Colin Scott has been Chivas Regal’s Master Blender since 1989 and has been the guardian of the Chivas Regal smooth signature style. Kevin Balmforth is part of the new generation of Master Blenders under the house of Chivas and was instrumental in the creation of Chivas’ latest innovations–Chivas Regal Mizunara and Chivas Regal Ultis. Together they visited Manila to share their knowledge and to celebrate the passion and craftsmanship behind its award-winning whisky blends in a series of events from July 3 to July 6.

Chivas Regal’s Custodian Master Blender Colin Scott, Spirit Quality Leader Kevin Balmforth, and Chivas Brothers Ambassador for the Philippines, Hamish Houliston

The Whisky Masters

“When I joined in 1973, there were about 80 malt and grain distilleries in Scotland,” shares Colin. “In the last 20 years we’ve seen a huge increase in distilleries coming back into operation, and there are new ones being built, so, we now have around about 126 malt and grain whisky distilleries, and it is a fantastic time for the blenders because that gives us a whole range of palate of flavors for blending,” he says. As the current custodian master blender for Chivas Regal, he mentors the current blending team in which Kevin is a part of, at the same time he travels the world to share his knowledge and passion about whisky.

Chivas Regal Custodian Master Blender Colin Scott

In Chivas Regal, blenders have to get their noses tasted before they assume the role of a blender. “You have to have a good discerning nose, and you have to pass the test,” shares Colin. The blenders undergo nine tests, part of which is to nose different kinds of flavor notes. As master blenders, their role is to create and maintain the taste experience of Chivas. Chivas Regal has a signature style, and blenders work within that style and maintain the style in their entire bottling portfolio.

Chivas Regal 12

In 2016, the new generation of Chivas blenders created Chivas Ultis, a tribute to the five generations of master blenders behind Chivas Regal since 1909. This signature bottling features single malts from five different Speyside distilleries–Allt-á-Bhainne, Braeval, Longmorn, Strathisla, and Tormore.

Chivas Ultis
Colin Scott

The Modern Drinker

The whisky industry has demonstrated strong growth in younger consumers, and Chivas has been innovating and changing together with the times. “In my lifetime, there has been an amazing change in communication, when I was starting; it was just fax, now you can press a recording, and the whole world knows about it in social media,” Scott says. “Because of that, there’s a whole new demand in the marketplace and the consumers, that’s why the market has seen the growth of Chivas Regal family,” he adds.

Hamish Houliston, Colin Scott, and Kevin Balmforth

In the Philippines, the range of Chivas regal portfolio has extended its presence in the market, from Chivas 12 Years to the recent launch of Chivas Extra, Chivas Mizunara, Chivas 18 Years, Chivas Ultis, and Chivas 25 Years. Consumers now have a whole new range of bottle to choose from. “If you look at the last five years, Chivas Regal has been innovating,” enthuses Kevin. “Single malt has been increasing and growing for a long time, and that’s part of the reason for the release of Chivas Ultis, the first blended malt of Chivas Regal that has the complexity of a blend and richness of single malt,” he adds.

As the market shifts, Chivas Regal is also exploring a different range of products for the consumers. According to Kevin, the market is moving into rare oak types and special finishes, hence, the distillery released a Mizunara special finish and a new bottling of Chivas 18 years finished in Japanese oak. Chivas also launched Chivas XV (which is currently available in Duty Free until October 2018), an interesting bottling which is aged for 15 years and selectively finished in Grande Champagne Cognac casks.

Chivas Regal XV

The modern consumer has developed a diverse palate, and the cocktail culture has played a significant role in developing the trend in how people consume spirits. “We have a passion and art in craftsmanship to create our blends,” says Colin.” Bartenders have a different passion, and they take our whisky and create another dimension of experience for the consumers,” he adds.

Mixologist Enzo Lim at the Chivas Success Speaks Easy event
Chivas cocktails created by Enzo LIm–Vintage Vogue, Pomelo Anthony, and Tropically Regal

For five years now, Chivas Regal supports the mixology community with their Chivas Masters program, a bartending competition in which participants battle to win the title of Chivas Masters Global Champion and get a chance to travel the world with Chivas to inspire the bartenders of the future. The competition is still not available to the Philippines’ bartending community, but according to Chivas Brothers Ambassador for the Philippines, Hamish Houliston, it might be coming to Manila soon.

A Toast to Success

During their visit, Colin and Kevin held a series of masterclass for the media, bartenders, brand managers, and restaurateurs. Chivas Regal Philippines also held a private auction of signed bottles by the blenders. 

A create of Chivas 12 Years, Chivas Extra, Chivas Mizunara, Chivas 18 Years, Chivas Ultis, and Chivas 25 Years were sold at a total bid of P210,000. Proceeds from the auction were donated to JCI’s Sea of Life Museum for the creation artificial reef in Batangas.

Chivas Regal Philippines donated P210,000 for the Sea Program of JCI Manila
Former Azkals Anton del Rosario, James and Phil Younghusband

To toast to success, Chivas Regal also held an event called Chivas Success Speaks Easy where they introduced Chivas Regal’s Philippine ambassadors— Booky PH’s Ben Wintle, mixologist Enzo Lim, and former Azkals Phil Younghusband, James Younghusband, and Anton del Rosario.

Anton del Rosario, Phil Younghusband, James Younghusband, JCI Manila, Colin Scott, Kevin Balmforth, and Hamish Houliston
Kevin and Colin plays foozeball at the Chivas Success Speak Easy event

How to Enjoy Chivas Regal

According to Colin, you may enjoy your Chivas neat, with ice, or with a mixer. But, the best way to enjoy a glass of Chivas is, however, you prefer to drink it.

“Once you have your Chivas Regal, it’s up to you how you drink it, there are no rules, and if someone say ‘you mustn’t do that, you have to do this’, just say ‘you do that, I’ll take it like this, because that’s how I enjoy it!’” enthuses Colin.

Food and whisky pairing is becoming popular, and the way to get the best pairing is to really experiment. Colin suggests to pair your Chivas 12 with a delicate seafood starter to complement the whisky, and try Chivas Ultis with coffee or enjoy it with a platter of cheese– Brie, Camembert, blue cheese, or strong cheddar.

Kevin suggests pairing Chivas Extra with meats, particularly beef and chicken to balance spice of the whisky. Hamish suggests dark chocolate to pair with Chivas 18 Years.

“By the end of the day, if you got good food, Chivas Regal, and you got great people, then you got a party,” ends Colin.

Chivas Regal 12, Extra, and 18

About Chivas Regal

Launched in 1909, Chivas Regal is the world’s first luxury whisky and is considered to be a timeless classic, renowned for its benchmark quality and taste, style, substance, and exclusivity. A truly global brand, Chivas Regal has been integral to the growth of the Scotch whisky category worldwide and today sells 4.5 million 9L cases annually in more than 150 countries across the globe. The Chivas Regal range includes Chivas 12, Chivas Extra, Chivas 18, Chivas 25, the pinnacle of the range ultra-prestige blend, Chivas Regal The Icon and the Global Travel Retail exclusive, Chivas Brothers Blend. Launched in October 2016, Chivas Regal Ultis is the first blended malt Scotch whisky from the House of Chivas and represents the true Essence of Chivas Regal.

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A publishing industry veteran who is the former creative director of PeopleAsia magazine and former lifestyle editor of The Standard newspaper. She was introduced to the wonderful world of spirits during her stint as executive creative director of digital agency DigitalFCB, where she led a team that created campaigns for some of the biggest liquor brands in the country. A lover of scotch and a curious spirit who is obsessed with the colorful world of mixology, she directs DrinkManila’s overall editorial content.

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