Tracing the Chivas Legacy

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The Brothers Chivas

Once upon a time there were two brothers who lived in a town where the river meets the North Sea, in the Scottish isles. James and John Chivas, as they were called decided to venture into a new territory, and in 1801, opened a grocery store in the bustling port town of Aberdeen. But, their grocery store was like no other, for it sold rum, brandy, and whisky to its customers. Back in those days, grocers would often turn into distilleries, but the Chivas brothers performed both the roles with élan. And, that was only the beginning of what would later grow into a whisky empire.

A Speyside Story

In the petite township of Keith, Moray stands the oldest operating distillery in all of Speyside, Scotland. The Srathisla Distillery, built in 1796, is where the roots of Chivas blended Scotch can be traced to. As business flourished, more and more happy buyers thronged their grocery store, the brothers soon took to producing their own malted Scotch. In 1836, James Chivas decided to use the shop’s cellar for laying down casks of whisky, and allowing them to age in peace. James had hit the bull’s eye with his new strategy. The gracefully aged Scotch gained popularity, for soon, in 1842, when Queen Victoria visited Scotland, the Chivas brothers were called upon to serve her majesty the best of blended Scotch.  Her majesty must have been very impressed with Scottish hospitality, and the tipple, for a royal warrant was issued in name of the Chivas brothers to serve their home brew to the royalty, all the way in London. No wonder that in the coming years, the brothers would start branding themselves as Chivas Regal, keeping up with their legacy of serving the Queen.

The Master Blenders

The Chivas brothers were not only pioneers in the whisky distilling business, they played a pivotal role in crafting the art of whisky blending. They were the ones to have masterminded barrel-aging both malt and wheat whiskies. And, later they would chance upon the genius idea of blending their barrel-aged malt and wheat whiskies to produce a fine blended Scotch. By the 1850s, the atypical blended, smooth, perfection that was the Chivas Scotch had won one heart too many. The Spirits Act of 1860 provided ample boost to the whisky business, and the Chivas Brothers became the most trusted, and well-loved name in the world of blended Scotch in Europe.

On Traveling

It was not until the 1900s that the Chivas brothers travelled overseas. Launching the Chivas Regal 25 Year Old in 1909, James and John decided to ship their first luxury whisky half-way across the globe to New York. With their home ground in love with their brew, it was now time to mersmerise the other side of the world. Chivas Regal delivered perfectly on its promise of being the world’s first luxury Scotch. The Manhattan elite were all praise for this extravagant whisky, marvelling at its rich colour, uniquely smooth palate, and astounded with the artistry of blending such a flawless tipple. All of North America soon fell in love with Chivas, until the Prohibition monsters breathed down her neck, causing Chivas to vanish off the shelves. But, the legend of Chivas lived on in public memory.

Thorn in the Road to Glory

In spite of all that jazz, about a 100 years later when the Second World War broke out, the flourishing Chivas business took a nosedive. Chivas responded by increasing their price, which, surprisingly boded well for their business, Chivas was back on the charts, riding high on the wave of popularity. The phrase “the Chivas Regal Effect” was coined to refer to hiking price of items based only on their brand value.

Return of the Glorious Days

Four years later, in 1949 Seagram’s bought Chivas, and launched an ad campaign which generated so much revenue for Chivas, that they bought Srathisla for themselves. Currently owned by French whisky giant, Pernod Ricard, Chivas lives up to its name, and continues to be the best blended Scotch makers in the world of whisky.

If you’re still pondering how to blend your whisky, blend it like the Chivas Brothers.  

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