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One of the biggest names in whisky blending, and recognised globally for its quality, Chivas Regal has a well earned reputation for quality, earned over a prestigious history of some 200 hundred years. True pioneers of the blending industry, Chivas have broken the mould repeatedly and are partly responsible for the global popularity of whisky that we know today.
The company takes its name from the Schivas ancestral house in Aberdeenshire. The company makes its home at Strathisla in Banffshire, on the banks of the river Isla. This Speyside distillery is one of the oldest in Scotland, having been founded in 1786, and its spirit makes up the heart of Chivas Regal products- giving them a distinctive nuttiness and well balanced character. It was this character that first made Chivas products stand out from the crowd- at a time when whisky blending was very much a rough art, and their fellow producers were creating harsh whisky of a poor quality, Chivas made a spirit of brilliant poise and flavour.
Things have remained the same ever since, with Chivas making consistently excellent whiskies. The 12 year old, which has been the centre of the brand’s range since its unveiling just after the end of US Prohibition is a standard-setting bottle for the entire blending industry, such is its eminent class. Master Blender Scott Nichols explains his role, and the philosophy behind the spirit thus: "The art of the Master Blender in understanding the many different flavours in Scotch whisky is like the work of a composer: not only do you need to completely understand the musical characteristics of every instrument, but you must also understand how to combine them to build an unforgettable, spellbinding symphony." After starting life as a company selling luxury goods, Chivas Regal have come to define one, producing a drink which is truly a testament to the art of the blend.
Chivas Brothers starts its life as a grocer’s selling luxury goods including rums from the West Indies, coffee, exotic spices, French Brandy and of course, malt whiskies!
by the 1830s the role of oak barrel was better understood, and the Chivas Brothers began to lay down barrels of grain and malt whisky to age in their spirit cellar for their specialist in house blends.
The company receives a prestigious royal warrant, marking it as a company that supplies the royal family with services and goods.
The Chivas Brothers respond to customer demand to create a smoother whisky with a well rounded character by blending grain and malt whiskies of different ages, pioneering the practice. The secret techniques they use remain in practice today, after being passed down the generations of the Chivas family, and are heavily guarded by the company.
In 1860, parliament passed the Spirits Act which explicitly permitted the blending of Scotch whiskies, handing the industry a huge boost. Companies like Chivas Brothers could now flourish in a legitimate business.
The Cognac industry is crippled as French vineyards suffer a terrible outbreak of the phylloxera blight. As the then spirit of choice was in short supply, discerning drinkers began to look elsewhere for their tipple, turning to Scotch whisky. This established it as the luxury spirit of the highest quality, a reputation it would never lose. Chivas Brothers was at the forefront of ensuring this reputation with quality whisky of the highest quality.
The Chivas Brothers took advantage of the booming economy in America to begin exporting their longest aged blends, recognising the burgeoning market for luxury goods in the country. This was also the first time a whisky by the company carried the brand Chivas Regal.
In 1909, Chivas Regal broke the mould again by releasing the world’s first premium whisky- Chivas Regal 25. An instant hit across America, particularly in the happening cocktail cities of New York, Chicago and New Orleans, this bottling ensured the company’s good name in the world of spirits. Nearly all whisky companies have followed Chivas’s lead by offering ultra luxury bottlings of this ilk.
Sadly, as with many high quality drinks producers, the "Roaring Twenties" were less successful for Chivas Regal due to the heavy impact of Prohibition in the United States. Chivas Regal 25 year old was discontinued, but the company continued to trade in other nations.
The company begins to export to the United States again, this time launching its centrepiece blend- Chivas Regal 12 year old.
The company is purchased by Canadian drinks giants Seagrams, who begin taking the products to new, international markets. This is accompanied by early examples of excellent drinks marketing, with full page adverts taken out in lifestyle magazines such as the New Yorker. This really establishes the 12 year old as one of the icons of blended Scotch whisky. Soon, celebrity endorsements from Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack meant that Chivas Regal was one of the most fashionable drinks around.
The company purchases Strathisla distillery, its base to this day, to ensure a consistent supply of excellent Single Malt whisky to use in their blends. Strathisla is now known as the "heart" of Chivas Regal blends.
Chivas Regal launch Royal Salute, a tribute to Queen Elizabeth II on her coronation. Aged for 21 years (to reflect the 21 gun salute that greets Her Royal Highness), it is packaged in ceremonial ceramic flagons, of different colours. The flagship blend of the Chivas brand, and expertly made too.
Chivas Regal repay Sinatra for his long custom by sponsoring his Diamond Jubilee tour.
The company’s standard range is expanded with the release of an18 year old expression- "Gold Signature", this marks a rare expansion of the Chivas standard range, the first since 1953.
French drinks giants Pernod Ricard purchase the Chivas Regal company, promising to adhere to and respect its heritage of quality, and retain the traditional methods of blending that have served it so well.
Nearly 100 years after it was first released, Chivas Regal release a 25 year old expression. This was created by Master Blender Colin Scott to replicate the qualities and tradition of the original.
Proving that the grand old company is still responsive and aware of Scotch whisky market trends, a Non-Aged-Stated blend is released, designed to replicate those very first blends made in the cellar of a luxury epicurean shop.
Chivas Regal picks up 3 double-gold medals for its 18, 21, and 25 year old bottlings at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition of that year. Marking the continuation of a tradition of relentless quality.