View Full Version : Chivas Regal 12 Year Formula?

09-25-2002, 12:36
As I mentioned in the "starter kit" thread, I did not like Chivas Regal 12 year, but I do like Famous Grouse. John listed four of the malts that comprise Famous Grouse; now I'm wondering which malts comprise Chivas Regal. Perhaps that information would be useful in identifying malts to avoid, just as the Famous Grouse info serves the opposite purpose.

Is information about the composition of blends readily available, or does it come from participation in insiders' forums?

Oh, and one more thing, how susceptible to oxidation is an unsealed bottle of scotch, as compared to bourbon? I opened the Chivas Regal between six and 12 months ago to serve to guests. (I tasted it for the first time a few days ago.) Could that have influenced its flavor noticeably?

Yours truly,
Dave Morefield

09-25-2002, 21:56
I think the arts of blending and distilling are quite different. So while (as SJ said) if you are very fond of a blend, you might also like some of it's prominent components, just because you don't like a blend that wouldn't usually mean you would not like its most obvious malts.

Blenders use different combinations of malts at different ages from different woods with different grain whiskies to achieve a particular style. IMHO, the "style" is what you taste much more than the malts. I think it is like comparing a painting to a color. You might like a painting a lot even if it lacks your favorate color. You might not like a painting using only your favorate color.

A major exception might be when the "style" of a blend is directly related to a type of malt. For example, Islay Mist is a blend based on rather heavily peated Islay malts. If you think it is too peaty, you are unlikely to care for (peaty) Islay Malts. Similary Mitchell's is based on a Springbank style. If you don't like it, you might very well not care for Springbank Malts.

There is not supposedly a "recipe" for blends, rather there are primary components which are used consistently but in varying amounts and other malts that are used as needed to replicate the desire style. In most cases, even a primary component can be replaced by another combination of malts if needed.

I haven't noticed a difference in the effects of oxidation, and I would be shocked if it made a big difference in less than a year.

09-26-2002, 05:52
You said: "In most cases, even a primary component can be replaced by another combination of malts if needed."

I think that is a convenient and efficient characteristic of blended scotches (and maybe to a lesser extent other blended whiskeys). If a single malt, for some reason or another, ceases to be produced a blend may still be able to keep it's general flavor profile and style by using a certain combination of "back-up" malts.

I've heard that most, if not all, of the master blenders in Scotland arrive at the desired blend solely by nosing the whiskey....no tasting whatsoever. If that is true, then that's quite an accomplishment. I wonder how great a role sniffing plays in the production of American and Canadian blended whiskeys.


09-26-2002, 07:11
Chivas Regal is made by the same company that owns Strathisla, Longmorn and several other single malt distilleries. I love Longmorn; I do not love Strathisla. From what I understand, Strathisla is one of the more prominent malts used in the CR blend.

As John (BlackKeno) said, blenders combine many malts (up to 35 or so in some cases) with a number of grain whiskies. The components and their percentages change as blenders strive for consistency from batch to batch. That's why the art of blending came into being. Consumers want consistency; they want to know that the bottle of Brand X whisky they buy today will look, smell and taste the same as the bottles they bought last month, last year and five years ago. You can't get such consistency from single malts. But, by carefully selecting the right components and combining them in the right proportion, you can attain a more consistent final product.

And, yes, as Troy pointed out, blenders do indeed rely primarily--if not solely--on their noses. The nose is a more discerning sensory organ than the tongue. Our tongues can distinguish only four primary tastes (sweet, sour, salt and bitter). But, our noses can discern (correct me if I'm wrong) about two dozen primary scents.

As for oxidation, I usually try to finish a bottle within six months after cracking the seal. The amount of change in a whisky after it's been opened depends on how it's stored. It's always best to store whisky in a dark place away from heat.

John Lovasz

09-26-2002, 15:39
>> "I wonder how great a role sniffing plays in the production of American and Canadian blended whiskeys."

You can be sure it plays a tremendous part.


09-27-2002, 05:01
Just to pick up on a couple of points in this thread: in a 1940's book on alcoholic drinks, the writer says that blends in Scotland are made by using: half Highland malts; half Lowland; a touch of Campbelltown or Islay whisky; and the rest grain whisky, the proportion of the latter varying of course depending on the quality of the blend. He states the malts might go as high as about 40%, as low as about 20%. This is the only time I ever read an opinion on how blends are put together.

In terms of oxidation in the bottle, I have not found this with whiskeys of any type, provided they are well sealed. Even if there was oxidation, I am not sure it would be a detriment to the taste.

I have had whiskeys in restaurants that clearly were off, which I put down to, restaurant odours getting into the bottle (that or maybe dilution due to tampering in some way).

09-27-2002, 05:40
The "half Highland, half Lowland" recipe may be true for some blends, but not all. (See BlackKeno's previous post in this thread.) But, it does make sense, in a way. Considering that the vast majority of Scotland's distilleries are in the Highlands these days, with only a few in the Lowlands, only seven on Islay, a handful on the other islands, and two in Campbeltown, it seems logical that much of the malt content in blends would come from Highland distilleries.

I believe the percentages of malt in a blend you mentioned are pretty accurate. And, yes, the more malt the better....I guess you could take that last statement in more than one way http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/wink.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/grin.gif


09-27-2002, 11:50
Very good points, and no doubt these days the malt component is weighted much more to Highlands (maybe Speysides) than Lowlands due to the drop-off in the number of distilleries in the Lowlands since the 1940's.

On the other hand, it may be that Highlands overall are less peated today than in the 1940's, so their greater use as compared to the 1940's may not make much overall difference.

Then again, was the taste of the 1940's blends broadly like it is today (take eg. Bells, Teacher's, etc.)?

That's a different question...