By Richard Thomas
If there is a clear memory I take away from the series Boston Legal, it is of the demented Denny Crane (William Shatner) and Alan Shore (James Spader) sitting in plastic outdoor easy chairs on the office balcony, puffing on stogies and drinking Chivas Regal. It was a fixture of the series, but the reason why it sticks in my mind is that I always thought “these guys are big shots at one of the biggest law firms in Boston; why aren’t they drinking some rarefied single malt?” Chivas Regal is nice stuff, but when you’re earning six or seven figures… I mean, c’mon.
I realize the obvious answer to my confusion is “product placement.” Even so, it sticks in my craw because I know what I’d be drinking if I were making middle six figures, and Chivas Regal ain’t it. It’s not bad blended scotch mind you, but top shelf it is not.
Although Chivas Brothers was first established in Aberdeen in 1801, the Keith distillery making Chivas Regal is a product of North Sea oil expansion and the late 1960s. The 12 Year Old is the top-selling whiskey in its class in Europe and Asia, and is emblematic of Chivas Regal’s aspirations. Whereas in most blended scotch (or even single malt) lines a 10 or 12 year old is a second-tier whiskey, Chivas Regal 12 Year Old is the entry-level scotch in the line.
Bottled at 40% alcohol, Chivas Regal 12 Year Old has a golden wheat color in the glass. The nose is on the understated side, carrying the scents of apples and sea spray on the top and a hint of woodiness underneath. On the palate, that wood flavor comes strongly to the forefront, sharing space on the stage with a newly emerged grainy flavor. The finish is even more understated than the nose, being slightly sweet and fruity.
While you might sometimes find Chivas Regal for as little as $25 a bottle, in most parts of the United States $35 seems more common. £25 or 30 euros seems normal in Europe.