Apples vs. Apples? Not so much…
One is one of the most prolific blended Scotch brands in the world, the other is a very elegantly designed Islay whisky.
One is £55 in the Strathisla Distillery, or £74.95 on Master of Malt and one was £750 when released in August 2015.
Both completely opposite ends of the spectrum price, style and flavour-wise.
So how do they compare?
Chivas Mizunara Cask Finish – 40% ABV
Lots of toffee and honey here, buttercream (oh how I love that stuff, must bake a cake…), almonds, soft, smooth, silk-like. The palate opens up to be quite spicy, more vanilla, more toffee – molten this time, and a lovely harmony to it with a short to medium fruity finish.
This is a truly exceptional blend, really soft, but with a spiciness unusual to the Chivas Regal family at this level. So glad they have brought this to the UK after initially being a Japan-only release.
Bowmore Mizunara Cask Finish – 53.9% ABV
The nose slams you with salty, leathery notes, very soft peat notes, quite sweet for a Bowmore, some honey, heather, subtle floral notes too.
On the palate, this is all about the salt again, very maritime, but with lots of mango, pineapple, and gherkin notes too. Maybe the brine from gherkins you get in the chippy (yes, I said it). Still sweet in places, with a more powerful peat note than on the nose, its a real delight, especially as the spiciness ebbs through past the salt and the sweet right at the end and on the second and third sips. Impressive all round, with a long spicy finish.
But, at £750 with no number on the bottle, I am always a little cautious. Yes, there are whiskies aged up to 25 Years Old in here, but surely at this price range, despite the romantic Mizunara oak story, you can be a bit more sensible? God knows what it is trading at now, I cannot bring myself to look on the auction sites.
In truth this was not really a fair comparison given the Chivas house style of soft, fruity whiskies and Bowmore’s of maritime salinity with peaty undertones, but given they both have the same ‘finish’ it made for an interesting head to head. In truth, the Bowmore probably just edged it for being packed full of flavour, but only just… and for 13.6 times the price of the Chivas, I think I will stick to the soft, subtle and elegant blended Scotch from the wizardry Sandy Hislop, Calum and the rest of the Chivas blending team.