First Blended Malt From The House of Chivas
Ok, so sometimes the life of whisky writer/blogger can be a little bit trying, endless press releases, huge amounts of whisky to review and sometimes product launches to be attended. Now, I know what you are thinking, it sounds like hell on earth, but it can be high pressured and you are trying to work it with your every day life.
Why I am telling you this? Because I can I guess, but also to tell you how wonderful it can be sometimes, and this was definitely one of those times.
Chivas Regal have released their first ever blended malt, using components oft used for popular blends. This is the first time The House of Chivas have taken five malts, one for each of their Master Blenders and put them together to create this blended malt.
Choosing to use Strathisla, Longmorn, Tormore, Allt A’Bhainne and Braeval, which encapsulate the Chivas style, the result is a really easy drinking, simple yet complex blend, which works well on it’s own and works exceptionally well in numerous cocktails, which I sampled all in the name of work for you lucky, lucky people.
I’m going to pop the official press release just here, as they can say it better than I can and then I am going to tell you about the launch night. Just a quick aside, yes I am aware it says the “discerning gent” I don’t like it anymore than you do, Chivas, seriously please stop, whisky is for men and woman, everyone in fact, probably not cats though! Anyway here’s the press release:
Chivas Regal Ultis, the first blended malt Scotch whisky from the House of Chivas, is an uncompromising and visionary expression of Chivas’ inimitable stlye; the ideal drink for the discerning gent.
Launching 19th October 2016 in the UK, in tribute to the passion and dedication of five generation of Master Blenders, Chivas Regal Ultis uses only five of the most precious, signature single malts from Speyside, Scotland, to create a luxury whisky with complex flavours, a glorious golden hue and a commanding, rich aroma.
From millions of casks in the Chivas Brothers inventory, less than 1% have been hand-selected by the expert blending team to create Chivas Regal Ultis.
Distilled exclusively in copper pot stills, Chivas Regal Ultis captures the essence of the smooth and generous character of Chivas Regal’s signature style.
Colin Scott, Chivas Regal Master Blender says, “I am honoured to be one of only five Chivas Regal Master Blenders to have spent our life’s work mastering the famous Chivas house style. I feel privileged to have continued the craftsmanship and I believe that Chivas Regal Ultis represents the true essence of Chivas Regal.
Chivas Regal Ultis is now available from Harrods and harrods.com at an RRP of £180.
Now at this point I am supposed to let you have the tasting notes, but I’m not going to do that, not just because I am a renegade, a loose cannon if you will (although I am), but I want to let you have my notes, let you know what I think of it and how I perceive it, and let’s face it I am writing this, you are reading this, still, so you must like what I say, and trust my palate at least a little bit.
Quick tasting notes are, on the nose: take the Strathisla 12, take those soft red apples, the honey drizzled digestives, the peaches and add a little spice, lets not go crazy, but lets add some cinnamon in, these aromas work wonderfully on the nose. They aren’t fighting for dominance, and it’s all very inviting.
Then on the palate: The peaches have become a little more tart, more dried apricots, vanilla pods are open, with vanilla sugar and vanilla cream atop the apricots, with lovely fudge notes, then comes a spiciness that launches this from being just a lovely, easy drinking dram, but to something more interesting. The cinnamon from the nose is present, but so too are pink peppercorns, and clove studded oranges.
The finish really allows the spices to play, with the sweetness coating your cheeky, and as the spices finally finish dancing on the tongue, there are the soft apples and apricots just asking you to take another sip.
Now, there’s no way around it, this is a decent, in fact more than decent dram, but we have to mention the elephant in the room..the price. £180 is a lot of anyone’s money and it is essentially a blend, albeit a very good one. I did ask Max, who has worked for many years with Chivas as a Brand Ambassador, about the price, he feels that as it’s the first and maybe last blended malt Chivas have produced, and due to the whisky’s contained therein it’s worth it.
I’m not going to lie to you, I do think it is a little top heavy, however for the people that normally drink Chivas I would imagine it’s merely a drop in the ocean. I would very much like to drink it again, but for me, I’d like it to be far nearer the £150 mark.
You will pleased to hear that Harrods isn’t the only place you can try the Chivas Ultis, oh no, Chivas have a, so sexy it hurts pop up unit, The Blend at the Truman Brewery which is open until the 4th of December.
You have to visit this place, it’s extremely edgy, so much so that when I went down for the launch and wandered about the street, as I was a little early I ended up taking part in a photo shoot up against some high end graffiti in all my finery, I still am not actually sure what it was a photo shoot for, so if you see it before I do, let me know.
Not only can you sample the Ultis and make your own mind up on taste, flavour profile and value for money but you can also take part in the Blending Experience there, which is not only a lot of fun, but you can actually blend 200ml of your own whisky to take away with you to keep forever, or to open on a special occasion or just because you feel like it. It’s a really special experience, and you can see for yourself just how hard blending can be.
It’s either all about the science, or if you are like me, a chuck it in with an overall flavour profile in mind and see what happens, either way you will not be disappointed. If you don’t treat yourself, maybe treat a loved one as an early Christmas present.
Liv has been working tirelessly on the launch alongside Maz (and other’s I’m sure I should have mentioned and haven’t), coordinated my travel arrangements and before I knew it I was on a plane from Scotland down to London City. A small nap in my hotel and then putting on my glad rags saw this Cinderella attend the ball, and what a ball it was.
I mentioned early that not only could you enjoy the Ultis on it’s own it also worked perfectly in a cocktail. Chivas plan to also market the Ultis to the on trade to create seriously special, high end cocktails, with five different cocktails created, each with the aim of bringing out the flavour characteristics of each of the whiskies used.
I think this is a great idea, they are not only incredibly pleasing to the palate they are very pleasing on the eye too, a real piece of art. Which just happens (as if by magic) to bring me on to the next piece.
Chivas have teamed up with a super cool agency, who took the DNA from five members of staff, including Colin Scott and turned it into art work, I can’t really do it justification in words alone but the results were really stunning.
As I said I sampled all five cocktails and they really did work to bring out the signature malt it was designed around. Next up a Q&A with a food expert, and the design company.
Then it was on to the blending, Jon from the Express had previously attended one of the Blending classes before as had I, it became a battle of the blends, and I have to say, I was robbed with James Cordiner (Brand Ambassador for Chivas) prefering the “safer” style Jon created. What can I say, if you give me an Islay whisky, I’m going to use it.
The night was a huge success, with many people really enjoying not only the cocktails but also the Ultis itself, finding it easy drinking and very moreish. There may or may not have been some impromptu karaoke before, Jon, Liv, James and I headed out in to the night and to another bar.
An amazing event and a complete success and I would very much like to thank Liv for her professionalism, her kindness, and her ability to party, I’ve not forgotten how early my flight back was however. A big thanks to James too for having to party with us. What next for Chivas?
Who knows, one thing for sure is they are not sitting back resting on their laurels, they are happy to embrace technology and tradition never once forgetting the most important thing of all, flavour.
Kirsty Clarke (@KirstyClarke29)