Johnnie Walker Blue Label Brora and Rare / Ghost and Rare “Ghost Pressure”

Ok I promise this is my last JW review for a bit, I’m not going to repeat the marketing spiel as I am not a brand ambassador, some casks (who knows how much of anything) of silent distilleries unnecessarily gave up their lives to be included in this blend…maybe.

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This is where precious rare malts go to die

Nose: Suave, old oak /present but not overpowering, a little guava, smoke, dirt floors in a damp warehouse, waxy, a lot like regular blue label in it’s cohesiveness. Supple, slightly mineral, soft fruits, Mirabelles, apricots.

Palate : Musky peat turning into exotic fruits: longan, jack fruit, durian maybe?. A mounting astringency, aspirin, shoe polish and oak.

Finish is on old oak, polish, lemon pith, earth, the fruits are overridden by resiny pine, much bitterness.

Nice nose, the palate is ruined by the bitterness/ lemon pith/resin, I love these kind of notes in a whisky but the backbone isn’t robust enough to withstand it, unlike Springbank or Clynelish for example.

This is an example of where transparency would really help to better understand what is happening. What is one getting exactly for this price? what proportions of malt to grain, old to new, they could put one cask of Brora in a Tun of young whisky and one wouldn’t know.

Better value for money in Compass Box or Douglas Laing Regional Malts.

Johnnie Walker Ghost & Rare Brora Edition

46% ABV

82/100 *I took my time on this one but it’s still something I sampled in store so I’m only giving it an overall score, my standard method is multiple samples before reviewing so I can score each aspect.

Johnnie Walker Blenders’ Batch Red Rye Finish – “Wry Oak”

Johnnie Walker Blender’s Batch Red Rye Finnish

40% ABV

Another whisky sampled in store, this session was Johnnie Walker focused, I know it’s a brand that gets much love/hate. I personally like Black Label, It’s one of the whiskys responsible for getting me to give Scotch another chance some years ago.

This one is supposedly Cardhu focused (I believe Gold Label is also Cardhu-centric) with grain components from Port Dundas…but then it’s a mass market blend so probably has a bunch of other components.

Aged in first-fill bourbon and finished for 6 months in Rye casks…not sure where the red part comes in.

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Nose: Rye spices, oak, caramel, it smells a lot like a bourbon, a little barrel char, not much else…

Palate : Oily at first and then vanilla, a little dusty spice, cardboard, some custard , it loses steam and never fulfill the initial burst of flavor.

The finish is fast due to abv and most likely chill filtration, doesn’t stick around long after robbing your dignity. It’s not terrible, just mediocre

I am not against experimentation, I think it’s quite healthy for any industry but I am left scratching my head with this release, why does this exists? Just buy an everyday good bourbon, for example, like Wild Turkey 101, which is killer and only costs 35$ and is served at a decent ABV, especially since this seemed aimed for cocktails…maybe i’m just surly

 

Franck

Johnnie Walker Blenders’ Batch Wine Cask Finish – “A Pour Decision at the Whine Bar”

Johnnie Walker Blender’s Batch Wine Cask Finish 

40% ABV

This set of reviews are from the last in-store tasting I attended in early April. I arrived a bit later which meant it was less crowded and I could take my sweet ass time taking notes and somewhat antisocial.

First whisky of the night was this Blenders’ Batch edition. I believe there are 3 or 4 of these featuring different finishes or highlighting the grains used.

The Diageo blab says it supposed to be 10± years old, despite being NAS, relying on malt from Clynelish and grain from Cameronbridge.

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I hate looking like a paparazzo at these events, so I end up taking these awkward photos.

Nose: a fair amount of sulfur, loads of vanilla, sour fruit and oak. A touch of damp earthy peat, wet cardboard, cooked fruits.

Palate: red fruits, currants, cherry, creamy vanilla. Then malty, bread, it’s fairly hot on the arrival. Marzipan, cardboard, sour fruits, like summer pudding left out in sun and fermenting. Lots of oak present throughout.

Finish: it’s limp watery, keeps on with the burn and sour oak/jam

Many people raved about this at the tasting, surprised by how much they liked it and “for the price” they kept saying. There are some aspects that I liked but it felt messy overall, maybe in cocktails but I still don’t see what makes this specifically a JW product. Maybe I’m taking this too seriously or perhaps I’m just not the intended consumer for this product.

76/100

Franck

Johnnie Walker Green Label

 

 

Johnnie Walker Green Label 

43% Alc./Vol.

84/100

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Johnnie Walker is ubiquitous to the point of being infamous, It’s probably the one Scotch whisky everyone knows by name. The walking man logo no matter how gussied up for the times is another instantly recognizable icon for the uninitiated. It is also the whisky brand most likely to get shit on by hardcore whisky lovers and don’t get me wrong sometimes it deserves it.

They are owned by the brand whisky connoisseurs love to hate. To make an analogy if whisky was Star Wars, Diageo could be an exact stand in for the empire. Yet we cannot ignore that Johnny Walker is the gateway for many people. Black label is one of the main reasons I fell back in love with Scotch whisky again after a long love affair with it’s Canadian brethren, I love that shit to pieces.

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Diageo’s Dr. Nick Morgan?

Of all the many whiskers under the JW moniker, green label was/is the anomaly in the range. It was first released at the tail end of the nineties, a blended malt (formerly called vatted malt) a blend of single malts it contains no grain whisky to pad it out. The price was reasonable 50$ to 70$, it had an age statement of 15 years. This should have given it sex appeal but I think it caused the opposite.

 

The very things that made it an asset also hampered it. The reasonable price should have made it a perfect stepping stone for red and black label drinkers but didn’t. It also didn’t have enough of a bling factor and panache to draw consumers of the gold and blue label. Vatted malts/pure malts did not have the hip factor they do now and many single malt drinkers didn’t see why you’d waste your time on this blend, this was also a time where a 15-18 yr single malt weren’t quite the bank busters they are now.

Despite all this it still green label gained a cult status of sorts, so when Diageo announced in 2012 that it would be pulling the green out of most of its markets while doing a little re-branding of the JW line-up it obviously upset quite a few people.

They claimed poor sales and other malarkey, the reality is probably an amalgam of different reasons. They we’re probably taxing their stocks of Caol Ila and Talisker pretty thin at one point, those two provide the smoky/peaty backbone for most JW blends. They could also sell the individual component malts for much more money to the growing “luxury” segment of the market. Lastly like many spirit producers they we’re looking towards the promise land that was supposed to be the growing Asian market…Shangri-La as you would. This market failed to boom and as a result in early 2015 we saw a limited amount of green label showing up on shelves, with a confirmed return at the beginning of 2016.

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Enough blabbing lets dive in.

Nose: the smoke is pretty prominent at first nosing , fresh cut apples and pears, barley sugar, nectar and blossoms. A slight feeling of cider, orange peels and a big malty backbone.

Palate: Rich and sweet, then the smoke hits, peppery at first but also that feeling of beach bonfire, not dirty peat but a slight iodine and ozone like feeling. Then orange oils and tobacco accents. There is fruits, the peated components are kept in check by the other flavors honey,  a roundess from the oak, then marmalade and a slight touch of milk chocolate.

The finish is long, sustaining the rich malty side, this pleasant sweetness and peppery smoke.

This is a different beast than the original but I prefer this new incarnation, it’s such s rich dram, the smoke is present but somehow is so well integrated into the other elements.

Franck