As the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games draw to a close, it seems fitting to sip on a Japanese themed whisky this evening whilst watching the Olympics closing ceremony. In keeping with this Japanese theme, tonight I cracked open a bottle of Chivas Regal Mizunara, a special edition in the well known Chivas Regal family of whiskies.
Chivas Regal Mizunara is, just like most of the other whiskies in the Chivas Regal line up, a blended whisky comprised of a “marriage” of malt and grain whiskies (an exception is Chivas Regal “Ultis” which is a “blended malt” of single malts from five different distilleries, so it does not have any grain whisky). The home of Chivas Regal is the Strathisla distillery in Scotland’s Speyside and, on my private tour of the distillery I was lucky enough to sample the Chivas Regal core range straight from casks that were securely locked away in the Chivas Regal Cellar within the “No 3” warehouse – the 12 year old, “Extra”, 18 year old, 25 year old, and “Ultis”. The common thread in all the whiskies was, according to my taste buds, a lovely approachable fruity, honeyed toffee sweetness. Was it Strathisla single malt? Lacking the olfactory prowess of a beagle, I’ll never know. But what became clear to me on that tour was that the flavour profile I love in many Speyside malts and Strathisla single malts – sweet fruit, honey, and toffee, to name a few notes – is the beating heart of Chivas Regal, and each whisky in the Chivas Regal family has a slight twist to make it different from the rest.
The unique twist in the Chivas Regal Mizunara is that the blend of Scotch grain and malt whiskies is, once blended, “married” and allowed to meld in oak casks made from Mizunara, a species of oak from Japan. So, what exactly does “marrying” the whisky in Mizunara oak do? I’ve never licked a piece of Mizunara oak, but based on my chat with a global brand ambassador from Japanese whisky giant Suntory, Mizunara oak gives a whisky a distinct spicy kick similar to cinnamon. I have tasted a lovely cinnamony bite in some Yamazaki whiskies which had been matured in a mix of Mizunara and other oak types.
Nose: Orange peel, sliced red apples, dried fruit, bakery spices (*ahem* cinnamon), soft honey, and malt – its been months since Easter, but I keep smelling hot-cross bun straight from the pack.
Taste: At first there is candied orange, rich honey and dried fruit, and then rigid spices start to develop and intensify – cinnamon (as expected) and rich malt dominate towards and in the finish.
Finish: Cinnamon and malt keep going, and going, and going and going, joined by toffee and roasted coffee bean.
Overall: This is a hot-cross bun in a bottle – sweet, dried fruit, and malt/grain, with a powerful cinnamony kick. It is absolutely delicious and I cannot find any faults. I think it deserves a gold medal! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to watch the Tokyo Olympics closing ceremony and probably polish off a fair bit of this bottle. Kanpai!