Times are tough at Halibut Towers, just as they are everywhere else, so there's been precious little spare cash for spunking on extravagant whisky purchases lately. But I did spot a bottle of Chivas Regal 12 in Tesco the other day for a bargain 20 quid, so I snapped it up, just to avoid the unthinkable scenario of having nothing in the whisky cupboard.
Chivas Regal is the main rival to Johnnie Walker Black Label in the premium blend market; both proudly display a "12" on the packaging, which means that all the whiskies used to make up the blend are at least 12 years old. Just as Johnnie Walker have Cardhu as their main workhorse for producing whisky for their blends, Chivas have Strathisla, as featured here fairly recently. So it's a good bet that Strathisla accounts for a good bit of the malt content here, and indeed it says as much on the packaging. Those in the know say that it also contains whisky from the Longmorn and Glenlivet distilleries, among others, both of which are these days owned by Chivas' parent company Pernod Ricard.
It's a very comforting-looking browny-amber colour when you pour a glass, and similarly big and welcoming when you have a sniff. There's some woody nutty stuff here, but also the more usual magic markers, plus some bananas and what I think might be butterscotch Angel Delight. The packaging conjures up some expectations of it tasting like smoke-filled wood-panelled rooms and leather-topped writing desks, but it's not really like that at all. Like (not surprisingly) the Strathisla it's slightly drier than you'd expect when you have a sip, but there's still plenty of cakey goodness. To make the obvious comparison with the Johnnie Walker Black Label, this is slightly sweeter, less smoky, and I think generally less interesting overall, but still really good - once again, adhering to single malt snobbery will mean that you miss out on something well worth spending some time drinking. I think it's a more rounded and interesting whisky than the Strathisla, for instance.