Colin Scott, Chivas Regal’s master blender visited Jakarta last weekend on Friday, 10th March 2017. He’s in town for the launch of Chivas Regal Extra, a non age statement blend that highlights a sherry cask influence. It’s been around in the overseas market since 2014, but only now it’s officially released for Indonesia. We were very fortunate to have a private chat with the legend himself at Fable SCBD.
To me personally, Chivas is a universally known name and something I’ve been drinking since my college days; so meeting Colin Scott is akin to meeting the composer of a classic hit that everyone loves.
I was joined by another society member, Howard and we walked up the stairs to Fable and joined in with the crowd from the media, we managed to get a sofa closest to Colin Scott’s, he’s accompanied by Pernod Ricard Indonesia’s Managing Director, Mr. Edhi Sumadi. Soon, the press conference started and Chivas Regal Extra is officially launched in Indonesia. This was followed by Q&A session from the media, then it’s our private time with Mr. Sumadi and Colin Scott. We talked about whisky, his views on certain Chivas expressions, and some other random stuff. Below our heavily summarised and edited excerpts from the conversation:
Howard brought with him the Japan exclusive Chivas Regal 12 years old Mizunara, which he intended for Colin Scott to sign. Upon learning that I had none with me, he signed it and wrote “Howard – please share.”
So, Colin, Sir, this is a very interesting expression we have from the Chivas range, the Mizunara, can you tell us what’s the idea behind this one?
Well, Japan and Scotland have a long relationship when it comes to whisky. In the early days of Japanese whisky industry, a young Japanese man came to Scotland to learn whisky making, married a Scottish woman and together they went back to Japan to help establish the Yamazaki distillery. It was the early 1900s, he brought back the Scottish way of making whisky, applied it to his homeland and now look at the Japanese whisky industry, the great stuff they make, the distinct character the Japanese whisky have, the brilliant master blenders, we have so much respect for them. That is why we decided to create a Chivas Regal that pays tribute to all these. We managed to source the rare mizunara oak with the help of Chivas Japan and friends from the industry in Japan. The end result is a unique blend, one that has Japan at its heart.
Note: Colin didn’t say any name, but was certainly referring to Masataka Taketsuru, the Father of Japanese Whisky. You can read more about him here
Chivas 12 have been around for hundreds of years, how different would you say the original is from the ones we have today?
It’s not so old, it’s just a little over a hundred years old. Created around the early 19th Century. To be honest the earliest written record we have of the Chivas 12 was from 1920s, we don’t really have a sample of the original but if you look back at the descriptions and the blends involved, you can know the flavour profile and the style of the Chivas house, this is what we worked with. The oldest bottle we managed to sample was one from the 1950s. A fellow whisky expert and writer, Dave Broom managed to get his hands on it and brought it to our headquarters. We were surprised that it even existed. He was kind enough for us to do sampling, and we tasted it alongside Chivas 12 from other eras, the 70s, the 80s and everyone was delightfully surprised, they’re all not very different from one another. At its heart, the Chivas style which is smooth and powerful have never changed. Sure if you go into details and you’re an expert you can pick out much so more notes, there are subtle differences, but the style that is Chivas Regal 12 remains consistent.
So your favourite whisky is Chivas Regal 18, now what is your favourite single malt?
(Laughs) Why are you asking this question to a blender? there’s nothing wrong with blended Scotch is there?
(Howard and me having a nervous chuckle; but in all fairness, we are really curious, for someone who works with possibly millions of combinations, which particular one is his favourite?
Of course I don’t subscribe to the idea that single malt is always superior to blends. In fact my all time favourite is Hibiki 17, a blend.)
No, nothing wrong, I’m just curious, you see nowadays the market is all about single malts, I thought I wanted to know your pick
I believe everyone should drink and believe what they want, if you love single malts, good for you. But trust me, there are so many great blended whiskies out there. Traditionally whisky is all about blends. Try them and get the message across.
Having said that, if I have to really choose a single malt, It’d be Scapa. It’s delicious and it’s from my hometown! I’m from Orcadia.
About Colin Scott, Custodian Master Blender for Chivas Regal: Following the tradition of his father and grandfather who dedicated their lives to the Scotch whisky industry before him, Colin Scott became Master Blender in 1989. In 1997, he created the Chivas Regal 18. He has been the guardian of the Chivas Regal smooth signature style ever since.