Chivas Regal Tasting with James Buntin at Lotus

The interior of Lotus restaurant in Potts Point is transformed into a tasting room where industry and media guests are gathered for a Chivas Regal Tasting Session with whisky ambassador, James Buntin.

Chivas Regal - James Buntin

Prior to the commencement of the sessions, guests are gathered at the intimate Lotus Bar where Bravery and Chivalry cocktails are served on arrival; both made with Chivas Regal 12yo.

Chivas Regal - James Buntin
Cocktails in progress at the Lotus Bar

Chivas Tasting - James Buntin
Bravery (short) and Chivalry (long) cocktails – (Photo Credit: Tom at HOBOGESTAPO)

BRAVERY Cocktail & CHIVALRY Cocktail
45ml     Chivas Regal 12yo
90ml     ginger beer
15ml     fresh lime juice
10ml     honey waterAdd ingredients to a tall glass, fill with ice and stir.
Garnish with a lime wheel.
45ml     Chivas Regal 12yo
45ml     apple juice
10ml     fresh lemon juice
10ml     elderflower cordial
60ml     sparkling mineral water
Add ingredients to a tall glass, fill with ice and stir.
Garnish with a slice of apple and a mint sprig.

Chivas Regal - James Buntin
James Buntin, Chivas Brand Ambassador

James Buntin, who led the Royal Salute Whisky tasting at the Sydney Gold Cup Final knows his whisky. At three months old, he had his first taste and hasn’t stopped since. He explains the common practice in Scotland for mothers to rub whisky on a baby’s gums when teething or dip the dummy in it to keep it quiet.

Chivas Regal - James Buntin

Fact or folklore, the entertaining tone of the session is set and the tasting begins with a single malt before moving on to blended whiskies of different ages.

James leads the journey by explaining what whisky is, the ingredients that go into making it, trick germination as well as the distillation and maturation process. There is a brief historical reference to the origins of the spirit, with Ischabaha, meaning the water of life in Gaelic, or eau-de-vie in French.

Chivas Regal - James Buntin

Strathisla 12 yo

The first whisky on taste is the Strathisla 12 yo which comes in a traditional medicine bottle shape. This is a single malt from the Strathisla Distillery, the oldest operating distillery in Scotland and home of Chivas.

James guides the tasting of this whisky by asking the group to focus on the front of the tongue. There is a nip of alcohol on the tip of tongue, and a little fizz under it. To bring out the flavour of the whisky, enough water needs to be added to knock back the nip but retain the fizz.

Chivas Regal - James Buntin
James Buntin demonstrating the amount of water to add to the whisky

After adding a few drops of water while the glass is held at an angle, the water and whisky separate. Then doing a “Mr Spock” with the fingers, the glass is cradled in the palm and given a gentle swirl, mixing the water and the whisky. On the nose, the aromas open with orange and pineapple notes and the whisky is a lot smoother on the palate and sweeter on the side of the tongue.

Chivas Regal - James Buntin
James demonstrating the separation of whisky and water

Chivas Regal 12 yo

The first of the Chivas Regal on taste is the 12 year old expression. An age statement refers to the youngest whisky, and in this case a blend of 25 to 30 single malts. Chivas use grain such as wheat, rye, barley and sweet corn to create their blends.

On the nose, it has less alcohol due to being a blend. Once swirled in the glass then held stationary, two lines form and the lower line can be seen to form “legs”. There is less of a nip on the tongue after water is added and a faint hint of smoke. On the palate, it has a taste of ripe apples, honey and vanilla. An easy to drink whisky, and good on the rocks or in cocktails such as the Bravery and the Chivalry.

Chivas Regal - James Buntin

Chivas Regal 18 yo

Chivas Regal 18 year old was created in 1997 by Colin Scott, Chivas Regal Master Blender, due to a gap in the market for luxury whiskies. It is not merely a 12 yo whisky aged for another six years. Chivas Regal 18 is made using different single malts and blends not available to the public.

The 18 year old whisky has a gold/amber colour, and after swirling it in the glass, the legs form but take longer to come down. It has chocolate on the nose with raisins, apple, caramel and a little smoke and has a thick consistency which gives it a great mouthfeel. Smooth, warming with a long finish, this whisky has already lost younger alcohols in the barrel and has more flavour from the wood so water is not needed to bring out its flavour.

Chivas Regal - James Buntin

Chivas Regal 25 yo Original

Chivas Regal 25 yo Original is indeed a special whisky. The first whisky Chivas had sent to America in 1909 was a 25 year old blend but it disappeared when prohibition came around later. In 2009, Master Blender, Colin Scott recreated the original whisky hence the name.

After swirling it in the glass, you see a solid line form, with no “legs” running down the liquid. The 25 yo Original has a golden copper colour. On the nose, it has sticky fruits, caramel, vanilla, toffee and has a very smooth and long finish on the palate.

Chivas Regal - James Buntin

Chivas Regal 25 yo Original is a luxurious blend and is available as a limited release in individually numbered bottles – an apt whisky with which to end the tasting with this toast, “May the best days of your past be the worst days of your future.”  Slainté!

Chivas Regal - James Buntin
(L to R) tuna tartare on crispy pork crackling with sweet wasabi; kingfish ceviche in a wonton cup; fried zucchini fritters

The tasting is accompanied by a selection of tasty canapés from the Lotus kitchen. This includes tuna tartare on crispy pork crackling with sweet wasabi, kingfish ceviche in a wonton cup, delicately fried zucchini fritters with yoghurt sauce and wagyu beef with teriyaki.

The Chivas Regal media tasting session with James Buntin was held on Monday, 12th December, 2011 at Lotus in Potts Point – a blend of education, humour and entertainment distilled with a gripping delivery and the charms of a Scottish accent.

 Gourmantic attended the event as media guests.

About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is a drinks writer, author of GROW YOUR OWN COCKTAIL GARDEN, SHRUBS & BOTANICAL SODAS and founder/editor of Gourmantic, Cocktails & Bars and The Gourmantic Garden. She has been writing extensively about spirits, cocktails, bars and cocktail gardening in more recent years. She is a spirits and cocktail competition judge, Icons of Whisky Australia nominee, contributor to Diageo Bar Academy, cocktail developer and is named in Australian Bartender Magazine's Top 100 Most Influential List. Her cocktail garden was featured on ABC TV’s Gardening Australia and has won several awards. She is a contributor to Real World Gardener radio program and is featured in several publications including Pip Magazine, Organic Gardener, Australian Bartender and Breathe (UK). Read the full bio here.