Price: $73 (Australian RRP, but seen for $54.95 at Dan Murphy’s)
Chivas Regal is perhaps the world’s second most famous whisky, behind Johnnie Walker. For many years people were happy to wet their palates with Johnnie Walker Red Label or Chivas Regal 12 year old, and the more premium whisky blends and single malts seem to have catered for a small niche of the market. Then things started to change. A couple of years ago, at least here in Australia, a “whisky rush” started – people began to buy whisky for drinking or collecting and this continues to this very day, reflected in particular by the explosion of different whiskies now on bottle shop shelves and the number of whisky bars that have popped up in cities that only a few years ago had none. Whatever the cause, it is clear people want whisky. They want good whisky, and they are happy to pay for it. Sometimes in my opinion people pay far too much for good whisky – Scotch Malt Whisky Society (“SMWS”) bottlings were my first glimpse into overpriced and overhyped whisky, which are in my view unworthy of their excessive price tags. Chivas Regal have answered the call of consumers for good whisky, however, with great integrity and have released a new expression on the market this month at the affordable price of $73 (RRP) (Australia) – the Chivas Regal Extra.
Australia is the first country in the world to meet Chivas Regal’s newest family member, the Chivas Regal Extra. The Chivas Regal Extra is different to other Chivas expressions because it includes in its blend a higher proportion of sherry matured whisky. It is designed to sit in between Chivas Regal 12 year old and Chivas Regal 18 year old in the Chivas family, and in my opinion it is a worthy and welcome addition – it is rich, balanced, flavoursome and the yet another example of a throw the cap in the fire kind of whisky! It is difficult to choose which Chivas Regal I prefer, but if my taste buds ever whisper for an easy drinking but flavourful sherry matured whisky I just might reach for the Chivas Regal Extra.
On the nose sherry, chocolate, cherries, vanilla, caramel, ginger nut biscuit, unlit cigarettes, honey coated cashew nuts and menthol weave together into a sticky sugary blanket that sits over what seems to be very clean whisky. On the palate the whisky is immediately soft and creamy, and then it ignites – it is first quite bitter with a proceeding dryness (astringent, similar to very under-ripe pineapple) that brightens with herbal notes and then, at death’s knock, sweetens into a sugary glow of caramel, vanilla and brandy sautéed cherries with cinnamon and dark chocolate. The finish offers lingering bright herbal notes, with crystalline sugary cherry liquor chocolates remaining alongside soft hints of creamy vanilla and shaved almonds over a caramel coffee frappe.
Overall, Chivas Regal Extra is an extremely drinkable blended Scotch whisky that showcases more pronounced sherry notes than Chivas Regal 12 year old, but with the same famous level of balance and poise. It is an impressive addition to the Chivas Regal core range, and at its current price of $54.95 at Dan Murphy’s, it is a must try whisky for fans of Chivas Regal or sherry matured whisky. It also holds up nicely in cocktails and mixed drinks.