The world’s best Scotch whiskies often come with a compelling history, a long tradition of excellence and craftsmanship, of skills and secrets passed on from generation to generation. Such is the case with Chivas, a brand that harks back to the 19th Century, when the brothers John and James Chivas started ageing and experimenting on whiskies in the cellar of their Aberdeen emporium. Over the next hundred years and change, Chivas spirits have become timeless classics in the whisky world, in no small part from the passion of the people responsible for the brand and the product.
To celebrate this passion and craftsmanship, Chivas recently flew to Manila Custodian Master Blender Colin Scott and Chivas Regal Blender Kevin Balmforth for a series of events from July 3 to 6.
Colin Scott is a superstar in the whisky world, with almost 30 years of experience as a Master Blender, the man behind such beloved Chivas expressions as Chivas Regal 18 and Chivas Regal 25. Now Custodian Master Blender, Scott is quite literally the guardian of Chivas’ unique signature flavors, the keeper of its traditions and heritage, and the mentor to the next generation of Blenders.
“It’s the heritage that gives Chivas the authenticity,”says Scott. “It’s what gives it the provenance and credibility, and that’s something very important to maintain going into the future. It gives it a status that makes it respected around the world.” The traditions and styles that in 1909 created Chivas Regal 25, the world’s first luxury whisky, are passed down from Master Blender to Master Blender. “I’m now a Custodian Master Blender. I make sure the next generation of Blenders upholds the traditions. It’s done.”
That next generation is represented by Kevin Balmforth, who started working under Scott in 1999, the apprentice to the master. Balmforth has been integral in the creation of Chivas’ newer expressions, the Chivas Regal Mizunara and Chivas Regal Ultis. “I should say I’ve got one of the best jobs in the world, and I do enjoy it,” says Balmforth. “But it’s a challenging job. There is quite a lot of pressure. Day to day, the decisions we make – say how to improve a product or saying a product is good to go – are vastly important to the business.”
Scott and Balmforth, together with Hamish Houliston, Chivas Brothers Ambassador for the Philippines, took the stage during the visit’s main event, dubbed, Chivas: Success Speaks Easy, held at the Marquise event hall in Bonifacio Global City on July 4. The event brought together a multitude of whisky fans eager to meet the men behind their favorite spirits, to taste Chivas Regal cocktails from master mixologist Enzo Lim, and to find out who the new brand ambassadors of Chivas would be.
“Once you have your Chivas Regal, it’s up to you how to drink it,” says Scott. There are no rules to follow, no judgments to be made. “Just say, this is how I enjoy it. As long as it’s a Chivas.”
And, indeed, Chivas was to be enjoyed in a multitude of ways that night, courtesy of mixologist and co-owner of New York City restaurants Maharlika and Jeepney, Enzo Lim. With names like Chivas Highball Kalamansi and It Takes Two To Mango, Lim’s cocktails were playful mashups of local ingredients and Chivas Regal 12, a 12-year old blend characterized by rich and generous honey and green apple notes, with a long creamy finish.
“Chivas Regal 12 is the perfect whisky to symbolize our belief in the power of shared success. A versatile and approachable blend that can be enjoyed in a number of ways, the Chivas Regal 12 allows you to share and toast to your success with those around you,” explained Scott.
Following the theme of the night, as guests enjoyed their Chivas, the brand’s newest ambassadors were presented, each one successful in his field due to passion, determination, and a commitment to improving his respective craft. This included Ben Wintle, the technopreneur behind dining app Booky PH, mixologist Enzo Lim, and former Azkals Phil and James Younghusband and Anton del Rosario.
Of course, the event would not have been complete without a traditional Scottish toast by the Custodian Master Blender himself. With Balmforth and Houliston beside him, Scott held his Chivas high and led the guests in an exuberant Gaelic toast to good health: “Slàinthe Mhath!” To good health, indeed! INQUIRER.net Brandroom/Karlo Samson/VT