When I heard that we’d be reviewing the Chivas Regal Mizunara, I confess my first thought was perhaps we could ask our fathers to handle the review. Amirite, maltboyz? Boom! But then my second thought was, “Ooooh, Mizunara oak!!! That’s catapaulting a venerable Scotch blend into the 21st century!” My third thought was that the first thought was a bit snarky, while my fourth thought was that the second thought not only had merit, but could be taken even further. However, it was my fifth thought that really got me going…
[Stephen: I edited out 47 more of Bill’s thoughts about his thoughts (about his thoughts). And you’re welcome.]
Anyways, the nose on the Chivas Regal Mizunara opens with dried Turkish apricots pressed into a hermit crab shell, en croute. We found also chestnuts roasted over mesquite logs, then swaddled by slivers of white asparagus that had been cut on the bias with a bespoke Ginsu™ coping saw. Stephen found the phloem from cottonwood, while John found the xylem from wormwood. (They’ve spending a bit too much time on botanical field trips.) There is something flinty, like nodules of chert waiting to be napped into arrowheads, and something loamy, like the ultra-rich potting soil I use when transplanting my exotic orchids. We got also Spanish moss, bougainvilleas, and a fin de siècle Parisian body wash (lilac purple bottle) much beloved by Oscar Wilde and other English fops. It’s possible that we are highly suggestible—we are highly suggestible, if not gullible—but we were sure that we also detected the Mizunara’s distinctive spicy nutty woodiness.
The mouth is so smooth, so elegant that it came across as a shimmering tuxedo, made entirely of silk, worn by Cate Blanchett to a gender-bending Met Gala. Again the flavors imparted by the Mizunara oak came shining through. We toasted the Master Blender for the Chivas brand for conceptualizing a platform that allowed the Mizunara oak a starring role on the stage, while also doing a magnificient job of make the stage itself a co-star, and not a second banana. If we were marketers, we’d bankrupt any distillery in short order. But if we were, for this dram, we’d suggest selling a pair of 375ml bottles of the same juice, one partially aged in the Mizunara oak, while the other, a control sample, simply left to age in American oak. That way, aficionados could compare and contrast, and learn how much the Japanese oak contributes.
Back to reality: The finish is a 16th century Berber rug, woven from silk, slated to be a gift to the Sultan Murad IV the Conqueror of Baghdad. I got a caramel-coated sugar cone, filled with Eiswein-inflected ice cream, no artificial botrytis added. This was blent to be eminently drinkable with a piquancy imparted by the Mizunara oak.
On the scale of cultural representations of East meets West–
The Chivas Regal Mizunara Blended Scotch Whisky is the epic novel (and prestige mini-series) Shōgun by James Clavell–In that fictionalized telling of the tale of William Adams, an Englishman washes up on the shores of feudal Japan and becomes a valiant, trusted, blunt-instrument samurai who helps Tokugawa Ieyasu maneuver his way to become the Shōgun. Here, casks made of imported Japanese Mizunara oak help the Scottish distillers of Chivas reimagine the future and bring their product afresh to the table.