Chivas Regal traces it’s roots back to the 1850s when the Chivas brothers, who were grocers, started blending different whiskies to create something that was smoother and more palatable to their customers. This first proprietary blend was dubbed Royal Glen Dee and was basically Chivas Regal’s grandfather. If this story sounds familiar, that’s because it’s very similar to the way Johnnie Walker got it’s start too (minus the Royal Glen Dee part).
In the 1860’s the brother created a new blend they named Royal Strathythan which would lead to the birth of Chivas Regal in the early 1900s. The original Chivas Regal was a blend of older whisky that was created specifically for export to the USA, but from what I’ve read carried no age statement. However in 1909 Chivas Regal 25 was released as the first premium scotch and it lead that category until prohibition came along and ruined everyone’s fun for 13 years. After prohibition Chivas returned to America and even though it took a while, it managed to pick up momentum again as Chivas Regal 12 year which is exactly what we’re reviewing today.
Chivas Regal 12 years Review
Age: 12 years
Blender & Bottler: Chivas Brothers
Caramel, overripe dark fruit, a light nuttiness and vanilla make up the bulk of the initial nose. Give it a moment or three to open up and some mild notes of graham, dark honey, an ambiguous sweetness and an odd undertone I can’t quite place come through. It feels a bit like playing Twister in the dark trying to pinpoint that undertone.
A bit of spice pops up and mixes with a bit of dark honey, overripe citrus and overripe dark fruit. A light sweet malt, vanilla, red licorice and wood move about with a touch of cocoa. It would be nice if it all stopped right there, but it doesn’t. On the palate the grain alcohol pops up in a big way and gives it a cloying vodkaness that is really distracting.
A medicinal cough syrup like quality permeates the aftertaste and is accented by notes of dark fruit, malt, vanilla, cocoa, a bit of smoke and alcohol on a medium fade.
BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
It has a muddy balance where nothing stands out because it’s all mashed together. That muddled mash is riding on a thin watery body and comes across really hot for an 80 proof whisky.
Dark, brooding and muddled nose and palate with a finish that’s cloying and harsh. It’s not that I despise this whisky, but it just doesn’t do much for me. Makes me feel like I’m missing something, like it’s an incomplete whisky and so it doesn’t come together for me. Though I will say this for the old Chivas 12, it makes a good Rob Roy.