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Chivas Regal Whisky

The Chivas story begins in 19th century Aberdeen. Originally it was a grocery business founded in 1801 by William Edwards. James Chivas joined the business in 1838 and his brother in 1857 when it became known as Chivas Brothers. Just like other giants of whisky blending like John Walker of Kilmarnock, they started out selling wine, tea and other groceries as well as blending whisky. Top fact: the name Chivas comes from the Gaelic for "sheep".

Granted a Royal warrant

In 1843 the company was granted a royal warrant by Queen Victoria. The first of many such royal warrants for the firm. Being in Aberdeen, the biggest city in North East Scotland, the firm was well connected by rail with the distilleries of nearby Speyside and the Lowlands. The firm would buy, age and blend malt and grain whiskies into a consistent product such a Royal Strathythan which was launched in 1863.

The beginning of Chivas Regal

Chivas Brothers didn’t remain a family business for long. The last family member in the business James Chivas’ son Alexander died in 1893. Eventually the firm was bought out by master blender Charles Stewart Howard and employee Alexander Smith but they kept the name Chivas Brothers. To tap into the burgeoning market for luxury whiskies especially in America, they came up with a 25 year old blend with a high malt content which they dubbed Chivas Regal. It hit the market in 1909 and has been around ever since in various iterations. In 1936, the firm was bought by Morrison & Lundie and then in 1949 by Seagram. Chivas Brothers became the Scotch whisky arm of the Canadian drinks giant which also owned Strathisla distillery in Speyside so this became a major component of the blends. Seagram set about marketing Chivas Regal energetically especially in North America which following the end of Prohibition and World War II was taking to Scotch whisky enthusiastically. Chivas Regal became popular among the showbiz set with Frank Sinatra said to be a fan.

Chivas Brothers expansion

The 1950s to the 1970s were a boom period for Scotch whisky and Chivas Brothers built several new distilleries to meet demand such as Glen Keith in 1957, Braes of Glenlivet in 1974 and Allt-a-Bhainne in 1975. During the ‘70s Seagram acquired a plethora of distilleries including The Glenlivet, Longmorn, Aberlour and Benriach. But in 2001 the Seagram empire collapsed and Chivas Brothers was bought by Pernod Ricard. Today the Chivas Brothers group is the second largest name in Scotch whisky after Diageo. It includes such notable distilleries as The Glenlivet, Aberlour and Scapa as well as Chivas Regal itself, which has a brand home at Strathisla distillery, and other blends including Royal Salute and Ballantine’s. Today Chivas Regal is one of the world’s bestselling blended whiskies. The range starts with Chivas Regal 12 Year Old and once again includes a 25 Year Old luxury blend as well as various other editions.

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