November 25, 2009

Review: Chivas Regal 18 vs Johnnie Walker Blue

Remember the Pepsi Challenge, back in the 80s? When people would be offered a blind taste test to see which they liked better between Pepsi and Coke? We just had the opportunity to do one that was way, way better than soft drinks. The folks at Chivas sent us a bottle each of their Chivas Regal 18-year-old and Johnnie Walker Blue, daring us to try both and see which we liked better.

We, of course, were up for the challenge, so we got out our tasting glasses and set to it after asking an intern to pour so we didn't know what was in each glass. We did the tastings blind, and then once we were finished we paired up our notes with the proper whisky. In the verdict below, we give more info about our thoughts before we knew which was which.

chivas_regal_18.jpgChivas Regal 18 Year Old
Blended Scotch
80 Proof (40% ABV)
Typical Price: About $60

The Look: Squat, clear bottle that's different than a lot of the scotch brands we've seen. In the glass, it's light amber, looking a bit like honey.
The Nose: We smelled very little peatiness, with the major notes being caramel, toffee, and spices.
The Taste: Still very little smoke or peat until we added a drop of water, and then we got a hint. There were more caramel notes, with citrus peels and the dryness of oak. Big oaky finish, long and complex.

johnnie_walker_blue.jpgJohnnie Walker Blue
Blended Scotch
80 Proof (40% ABV)
Typical Price: About $150 at the lower end

The Look: Signature Walker bottle, in green glass. The whiskey looks like honey in the glass.
The Nose: We smelled a bit of caramel, with hints of smoke, peat, and the sea, with some dried fruit in the mix as well.
The Taste: Big and round, with a lot of smoke once we added a drop of water. Continues the peat and sea theme, with almost no sweetness. Notes of malt and spices.

Overall Verdict: Both of these are fine whiskies, and ones we wouldn't hesitate to order for ourselves or recommend for the blended scotch lovers in our lives. The Johnny Walker had the big smokiness and bold flavors we want sometimes, but at triple the price tag. We were impressed with the Chivas, with its nice soft notes and delicate sweetness, and we felt it held its own against the Blue.

Never having had either, we would have been hard-pressed to say one scotch was better than the other in our blind taste test. We tend to like a smokey whisky, so we liked the Blue, but there is definitely something to be said for the fruity mellowness of the Chivas Regal (and being Scotsmen ourselves, we're extremely interested in that significantly smaller price tag).

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Posted by Jake Jamieson at November 25, 2009 4:05 PM
Recent Comments

Yeah. I agree. This contest was bit of a mismatch. JW Blue is their premium blend, Gold is malty-sweet(Highland type), Green is Smoky-sweet(Islay type), Black is ok, Red is basic, and whatsizcolor is not even sold in America. Maybe next time try pitting these against Scotch whiskies of similiar styles or regions or lesser known brands.

Posted by: Scooterboy at January 21, 2010 10:05 PM

It would have made more sense to do JW Blue vs. Chivas Royal Salute, or Chivas 18 vs. JW Gold.

Posted by: Joe at November 30, 2009 11:03 PM

Wouldn't the "equivalent" Johnny Walker product be the Gold?

Posted by: Techie at November 30, 2009 2:49 PM
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