G’day guys. And I join you in this compromise. I had originally planned to have another sort of article this week, but the focus of this article was only available via the post. I wouldn’t have bothered normally but I planned to also make it a YouTube clip. There’s something for you all to look forward to. Something I had failed to consider was the Easter holidays, so the article may have never arrived in time. By the time you read this I may finally possess it and be now working on it, but I’d rather be safe than sorry. So instead I fell back on a belated article I planned to carry out sometime ago. Not the exact same bottle, mindyou, but we can’t have everything. With the unbearable amounts of traffic the Easter Saturday I obtained this bottle, both human and road, I’m just grateful I never became an opportunity for insurance fraud. I’m assuming that’s why that many drivers in such a close cluster drive the way they do, surely nobody could drive that badly without actually trying to. So, no harm no foul. But some good news on the horizon whose arrival is undoubted, surprisingly as we enter the autumn months, my yard’s mulberry trees have grown to fruit. I wrote very affectionately of the mulberries trees as I had used the mulberries to make wine a year ago a few articles back. As I had assumed by that late in the summer I had well missed the harvest season, something I grew to regret leaving to such a late time when the homebrew bug bit. But one day walking in the garden I was pleasantly surprised to see green ripening mulberries on the tree. This time round I don’t plan on closely documenting this batch of wine, since the strict observation and watching the fermentation like a hawk with a camera subtracted from the whole point of the experience. To savor the joy of creating my own wine and the satisfaction of it all coming together, growing to appreciate the vin in my glass just that little bit more.
So, Chivas Regal. Along with Johnnie Walker, they’re probably the biggest most popular Scotch whisky in the world. Readily available in every bottle shop, pub, hotel, bar and restaurant. Not just because of it’s baseline twelve year old blended Scotch, but many more besides. The eighteen, twenty-one, and twenty-five year old Chivas Regal too, come highly-regarded by many. But in addition to their aged whiskies, they so too produce uniquely oaked whiskies. Another bottle of theirs I’m eager to try when I can get away with it is the Chivas Regal XV, a Scotch oaked in barrels formerly used to age eaux-de-vie. And now, we meet the featured bottle. This, the Chivas Regal Extra. And straight away, the character of the drink is obvious. The bottle is no uniform liquid gold. It is instead a deep hue of red. The source of this visual feast is apparent, and becomes certain after a read of the label. The Extra, it is so said by Chivas Regal – “(Chivas Regal Extra) is selectively matured in Oloroso sherry casks. The result is a whisky that’s both deep in aroma, rich in fruitiness and generous in sweetness.” This bottle, yet another footnote in the playbook of creatively oaked liquors. The use of sherry barrels in oaking whiskies of course, is very familiar by this stage. Bushmills, Suntory, both use used sherry barrels in the aging of their malts, and copious others. But where this whisky differs, is the Extra, is oaked in sherry barrels, solely. The bottle, comes to me from the shelves in a neatly appointed box. With a protruded defined rim of it’s lid, and an embossed label upon it. The physical impressions in it of a red diamond pattern, presumably to simulate some red quilted seat. Giving the mind the impression of the sort of person who drinks it; some wealthy nobleman residing in his luxuriant daybed drinking this whisky, or on his way home to do so in his bespoke upholstered Ferrari.
The bottle itself, in shape is uniform to all other bottles in the Chivas Regal range. Short, stout, round and a muscular bulb in the neck. The label of the Extra trimmed by in a glossy gold, the cap wrapped also in a glossy trim. Had it wire inside it, it would be the spitting image of a champagne cork. Beyond the seal, the nose is surprisingly discreet. A breath of peat upon the breakage of the seal, but an inhalation reveals nothing more. I pour a small amount into my glass to afford the malt a bigger breath, but still, the nose seems almost completely absent. What exists seems unchanged from the average Chivas Regal twelve year old; a thick front of peat, a smoothness of barley, some oak. I move to pour the malt over ice to free up some measurable nose. But to no avail. The ice does nothing to aid in the discovery of a different nose as result of the usage of the sherry barrels. Perhaps the Extra sold it’s soul to the devil and sacrificed the nose for colour. I sincerely hope the taste, by comparison is not reflected by this. A bizarre animal exists as drinks that do indeed taste well, but have little or no nose. The Chateau L’escart, was a wine, a few articles back that have off the same sort of nose as a sheet of paper but tasted nice. The Extra on the palette gives an entry akin to the childhood-nostalgic scent of straw, this being a Scotch possessing plentiful smells and tastes of a horticultural, agricultural setting that would go along with this irregardless. The mouth is bathed in a taste of boiled lollies, cordial, and a sour exit of bread intertwined with the expected spice of peat. And a strawberry aftertaste. Think of it, if you will, as a jam sandwich in the cow paddock with your Galloway breeding-stud Frederick.
To summarise: I have mixed feelings about this malt. What and how the malt is treated in the sherry barrels I may not know, but the difference in the taste of the whisky in comparison to the standard twelve-year-old Chivas Regal is scarcely substantial to justify the existence of the bottle. The character of the malt, smoother and more lighthearted, yes. But whether this fine detail is significant enough to sway a decision on the shelves in the face of the unaltered product, Chivas Regal’s sales arm will find out. In short, it’s so similar to the regular twelve-year-old I don’t know why they bothered. Cheers, and a Happy ANZAC day for tomorrow. Hope to see you at the dawn service bright and early tomorrow morning remembering all those who laid down their lives so people like us can enjoy ours.