Whisky drinkers have been waiting for the first tequila cask-matured Scotch whisky since the regulations governing Scotch whisky production were 'clarified' by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA)
last year. But were we waiting for a train that had already arrived?
Today (3 March), Chivas Regal has announced a new expression that has undergone a final period of maturation, also known as 'finishing', in tequila casks. The release is part of the new Extra 13 collection, which comprises four 13-year-old bottlings that have been crafted using tequila, oloroso sherry, rum and American rye casks. The whiskies, which also feature artwork from street artist Greg Gossell, will be available in select global markets from March, with the Chivas Extra 13 Rum Cask available exclusively in travel-retail outlets from July.
Sandy Hyslop, director of blending at Chivas, said: "The Extra 13 collection represents new territory for Chivas as we continue to open up the world of Scotch whisky to new audiences and fresh experiences. At Chivas we believe that blended is better and nowhere is this more evident than with our new collection, which blends exceptional Scotch with a diverse, internationally inspired palate of flavours."
However, this is not the first example of tequila cask-matured Scotch whisky. Diageo, which is widely thought to be one of the key drivers of the 2019 rule change (on account of its ownership of Don Julio), actually released what's reportedly the first whisky matured in tequila casks last year: Buchanan's Two Souls
[link in Spanish]. Described by Buchanan's brand director Carlos Magaña as a "union of two worlds", the release of Two Souls was explained to be driven by the desire to innovate in the Mexican market specifically and, when it was announced in May 2019, actually preceded the SWA's clarification of the rules by one month . Despite being a 'world's first', this product appears to have flown under the radar of most whisky drinkers and has received very little publicity outside of Central and South America. Finished in Don Julio tequila casks, it was a limited release and exclusive to the Central American market.
Though Diageo and Chivas now have tequila cask-finished products in their portfolios, they will surely not be the last to utilise non-standard casks for maturation. Indeed, in the same week as Chivas's announcement, Dewar's have released the world's first Mezcal-cask matured Scotch whisky.
The Buchanan's Two Souls release from May 2019