THE CHIVAS HISTORY
We’ve been making history since 1801. Centuries of hustling have gone into our whiskies – and it’s all thanks to the legendary Chivas brothers.
The Chivas journey began on an idyllic farm in the rural Scottish Highlands. Our founders John and James Chivas were born as two of 11 children – and their ambitions were as big as their family.
Family traditions reigned strong in 19th century Scotland, with the brothers expected to go into the family farming business.
While proud of their roots, the brothers knew they wanted more. They had drive.
They radically moved to the city of Aberdeen – a tough three-day venture by foot – with the desire to create something bigger.
Once he reached the city, James began working in a local grocery store. Thanks to his tireless family work ethic, he soon learned the trade and business. In no time, he became a pillar of service to the community.
Eventually John joined him, and the duo took over the Emporium.
The Chivas Brothers company was born.
James and John Chivas never settled. If they didn’t stock something people asked for, they would find it. If they couldn’t find it, they would make it.
When customers began asking for a smoother tasting whisky, the brothers began blending in the Emporium cellar.
The pioneers in the art of blending whisky had officially set the standard.
FIT FOR ROYALTY
Orders for the brothers’ luxury products flew in from across the globe. One day, a regal requirement came across James’ desk in 1843 in the form of his first Royal Warrant.
Having served Queen Victoria at her Balmoral countryside retreat, regality became part of the Chivas DNA.
CHIVAS TAKES NEW YORK
Fast forward to 1909. Master Blender Charles Howard and Alexander Smith created a 25-year-old blend that would become the world’s first luxury whisky.
Chivas Regal truly burst onto the world stage, enchanting New York on its way. It became a staple in high society and graced glamorous parties across the city.
Anyone who was anyone had a glass of Chivas in hand.
After a decade of roaring success, Chivas’ reign was cut short by Prohibition in 1920. As bars shut down from coast to coast, the world’s first luxury whisky disappeared.
New Yorkers held faith that their favourite drink would return. In 1938, Chivas came back with a bang as the 12-year-old blend we know today.
AND WE’VE NEVER LOOKED BACK
THE HOME OF CHIVAS
Nestled in the rolling Highland hills is the stunning Strathisla Distillery; the home of Chivas. Originally established in 1786, it’s the oldest working distillery in the Scottish Highlands. Strathisla single malt whisky flows through every bottle of Chivas Regal – it’s our signature smooth flavour.
VISIT THE HOME OF CHIVAS
Would you like to explore the stunning distillery grounds and delve into the heart of Chivas Regal?
Visit Strathisla Distillery and discover the world of Chivas – and taste a few exclusive whiskies while you’re at it.
Whisky is much more than just a drink. From the precise steps of distillation to the patience of maturation, there’s a lot that goes into Scotch whisky – and specifically, Chivas Regal. While there are just three ingredients that are used to make malt whisky (barley, water and yeast), hard work turns these into something truly special.
There’s a reason why Speyside whiskies are known for quality. With the perfect proportions of rain and sunshine, the geographical area is ideal for growing barley.
Once the hills turn golden after the crucial summer months, the barley is harvested and taken to the first step in the whisky-making process – the maltings – including one in nearby Buckie just 15 miles away.
Once it arrives at the maltings the barley is soaked in order to kickstart the enzymes, which begin to convert starch to sugar. As soon as that process begins to take place, it’s stopped.
The barley is then dried into a dormant state; otherwise the growth process will consume all the sugar that’s essential in creating whisky.
The dormant barley is then taken to Strathisla distillery.
The first place the barley goes at Strathisla distillery is the Porteus mill. The barley husks are cracked open through the first set of rollers and ground into a fine texture known as grist in the second set of rollers.
Once the grind has been assessed and approved, the grist is taken to the mash tun where whisky’s second ingredient is added: water.
Local spring water from the Broomhill Spring – located just a mile away and exclusive to the distillery – is used for its purity, having been naturally filtered through granite.
In the mash tun, water is added in four stages at different temperatures so as not to damage the barley and deactivate the enzymes. The overall temperature is increased from 65.5°C to 90°C over a period of six hours and at the end of the process a sweet liquid known as wort is produced. This is what’s taken onto the next step of making whisky.
The leftover grist is recycled either through energy production or as livestock feed, and the warm waters are put through heat exchangers to recycle the heat, maximising the efficiency of our distillery. This greatly increases the sustainability of our whisky-making process.
The whisky fermentation process is where our iconic orchard fruit flavours begin to develop.
We use traditional wooden washbacks for fermentation – unlike steel, wood keeps the wash well insulated for steady fermentation, protecting it from seasonal fluctuations.
In the washbacks, the third and final ingredient is added: yeast. The mixture is then left to ferment over two days to convert the sugars into alcohol. Once fermented, the liquid is called wash and is ready for distillation.
The distillation part of the whisky-making process is where the alcohol percentage by volume is increased. At Strathisla, there are four ‘stills’ that work in pairs: two wash stills and two spirit stills. We use copper stills, which are excellent purifiers that make sure only the best flavours go into Strathisla single malt.
Firstly, the wash still heats up the wash, allowing alcohol vapours to rise up the neck of the still. The necks of the stills at Strathisla are short so that more of the heavy vapours rise up, which is crucial in creating the iconic full-bodied and generous flavours that Strathisla distillery is famous for.
The vapours then travel along the lye pipe and into the condenser to be cooled down, yielding a liquid of around 25% alcohol.
This then goes into the spirit stills and undergoes the same process again, but this time the alcohol is at a much higher percentage. Different cuts of alcohol come out of this process – some too strong (the heads) and some too weak (the tails) – which will be run through the process again along with the next batch.
A liquid with alcohol between 65-70% known as the heart is what we collect in the spirit receiver, which then fills our casks. It’s then matured in these casks until it has sufficiently aged and its flavours have developed. Only then is it ready for the magic of blending and selective cask finishes.
THE ART OF
Blending whisky certainly is an art. The perfect balance within our iconic blended Scotch whisky range is down to decades of experience and experimentation, alongside a flair for flavour. Discover the art of blending with Chivas Regal Master Blender Sandy Hyslop.
IN CONVERSATION WITH MASTER BLENDER SANDY HYSLOP
THE ART OF BLENDED WHISKY?
“Our aim with blended whisky is to make something greater than the sum of its parts. Single malt whisky can have a lovely individual flavour, but you can produce something far more complex with blended whisky.”
Sandy Hyslop, Master Blender
“A single malt may have a fruity pear-drop flavour but when blended, the end result could be fruity pear-drop flavours complimented by floral notes and finished with a wisp of bonfire smoke. Blending whisky is like cooking: the ingredients are all unique but when those ingredients come together, you can create something extraordinary and complex.”
“As well as blending the right whiskies together in the right proportions, flavour is hugely influenced by the cask maturation – nearly 50% of the end flavour comes from the cask influence in an expression like Chivas 18. You can take the same whisky, put it in two different casks and create two completely different whiskies!
“American oak enhances the vanilla flavours; sherry casks bring out spicy raisin fruitcake flavours; the list is endless. We experiment with a lot of different casks to come up with such a diverse range of blended whiskies.”
Sustainability and responsibility sit at the heart of what we do, from helping local communities to prioritising more sustainable packaging.
THE NEW CHIVAS 12
The new Chivas 12 re-design wasn’t all about looks.
As part of our aim for packaging to be 100% recyclable, reusable, compostable or bio-based by 2025, sustainability was central to the new bottle design.
The new lighter bottle saves more than 1,000 tonnes of glass annually, with the outer packaging made from fully recyclable materials.
Chivas Brothers Sustainability and Responsibility
The Chivas Brothers group aims to pave the way for how the industry make whisky.
Discover the four pillars of the Chivas Brothers sustainability and responsibility roadmap.
All Chivas Brothers products come from nature. This is about protecting these natural ingredients and the places they come from. We have a strong duty to protect and nurture the environment for generations to come.
Our purpose is about sharing, warmth, care and respect for people everywhere, both our employees and the people throughout our value chain.
We take great pride and care in how we make Chivas Brothers products, recognizing the importance of minimising our impact on the environment by reducing and eventually eliminating waste and carbon emissions.
We want to fight alcohol misuse in society and make sure that we market our products in the right way.