Engineered to underwhelm.
I rarely drink the giant blended brands as there's always something better for the same money if you look hard enough, but sometimes I give in and succumb to their marketing charms just for fun. Of course, it rarely is fun. Enter Chivas Regal's Extra Sherry edition.
On the nose it reminds me instantly of that other stellar performer, Whyte & Mackay's Extra Special Blended stuff. It's initially sweet but also very solventy. There's overcooked fruit, cardboard and a mustiness. There's flashes of cocoa, match wood, tired, old nutmeg, bits of burnt orange oil and dusty floors, caramel and sherry. The overall impression is a bit weird though, old tired sherry fighting face to face with newer spirits and the spirits, solvency thing is winning. Terrible? No, not really but hardly an invitation to dive it!
In the mouth and it is a a very sweet arrival, simple and almost one dimensional- think cheap Spanish brandy. Undeniably thin, watery and musty and a little creamy, the spirits nose translates to a grainy, sweet solvent flavour behind the sugar coating. There’s sherry but not enough to hide what’s going on here. Young whisky, is that Cardhu? It tastes like Cardhu, maybe something else equally as amazingly average. To be sure, it’s a young Speyside character to the malt base. Not one for thrill seekers but pleasant enough. This is not a particularly great thing to taste but hey, they have to put it somewhere. There’s oranges and caramel, some maltiness and lots of grain, I know you’re not supposed to be able to taste E150 but I swear this is the embodiment of that stuff. Warm, brown, innocuous. There’s also chocolate powder on the back end and some nutmeg and baking spice. The palate is designed not to offend or even provoke any kind of fascination or introspection, it tastes like it is meat to be consumed. With ice, without ice, with Coke®, with soda, with lemonade, hell with a splash of better scotch to liven it up a bit. Sweetness, followed with a tiny little woody bitterness and warmth far outweighs any particular flavours of note.
So, there we have it. It’s a whisky that’s been designed not to offend. It’s weak and lacking any ooomf that may have made it better with even a simple tweak like taking it up to 43% from the anaemic 40% it’s bottled at. The sherry aspect feels worn out and on its last legs, there but only enough so they can put it on the label, surely. This is a whisky that sells, no doubts, on its name than on its merits and at over £30 a bottle it fails miserably to offer something even approaching good value. There’s just so many more excellent blends and entry single malts out there for this price.
If Johnny Walker Black is the Big Mac of whisky then this surely is the 99p Cheeseburger. Whilst it is a whisky, no amount of them will make you feel like you’ve actually had a worthwhile drink.