It helped to catapult Johnnie Walker to become a global brand as it spread around the British Empire and beyond. John Walker opened his grocery shop on King Street, Kilmarnock in 1820 and began blending his own whiskey in the cellar.
The Celebratory Blend's packaging draws inspiration from that original bottling of Old Highland Whiskey and also features a fold-out cardboard box that includes the only known photograph of John Walker's grocery store in Kilmarnock. It is also bottled at 51% ABV to mirror the strength that whiskey were sold at during the 1860s to 1890s.
Nose: baking spices, cinnamon, green apple, pear, dried fruit Palate: Sweet at first, very thick for a blend, coating with nice mouthfeel.
Finish: Long, wood spice, peppery and wispy smoke Wow, take high ABV Johnnie Walker made from modern distilleries that were around in the 1860s and add in a unique and classy package.
But they have some of my favorite distilleries in their portfolio and I love the JR blended whiskey (and the Green vatted malt). As always, I try to reflect in this review my experience with the whiskey over time and how things change.
All tasting notes rested in a Glen cairn, primarily neat (although I do experiment with water.) I start with this vignette as a perfect encapsulation of every experience with JR I have had thus far; all the bottling I’ve tried (Red, Black, and Gold Reserve) were full of off-notes, generally watery and unbelievably boring.
Palate: Medium-thin body, but very mellow texture ~ earthy, a wisp of smoke, bitter herbs. Finish: Medium-short ~ sweet like icing sugar, a decent wave of alcohol heat, a little vanilla.
Notes: First off, there are a bunch of variants of JR Green that came out around its re-introduction, including one with a screw-top and several labels. For those that might be interested, this one had a cork and from what I can tell replaced the screw-top version immediately before, with a textured, glossy green box and serifed fonts on the all-green-and-gold label.
What I’ve learned so far is that the right whiskey experience for me involves really feeling engaged if I am going to be drinking alcohol at this ABV or higher (i.e. I rarely have nights where I want to drink whiskey and not contemplate it in some way), and this just doesn’t do it for me.
The tangerine note on the nose was unexpected and pleasant (and, oddly, only available at a very specific distance from the glass) but most of this seems very much by-the-numbers and nondescript. I got this bottle on offer for $50, and I feel like that is the absolute maximum I’d want to pay for this whiskey.
The whiskey shingle doesn’t leave its fans starving for options either, with seven core bottles in the U.S. line up and 16 active limited editions (although several of those are variations on the spendy Johnnie Walker Blue, which itself has five limited-edition expressions). The drams we’re tasting are all available at your local liquor store or, at the very least, online (check by clicking the price).
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.
Today it is the best -selling brand of Scotch, a spirit with a relatively high number of producers due to its age and established popularity. They have to adhere to a complex web of guidelines in order to earn the name of “scotch”, and are divided into one of five categories depending on the ingredients used to make them, but for the most part, you can usually characterize them as being of malt or grain.
While Johnnie Walker produces a wide range of whiskey, they are a blend of both grain and malt. The definition of Scotch is strictly controlled by laws in the country, which means that it must meet certain requirements that drive up the price.
One of the most important requisites for carrying the Scotch name is that whiskey must be aged in an oak cask for three or more years. As far as the price goes, the longer something has been sitting in the cask, the better it will taste, which means that these companies can charge a hefty premium for aged whiskey.
Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve Blended Scotch Whiskey The drink itself is a honey-colored blend of grain and malt whiskey from different distilleries.
This is about the same price as a reputable Irish whiskey, such as Jameson, but it’s more expensive than basic models for other Scotch brands, such as the bare Ballantine's Finest, which you can find for around $20.00 in some places. The Green Label is the next major step up in terms of price, quality, and taste.
Glenfiddich 15 is a more direct alternative, as the price is about the same or slightly higher on average than JohnnieWalker’s Green. The Blue Label is the most expensive product sold under the Johnnie Walker name.
The packaging makes no mention of the ages combined here, being that it can cost more than $200.00, the claim sometimes made that the spirits have been sitting in the casks for up to 40 years in some cases is credible. Frequent drinkers of Scotch will often claim that the best way to enjoy the drink is simple to sip it with nothing more than a few ice cubes inside a glass.
Nevertheless, many cocktails have been invented for Johnnie Walker, especially recommended for drinking with the relatively cheaper Red Label. This cocktail combines the taste of Scotch with that of fruit, as it is made with orange juice.
Experts recommend squeezing the juice out of the oranges yourself, rather than using the store-bought stuff and using a smooth whiskey which is not smokey, but it’s all a matter of personal taste. Much like the rusty nail, The Godfather is a simple combination of Scotch, liqueur, and ice in a glass.