Johnnie Walker Red Label vs Chivas Regal 12 Year Old – How do they differ?
A truly arduous comparison since both, the Chivas Regal 12-Year-Old, and the Johnnie Walker Red Label are iconic blended Scotch whiskies with many years of history, experience, traditions and success in their rear view mirrors.
The Chivas Regal 12-Year-Old Vs Johnnie Walker Red Label is a fitting comparison since both are the standard blended Scotch whisky expressions from either brand. Not only are both wildly popular all over the world but have been recipients of numerous accolades and awards at international whisky tasting competitions.
Chivas Regal’s early days can be traced as far back as 1801 when the Chivas Brothers, James and John, dabbled in the luxury goods trade, which included selling blended whiskies. Located in Aberdeen, steady success and constant innovation earned the Chivas Brothers a Royal Warrant in 1843, allowing them to supply goods to the British Monarchy itself.
Over the years, the Chivas Brothers constantly persevered and successfully created the world’s first luxury blended Scotch whisky and captured the attention of Scotch lovers in the United States. The brand’s patrons included the cream of New York’s elite, and even Frank Sinatra himself. This ultra-premium blended Scotch brand has enjoyed a tremendous amount of success and was sought after by royalty even before many existing brands had even been founded.
Johnnie Walker on the other hand was established nearly two decades after Chivas Regal had obtained their Royal Warrant from Queen Victoria in 1843. Established by John Walker, the brand too was initially a grocery store whereupon blended whisky was deemed the future by John Walker.
The Johnnie Walker brand was taken to new heights by John’s son and grandson, Alexander ‘Alec’ Walker and Alexander Walker II. The Red Label, originally developed by Alec Walker, was one of the first blends from the house of Johnnie Walker. It was rebranded as ‘Red Label’ and released as a no-age-statement expression 1909 and has since been one of the most popular blended Scotch whisky variants from Johnnie Walker.
Both Chivas Regal 12-Year-Old and Johnnie Walker Red Label, once again are standard blended Scotch whiskies, although the Chivas Regal’s 12-Year age statement grants it an upper hand against its competition.
Smoothness is a unique characteristic that was the basis of developing blended Scotch whiskies, and both brands score well in this particular category. In our opinion, the Chivas Regal 12-Year-Old edges out Johnnie Walker Red Label due to its higher composition of Speyside single malts.
Both expressions carry a standard alcohol strength of 40% ABV (80 US Proof), and are matured in ex-Bourbon Oak barrels, although the period of maturation is the distinction between the two expressions in contention today.
The Chivas Regal 12-Year-Old has won a string of Gold medals at The Scotch Whisky Masters in 2018 and 2015, and at the International Wine and Spirit Competition in 2013.
The Johnnie Walker Red Label too has won a number of awards such as a Gold at The Scotch Whisky Masters in 2014, and another at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2013.
Tasting notes are what really define a whisky’s identity, so let us look at the tantalizing aromas and intense flavours brought about by these magnificent blended Scotch whiskies.
The Chivas Regal 12-Year-Old carries the following tasting notes;
Wild herbs, heather, honey followed by interesting hints of orchard fruits.
A creamy drink with infusions of honey, ripe pears, vanilla and hints of hazelnut, and butterscotch.
A smooth, rich and lingering finish.
The Johnnie Walker Red Label carries the following tasting notes;
Soft smoke, rum spice mixed with aromas of honey.
Woody oakiness, with traces of butterscotch, Christmas cake and malt.
A long, spicy finish with a smoky aftertaste.
A stiff competition between two heavyweights of the blended Scotch whisky world, although in our opinion, the world’s first luxury whisky brand wins this battle owing to their smooth, creamy and well matured drink. The Chivas Regal 12-Year-Old is just better at being what it is, the quintessential ultra-premium blended Scotch whisky.