Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Malt Mission 2008 #271

Chivas Regal 18yo
Blended Scotch Whisky
40% abv

The doctor is back in the office and he is determined to get to Malt Mission #300. Beyond that, our future is unknown. Been a few crazy weeks, an absolutely stellar weekend, and the future is a wild ride from London to Edinburgh to Dufftown to Girvan to Edinburgh until we land, at some point, in NYC. Will share more details soon enough, not that it's any of your business...!

I usually hyperlink the description of the whisky above to a defining link, ie. 'blended scotch whisky', but intentionally have not done so today in order to address a current whisky issue that seems so ill-conceived that one cannot help but dig for a conspiracy. But as with anything in this wide world interweb, you can't believe everything you read.

The Scotch Whisky Association(SWA) has put forward a proposal to The Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) that would see a legal change of the terms of scotch whisky. Currently, whisky makers use the terms SINGLE MALT, MALT* and BLENDED to denote the type of scotch whisky
Single Malt= whisky made from MALTed barley and distilled at a SINGLE distillery (Glenfiddich, Glenfarclas, Glenmorangie, etc.)
Malt= whisky made from MALTed barley from more than one distillery (Monkey Shoulder, Oak Cross, Sheep Dip, etc.)
Blended= whisky made from MALTed barley from one OR more SINGLE distilleries BLENDED with spirit made from corn/maize, rye, barley, wheat, otherwise known as grain whisky. So malt and grain whiskies blended together (Johnnie Walker Red, Grant's, today's malt, etc.)

The changes address a few different issues. Of particular interest are two main points.

1) The prohibition of the terms VATTED malt, or PURE malt for a whisky made up of more than one single malt. Proposed term is BLENDED MALT.
2) BLENDED MALT can be named Cardhu, for example, so long as it includes that single malt and
"it is clear from the presentation of the product that not all the whisky was distilled at that distillery."

The problems with these proposals becoming law are two-fold:
---to stop consumer confusion, the terms 'vatted' and 'pure' are to be dropped and a new phrase introduced to clarify what kind of whisky this is, ie. to differentiate it from two reasonably understood types of whisky, Single Malt and Blended whisky, ie. Glenfiddich and Grant's. But by using an adjective that already satisfactorily designates a type of whisky("blended") to describe another, the confusion will be immediately increased. The type of malt whisky we are talking about here already has a used and useful classification, MALT whisky, ie. NOT single and NOT blended.
---By the clause in the proposal stating that BLENDED MALTS can use the name of a distillery that is one of its constituent parts the SWA seem to have simultaneously permitted the use of single malt brand power to release inferior and/or cheaper products AND devalued the craft of the nice folks behind Monkey Shoulder, Pig's Nose, Sheep Dip, and Compass Box creations Peat Monster, Oak Cross, Flaming Heart, Morpheus, Canto Casks, etc.

This has stirred up a good amount of chatter in the whisky-soaked corners of the web and has received commentary from the long e-silent whisky e-postle Johannes van den Heuvel (Malt Madness). As I am allergic to Facebook, I may have missed some of the best discussions HERE, and John Glaser (Compass Box) circulated this petition to sign... and read; his prose is much clearer, less inflammatory, and comes without the frantic conspiracy theory speculations (which, as tools in rational debates, are offensive irrespective of their content) that litter Mark Reynier's rants on the subject.

Read Johannes (above) to get up to speed, or The Scotsman. Then sign John's petition and email your thoughts to
SWA: info@swa.org.uk or DEFRA: Stuart.Cooper@defra.gsi.gov.uk

Enough for an intro today, I will share few thoughts over the coming weeks, which, incidentally, might only see around five(5) malt missions. Still busy, still transient, still happy.

Not much about bottle history today, but oh well. Look it up, or see all Chivas had on the mission HERE. Tasted with MW and ISM.

* There are variations. Some companies have used the term Pure Malt, Triple Malt, or Vatted Malt.


Busy but insanely well-integrated. The tightly contained aromas are liberated by a tiny drop of water. Nuts, chocolate, cherries, cherry blossom, fruit and nut dairy milk bars. Some green banana and ice cream cone. Sweet cigar smoke, smell of old books, counterbalanced with fresh lemon.

"Dark chocolate" - Morwenna.
Lots of fruit, lots of oak, vanilla powder folks put on their cappuccinos. Multidimensional and harmonious. Hard to describe the flavour movement, but that is the charm of a blend. This one swells is the mouth, with a great arc of flavour starting slightky smoky and honeyed at the front of the mouth, expanding into the corners, and resting at back and sides of tongue with chocolate and sherried fruits.
"Sweet cigar smoke, old book smell, lemons"- Inder


"That was tasty." -Inder

"Tastes goooooooooooooooood. It's doing the trick. From a medical standpoint, Doctor, this was rich enough to be tasted through my cold. It's going down really well. There's no burn on the throat." -Morwenna (with head cold)

A crowd pleaser. Rich and soft with subtle complexity so well meshed that it could be overlooked... that is the art of blending. Anyone can peat their barley or sherry mature their spirit and have a high impact malt. Good blends are elegant and refined and well-suited for any mood. An excellent luxury blend.

Malt Mission #270

Malt Mission #272
Malt Mission #273
Malt Mission #274
Malt Mission #275

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Anonymous said...

april fools :(

Anonymous said...

.....I live only a few miles from Keith in mid -Banffshire,where Chivas Regal comes from and am utterly baffled where this blend gets a reputation from....We may drink more malts hereabouts, but I literally know NOBODY local who drinks this,although we may indulge in a few of the other blends on an 'everyday' basis.