Blended Scotch Whisky

Review: Chivas Regal Mizunara

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Chivas Regal’s latest addition to their US portfolio is Chivas Regal Mizunara.  Mizunara is a Japanese Oak.  It’s generally not used outside of Japan, which makes Chivas one of the first wave of Scotch whiskies utilizing the oak.  In this case, a portion of this blended whisky is finished in Mizunara.  You might recall a Bowmore Mizunara a couple of years back.  It too was finished in this eastern oak, which tends to add some spice notes.

This new expression from the big blending house is bottled at 40% ABV and available for a suggested price of $45.  Chivas has always been an approachable whisky.  Let’s see how this one fares.

The somewhat muted nose features hints of vanilla, cloves, light toffee, and a greenish grain note, suggesting some young whisky in the blend.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially given the price.  The palate fares a bit better with waves of spiced toffee, sweet grain,  anise, and dried apricot.  The mid-palate does come across as a bit thin.  Chivas Regal Mizunara carries a short, clean finish.

It was interesting to taste spicier notes than what I usually find in a Chivas Regal blend, and that’s thanks to the Mizunara oak finish.  However, the brand only finished part of this whisky in said oak.  What’s in the bottle is pleasant enough, but at the same time non-offensive and maybe a bit bland.  A slightly higher ABV might have made for a better tasting experience.  Chivas Regal Mizunara should appeal to people who don’t like bold whiskies.  7/10

Chivas.com

Thanks to Chivas Regal for the sample.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Review: Johnnie Walker White Walker Blended Scotch Whisky

White Walker by Johnnie Walker.  There couldn’t have been a better partnership between Diageo and one of my favorite programs, Game of Thrones.   In fact, this blend is only the first release of this partnership.  Diageo has just released eight single malts tied to the different houses in the show.

Johnnie Walker blenders started with Cardhu and Clynelish.  The fruit-heavy flavors from those distilleries are very present, as you’ll read in my tasting notes.  White Walker is bottled at 41.7% ABV and available for $36 a bottle.  The packaging needs a bit of mention.  The bottle is wrapped as such to reveal icy blue writing and marks as the bottle reaches freezing temperatures.  Winter is here, indeed.

I typically taste whisky at room temperature.  However, the makers of this blend have created one that is meant to be served straight from the freezer. Before you start writing angry comments below, I know a lower temperature subdues the bouquet on the nose and the flavors on the palate.  However, whisky drinking is supposed to be fun.  Let’s let our preverbal hair down with this one.

Right out of the freezer, the nose shows some honey and sweet grain, as well as red fruit.  The palate maintains a sweet profile, with hints of creme brûlée, berries, and honey.  There’s a bit of vibrant sweet grain underneath. The clean finish evokes hints of caramelized fruit and a slight sprinkling of spice.  As the whisky warms to room temperature, it expectedly becomes a bit more aromatic on the nose.  More caramel and vanilla appear on the palate, and the finish becomes noticeably longer and richer.

The show tie-in and cool bottle aside, White Walker is a sweet and pleasant blend, but I wouldn’t call it a complex one.  This whisky is designed to be served cold in a tumbler and sipped while watching Game of Thrones.  I doubt it is meant to be dissected in a glencairn glass while writing lots of tasting notes… which is exactly what this writer did for this review.  It’s enjoyable enough.  I can sip on this, which is more than I can say for Red Label.  Overall, not too shabby.   7/10

johnniewalker.com

Thanks to Johnnie Walker for the sample.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost and Rare Whisky Review

Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost and Rare_Bottle Image_3

Photo courtesy: Diageo

In a move likely to enrage malt snobs, spirits giant Diageo has introduced an extension to the Johnnie Walker brand comprised primarily of malt and grain whiskies from closed distilleries. Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost and Rare, the first in the new series, was created by Master Blender Jim Beveridge.

Ghost and Rare is a blend of eight malt and grain whiskies: Brora, Cambus, Pittyvaich, Clynelish, Royal Lochnagar, Glenkinchie, Glenlossie, and Cameronbridge. The first three distilleries on that list are closed, though Diageo recently announced that Brora will reopen in three years. Official bottlings of Brora, which was closed in 1983, aren’t exactly budget friendly. So, the chance to taste it and other rare whiskies as a blended whisky versus a single malt or single grain at a fair price peaked my interest. Ghost and Rare is bottled at a hearty 46% ABV and priced at $399.99 a bottle.

The waxy fruit character Brora is known for is found in the nose here, along with hints of dark chocolate, creamy vanilla, toasted almonds, and a touch of witch hazel. Ghost and Rare carries a rich mouhfeel with notes of brioche, waxy fruit (apple and pear), and grilled pineapple. Darker and deeper flavors soon develop: dark toffee, Sumatra coffee bean, and subtle smoke. Mild oak tannins appear on the back palate. The long, slightly sweet and smoky finish features hints of cocoa powder and creamy vanilla.

Ghost and Rare is a blend that delivers the characteristics of Brora in a rounded way, thanks to the addition of other malt whiskies. Those same whiskies add nuance. In addition, grain whiskies contribute to the overall richness of the blend. The result is an exquisite addition to the Johnnie Walker lineup. I’ll certainly be looking for a bottle. Highly recommended! 9/10

Johnniewalker.com

Thanks to Diageo for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.