Chivas Regal 18 First-Fill Bourbon Cask Finish

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Distillery/Brand: Chivas | ABV: 48% | Colour: Young Sauternes
Nose: 23 | Taste: 23 | Finish: 23 | Balance: 23 | Rating: 92

Review
I’m a big fan of the Chivas 18. Good solid travel retail whisky which still comes at a relatively decent price tag (compared to the absolute madness that is going on in this world!).

I’ve also attended a couple of tasting sessions of the 18. One where they broke down the different whiskies that became part of the blend and another super interesting one which compared different ways of drinking it.

So it was a nice surprise when my mate picked this particular release from the Duty Free. Called the Ultimate Cask Collection (I assume there will be more) it has been finished off in first-fill American Oak, non-chill filtered and served at quite a decent ABV of 48%.

My sample is from a brand new bottle.

Nose: Oak. Toasty oak. Malt. Licorice. Quite floral. Vanilla. Cinnamon. Chocolate. Coconut. Barley. Nice strong sherry. Really like this nose even if it’s a touch uncomplicated. The higher ABV makes the aromas stand out more. I like it. 23/25

Palate: Nice and creamy mouthfeel. Quite robust. A little spicy. That coconut again. Dark honey. Cinnamon. All spice. Butterscotch. Almonds. Licorice. Whisp of smoke. Fudge cake. Really really liking the palate on this one. It’s quite wonderful and the texture makes it feel quite rich. 23/25

Finish: Long. Caramel. All spice. Nice. 23/25

Overall Comments: Well, what can I say? Pernod Ricard seem to have taken a quality product and made it a little better. Nice to see them keep their ear to the ground and come up with a higher ABV and non-chill filtered product. Plus the finish really does the whisky well. It’s a bit on the expensive side, mind you, but if you’re rich then you won’t mind.

Rating: 92

Hakushu 18 Years

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Distillery/Brand: Suntory Hakushu | Region: Japan | ABV: 43% | Color: Pale Straw
Nose: 23 | Taste: 23 | Finish: 24 | Balance: 23 | Rating: 93

Review
Not unlike most whisky drinking enthusiasts I also have a soft spot for Japanese single malts. For no other reason than that a non-traditional country is showing giants how the good stuff is made.

Their maturation techniques and unique weather conditions have created some of my most memorable moments of whisky sipping.

Hakushu (pronounce hak-shoo) was established in 1973, in the forest on the slopes of Mount Kaikoma which would explain the inherent earthiness that most of their spirits tend to have.

As a fan of the 12 I was quite excited to have a go at the 18. There is, however, shockingly little information on what goes into the making of this fine whisky. I understand the Japanese are insanely secretive about how they do things but some information would really help.

I suspect the spirit has seen multiple casks and a blending at some stage. I can safely assume bourbon and sherry in the mix with quite possibly some Japanese oak too. And there is some peat thrown in for good measure.

My sample is from a brand new bottle (circa 2014) and served at a strength of 43%

Nose: Tobacco. Peat. Smoke. It’s quite savory. grapes. Red apple. Cumin. Coffee. Chocolate. I’m suspecting Oloroso sherry here. Husk. Citrus. Ripe oranges. Soft dates. Clove. Now I’m pretty sure it’s Oloroso. Burnt toast. It’s quite a robust nose. Very controlled and on point. I like it a lot!

Palate: Sweeter than the nose. Honey. Citrus. Cinnamon. Those apples again. Mint. Very juicy and velvety delivery. The clove is back too. I love the texture of this one. Makes you salivate as it does the rounds around the palate.

Finish: So long. Amazingly long. Oily. Clove. Cinnamon. Mint. Oak

This was quite a complex undertaking with loads of flavor. I’ve seen a lot of reviews in favor of the 12 versus this. But those could be earlier bottlings because what I had was quite top class.

Rating: 93