Chivas Regal 12 years Review

Chivas Regal 12 year Review

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

ABV: 40%
Age: 12 years
Price: $32
Blender & Bottler: Chivas Brothers

Brownish yellow

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.

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.

SCORE: 78/100

Josh Peters

Josh Peters

I read about, think about, write about, and drink whisk(e)y. In short, it's my passion.
Josh Peters

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7 Responses to Chivas Regal 12 years Review

  1. My brother-in-law gave me a bottle Chivas Regal as a graduation present. He’s obviously passive aggressive and wants to get back at me for something. Chivas Regal is not good…

  2. As a confirmed bourbon drinker whose heritage is 95% Scottish, I, made a resolution to learn to like Scotch whisky. When my wife and I get together with our kids, all in their 30’s, one of the things we like to do after the grandkids go to bed is to gather in the kitchen for a whiskey tasting (thanks for the idea!) We taste, talk about them, and enjoy each other’s company. Last time we introduced some Scotches. I had a couple Speysides which everyone liked, and my son-in-law had a smokey peat monster that I swear almost set off the smoke alarm, that no one liked. At first. Thanks to that lingering after taste, I had to try another wee dram. Better. Really different and kind of interesting. Hmmm…

    Knowing that I didn’t want to stray that far into peat smoke territory right away, I decided to try a couple gentle blends. Cutty Sark and Chivas Regal. I picked up just the slightest taste of smoke in the Chivas (like the bottle walked by a peat campfire) and I have to admit, it tasted pretty good. I think I found my training wheels! I’ll try a couple other blends similar to the Chivas to see if I eventually want to increase the smoke, or not. Nothing wrong with a good Scotch blend for a change of pace. I’ll keep my trusty bourbons in sight just is case I start missing them.

    Thanks for helping all of us stretch our comfort zones!

    • That sounds like a great evening John, glad to hear about it. Cheers and if you’re looking for light peat blends check out the Black Grouse and Johnny Black. More peaty than Chivas, but definitely not as powerful as an Ardbeg or a Laphroaig.

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