Chivas Regal and Christian Lacroix are collaborating once again and releasing a limited edition bottle of the Chivas Regal 18 Year Old Scotch Whisky. The Lacroix-designed Chivas 18-Year is limited to 3000 bottles worldwide, with only 100 available in the United States. The Lacroix Chivas 18 will be available at select retailers in Los Angeles, New York, Illinois, Florida and Texas beginning in June, at the suggested retail price of $495. With around one third of its production allocated to the duty free market, the Lacroix Chivas 18 made its world premiere at Charles de Gaulle Airport in November before being introduced to key airports in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East earlier this year.
JC Iglesias, brand director for Scotch and Cognac for Pernod Ricard USA: “Both Chivas Regal and Christian Lacroix share values of creativity and exuberance which are perfectly represented in this dramatic new bottle. We are honored to include such an extraordinary piece of art in the Chivas Regal limited edition range.”
Although the Lacroix Chivas 18 won’t be released stateside for a couple of months, I had an opportunity to check out the ornately designed bottle in person when I met with Chivas Brand Ambassador Richard Varga in the lounge at Rolling Stone L.A. The newly-opened restaurant’s design nod to the magazine’s jet set, rock n’ roll pedigree made for an appropriate setting. Even before I sat down with Varga, the richly-decorated brocade presentation box caught my eye.
Wrapped in embroidered jacquard fabric, the box opens to reveal a mirrored interior that houses the specially-designed bottle of Chivas 18. Following on the French fashion house’s award-winning design for the Chivas 12 Year Old magnum, the new release uses a laser “metallization” technique to create an intricate etched pattern on the bottle. To match the presentation box, the bottle’s label is also embroidered in jacquard.
The gold-stamped, embroidered bottle certainly embodies the famously over-the-top Christian Lacroix aesthetic: “We believe we have conveyed the spirit of chivalry that is dear to both our brands, whilst maintaining the quintessence of luxury and exuberance inherent to the House of Christian Lacroix,” said Sacha Walckhoff, Creative Director for Christian Lacroix and the bottle’s primary designer.
Varga said that California is expected to receive 25-28 bottles of the Lacroix Chivas 18. The press release touts the limited edition Chivas as the “perfect gift for Father’s Day, graduations or fashion collectors,” though personally I only see that last one as a possibility. (Maybe Patsy and Edina would want one?) A more likely scenario would be a restaurant, bar or hotel obtaining one of the rare bottles for display purposes.
Of course, all of that opulent design and limited availability would mean nothing if the whisky in the bottle doesn’t deliver. Sipping drams of Chivas 18 with Varga was a reminder that underneath that luxe exterior is a great blended Scotch, made from over twenty single malt whiskies aged at least 18 years. The spicy nose opens with honey and orange peel, developing to vanilla, cinnamon and oak. The full-bodied palate is a complex mix of fruit and spice, with chocolate and caramel notes. Dried fruit and oak are prominent in the warm, silky finish.
As F. Paul Pacult wrote in his 2007 five-star (Highest Recommendation) review for Spirit Journal, the Chivas Regal 18 Year Old “defines the art of blending as well as any Scotch in the world.” It might be dressed in French haute couture, but at the end of the day it’s the same excellent blended Scotch you’ll find at BevMo in off-the-rack threads.