Chivas Regal teaches us a little bit about blending.
Success is a blend, Chivas Regal likes to say, and it’s true. The factors that need to come together to create something memorable and meaningful aren’t simply smashed together willy-nilly. Whether it’s the evolution of a centuries-old brand or the production of popular Scotch whisky, there’s always a method to it.
Chivas Regal Philippines recently hosted a special event at the new Mazzo by Cicchetti in Bonifacio Global City to showcase their art of whisky blending, giving the public a brief glimpse at the basic process behind their blends. Chivas Ambassador Hamish Houlistonled the proceedings, starting with a quick primer on the brand and tastings of Chivas 12 and Chivas Extra before going on to the highlight of the evening: an invitation for the attendees to replicate Chivas 12 using a selection of floral, fruity, citrus, creamy, and smoky spirits.
Of interesting note among the five sources was the fruity spirit: “That’s Strathisla 12, which is at the heart of every Chivas Regal,” Houliston pointed out. “It’s a high-quality single malt from the oldest distillery in the highlands of Scotland, and we’re very proud to have that at the heart of every blend.” After having nosed and tasted it, I could understand why it was a point of pride for the brand, historical pedigree notwithstanding: it had a rich, compelling character worthy of its context.
While the overall setup was a daunting sight, Houliston’s guidance made the actual process of mixing the spirits together in a beaker using a pipette feel like a fun chemistry class. Our goal was to blend the spirits the way we felt best (whether by formula or by gut feel, Houliston said, was our call), for as long as we could come up with 100ml of a blend that was as close to Chivas 12 as we could manage. Motivating us was the promise of a Chivas bottle signed by Master Blender Colin Scott—the closest result would earn the prize, and it was more than enough to get everyone keen on our little alcoholic science experiment.
Aiding (or complicating, depending on how you look at it) our efforts were the Chivas cocktails being served on demand throughout the event. My preference was something they called Pepper’s Pride, made of Chivas Regal Extra, amaro, chili brown sugar syrup, and bitters. All the cocktails were delicious testaments to what you can do with blended whisky, and they managed to enhance the point of the evening: there is, indeed, an art to putting things together in ways that impress and satisfy.
While the attendees by no means left that night with the brand’s deeper production secrets, they did come away with a more nuanced understanding of what it means to blend whisky. “We started off the whisky blending exercise at Whisky Live last year,” Houliston explained. “People loved it then, and we’ve been slowly doing events since then. It’s more added value than the normal whisky tasting, and it gives people more insight into how our whisky is made. People can have a shot at the craftsmanship that goes into Chivas 12.”
Chivas Regal Philippines is looking to do more events of this sort in the coming months. If you’re curious but can’t wait to catch one, you can also try it out online right here on the Chivas Regal site.
Dante is a communications consultant with Puzzled Owl. He also produces a quirky little pub quiz called GeekFight Trivia Night.