Chivas Tasting and Degustation Supper at the Roosevelt

The door to the dining room of the Roosevelt Cocktail Bar and Restaurant in Potts Point was a portal to Scotland. Inside, an autumnal scene was laid with fallen leaves scattered on the long communal tables. A soundscape echoed in the room. The chirping of birds mingled with the sound of rivers of Speyside before a cloud spread over the tables triggering an aroma cedar and pine.

Chivas Degustation at the Roosevelt
Chivas Tasting at the Roosevelt

This was the setting for the Chivas Whisky Tasting and Degustation where Laura Hay, recently appointed Brand Ambassador to Chivas, took trade and media guests on a tasting journey with four premium aged whiskies.

Laura has extensive experience with whiskies and started her career with The Glenlivet distillery which is owned by Chivas. Last year, she presented a tasting of the Singleton of Glen Ord whisky at Eau-de-vie bar which Gourmantic attended.

Chivas Degustation at the Roosevelt
Chivas Tasting

The Chivalry cocktail was served on arrival, a blend of Chivas Regal 12 yo, apple juice, elderflower cordial, lemon juice, topped with sparkling mineral water, and garnished with a slice of apple and a mint sprig – a cocktail that was both refreshing and set the palate for the tasting.

Chivas Degustation at the Roosevelt
Chivalry Cocktail

The History of Chivas

The history of Chivas goes back to 1801 when brothers John and James bought a shop in Aberdeen and became purveyors of fine wines to the royals who visited Balmoral castle in Scotland. James was passionate about whisky. He used to buy casks then decided to create his own product and blend different whiskies. He was one of the pioneers of blending whisky and the Chivas story was born.

The name Chivas Regal is derived from Gaelic, Chivas being “meandering river” and Regal due to the affiliation with royalty.

On taste were four aged whiskies, part of the “Age Matters” campaign that was launched in July 2010 by Chivas Brothers to help consumers understand the importance of Scotch whisky age statements.

Chivas Regal 12 yo

Opening up with the Chivas Regal 12 yo, this blend is made from 40 different whiskies with a minimum age of 12 years. The idea behind its fruity and oily characters is to encapsulate Speyside.

Chivas Degustation at the Roosevelt
Laura Hay, Chivas Brand Ambassador

On the nose, it has ripe fruit, orchard fruit, apple and pears, which make up the stable of the Chivas Regal family. There are also vanilla and plum notes from the maturation in American oak casks. On the palate, it’s very smooth, with honey, vanilla and hazelnuts, ending with a rich fruitiness on the back palate.

Chivas Degustation at the Roosevelt
Chivas 12 yo Cocktail

The first course ran through an autumn theme with ingredients found in Scottish cuisine that are matched to the Chivas. A cocktail of Chivas 12 yo mixed with quince liqueur, Lillet Rosé, Orchard juice and lemon thyme was chosen to match the orchard notes of the whisky and to balance the grassiness, a little lemon thyme is added to give citrus characteristics.

On its own, the cocktail was a little sweet on the front palate with honey, vanilla and fruity characters. But once paired with its matching course, the flavours of the whisky came through on the finish.

Chivas Degustation at the Roosevelt
Veal sweetbreads on barley and cracked wheat risotto

The first course of veal sweetbreads served on barley and cracked wheat risotto, finished with roasted apple oil and autumnal fruits typified Chivas and was a fine example of using single grain components, with the apple puree taking in the apple characteristics of the whisky.

Chivas Regal 18 yo

Chivas Regal 18 yo was created by Master Blender Colin Scott in 1997. What makes this whisky remarkable is that it is not Chivas Regal 12 yo aged for a further six years. Chivas Regal 18 yo is made from different single malt blends with Speyside character and ripe fruits.

Chivas Degustation at the Roosevelt
Chivas 18 yo and Chivas 12 yo

On the nose, it has ripe fruit and dark chocolate, and on the palate, it has rich flavours with dark chocolate and a long lingering smooth aftertaste.

Chivas Degustation at the Roosevelt
Slow roast venison

The next course was an absolute delight and brought the flavours of Scotland to the table with slow-roasted fillet of venison rolled in coco nib, with a Chivas 18 whisky jus reduction, rested on a date leather roll, accompanied by roasted beetroot and candied walnuts.

Chivas Degustation at the Roosevelt
Barry Chalmers preparing the next cocktail

To allow guests to explore the unique characteristics of the Scotch, the venison course was matched Chivas Regal 18 served neat on ice alongside a vial of aromatic jus.

Chivas Degustation at the Roosevelt
Chivas 18 yo and pomegranate jus

Pomegranate juice was reduced with vanilla, raisin, cinnamon and walnut liqueur to create a concentrated liquid of incredible aroma. The jus is poured over the top of the Scotch whisky and swirled in an old-fashioned wine glass to mix the flavours – a divine combination of flavours that highlight the character of the whisky.

Royal Salute 21 yo

To further consolidate Chivas’ “Age Matters” campaign, the next tasting was the Royal Salute 21 yo, a special whisky created by the Chivas brothers in 1953 for the queen’s coronation. Luxurious, smooth and soft, this whisky is made from a different blend to the Chivas Regal.

Chivas Degustation at the Roosevelt
Royal Salute 21 yo

Royal Salute is matured in Strathisla distillery, the home of Chivas Brothers, where it is kept in a special vault.

On the nose, it is soft and creamy and takes a little while to open up. There are vanilla notes and fruits from the Speyside single malt. On the palate, it’s very smooth with a long lingering warm aftertaste.

Chivas Degustation at the Roosevelt
Phil Gandevia (Dr Phil) preparing the Royal Salute 21 yo cocktail

Chivas Degustation at the Roosevelt
BaBa dipped in warm whisky

The third course was BaBa dipped in warm whisky accompanied by pear, pistachio and smoked puree. Light and elegant, the crystallised pistachio nuts added textural elements – a dish that was savoured in respectful silence.

The course was beautifully matched with Royal Salute 21 Quail egg flip finished with honey set on top by liquid nitrogen.

Chivas Regal 25 yo

Preceding the final course was a special whisky. Chivas Regal 25 yo was the first of its kind that Chivas had sent to America in 1909. In 2009, Master Blender, Colin Scott recreated the original whisky and Chivas Regal 25 yo became available as a limited release.

Chivas Degustation at the Roosevelt
Chivas Regal 25 yo

Blending older whiskies is much more difficult due to the length of time it spends in oak barrels, which gives it more character and flavour but also due to the 2% angel’s share lost annually from every barrel.

Chivas Regal 25 is a luxurious blend with caramel, vanilla, toffee notes with rich dark chocolate, hazelnuts and a long and lingering smooth finish.

To end the degustation, a aroma of smoke filled the room and petit fours cigars were passed around in cigar boxes.

Chivas Degustation at the Roosevelt
Ben Davidson, Pernod Ricard Spirits Ambassador

The cigars were made with a rich and dark chocolate ganache and rolled in fine cocoa power. The dish was matched with Chivas Regal 25 served on hand-chipped ice, once more complementing the flavours of the aged whisky.

Chivas Degustation at the Roosevelt
Petit fours cigar and Chivas 25 yo

Chivas Degustation at the Roosevelt
L-R: Brian Geraghty (Head Chef Roosevelt), Laura Hay and Barry Chalmers

The Roosevelt Degustation menu was created by Head Chef, Brian Geraghty, whose career had him working alongside Sean Connolly at Astral Restaurant and Shane Osborn at Two Michelin Star Pied a Terre in the UK, followed by a position at Quay Restaurant in Sydney and as Executive Sous Chef at Bilson’s.

The cocktails were created by Pernod Ricard Spirits Ambassador, Ben Davidson and Roosevelt Bar Manager, Barry Chalmers.

The Chivas Whisky Tasting and Degustation Supper was held on Tuesday 8 May 2012. More photographs of the event on the Gourmantic Facebook page.

The Roosevelt Cocktail Bar and Restaurant


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About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of popular online magazine Gourmantic and Cocktails & Bars, a website dedicated to cocktail culture and the discerning drinker. She is named in Australian Bartender Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential List since 2013, is a member of The Academy responsible for judging the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the inaugural Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions.