The introduction of Chivas Regal whiskey into the Egyptian market recently has spawned a more educated approach to whiskey drinking and appreciation.
Owned by spirit giant Perno and Ricard, Chivas Regal was given a fine introduction in Egypt last week by Ken Lindsey, a brand ambassador who for the past 20 years, has traveled to over 55 countries to introduce and explain what makes Scotch whiskey such coveted liquor.
Speaking at Sofitel El Gezirah, Lindsey found his audience in where 50 percent of spirits sold and drunk is whiskey, a good 25 percent of which is Scotch. Sofitel hotels the world over have signed an agreement with Perno Ricard to stock spirits only from the Perno Ricard range which includes brands such as Glenlivet, Ballantine s, Royal Salute and Beefeater gin.
Lindsey was keen on correcting laughable mistaken notions of what makes a whiskey. Onions and carrots are not used.
Lindsey, who is a true proud Scotsmen, pointed out that Scotch whiskey stands out above all for its quality, taste and authenticity. Giving his interesting tutorial, he donned a very smart kilt and blazer ensemble, complete with high socks and belted pouch.
Whiskey is very important to Scotsmen, the word for whiskey is [phonetically] pronounced as osh-ka-bah coming from the Gaelic words the water of life. Over the past 500 years, the name has evolved to whiskey, but the drink is still produced in the same way.
The first recorded mention of whiskey was in 1494; a friar was communicating to a king who had ordered him to produce some whiskey.
Whiskey production requires three ingredients: pure Scottish spring water, cereals grown in Scotland and yeast. Together, the fermentation and distillation process at distilleries around the country produce a variety of flavors according to the area.
Science and artThe terms single malt and blended whiskey indicate several things. Firstly, a single malt whiskey is one which comes from a single distillery, whereas a blended whiskey is one which sources different whiskeys from various distilleries.
Distilleries are divided amongst four different regions. The Scottish highlands produce whiskeys that are in Lindsey s words rugged. Citing the cold, the mountainous landscape, Lindsey joked about disproportionate amount of sheep to human beings in the highlands.
The region in the south, called the Scottish lowlands, produce whiskeys that are elegant, soft, and delicate, reflecting the countryside and its bucolic nature.
Islay, a small island off of the main coast produces a smoky flavor, one with the sea.
Speyside, an area within in the highlands produces fruity flavored, elegant, rich, whiskeys.
The slightest variety in the water such as that found in Islay will produce different flavors as water veers towards creating saltier or sweeter tastes, for instance, according to the level of the influence of sea water.
But the flavor of whiskey also comes in large part from the oak barrels which whiskey is fermented in. Oak aging changes the flavor more than 8 percent, says Lindsey. Oak barrels are manipulated, charring the inside give whiskey a more caramel flavor.
Distillery is a science, but blending is an art.
Blending various single malts requires the talents and knowledge of master blenders, who work to ensure the consistency of the taste in the range of whiskey products. To become a master blender requires years of learning and experience, and some of the most notable master blenders who have worked with Perno Ricard spirits have had up to 50 years of experience.
AppreciationA Whiskey is also distinguished by the amount of time it has had to mature. The figure on the bottle indicates the age of the single malt. In blends, only the youngest malt is indicated on the bottle. A 25 year old whiskey, for example, can also contain whiskey malt older than 25 years.
Lindsey explains that to appreciate a good whiskey, one must look out for five key characteristics: color, nose , consistency of body, palette and finish.
Color can tell a lot about whiskey maturation, with darker shades of amber suggesting a more aged whiskey.
The smell of whiskey hints at what flavors one might pick up from a Scotch which can range from organic tastes of smoky oak to fruity flavors of pineapple or chocolate.
The consistency of a Scotch s body is inferred by swirling the glass around, and watching as the whiskey drips along the sides of the glass. Fast movement indicates a watery Scotch which is not desired.
PrideChivas Regal is one of Lindsey s points of pride, and when he talks about the whiskeys which Perno Ricard own; he truly reflects his passion for both his country and its national products.
Chivas Regal is a single malt whiskey, sourced mainly from the area of Speyside from a distillery named Strathisla. The range starts at 12 years old, and 50 million bottles are sold every year of Chivas Regal.
In a 12 year old whiskey, you want depth and complexity, says Lindsey.
It was established in 1801 by brothers James and John Chivas. Opening a high class grocery emporium, they supplied the city s elite with the finest food and drink. They started to produce their whiskey, which pleased not only Queen Victoria, but quite a number of nobles and high ranking individuals.
Chivas today is iconic, not only in taste but in a brand image that suggests all those things Chivas Regal hopes to transmit. Live with Chivalry is the new brand s motto, alluding to the notion of living with gallantry, honesty and respect. It does suggest a certain Scottish character – that of “Braveheart perhaps.
Today, Chivas Regal is a luxury Scotch, recently winning awards including the Best Blended Scotch and two Double Gold awards at the San Francisco World Spirit Competition. -Daily News Egypt