What Is Chivas Regal?

A Guide to Buying and Drinking Chivas Regal

Chivas Regal 18 Year Old Gold Signature Scotch Whisky
Luciano Martins/Flickr/Creative Commons

Chivas Regal produces premium blended Scotch whisky. The core of the brand's portfolio ranges from a nice 12-year-old to an amazing 25-year-old bottling. In the middle is where you will find Chivas Regal "Gold Signature" 18 Year Old. Made of a carefully crafted blend of malt and grain whiskeys, it is the most popular expression from the brand and has a loyal following among whisky drinkers.

Chivas Regal vs. Johnnie Walker

The two biggest names in blended Scotch whisky are Chivas Regal and Johnnie Walker, so how do they compare? Quite honestly, every whisky drinker has an opinion and, if you're already loyal to one brand, you'll probably stick to that.

An even comparison—in both price and age—would be Chivas Regal 18 and Johnnie Walker 18 (formerly Platinum Label). The distinguishing factor in the taste is the smoke. Johnnie Walker includes a hint of Islay-produced whisky (single malts known to be among the peatiest). Chivas Regal features a Speyside malt, a style known for its sweetness, spice, and light smoke. Comparing the two, Johnnie Walker definitely makes Chivas Regal seem like a fruitier, sweeter scotch. For many drinkers, that factor alone may decide which brand to pick up; some people enjoy smoky scotch, and others don't.

Fast Facts

  • Ingredients: grain and malt Scotch whisky
  • Proof: 80
  • ABV: 40%
  • Calories in a shot: 66 (1-ounce)
  • Origin: Speyside, Scotland
  • Taste: chocolate, dried fruit, light smoke
  • Aged: 18 years (minimum)
  • Serve: straight-up, on the rocks, cocktails

What Is Chivas Regal 18 Made From?

Released in 1997, the 18 Year Old Gold Signature blend has become a staple for Scotch whisky drinkers. Yet, Chivas Regal has a whisky blending history that is much older. The business started in the mid-1800s with grocer James Chivas. Around 1860, he was joined by his brother John. Soon after, Chivas Brothers began aging, blending, and selling whisky produced by multiple distilleries.

In 1895, Alexander Smith purchased the business. Aided by master blender Charles Stewart Howard, the first Chivas Regal Scotch Whisky was released. The luxurious 25-year-old blended whisky was targeted to discerning drinkers in North America. Similar to other liquor producers, the company was negatively impacted by world wars and Prohibition in the U.S. It wasn't until the 1939 release of a 12-year-old scotch that Chivas Regal began to really catch on again.

The brand moved to its current home in the Scottish Highlands after the 1949 purchase by a Canadian businessman and head of Seagrams, Samuel Bronfman. Whisky had been produced at the then-Milton Distillery since 1786. When Chivas took over operations, it was renamed Strathisla. Today, Chivas Regal continues operations on the site and is owned by Pernod Ricard USA.

The history plays into the success of Chivas Regal 18 as it showcases the art of blending fine whisky. It takes many years of training to continually produce a signature taste from a diverse stock of whiskies. Developed by renowned master blender Colin Scott, this particular dram is made of over 20 grain and malt whiskies that are each aged for at least 18 years. The featured whisky in the blend is a Speyside malt from Strathisla that is crafted specifically for this whisky. Chivas Regal 18 is bottled at 40 percent alcohol by volume (80 proof).

What Does It Taste Like?

Chivas Regal 18 is a rich amber color, and it's said that up to 85 different flavors can be tasted in this whisky. It opens with the aroma of dark chocolate, toffee, and dried fruits with a slight oakiness. The velvet palate features more chocolate, caramel, and a mellow smokiness with warm, burnt orange notes. It finishes dry and slightly spicy with a satisfying smoke at the back.

How to Drink Chivas Regal 18

If you're looking for a scotch that will impress your taste buds as well as any friends you have over for an evening sipper, this is a good bet. For the quality, it is reasonably priced. However, it does have a premium price tag, which means most people will reserve it for sipping straight. However, if you want to mix up a very nice scotch cocktail, this is an excellent choice.

Cocktail Recipes

When mixing with Chivas Regal 18, keep the cocktails uncomplicated so the whisky can shine. It works well in many of the classic scotch cocktails and modern recipes that bring unique flavors into the mix.