Chivas Regal Ultis Review

A new blended malt whisky from Chivas Regal

The House of Chivas would have to be best known for their Chivas Regal line of blended whisky; blends that contain both single malt and grain whisky distilled at the various distilleries owned by parent company, Pernod Ricard. In a first for Chivas Regal though, they’ve recently gone down the path of releasing a blended malt whisky, the new Chivas Regal Ultis.

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The new expression has been designed as something of a tribute to the five master blenders who have been in charge of the House of Chivas since it was first launched back in 1909: Charles Howard, Charles Julian, Allan Baillie, Jimmy Lang and current master blender Colin Scott. Coincidentally (or perhaps not), the Ultis is comprised of five malt whiskies from Pernod Ricard’s stable mates Tormore, Allt A’Bhainne, Longmorn, Braeval and Strathisla.

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It’s carries no age statement or specific cask information, but in describing the new blended malt Colin Scott points to the flavour profiles of the five malts as “crystalline freshness of Tormore, the contrasting hint of spicy warmth from Allt A’Bhainne, balance from Longmorn, the floral style of Braeval and the fruity sweetness of Strathisla”. I’m certainly not as well-acquainted with each component malt as Colin is, but I was recently invited along to the Sydney launch of the Chivas Ultis where I had the chance to rectify that.

Held at Palmer & Co. in Sydney, guests were greeted on arrival with a cocktail (or two) before making their way around the venue to explore five different sensory stations.

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Each one was setup to showcase the component malts that have gone into the new Ultis and was designated as either a nosing station or a tasting station. Ambassadors talked us through each malt and the desired characteristics that it ultimately imparts on the new Ultis, shedding some light on why each one was selected. I didn’t take copious notes on my tasting and nosing journey, but it really is quite interesting to get the chance to try these component malts and see how the richness of something like Strathisa or Longmorn sits against something a bit more estery and volatile on the nose like Allt A’Bhainne, or the honeyed floral notes of Braeval. I mean, when was the last time you tried a Braeval?! Exactly! It was pretty special.

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As has come to be expected with these kind of premium releases, the packaging and presentation of the whisky is top notch. The bottle shape references the current Chivas bottle profile, but the thick glass base has been etched with a ‘V’ (the Roman numeral for five) and has a perfume-esque dimpled glass effect, providing a tactile feature to it. The front opening gift box features the signatures of the five master blenders referenced above, whilst the cork closure has been designed to resemble a pen-clip, featuring – you guessed it – five engraved rings, a further nod to the five malts within and the five Master Blenders.

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Tasting notes

It wasn’t the most conducive environment to nerd-out and write down tasting notes (plus I was having far too much fun), but the following was my initial impression.

Nose: I found the nose to be quite balanced , rich and deep with notes of toffee, hard caramels, pears, dark chocolate and spice. Given a bit more time, spicy crystallised ginger, a hint of liquorice, star anise, baked apples and oak.

Palate: Surprisingly spicy at first, but it gives way to quite a rich, deep mouthfeel – notes that I picked up when tasting both the Longmorn and Strathisla earlier in the afternoon. The spice subsides, delivering a nice creamy wave of caramel, tea cake, dough, orchard fruits and orange zest, finishing quite tart and oaky. A dram I’d love to try again and spend a lot more time with next time our paths cross.

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The event also saw the launch of Chivas’ new ‘Win the Right Way’ campaign featuring none other than Captain America himself – Chris Evans – who has recently taken on the role of Asia Pacific Ambassador to demonstrate the power and impact of working together to achieve success.

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The new Chivas Regal Ultis is available in Australia now at most premium stockists (as well duty free) at a recommended retail price of AU$200 for the 700ml version. As always, a sincere thanks goes out to Pernod Ricard Australia for the generous invitation to come along and try this new tasty drop!

Check out Facebook.com/whiskyledger for more photo from the event and feel free to give us a ‘Like’ whilst you’re there!

Celebrating Australia’s newest Keepers of the Quaich

Keepers of the what now? No, it’s not that flying broomstick game from Harry Potter. A Quaich (pronounced something like ‘quake’) is a two-handled shallow drinking vessel of Scottish origin.

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They’re slightly medieval in appearance and have been used for centuries by Scottish Clans to offer a welcoming drink (often whisky) at Clan gatherings and occasions. As a result, the Quaich has rightly become synonymous with the enjoyment and conviviality of Scotch whisky.

Australia’s newest Keepers

Founded in 1988, The Keepers of the Quaich isn’t the kind of society you can just decide to join. Being invited to become a keeper is an honour bestowed on those who have made an outstanding commitment and contribution to the Scotch whisky industry, so it’s a pretty big deal. A few weeks ago, the society held it latest inductee ceremony at Blair Castle in Scotland where, amongst others, two Australians were inducted, Mr Ben Davidson and Mr Sven Almening.

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So, when such an honour is bestowed on two locals with an impressive background in the drinks industry, what are you to do? Throw a pretty sweet party of course! Sven kindly offered up his flagship bar, Eau De Vie, as the venue whilst Ben brought the goods from the Pernod Ricard stable of whiskies. Even before I walked through the doors, I knew I’d be in for a rather enjoyable Monday night.

Ben Davidson

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Ben earned his stripes in the drinks world as a bartender in LA back in the early 90s, before a career with the illustrious Rockpool Group that began on his return to Australia in 1997. That seems to have paved the way for a successful career with Pernod Ricard (going strong for over 10 years now), where he’s their longest serving ambassador. Having delivered thousands of training and tasting sessions, covering brands like The Glenlivet, Aberlour and Chivas Regal there’s no denying his commitment and that his contribution to the Scotch whisky industry has been considerable.

Sven Almenning

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A lot of Sydneysiders have probably know of Sven in his capacity as the head of the Speakeasy Group; the company behind some of the country’s most iconic cocktail and whisky bars like Eau De Vie, The Roosevelt and Boilermaker House. But there’s actually a lot more to his whisky background – a side that many wouldn’t know about.

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Prior to his Speakeasy days, Sven used to own and run a company called Behind Bars where he did a lot of work with whisky, particularly with Diageo and their Johnnie Walker and Classic Malts portfolio. He was instrumental in helping launch both Johnnie Walker Gold and Platinum labels into the Australian market and has done a lot of work on the Johnnie Walker brand over the past decade. He was involved in creating, managing and implementing tasting and training programs for both consumers and the bar industry with these initiatives reaching thousands of consumers and bartenders. No doubt furthering their understanding and appreciation of Scotch whisky.

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In exchanging emails with Sven, I asked him what drew him to Scotch whisky in the first place and his open and candid response really resonated with me. “I think what has lured me into whisky – in addition to the fact I love its taste – is its amazing history, and the immense opportunity for exploration, and continuing education. I also love how whisky can transform a rubbish day to a great day. Or a good moment to a memorable moment”. Now isn’t that the truth!

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The night was indeed a memorable one. As we took a seat, both Ben and Sven recounted their journey to Scotland and all of the side stories that came along with it. It almost felt as though we sitting comfy in a friend’s lounge room, sipping fine whisky and hearing about an epic holiday. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves on the drinks front, for this particular evening – and this post – really was all about the people in my opinion and recognizing they’re achievement.

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How one first gets on the radar of the Keepers of the Quaich is something I’ll never know. However, if anyone from the Keepers Society does happen to read this, I suggest you keep a very close eye on Australia and the people contributing great things to the appreciation of Scotch whisky here. Because along with Ben and Sven, I believe we have some very worthy candidates on our shores (Andrew, Brooke and Jules – I’m pointing at you for starters).

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For me personally, it was a privilege to be able to celebrate the achievements of these two local whisky legends, so I’d like to extend a special thanks to Pernod Ricard for the invitation and to Sven and the team at Eau De Vie for hosting us. If only more Mondays were like this.

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For an extended photo set from the evening, head on over to The Whisky Ledger’s new Facebook page and give us a like whilst you’re at it!