really good in pecan pie!

      Delete
  30. I have been drinking Chivas Regal for many years and have always enjoyed it. However, the last two bottles I purchased have been disappointing. Instead of the creamy texture to which I had been accustomed, the first bottle exhibited an unpleasant bite. Thinking it may have been an anomaly I purchased another several weeks later, but it also had the same bite. With the price in Canada now at approximately $50 per bottle, this is very discouraging. I've tried to contact them at their web site but can't find any way to send them an email to enquire if they have changed their malting process but they don't have a 'contact us' link. I don't think I will be continuing with Chivas in the forseeable future.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Chivas like Johnnie Walker Black is getting terribly expensive in Canada. Both are approaching the price range of 12 year old entry level single malts.

      I too have noticed that lately that Chivas has changed a little in taste. I find it a bit flatter and lacking some of the zest and pizazz of past bottlings. I only had one bottle recently but it did seem to go flat rather quickly. That bottle was a year ago.

      I have no idea if they have been tinkering with this blend by substituting more grain or different malt whiskies than in the past and as a result there is an impact on taste. Bushmills Black Bush for example has quietly changed in the last few years for the worse.

      I dunno. Maybe I will have to pick up a new bottle and reevaluate what has been a great classic blend.

      Delete
  31. Hello again Jason!

    As a "financially impoverished" graduate student, it is blends like Teacher's, Johnnie Walker Black, and Chivas Regal that don't break the bank and allow me to enjoy a good scotch regularly.

    I first heard about Chivas when I was in my liquor store, and I ran into a lady that owns a local Thai restaurant that I frequent. I had no idea she liked scotch. But she sang the praises of Chivas Regal to me, and she walked out with a bottle. I've been delinquent, and finally picked it up recently. I'd never had it before.

    I'm very impressed! Like you said, no graininess whatsoever in the flavor profile. For $26, this was a great buy. Reading some of the most recent comments, I don't know if it has lost any of it's magic, but from what I can tell, it is still a great blend! There are some blends that sell for a few dollars less (Monarch of the Glen comes to mind) but have a certain-if-slight graininess to them that detracts from the overall flavor. Even though I've only had a single sip of JWB, I think I prefer JWB over this. It's a little more complex, and it has some smoke to it, which I find desirable.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Bryan!

      I would agree that Johnnie Walker Black is a bit more complex than Chivas Regal. Black Label has more challenging smoke notes with cinnamon bordering on peppercorns.

      Chivas is great too, but is more of a honey, waxy, lemon zest style.

      Chivas like any blend (including Black Label) always has a battle and that is for consistency to taste from production run to run. I have noted some variance in Chivas, but that was a year ago. But that variance is very subtle that I think a lot of people would never notice.

      Nevertheless, I still enjoy it and should pick up a new bottle.

      Thank you for commenting!

      Delete
  32. Why there is a CR12 in my cabinet ?
    I'm a newbie in whiskies and i like speysiders like Benriach (the most impressive brand for me), mild peated islays (Bowmore), japanese (Yoichi in particular) and americans (Blanton's, Elijah Craig).
    So, why do i keep i CR12, that i did not ever taste, in my cabinet ?
    Just because it's a lovely and cherished souvenir for me.
    A kind of "madeleine de Proust".
    When i was a child, we used to spend summer holidays in my grandmother house, i the South of France. Each year, she bought a bottle of CR12 for my father. She was not a rich woman and this was a very special and expensive gift for her and she was very proud of it.
    I still see my father sipping his favourite whisky in the garden, after dinner. I said to myself that this liquor might be very precious to deserv all this attention, and was the symbol of a accomplished man...I was about 8 (the age of my son)
    That's why a nice tiny silver box of CR12 always proudly stand in my range...and in my heart

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for sharing your memories on this classic blend.

      I and other readers really appreciate it!

      Delete
  33. hello sir,thank you for your blog,i enjoy reading it

    i tried once macallan 25 years old,was the most amazing whiskyi have ever taste

    i am trying to find something that come close to this

    i also enjoy chivas

    i was thinking to buy lagavulin 16,clenfiddish 18 or macallan amber ,what else would u recommend to me,something that can be close to macallan ?

    i am not very experience with whisky and my apologies for my poor english,thank you in advance

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I recommend GlenDronach 15 or Glenmorangie 12 yrs Quinta Ruban as very affordable alternatives. These are heavily sherried like Macallan 18/25.

      Hope this helps!

      Delete
  34. I greatly appreciate your review and the expert comments concerning Chevas Regal drinkability.

    I'm going on my first ever cruise and have discovered that the cruise line does not allow one to bring ones own choice of whisky aboard.

    I found this quite disheartening as I have been a single malt scotch drinker for 30 years and have a very picky palate for my drink. I presently drink Aberlour-the 12 year old for my nightly evening tipple with an ice cube and splash and, on special occasions the Aberlour cask which is quite pricy in Oregon..of course neither of these Speyside.

    So I am forced to make a decision of the blended scotch whiskies that Holland American Lines has decided to carry. The single malts pour out at $13.00+ hefty surcharge per pour…far beyond this senior citizens price range. In order to qualify for 'happy hour' I have needed to find a drinkable scotch whisky that falls under the cruise lines designated limits.

    I've been trying small bottles of the available whiskies-ie Crown Royal, Jamisons Irish, JW's various, Bushmills and other average blenders.

    I've also tried several Whiskeys from the USA south-Bourbons I suppose are their actual name. Such as Jim Beam, Wild Turkey (which was amazingly drinkable but over the happy hour limit).

    I've decided on Drinking my first evening tipple of the 12 year old MacCallan then switching to Chivas for happy hour. At $13.95 US per pour I can't afford to drink the Mac all evening. It's a real bear having a sophisticated whisky palate with nothing available..oh to be 30 years old again!!

    Your review is what made me decide on the Chivas and the 3 years of comments were entertaining to say the least! this 70 year old woman appreciates everything all you men have written.

    And, if you single malt whisky drinkers have yet to discover Aberlour 12 year old I encourage you to try a bottle for sipping in the cold winter evenings. I enjoy it most over ice and with an occasional splash of soda or simply with water..not too much but sufficient to bring out the involved tastes.

    Best wishes for a happy holiday season this December of 2013.

    Elle (aka plantcrone) in chilly Portland, Oregon-soon to spend a week cruising the Caribbean in 856 degree weather!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comments and always great hear from a lady drinker!

      Have a happy cruise!

      Delete
    2. Second that emotion on the Aberlour. Here in BC Canada it is about $50 which is the start price for single malts.

      Not impressed by the Chivas 12. I find it thin and insipid. It might do well with ice on a hot summer day, but it is not a thinkative whisky.

      Delete
  35. I love chivas regal 12. For me there is only one whiskey I prefer (well, one brand), and thats a single malt called Jura. I recommend it to everyone!

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    1. Jura is quite different from Chivas. So, I'm a little surprised. Isle of Jura Superstition is very nice. Peated, smokey, a little sooty and therefore quite different from Chivas. Nevertheless both great choices!

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  36. I first drank Chivas Regal in college in the mid 1970's and thought it was the best available Scotch then. I also liked Cutty Sark, but I don't recall anyone even mentioning single malts. Then I went to law school and worked awhile as an assistant wine steward. After that I drank wine almost exclusively. Then I bought a bottle of Chivas before Christmas and have been enjoying it almost every night, although it doesn't seem to be as good as I remembered. Maybe that's "Kodachrome" memory a la Paul Simon, or perhaps my tastes or the blends have changed. But it's still good, maybe not as rich tasting as I recalled. However, I have a couple of questions. I was thinking about trying a Dewars (for the first time) or Cutty Sark again. Any suggestions? And, I have been drinking it on the rocks with maybe 60% water and 40% scotch. Am I diluting it too much? Just looking for suggestions on how to enjoy this "water of life" a little more. Thanks!
    Bill Bray

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  37. OK, just read your review of Dewars and will pass on that one, but wanted to broaden my Scotch horizons on a price level comparable to Chivas.
    Bill Bray

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  38. I signed up to the Qantas Club in Australia as the serve Chivas 12 in their lounges

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    1. This is in response to the comment left by Bill Bray.

      Bill, I think mixing Chivas in a proportion of 40% Chivas and 60% water is too much. You are missing out on a lot of the great flavors offered up by this blend.

      I suspect that drunk neat, you find this blends flavors over powering. This is the experience of many people new to whisky and some long familiar with it too. When I initially drank blends I too found the flavors a bit too much and would therefore add ice to my tumbler, let it melt for a minute and then take the tiniest of sips. And that i think is an important but not often explained aspect of whisky appreciation. Take the tiniest of sips. If you do that then you can enjoy all those flavors.

      As for suggestions of other reasonably priced blends, try Famous Grouse "Black Grouse" or Te Bheagh or White Horse or Black Bottle. All are reasonably priced and serve as a nice introduction to many of the maritime flavors offered up by Scotch.

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  39. Thanks for the suggestions. I also had some additional thoughts on Scotch (from someone of little knowledge). I understand how people have strong opinions on Scotch, because that also is true with wine. But there may be some similarities between blended wines and blended Scotch.

    In France wine is blended and identified by region. In the U.S it is primarily identified by grape variety, but even the cabernet sauvignon (labelled as such) has some additional grape varieties added. It is the wine maker's art to blend different grape varieties to improve the product. I suppose that is the same with blended Scotch, although improvement would be a matter of personal opinion. From what I hear some single malts really are an acquired taste.

    As to Chivas Regal, I have read that this was the brand enjoyed by Frank Sinatra. Is the current single malt scotch popularity relatively new or has it been popular since Scotch became recognized outside Scotland?
    Bill Bray

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    1. Hi Bill!

      I think if you go back to the 19th century and then move through most of the 20th century until the mid-1980's, single malt Scotch was not in vogue and sales were not significant.

      In the 1980's, for a while there was a bit of a single malt boom, but it was eventually followed by a bust in I think the early 90's, but i stand to be corrected by other readers. But, even when single malts were all the rage, they accounted for less than 20% of industry sales. Blends still dominated.

      Today, we are in the midst of another single malt boom. Should be interesting to see how long it lasts.

      Finally, I think it was in the late 1960's that single malts were came to the attention of the public, and it was the aggressive marketing campaign of Glenfiddich 12yrs.

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  40. More for Scotch everyone's taste. That's always a good thing!
    Bill Bray

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  41. I am a friend of single malts myself but for some mysterious reasos I have lately been tasting some blends, some of them have been very dissapointing (yes, usually the cheapest) but some actually surprisingly good. I have a friend who likes whisky like me and he thinks that the famous Chivas Regal 12 years old version is not very good or even enjoyable whisky for its price. Well, I tasted the classic 12 Y.O. yesterday after many years and I was really amazed how good it was. Very well balanced, smooth, hints of fruits and gentle sweetness. Not very complex, but then again does it always have to be? Of course there are better blends available for the money - for example Cutty Sark's 12 years old version. The Black Grouse was my personal favourite when it was launched couple of years ago - originally for the Scandinavian market if I remember correctly. The secret of its elegant smoke was an added drop of Ardbeg, but they changed this blend somehow, and I think that sadly it isn't the same whisky anymore...of course I can be wrong too. White Horse was one of the first whiskies I've ever tasted, and I remember that the old version couple of decades ago had awesome smoke character - which isn't the case anymore. Some of my old friends have noticed the same thing. The art of blending is not particularily easy, my modest theory is that because of growing sales, especially in Chinese/Asian market some compromises has to be made with the production. And the easiest way to achieve this is reduce the amount of expensive quality malts in blends. After all, the 'normal' ratio is considered to be 60 grain/40 malt but I don't think there is a law that says how much there has to be malt in blended whisky...

    J.J.
    Turku. FInland

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    1. Hello JJ from Finland!

      I absolutely agree with you that the Black Grouse blend has been tinkered with from the time of it's launch to now. When it was launched I found it to be a heavy smoke and peat blend, most enjoyable. Now, it is much gentler and not what I would call peaty or smoked anymore in the tradition of Islay. Instead it is more sherried, malty, and more in a Highland style. I think that the owners of the Black Grouse brand decided sales would be stronger by moving away from the peaty, smokey style. It seems much more popular today as a mainstream product than when it was first launched (2007) I think.

      I also think you are correct that Black Grouse was first launched in Finland and the Scandanavian market. A market made up of serious whisky fans of the peated and smoked style of whisky.

      But, getting back to your original comment about the merit of blends, I also agree with you that blends can be great and in fact are getting better all the time.

      For example, a great blend with complexity that I think rivals some entry level single malts is Black Bull 12 years ABV 50%. What a great blend! Really impressive. It is also a relatively new release from Duncan Taylor.

      Another area of blends are pure malts or blends of single malts.

      As for Chivas 12, it is a great blend. My only criticism is that it tends to lose its spiciness and liveliness if the bottle is open too long. I mean upon opening it is really impressive. But lets say you go back to the bottle three months later and it is half full, the oxygen can really soften it up a lot.

      Thanks for commenting and welcome to the blog!

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  42. I had occasion to try JW Black and CR 12 side by side over the weekend, CR being what my father in law sought as a drink of choice when offered. I don't see a comparison. JW Black, had rich flavors and was not harsh while CR 12 was like paint thinner. Ill invite myself over to this gutys house to re-taste, they can't be as far off as I tasted....

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    1. Johnnie Walker Black Label is smokey, peated cinnamon and orange rind. Chivas is much more citrus and honeyed.

      I find that Chivas Regal 12 doesn't have a long shelf life. What I mean is that once you open the bottle, the flavors fade a lot in a short period of time (ie. 2 months). It is best enjoyed upon first opening. But, to my mind it is not paint thinner. Sometimes the odd tastes we get can have to do with our palate. Did you eat something spicy shortly before the tasting. Ideally, when doing a head to head tasting, I like it to be three hours after my last meal.

      Maybe when you try the Chivas again, make it the sole drink of the evening. Switching back and forth between it and Black Label is not ideal.

      Thanks for commenting.

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  43. Hi Jason i have a glenlivet 12 year which which i purchased 5 years back the bottle is unopened till can i use it now and after opening the bottle how long this will have the validity to consume. this is brought in a airport and mentioned as special for international travellers and no expiry date is mentioned on that can you please help me

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    1. Your bottle should be fine to drink so long as the seal or cork is intact and has not permitted air to infiltrate the bottle.

      Once it is open, the bottle would be fine to consume for up to a maximum of say 2 years. Mind you the flavor profile degrades the longer the bottle is open.

      By the way, there is no expiry date on a bottle of whisky. Again if the cork and seal are untampered, the contents can easily be good for up to 12 or 15 years easily.

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  44. Hi Jason,

    I agree with you that the Black Label is a more complex whisky and Chivas 12 is a very nice entry level blend.
    I think Glenlivet 12 is a little bit fruitier and it has more character.
    I would say Chivas for the early evening and Black Label for the late night dram if you are a starter.

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  45. I've been on a blended scotch kick for the past couple of weeks. Started with a bottle of Pinch 15 year old and then yesterday got a bottle of Chivas 12. From the first sip I preferred the Chivas. To me it was just a better flavor, fuller and more complex than the 15 yr old Pinch which really surprised me.

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    1. Chivas is better than Pinch. Pinch is too grainy. The only weakness with Chivas is that I find when you first open the bottle it is fantastic, but after that the great flavor profiles starts to lose some of its vibrancy due to oxidation. Hence, you really want to polish this bottle off in 3 months. At six months, it is really flat as a pancake in terms of flavors.

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  46. 3 months? Heh, no problem Jason.

    BTW, a very enjoyable place to hang out here. Nice job. Very up scale tight group of followers....except for me. LOL.

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    1. "3 months? Heh, no problem Jason."

      Judging by your comment, I would say you fit in perfectly with the rest of us. Happy holidays!

      Delete
  47. Enjoyed reading your review. Found myself in one of those duty free stores in the airport looking for a small size bottle of scotch to take along for the travels. Selected the Chivas 12 yr old over the Johnny Walker Balck Lable only because the Chivas wad the only scotch available in less than a liter size bottle.
    Can't recall that I've ever sampled Chivas before other than perhaps when I was in college and somebody mixed it with CocaCola (hey, it was the '80s).
    This evening, at the end of a long travel day, straight up, no ice, room temperature . . . I find it tasteful and delightful. I agree with your assessment of "starts out sweet, but finishes dry".
    Overall, I'd say . . . very nice and I won't be reluctant to select Chivas 12 year old in the future.

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    1. Glad to hear the review was of assistance. Always nice to make a new discovery in the whisky world. Congrats!

      Delete
  48. Dear Jason,

    I was searching for your opinion about the Chivas Regal Extra when I came across the Chivas Regal 12Ys and link to the Chivas Regal 18Ys.

    I interrupted my search and focused on classics Chivas Regal. I agree with you about the qualities of Chivas 12Ys. Always delighted me its delicacy and refinement. I never found a quarter of smell and taste notes mentioned in some websites and blogs. I tasted Strathisla 12 Ys twice on separated occasions. Only two shots. The Glenlivet 12Y few bottles. In the Chivas 12Ys I am not able to find Strathisla 12 Ys, but detect similarities with Glenlivet 12Ys.

    In Brazil’s northeastern we can consider it a competitive price against other 12 Ys.

    Chivas 12 Ys - US$ 35.00 (6 samples)
    Old Parr - US$ 37.60 (7 samples)
    JW Black - US$ 42.20 (7 samples)
    Buchanan's 12 Ys - US$ 52.50 (6 samples)
    Ballantine's 12 Ys - US$ 28.40 (6 samples)
    Dewar's 12 Ys - YS US$ 30.20 (1 sample)

    We do not share the same judgment about Chivas 18Ys, except the price. Sure It is overestimated (US$ 85.00 for 5 samples). What it offer, and considering other options, certainly influence final opinion. If you allow for Chivas 18Ys a new opportunity, please tell me if hazelnut flavor is foolishness.

    About Chivas Extra, I will not mention any flavour’s details. My virtue is the awareness I am an dilettante. I considered it a blend powerful and appealing. In a only one adventure, I tasted pure, with a dash of water and ice. I stayed more cheerful with a dash of water. I will repeat all the experiments.

    This blend is filled with matured singles in Jerez. It is so accented that I do not discard some alchemy after mixing. The demand and consequent creation of whiskies NAS has increased the "creativity." I confess enormous difficulties related to contempt for tradition. The discussion could empty several bottles, but everything would be solved if established producers had the same policy adopted by Old Parr’s owners: They did not discontinue the classic and launched a less sophisticated line. I can not accept JW Gold Reserve, Logan Heritage and replacement of Glenlivet 12Y by Glenlivet Founder's Reserve.

    The question I present refer to the feature of Chivas 12Ys: mellowness, lightness, delicacy... So I do not understand the addition of the "extra". The master blender could innovate without surprise anyone simply naming this excellent blend as Chivas Sherry. The bottles contain 75 cl and cost US$ 42.45. Fitting to 100 cl in order to compare with Chivas 12Ys,the price pass to US$ 56.60.

    Well, who love the delicious Spanish wine will become an Chivas Extra’s follower.

    Cheers,

    Best Regards,

    Sócrates

    PS:

    1. Prices’ references in Brazil (Recife-PE)

    a. Exchange rate

    Average of the minimum and maximum values among January 02 and May 23, 2016.

    b. Prices

    A survey performed on May 24, 2016.

    c. Points of sale

    Four supermarkets and three liquor stores.


    2. Last but not least, I hope this long text do not bore you and the silly English too.

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  49. At $45 vs JWB $43..... Johnnie Black wins for me... Chivas would need to be a lot cheaper before I'd consider...
    AL (from OZ)

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  50. Hi Jason ~ just had my first sip of the 12 yr Chivas and was pleasantly surprised! A "general" Google search sent me here, and I definitely relate to and agree with your take on this blend.

    Thanks & Skål! :^)

    Daniel Landström
    Los Angeles, CA

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    1. Great! Welcome to the blog! Feel free to comment and pose any questions you may have.

      Cheers!

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  51. Gotta love this blog for its range of opinions, this post shows how diverse we are.

    No advertisers bull, just real folk with their own likes.

    Nice.

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    1. Thanks! I do not take money from anyone and I will never try to sell any reader anything or solicit a donation. This blog is just for fun and an effort to warn fellow whisky enthusiasts of whiskies to avoid, as mistakes can be costly!

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  52. Thank you for your thoughtful reviews and replies. I was at the check out at the local SAQ today and spotted a mini bottle of Chivas 12. My grandfather used to drink it and i thought i would have a glass in his memory. I will be purchasing a bottle when i am there again as i am really enjoying it. I tend to drink blended scotch day to day snd save the single malts for entertaining. I am wondering if you have tried Te Bheag and your thoughts on it.
    David

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    1. It's always a nice gesture to toast those who have passed on with their favorite libation. Our toasting is a manifestation of their lasting legacy upon us.

      As for Te Bheag, yes I have tried it and I like it. Here are some reviews that give a bit more detail:

      https://jason-scotchreviews.blogspot.ca/2011/05/review-te-bheag-connoisseurs-blend.html

      https://jason-scotchreviews.blogspot.ca/2016/03/whisky-review-te-bheag-blended-scotch.html

      Best,

      Jason

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