Johnnie Walker is one of my favorite blended Scotches. The brand has a variety of different blends, but this release is the start of something different. Yes, this is a new 10-year-old blend, which is nice enough. What makes this Johnnie Walker unique amongst its brethren is the implementation of a finishing process. Cask finishing is nothing new in the world of Scotch, but I believe this is the first time Johnnie Walker utilizes this maturation method. For the unaware, cask finishing means after a whisky matures in casks for a number of years, it spends a small amount of time in a different type of cask. It more or less alters the flavor of the original matured whisky. The first in a new series by the company, this 10-year-old Johnnie Walker is finished in American rye whiskey casks. The blend is built around Diageo’s Cardhu single malt, which is usually found in most JW blends.
On the nose, that rye whiskey finish flexes its muscle, showcasing big rye whiskey aromas. I get rye grain, vanilla, some sweet malt, toffee and black pepper. It strongly resembles American whiskey, and that carries over onto the palate. That rye note comes across first, along with some spiciness on the tongue. There’s sweet malt, toffee, vanilla and ginger. The finish lasts a moderate amount of time. Let’s call it a medium finish. It starts off sweet and spicy, becoming dry after a few moments.
This is a nice surprise. I find finishing in whisky interesting, even if not always successful. The rye cask finish here is wonderful. It may come across a little too overpowering for some, but I enjoy this strange frankenstein project. It takes the best parts of rye whiskey and the best parts of Johnnie Walker. That being said, I don’t detect any of that signature Johnnie Walker smoke here, but I don’t miss it. Johnnie Walker Select Casks Rye Cask Finish hits shelves October 2015 at an SRP of $45. Recommended.