Perhaps even Hercules himself would have buckled under the pressure had even one of his 12 impossible labors been to choose the best blended Scotch whisky in the world, but for Scotch whisky connoisseurs who prefer to make an informed decision, things aren’t so difficult after all.
Now when it comes to blended Scotch whisky, there are two brands that stand out miles ahead of their competition, and have been pushing the envelope when it comes to delivering a blended Scotch whisky that is truly a class apart.
The iconic Chivas Regal brand witnessed humble beginnings out of a grocery store in King Street, Aberdeen, Scotland in 1801, before going on to introduce the world’s first luxury blended Scotch whisky. Brothers, James and John Chivas labored to create the finest blended Scotch whisky that would establish the Chivas Regal brand as pioneers in the art of whisky blending.
Within a few decades in 1843, the allure of the mythical Chivas Regal blend was enough to procure a Royal Warrant from Queen Victoria, earning the opportunity to supply their wares to the Queen’s castles.
Another iconic Scottish Highland whisky brand, Johnnie Walker entered the whisky blending business in 1865, nearly two decades after the Chivas Brothers had obtained their Royal Warrant.
Founded by John Walker, and taken to new heights by his son and grandson, the Johnnie Walker brand benefitted from the Spirits Act of 1860, harnessing the new potential made available by the legalization of mixing malt whiskies with grain whiskies. This was the same year Johnnie Walker’s square bottles were introduced as a way to save space with easily stackable bottles.
Both Chivas Regal and Johnnie Walker are brands that date back centuries but if choosing the best blended Scotch whisky is the task, you must face quite the conundrum.
Both brands have some impressive expressions to offer which makes the comparison between them even more interesting and teetering on the edge of a dilemma.
The Chivas Regal 12-year-old is the most natural competitor to the Johnnie Walker Black Label considering they are both 12-year-old expressions of blended Scotch whisky, so if the scales have been balanced, let us begin our comparison to see who triumphs in the battle of Chivas Regal Vs Johnnie Walker Black Label.
For starters, Chivas Regal 12 year old is the standard blend from the house of Chivas Regal, while the Johnnie Walker Black Label is the second entry from the company, priced above the Johnnie Walker Red Label, a no age statement blended whisky.
Similarly, both brands reserve the bragging rights of possessing a Royal Warrant to serve the British Monarchy with their finest whisky although Chivas Regal did obtain it way before Johnnie Walker even entered the whisky making business back in 1843.
Now let us pit the two heavyweights against each other in every aspect that determines the quality of a whisky to see who wins the Chivas Regal Vs Johnnie Walker Black Label debate.
The Chivas Regal clearly edges out the Johnnie Walker Black Label in this particular category. A stylish bulbous bottle with elegant rounded edges, embossing and an intricately designed label in gold and scarlet helps Chivas Regal really reinforce their luxury whisky personality.
While the ‘easily stackable’ shape of the trademark Johnnie Walker is completely logical and no-nonsense, there is nothing much to interpret about it. The black and gold accents, and embossed brand logo of the ‘striding man’ do not do much for it when put up against the Chivas Regal.
The Chivas Regal is a radiant, warm amber in color, whereas the Johnnie Walker Black Label is slightly darker whisky, and colors do not usually carry any significance in a Scotch whisky since some brands do practice adding permitted caramel coloring.
The Chivas Regal 12-year-old has often been described as creamy, smooth and a blend of whiskies that taste of honey, vanilla, pears and hazelnut with hints of butterscotch. A very rich drink that is delightfully fruity and flavorful with a noticeable absence of peatiness.
The Johnnie Walker Black Label on the other hand is distinctly known for its peatiness, and spiciness with undertones of vanilla and dried fruit. It has repeatedly been described as complex but if you prefer your Scotch whiskies to be velvety smooth, fruity and with a wonderfully aromatic nose, the Chivas Regal is the perfect choice for you.
Ideally, the Chivas Regal 12-year-old is the perfect blended Scotch whisky for people who have just begun their journey into the world of whisky drinking, and for the seasoned drinker that loves a whisky
The Chivas Regal Blended Scotch whisky is a blend of some exceptional single malt whiskies and grain whiskies. Single malt whiskies from Strathisla, the oldest continuously functioning distillery in the Highlands, are a crucial part of the Chivas Regal blend, lending a sweet profile to the whisky.
Johnnie Walker Black Label is a blend of nearly 40 different source whiskies from four different regions of Scotland, and it is this combination of whisky personalities that make it a complex drink, retaining the peaty profile typically associated with Islay whiskies.
Chivas Regal has been long known to meticulously control every aspect of their final whisky maturation process, after they marry their source whiskies, they are finished off in Oak barrels to blend together and produce the exceptional Chivas smoothness.
The brand ensures the quality of the Oak barrels as well as the conditions in the warehouse where the barrels sit, even going as far as determining the perfect spot inside the warehouse for the barrels to sit.
The Chivas Regal 12-year-old has won multiple international competitions and awards famously conquering two Gold medals in 2015, one at the International Wine and Spirits Challenge and the other at The Scotch Whisky Masters. Recently, it also won another Gold Medal at The Scotch Whisky Masters 2018.
Johnny Walker Black Label too has won multiple awards at competitions such as a Gold in Premium Blended category at the International Wine and Spirits Challenge 2015, Silver at the same competition in 2014 and 2017 in the same category.
Although picking the best blended Scotch whisky is a highly subjective matter, and the Chivas Regal 12-year-old and Johnnie Walker Black Label are both formidable competitors.
There are no clear winners or losers here but in our opinion, the Chivas Regal 12-year-old does manage to chalk up a few advantages over the Johnnie Walker Black Label. Whatever you may choose in the end, cheers!