You already know that whisky is an iconic spirit. From celebrating with your crew to relaxing with a classic cocktail, there’s a whisky for every occasion. But did you know that this legendary drink has a backstory that’s as rich as its taste? Here are six incredible facts that every whisky-drinker should know.
1. Different regions produce vastly different tastes
Scotch whisky comes from five distinct regions: the Highlands, Speyside, Campbeltown, Islay and the Lowlands. Just as different regions of France produce different types of wine, each area adds special flavour notes to the final bottle, appealing to different drinkers. Love the aroma of the salty sea air with a hint of smoke? Try a fiery Islay to bring your tastebuds alive. If you prefer something more sweet and soft, a sip of a Lowland whisky with notes of vanilla and honey might suit you better.
Whiskies from the heart of the Highlands are generally richer and fruitier, while those from the coast have stronger hints of smoke and salt. Nowadays, only a handful of whiskies are produced in Campbeltown, but these tend to be strong and complex. Speyside whiskies have a huge range of flavours, generally leaning towards sweet, rich and fruity aromas. Speyside is home to the most distilleries, with over half of all malt whisky produced here.
Single malt produced at the Strathisla distillery in Speyside is at the heart of Chivas Regal, meaning our blends highlight the wild heather and honey notes prominent in this region, as well as the finest whiskies from other areas in Scotland. Thanks to our Master Blender Sandy Hyslop, Chivas Regal brings out the best and most balanced flavours within Scotch whiskies.
2. Who’s Glen?
A running joke in the TV sitcom ‘How I Met Your Mother’ is the name Glen McKenna as a stand-in for high-quality Scotch. Though it’s not a real brand, many whiskies have the word ‘Glen’ in them.
It’s not a person but instead comes from the Gaelic word ‘gleann’, a type of valley found in the Scottish Highlands where many distilleries were based. In 1957, the founding Chivas brothers invested in their own Speyside distillery: Glen Keith. The town of Keith is also home to Strathisla, the oldest working distillery in the Scottish Highlands and source of the single malt at the heart of every bottle of Chivas Regal.
3. Try a new glass for a different experience
As well as the whisky itself, the glass you use can influence the whisky-drinking experience. You’ll have seen countless films where characters use whisky tumblers - a short, round glass - for a ‘finger’ of good Scotch. The weight and classic design mean they feel satisfying when held and the shape means it can comfortably fit a block of ice if required.
If you want to try something special, pick up a Glencairn glass. These have a unique flower bud design that enhances the aromas and flavours of the spirit. By tapering in at the tip, all the sensory-activating components are focused with every sip.
Tankards are the preferred choice for highballs as the handle ensures your hand doesn’t warm the glass, keeping the drink ice-cold for longer. They’re also taller than other glasses, meaning they can hold more ice as well as making the contents easier to stir when creating cocktails.
But ultimately it doesn’t matter how you drink your favourite whisky. The real pleasure comes from the taste, whether that’s sipping it neat or as the key component in a party-starting cocktail.
4. The artful blender
Blending might sound like a simple job. However, if you want to reach the quality of a Chivas blend you need years of training and passion. Before creating an iconic Chivas blend, countless hours are spent smelling and tasting thousands of aromas and flavours. The taste of each blend isn’t just down to ageing, but also the years of experimentation in search of the right combination of whiskies.
Master Blenders often have careers that span decades, with Chivas Master Blender Sandy Hyslop being a passionate whisky collector for years before taking to the blending room. His commitment to creating world-class Scotch is the reason behind every new superb Chivas blend.
5. Which country drinks the most whisky?
Although whisky is most commonly linked with Scotland, the country that consumes the most is actually India. According to research by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, in 2014, Indians drank 1.5 billion litres - almost three times more than the USA - and they import hundreds of thousands of bottles of Chivas alone every year. The flavours might be perfected in Scotland, but they can be enjoyed anywhere in the world.
6. The spelling matters
People often get confused about how to spell ‘whisky’, but true Scotch should be spelt without the ‘e’. This extra letter was added in the 1800s by distillers in Ireland to separate it from whisky produced in Scotland, and now only Scotland (and Canada) uses the original spelling. Irish ‘whiskey’ often doesn’t use peat (and if they do, it’s a tiny amount), meaning it lacks the smokey aroma found in classic Scotch whisky.
But this is just a handful of what makes whisky such an incredible spirit. The sheer variety and versatility of Chivas means you’ll always find something new on your whisky journey, whether that’s a brand new cocktail or a unique blend that’s perfect for your tastebuds.