Undoubtedly one of the biggest names in the blended scotch whisky market, Chivas Regal decided it was time for some experimentation after years of being on top with their signature expressions.
In 2019, they released the Chivas Regal Mizunara in 2019 as an homage to both Japanese Whisky makers and fans. The idea behind this expression came to fruition after Chivas’ Master Distiller, Colin Scott, took a trip to Japan – resulting in the birth of the Mizunara.
The Japanese Connection
It might be a surprise to some, but Japan and Scotland have been trading whisky-related knowledge since the early 20th century. In fact, Japanese whisky was created after the man pictured above took a trip to Scotland to learn about whisky.
His name was Masataka Taketsuru, after marrying a Scottish wife he started one of Japan’s most reputable whisky brands to date; Nikka. Originally, the release of Chivas Regal Mizunara was intended solely for the Japanese market.
Thankfully, Chivas knew better and decided to make it available for the whole world to enjoy.
What is Mizunara?
Mizunara is a type of oak which is produced exclusively in Japan. Commonly referred to as ‘Japanese oak’, Mizunara is actually made from two types of wood – the first being the aforementioned Japanese oak and the second is something called ‘Mongolian oak’.
Unlike the trees used to make American white oak (where most whiskies are aged in) which take 100 years to grow, the trees needed to form Mizunara oak take a staggering 300 years before they can be fashioned into barrels for distilling whisky.
The term Mizunara is derived from the Japanese words mizu (water) and nara (oak). When World War II broke out, Japanese whisky makers were unable to obtain traditionally-used European and American white oak. Because of this, they looked for an oak native to Japan.
It’s worth noting that Japanese oak has a high content of trans-oak lactones and vanillins – chemical compounds which build aromas, the latter leaning towards vanilla. Those compounds can give off strong aromas of coconut and spices when dissolved in alcohol.
With all that said however, Japanese oak does come with its flaws. For starters, the oak wood tends to be soft and porous making it more prone to leaking and being damaged. Due to these factors along with the time it takes to make one, Mizunara oak barrels cost a fortune.
A Marriage Between East & West
Now that we’ve completed our history lesson on Japanese-Scottish relations and the origins Mizunara oak, it’s finally time to talk about the whisky. Chivas Regal Mizunara, as you’d imagine is a result of aging Chivas’ 12 YO expression in Mizunara casks.
The result is beyond beautiful. It’s a rich gold whisky with a myriad of fruity notes mixed in with caramel and some vanilla on the nose. Taste-wise, Chivas fans would be able to detect the brand’s signature flavours in this expression mixed in with an exotic spiciness.
To whisky fans of all kinds, you’re absolutely gonna love the Chivas Regal Mizunara (and probably finish the whole bottle within a day – Drink responsibly).
- Nose: White peach, toffee, vanilla cream, nutty.
- Palate: Floral, sweetness complemented by baking spices, honey, cinnamon, toasted wood, banana.
- Finish: Tropical fruit, liquorice, lingering notes of pepper, cinnamon and clove.
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