JohnnieWalker’s price can jump drastically between expressions, so we had to weigh whether the more expensive bottles were really that much better than the cheaper stuff. The juice is a blend from Diageo’s deep stable of distilleries around Scotland that’s specifically designed to be mixed and not taken straight.
The palate holds onto those notes while adding a peppery spice and a hint of orchard fruits. The end shifts towards Islam with a wisp of smoke as the sip fades quickly away while warming you with alcohol heat.
This is a very solid base for a highball, especially for anyone looking to get into a mild blended scotch that brings all of Scotland into the glass. This is basically Johnnie Black, a slightly peaty blend, that’s been asked again in deeply charred oak.
The idea is to maximize that peat and amp up the Islam and Island smokiness of the final dram. The palate has a vanilla creaminess that’s punctuated by bright apple, dried fruit, and more peat.
The spice kicks back in late, warming things up as the smoke carries through the end with a nice dose of laziness. The blend leans into the peaty seaside distilleries with 30 plus whiskey from powerhouses like Lagavulin, Talker, and Card.
Mild notes of spice mingle with bright and sweet fruits and a hint of vanilla. The taste allows the malt to shine as the vanilla, spice, and fruit counter a distant wisp of smoke.
That smoke warms as the sip fades out, leaving you with a final note of sweet wood. We’d argue that this is a good place to start if you want to dip your toes into mildly smoky whiskey without diving headfirst into a Lagavulin or Arden.
This no-age statement blend leans into that signature Walker marriage of Highland and Seaside whiskey with a small dose of Western Scottish juice for good measure. The fruit kicks up on the palate and becomes slightly tropical as a counterpoint of rich vanilla creaminess arrives.
The end is subtle and long with the fruit and honey standing tall against a very distant echo of earthy peat. This expression is all about barrel selection and the mastery of a great nose and blender working together to create something special.
The end is slow, smoky, and full of dry fruits, nuts, and a malty nature. The primary distilleries in the bottle are Blair Thou, Card, Glen Elgin, and Auchroisk.
There’s a rich and buttery toffee that’s counterpointed by a bowl of ripe and sweet fruit that really draws you in. The caramel malts mix with marzipan, creamy vanilla pudding, and a nice rush of juicy winter tangerines that have just been peeled.
Adding a little water, those orange oils marry to a deeply dark chocolate nature, which leads towards a velvety and ever-so-lightly smoky end. If you do snag a bottle, make sure to add some water or a rock and really let the scotch bloom in the glass.
The juice primarily comes from Seaside, Highland, Lowland, and Island malts with a focus on a minimum of 15-year-old Talker, Call Ila, Cragganmore, and Linwood. There’s a woodiness that’s softly cedar with notes of bright, sweet fruit, spicy black pepper, oily vanilla pods, and fresh-cut grass on the nose.
The taste really delivers on the softness of the cedar while adding more tropical fruitiness and a subtle edge of dried roses. The end is deliberate with the cedar, spice, and fruit giving way to a measured wisp of earthy smoke and a splash of sea brine to finish off the sip.
Johnnie Walker is a brand of Scotch whiskey now owned by Diageo that originated in the Scottish burgh of Kilmarnock in East Ayrshire. The brand was first established by grocer John Walker.
It is the most widely distributed brand of blended Scotch whiskey in the world, sold in almost every country, with annual sales of the equivalent of over 223.7 million 700 ml bottles in 2016 (156.6 million liters). His farmer father died in 1819, and the family sold the farm.
Their trustees invested the proceeds, £417, in an Italian warehouse, grocery, and wine and spirits shop on the High Street in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland. Walker managed the grocery, wine, and spirits segment as a teenager in 1820.
The Excise Act of 1823 relaxed strict laws on distillation of whiskey and reduced, by a considerable amount, the extremely heavy taxes on the distillation and sale of whiskey. By 1825, Walker, a teetotaler, was selling spirits, including rum, brandy, gin, and whiskey.
In short order, he switched to dealing mainly in whiskey. They were sold as made-to-order whiskey, blended to meet specific customer requirements, because he did not have any brand of his own.
He began using his name on labels years later, selling a blended malt as Walker's Kilmarnock Whiskey. The brand became popular, but after Walker's death it was his son Alexander ‘Alec’ Walker and grandson Alexander Walker II who were largely responsible for establishing the whiskey as a favored brand.
Blended Scotch whiskey, lighter and sweeter in character, was more accessible, and much more marketable to a wider audience. Andrew Usher of Edinburgh, was the first to produce a blended whiskey, but the Walkers followed in due course.
One major factor in his favor was the arrival of a railway in Kilmarnock, carrying goods to merchant ships travelling the world. Thanks to Alec's business acumen, sales of Walker's Kilmarnock reached 100,000 gallons (450,000 liters) per year by 1862.
In 1865, Alec created JohnnieWalker's first commercial blend and called it Old Highland Whiskey, before registering it as such in 1867. Under John Walker, whiskey sales represented eight percent of the firm's income; by the time Alexander was ready to pass on the company to his own sons, that figure had increased to between 90 and 95 percent.
In 1893, Card distillery was purchased by the Walkers to reinforce the stocks of one of the Johnnie Walker blends' key malt whiskey. This move took the Card single malt out of the market and made it the exclusive preserve of the Walkers.
Card's output was to become the heart of the Old Highland Whiskey and, after the rebranding of 1909, the prime single malt in Johnnie Walker Red and Black Labels. From 1906 to 1909, John's grandsons George and Alexander II expanded the line and had three blended whiskey in the market, Old Highland at 5 years old, Special Old Highland at 9 years old, and Extra Special Old Highland at 12 years old.
These three brands had the standard Johnnie Walker labels, the only difference being their colors: white, red, and black respectively. They were commonly referred to in public by the colors of their labels.
In 1909, as part of a rebranding that saw the introduction of the Striding Man, a mascot used to the present day that was created by cartoonist Tom Browne, the company re-branded their blends to match the common color names. The Old Highland was renamed Johnnie Walker White Label, and made a 6-year-old, the Special Old Highland became Johnnie Walker Red Label at 10 years old, and Extra Special Old Highland was renamed Johnnie Walker Black Label, remaining 12 years old.
Sensing an opportunity to expand the scale and variety of their brands, Walker acquired interests in Cole burn Distillery in 1915, quickly followed by Clannish Distillery Co. and Dailuaine-Talisker Co. in 1916. This ensured a steady supply of single-malt whiskey from the Card, Cole burn, Clannish, Talker, and Diluting distilleries.
In 1923, Walker bought Portland distillery, in furtherance of their strategy. Most of their output was used in Johnnie Walker blends, whose burgeoning popularity required increasingly vast volumes of single malts.
Johnnie Walker White was dropped during World War I. In 1932, Alexander II added Johnnie Walker Swing to the line, the name originating from the unusual shape of the bottle, which allowed it to rock back and forth.
That year saw the introduction of the blended malt, Johnnie Walker Pure Malt, renamed as Johnnie Walker Green Label in 2004. In July 2009, the brand's current owners, Diageo, decided to close all operations in Kilmarnock by 2012.
Despite petitions, public campaigns, and a large-scale march around Kilmarnock, Diageo proceeded with the closure. The Johnnie Walker plant in Kilmarnock closed its doors in March 2012 and the buildings were subsequently demolished a year later.
In July 2020, Johnnie Walker announced plans to release a new environmentally-friendly paper bottle set to debut in early 2021. Since the turn of the century, there has been a spate of special and limited bottling.
Some offerings from their product line Red Label: A non-age-stated blend. Black Label: Aged 12 years, it is one of the world's best-selling Scotch whiskey.
Double Black Label: Made available for general release in 2011 after a successful launch in travel retail. The whiskey was created taking Black Label as a blueprint, adding more peaty malt whiskey to it and maturing it in heavily charred old oak casks.
Green Label: First introduced in 1997 as Johnnie Walker Pure Malt 15-Year-Old, it was renamed Johnnie Walker Green Label in 2004. Green Label is a blended malt whiskey, meaning it is made by mixing single malts with no grain whiskey added.
Diageo discontinued Green Label globally in 2012 (except for Taiwan, where demand for blended malts is very strong), as part of a reconstruction of the range that saw the introduction of Gold Label Reserve and Platinum Label. Gold Label: A blend of over 15 single malts, it was derived from Alexander Walker II's blending notes for a whiskey to commemorate Johnnie Walker's centenary.
Aged 18 Years: Originally introduced as Platinum Label, it was introduced to replace the original Gold Label in the Asian market, and sold alongside Gold Label Reserve. Though still available around the globe, the Platinum Label name was discontinued in mid-2017 and replaced by Johnnie Walker Aged 18 Years.
Johnnie Walker Blue label bottle in a gift box Blue Label: Johnnie Walker's premium blend. Johnnie Walker Blue Label is blended to recreate the character and taste of some of the earliest whiskey blends created in the 19th century.
Bottles are numbered serially and sold in a silk-lined box accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. It is one of the most expensive blended Scotch whiskey on the market, with prices in the range of US$174–450.
Johnnie Walker Swing: Supplied in a distinctive bottle whose irregular bottom allows it to rock back and forth. This type of bottle design was originally used aboard sailing ships.
Photographs replaced the drawings in the 1930s, and the Striding Man was miniaturized to a colored logo in 1939; it first appeared on the Johnnie Walker labels in 1960. In the late 1990s, the direction of the Striding Man was reversed as part of a “Keep Walking” campaign.
The Striding Man icon was most recently redrawn in 2015. In 2009, the advertising agency Battle Boyle Hearty (BBH) created a new short film, starring Robert Carlyle and directed by Jamie Ran, titled The Man Who Walked Around the World, which outlined the history of the Johnnie Walker brand.
In October 2018, Diageo teamed with HBO to produce “White Walker by Johnnie Walker whiskey, inspired by the army of the undead in the TV series Game of Thrones as part of the marketing for the series' final season. Johnnie Walker spirits have received strong scores at international spirits ratings competitions and from liquor review bodies.
The Green Label received a string of three double gold medals from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition between 2005 and 2007. Spirits ratings aggregator proof66.com, which averages scores from the San Francisco Spirits Competition, Wine Enthusiast, and others, puts the Black, Blue, Gold and Green Labels in its highest performance category (“Tier 1” Spirits).
Johnnie Walker spirits have several times taken part in the Mode Selection's World Quality Selections and have received a Gold and Grand Gold Quality Award. Johnnie Walker was voted India's Most Trusted Premium Whiskey Brand according to the 2014 edition of The Brand Trust Report.
Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve won the World's Best Blended -- Best Scotch Blended in World Whiskey Awards 2018. Winston Churchill's favorite whiskey was Johnnie Walker Red Label, which he mixed with a large amount of water and drank throughout the day.
Johnnie Walker Blue Label was a favorite of the late US president Richard Nixon's; Nixon used to enjoy it with ginger ale and a wedge of lime. Polish fictional humorous character Jakub Wdrowycz is a word play based on Polish translation of “John Walker “.
In the 1982 film Blade Runner, Harrison Ford's character Rick Declared is seen drinking Johnnie Walker Black Label which he also drinks in the sequel Blade Runner 2049 (2017). Coinciding with the release of Blade Runner 2049, Johnnie Walker released a 'Director's Cut' edition of their Black Label which is bottled at a higher proof.
“Scotch Whiskey Brand Champion 2017: Glenfiddich”. ^ McAllen, Joseph V. Scotch Whiskey, its History, Production and Appreciation (2015) Antioch Downs Press, Vancouver, Portland ISBN 978-0-9947571-1-1 Digital Edition: ISBN 978-0-9947571-0-4 ^ A Brief History of Blended Whiskey The Whiskey Shop Blog ^ The Man Who Walked Around the World.
^ Johnnie Walker : The Man Who Walked Around the World”. ^ “A Visual History of Johnnie Walker's Striding Man Logo”.
^ Johnnie Walker whiskey to be sold in paper bottles”. ^ “Whiskey Notes: Johnnie Walker Red Label vs. Johnnie Walker Black Label”.
Johnnie Walker Blended Scotch Whiskey”. ^ http://www.scotch-whisky.org.uk/media/12744/ scotchwhiskyregguidance2009.pdf ^ “Whiskey Notes: Johnnie Walker Red Label vs. Johnnie Walker Black Label: Johnnie Walker Red Label (40%, OB +/- 2013)”.
^ “Bottle King Largest New Jersey Retailer of Wine, Beer and Spirits”. ^ “Bloom redraws Johnnie Walker's 'Striding Man “.
“Whiskey is coming: 'Game of Thrones' gets its own White Walker scotch whiskey, line of single malts”. Johnnie Walker's New 'Game of Thrones' Scotch Will You Remind You How Mad the Finale Made You”.
“Diageo sells golf's Glen eagles hotel as it focuses on core business”. ^ “Andrew Filipino | Cycle i twórczo | Artist”.
“Whiskey of the Future: Johnnie Walker's Limited-Edition 'Blade Runner 2049' Release Is Here”. Wikimedia Commons has media related to Johnnie Walker (whiskey).