Colin Scott, Master Blender at Chivas Regal
What makes a great blended whisky? What’s the process involved, and is it a craft, art or science? We asked an expert – the knowledgeable Colin Scott from Chivas Regal – to find out more about blended whisky.
What are the key points you think make a great blend?
There is no such thing as a bad whisky – you ask any Distiller or Blender and they will always emphasise that their whiskies are the best.
There are many factors that make a great whisky. Excellent quality raw ingredients from which the Distillers produce their high quality and consistent malt and grain whiskies. Skilled wood management will ensure that the casks mature our whiskies to perfection, often to extreme ages. Finally, the blending processes to produce our fine blends, which are carefully safeguarded by the Blenders to ensure their consistent quality.
Most important is the knowledge, expertise and skills of our team that care for the precious Chivas stocks of whiskies from the moment they are laid down right up until they reach the consumer.
With regards to taste, this is all about personal preferences and what style and taste of Scotch whisky you like. All blends are great, but they are all different. However, I believe that the smooth and rich style of Chivas Regal and its amazing complexity of flavours has the taste that appeals internationally to millions around the world.
Could you briefly walk us through the process of creating the Chivas blend?
In the 1840’s, James and John Chivas created the great traditions in the Art of blending aged whiskies and house style from which they produced their exceptional aged blended Scotch whiskies. These traditions and house style were then passed down through the years from Master Blender to Master Blender, and 1909, the first luxury whisky, Chivas Regal was born. At Chivas Brothers, there is a history of tradition and craftsmanship that goes back many years, that is built on excellence and passion.
Is blending a craft, art or a science – and why?
The Art of Blending brings together many different Scotch whiskies, both malt and grain, each with their own individual flavours to produce a blended Scotch whisky with its own unique taste experience. This would indicate that Blending is a Craft.
As Scotch whisky is one hundred per cent natural, each whisky has its own unique character and flavour. Therefore the Blender, in understanding these many different natural flavours, has the skills, experience and passion to select the correct whiskies at the correct age to produce his blends. This would make Blending an Art.
The Art of the Master Blender is in selecting the many different whiskies for the final blend, so that the character and flavours of the final blend are of the highest quality and consistent year after year. The final blend is considered to be greater than the sum of the characters and flavours of each of the individual whiskies selected.
I believe that Blending is an Art, the Master Blender is a Craftsman, and Blending is not a Science.