Chivas Regal 18 Year Old Scotch Whisky Review

An Elegantly Smooth Scotch

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

Chivas is known for a series of finely blended Scotch whiskys, with the core of its portfolio ranging from a 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, the most popular expression from the brand that has a loyal following among whisky drinkers.

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 choice. For the quality, it's reasonably priced, though it does top the $60 a bottle, 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.

About Chivas Regal 18

First 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 began with the brand's launch in 1909 and its home, the Strathisla distillery in the Scottish Highlands, was first put into operation in 1786, but not producing this brand.

This particular dram is made of 20 grain and malt whiskys that are each aged for at least 18 years. The featured whisky among the blend is a Speyside malt from Strathisla. They are blended together with great mastery to create a sophisticated whisky drinking experience.

Tasting the 18 against its younger 12-year-old counterpart will show you exactly what a few extra years in the barrel can do to a whisky. The extra mellowing is definitely a welcomed addition.

Chivas Regal 18 is bottled at 40 percent ABV (80 proof).

Tasting Notes

Chivas Regal 18 is a rich amber color, that of red wheat, and it opens with the aroma of sweet citrus, apple, and a slight amount of oak. The velvet palate is filled with caramel and peat with warm, burnt orange notes. It finishes very dry and slightly spicy with a satisfying smoke at the back.

One claim says that up to 85 different flavors can be tasted in this bottling. If you have the time to analyze it to such an extent, see if you can detect that many. Yet, for most, a two-finger pour won't last that long.

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, if you're already loyal to one brand, you'll probably stick to that and every whisky drinker will have their own opinion.

First off, one could compare Chivas Regal 18 to the considerably more expensive Johnnie Walker Blue Label ($160 plus). The profiles of the two scotches are completely different: Chivas being slightly sweet with smooth fruit notes and a hint of smoke while Johnnie Walker Blue has a peaty, smokier side that's also softer from the extra aging.

Ignoring the price, which is "better" is subjective to individual taste. If you enjoy a fruitier and very flavorful scotch, your preference would likely lean toward Chivas. However, Johnnie Walker Blue offers a very smooth drink with that signature peatiness—often reserved for single malts—that is an absolute treat in blended whisky.

Price does have to be a consideration, though. Since the average person may well find the pricier scotches a luxury, it seemed worthwhile to compare two beverages from either end of the premium spectrum as a way of discovering what you might be missing when you don't choose the more expensive option. The conclusion would be that if you're willing to pay more, you will certainly enjoy a very, very nice whisky. Whether it's worth that 15 minutes of pleasure, would be a far more difficult question, but the answer would probably lean toward "no."

A more even comparison would be Johnnie Walker 18 (formerly Platinum Label). Not only is the age of this blend the same, the price is comparable. The distinguishing factor here is the smoke. Johnnie Walker includes a hint of Islay-produced whisky, which is known among the single malts to be among the peatiest you can find. For many drinkers, that factor alone may decide which brand to pick up; some people enjoy smoky scotch and others don't.

The money is well-spent either way. Again, scotch and, whisky in general, are so subjective to taste that each person should follow their own preferences. Most importantly, you should enjoy what you're drinking because no one can do it for you!