Chivas Regal Ultis

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Distillery/Brand: Chivas | Region: Scotland | ABV: 40% | Colour: Deep Gold
Nose: 6.4 | Palate: 5.4 | Finish: 5.6 | Overall Score: 5.8

Review
2016 has not been a stellar year and few will disagree with me on that. From beloved icons to hairy primates we’ve lost a lot in the last 350 odd days. Many people I know, my self included, will be glad to get rid of ’16 much like a corrupted tooth that’s been making your entire head hurt.

Notwithstanding the troubles rife in all the world there is also the alarming downward tailspin that is the whisky industry. And I don’t mean that in terms of commercial worries.

Oh no. Quite the contrary.

The giants have enjoyed this resurgence immensely. There’s not enough whisky to go around and distilleries / blending houses are struggling to meet with demand.

That’s all good.

What is tailspinning out of control is the unabashed pandering of, and I say this with the largest grain of sand that has ever existed in the history of the world, luxury whiskies to an unsuspecting public. A public that, in the midst of all these crises, still manages to loosen their purse strings in the hope of deriving value. A public that does not know any better. And a public that is routinely being hoodwinked.

It’s a shame.

I’ve written so many of these rant type reviews of late that it almost feels like it’s becoming my signature style. And I don’t want that. Because that’s not who I am. That’s not why I decided to start this little site. It was, in fact, to discover great whiskies and share them with the world. Not to put down the ones that didn’t meet with my satisfaction.

But this year has been harsh. Everywhere I’ve turned I’ve seen expensive suits, flashy invites, stunning venues, beautiful packaging, brilliant PR and, in the midst of all the fanfare, bullshit spirits devoid of any depth or complexity.

It’s almost as if they’ve latched on to a formula for success. Brand ambassador – check. Expensive venue – check. Entertaining distractions – check. Like shooting fish in a barrel.

And the really sick part is that, despite knowing all of this, people like me still latch on to the hope that this time, maybe this time, they won’t take us for a ride. That the heavy price tag genuinely reflects the quality and craftsmanship that the brand so proudly boasts about.

When I first came across the press release for the Chivas Ultis I was immediately drawn. I love vatted malts, thanks in large part to Compass Box, and was really curious what was being done with this. It had a nice story – five malts for five blenders – as a homage for their services. Nice. Comprising of five whiskies from five Speyside distilleries, Tormore, Longmorn, Strathisla, Allt A’bhainne and Braeval, it had the makings of something special. The packaging looked sleek and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.

I sent out a mass message to all my friends to pick one up if they encountered it during their travels. And it was not a small favour to ask given it’s US$200 price tag. One of my close friends happened across this at Heathrow and put down his hard-earned money to do me this favour.

And as I sat at his table unboxing the bottle and poured my self a drink the only thing I could think of was Please don’t suck.

That’s it. Not I hope this blows me away. Just Please don’t suck. We are literally in that sorry stage of acceptance that it if it’s simply average we’re relieved. Of course, that wasn’t meant to be.

My sample is from a brand new bottle and served at 40%

Nose: Lots of sherry. Butterscotch. Vanilla. Toffee. Soft red apples. Some cinnamon. Christmas fruit cake. Becomes a touch dry after a bit. Blood oranges. Black liquorice. Cherries. A very strong minty aroma now. Close to spearmint. Quite strange. As it settles stale coconut oil. Started off promising but somehow failed to keep me impressed. 6.4

Palate: Light bodied. Extremely weak delivery. Was expecting velvet to quote my mouth. What a let down. Peppercorns. Cinnamon. Bitter chocolate. Trouble getting any flavours out thanks to the low ABV. I tried, believe me. 5.4

Finish: Medium. Woody. Touch of limestone. 5.6

Overall Comments: What do you want me to say? Unbalanced. Devoid of any real depth. Weak. When I first read about this I made a little joke about the name. You see Ultis in Hindi means many vomits and I observed that this was probably not the best name to go with given the penchant that many Indians have for Chivas Regal. But in hindsight it seems like a fitting name given the state the industry is. Don’t waste your money on this bullshit.

Overall Score: 5.8

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

Glenlivet 17 Chivas Brothers Cask Strength

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Distillery/Brand: Glenlivet | Region: Speyside | ABV: 55.7% | Color: Sunlight
Nose: 23 | Taste: 22 | Finish: 21 | Balance: 21 | Rating: 87

Review
I like this concept. Chivas has come out with a range of cask strength single cask whiskies from it’s portfolio which are presented in interesting to look at generic 50cl bottles complete with hand written labels.

Well, they’re made to look hand written anyway.

Very interesting to look at and I like the concept behind them too. Quite affordable and at ages and strengths that can’t be purchased as part of standard bottlings.

They currently have quite a few in this collection ranging from a Tormore 15 to a Glen Keith 20 and quite a few in between. What I have in my hand is a 17 year old Glenlivet matured exclusively in bourbon barrels.

My sample is from a brand new bottle from Batch GL 17 013 and served at a cask strength of 55.7%

Nose: Reminded me of the Nadurra 16 and why not? More or less the same treatment to the same distillate. Malt butter. Peaches. Bourbon. Grist. Barley. Husk. Bright honey. Sharp citrus. Marzipan. Almonds. All spice. Floral. Pink Melon. Quite a fresh nose. I like it.

Palate: Honey. Barley. White pepper Melon. Chocolate. Garam masala. Oak. Vanilla. Not as great as the nose but still pretty good. Very nice texture though it has a touch of something bitter towards the end.

Finish: The bitterness is a touch stronger now. Coffee. Cinnamon. Oak.

I like the thinking behind this range even if I this particular expression did not blow me away. The something slightly bitter threw me off towards the end. Still quite nice and drinkable.

Rating: 87

Chivas Century of Malts

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Distillery/Brand: Chivas
Bottling: Chivas Century of Malts
ABV: 43%
Colour: Gold

Nose: 23
Taste: 23
Finish: 23
Balance: 23

Review
These drink giants are known for their marketing gimmicks and will do anything to get rid of stock lying around. And I was pretty sure this expression with 100 single malts was just that.

I was wrong.

It has a lovely fruity nose with tangerines, honey melon and pomegranate seeds. All clumped together with sticky toffee and candied fruits. Finished off with a touch of wood, fresh cucumbers and a hint of smoke.

The palate has all that the nose had on offer. But with it comes a creamy limestone chocolate quality with a wisp of smoky peat. Very, very nice.

The finish is long and satisfying with a touch of wood and cherry cinnamon.

If this is a gimmick it’s certainly a successful one!

Rating: 92