Chivas Bros’ Secret Speyside Collection

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Chivas have released their most extensive collection to date – a 15 bottle extravaganza collectively known as the Secret Speyside Collection. The aim, according to the press release, is to showcase “four of Speyside’s most elusive distilleries” (doesn’t Longmorn already have a whole single malt range on the market…?). Regardless, the series features a trio of whiskies from Longmorn, Glen Keith and Braes of Glenlivet, along with three peated and three unpeated expressions from the now-demolished Caperdonich distillery.

Chivas Bros’ Alan Winchester, commented: “With centuries of rich whisky heritage against a jaw-dropping Scottish landscape, Speyside is the treasure chest of Scotch and brimming with untold stories. Curating the Collection has been a labour of love for the Chivas Brothers team; its contents have been hand-selected to help shine a light on some seldom-seen distilleries, their rare malts, and unique histories. Any whisky connoisseur will find something new in this world-class selection, which demonstrates the breadth of flavour and character that Speyside distilleries can achieve.”

Launched last month, these whiskies will be exclusively available in GTR for one year until the summer of 2020, when they will be rolled out globally. I was kindly sent a lovely PR box with a whisky from each of the four distilleries to sample, here’s my thoughts.

Glen Keith 21yo
Secret Speyside Collection
Bourbon barrels and sherry butts
43% ABV
$180 RRP

Nose: Orange blossom, tinned fruit salad, daffodils, floral honey, old marzipan, coconut shavings, and light oak.

Palate: Really quite creamy, floral and perfumed initially. Then sugared almonds, custard creams, vanilla Angel Delight, sweet ginger and a white pepper spice.

Finish: Fruit skins; apple, pear and white grapes, along with lemon sherbet and gentle oak.

Braes of Glenlivet 25yo
Secret Speyside Collection
1st fill bourbon barrels
48% ABV
$400 RRP

Nose: Really very sweet, with apricot, vanilla, boiled sweets, peach halves in syrup, and some Juicy Fruit gum. Then nutmeg and sawdust.

Palate: Soft and silky mouthfeel, with juicy orchard and tropical fruits – stewed apple, apricot, mango, orange marmalade, and poached pear. Some aromatic, spices and faint oak.

Finish: Very soft, with creamy citrus and drying oak.

Longmorn 18yo
Secret Speyside Collection
Bourbon barrels and hogsheads
48% ABV
$100 RRP

Nose: Millionaire’s shortbread, caramel barrels, orange oils, linseed, and polished furniture. Then some light fruit – peach, lychee and papaya. Some toffee apples too.

Palate: Unexpected spice initially – white pepper and ginger – then vanilla icing, honeycomb, vanilla fudge, and slightly floral. Some drying oak, but it’s all pretty short.

Finish: Some creamy citrus and drying oak.

Caperdonich Peated 18yo
Secret Speyside Collection
Bourbon barrels
48% ABV
$130 RRP

Nose: Full on smoke, with smouldering peat, camphor, charred twigs, some medicinal notes, and tar. Then BBQ’d citrus and seafood, hessian, gentle herbal notes, and snuffed candles.

Palate: Earthy, BBQ smoke, soft citrus, apple chews, pear skins, smoked ginger, singed heather, and driftwood.

Finish: Sweet peat smoke, and clean citrus.

Overall: This is just a glimpse of what this collection has to offer, with there being several more expressions from each distillery, included some unpeated, more typical Caperdonichs. Overall, these are four very enjoyable whiskies, with the pick of the bunch being the Glen Keith – fruity, floral, spicy and well balanced. The others are also enjoyable, but lacking a little oomph – the Longmorn in particular. Having said that, they are still pretty tasty, and allow some of Chivas’ lesser known distilleries to share the spotlight with their more famous stablemates.




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