I have never been a huge fan of Chivas Regal. It had been a while since I had had it, but I remember it having a lot of alcohol burn and rather hefty price tag.
But these brands have a way of changing your mind.
Enter the Chivas Brotherhood. If you haven't heard of it, you should mosey to their Chivas Brotherhood website here, and sign up for it. It's free, and it gets you entrance to the Brotherhood events. During the next two months, they're in six major cities in the U.S. (Houston, New York, Miami, Dallas, Chicago, and L.A.) hosting parties and tastings every night. Here in Houston, they rented out the entire first floor and part of the second floor of the old Stanford Financial Building right across from the Galleria mall. It's a beautiful space, completely decked out with a pool table, poker table, and a small but serviceable bar.
Go to a Chivas Brotherhood event, and they will change your mind about Chivas. I went to two events. The first one was a deconstruction of some of the major components that make up the Chivas 18 blend. They use Strathisla 18, which is a beautiful malt from the oldest distillery in Scotland. They also use an Islay blend that provides just a bit of peaty nose to the Chivas 18. Then there's the Longmorn and Aberlour single malts. Each one of them was excellent by itself, and the Chivas 18 is a nice sipping scotch. On a different night, I got to try the Chivas 25, a twenty-five year old blend that is simply amazing. I could sip on that stuff all night.
But the bar makes drinks with the Chivas 12, and the drinks are good. Very good. The Blood and Sand is excellent. Sure, I tried the Trilby (sweet vermouth, orange bitters), the Bobby Burns (with Lillet instead of Benedictine), and couple of others, but it was the Blood and Sand that stood out. The first night I had one, the bartender warned me that they use a generic cherry brandy and not Cherry Heering, and I told him that I still wanted to try it. It was really very good.
So the trip convinced me to think differently about Chivas. It's a blend with promise, and the Chivas 12 can make some good cocktails.