Whisky giant Johnnie Walker looks to be having fun playing around within their experimental series known as Blender’s Batch. Last year, the U.S. market saw the release of a 10-year-old Triple Grain American Cask whisky. Just last month, Johnnie Walker dropped their Wine Cask Blend. This new blend was led by Aimée Gibson, a member of the Johnnie Walker blending team.
According to a press release, Wine Cask Blend was influenced by experimentation of maturation in wine casks. The NAS whisky is partly comprised of malts from Clynelish and Roseisle, and grain whiskies from Cameronbridge. As the name states, some of the whiskies used in the blend were matured in wine casks.
If you’re expecting the signature smoky touch synonymous with Johnnie Walker, look elsewhere. Wine Cask Blend is light and fruity on the nose, with a certain youthful character coming through at times. Light malt and raspberries fill the nose, with hints of vanilla and green apples. On entry, toffee apples and berries dominate. Maybe some raspberry jam? Those notes provide the sweet side of the whisky, which is balanced by some citrus and a hint of spice. There is slightly vibrant (read: young) malt in the midpalate. The grain whiskies add a vanilla-tinged creaminess to the experience. The clean finish features hints of a berry tart.
Bottled at 40% abv, Johnnie Walker Wine Cask Blend is a very smooth whisky. The $29.99 per bottle asking price isn’t a big hit on your wallet. I would say I’m not in love with this blend, but I’ve returned to it several times and have quite enjoyed each dram. It’s different from any core range Johnnie Walker by a mile. I’ve tasted this whisky neat each time I’ve gone to it. Maybe it’s the summer heat, but I can see this in a sort of highball. A few berries. A splash of club soda. A sprig or two of fresh mint or even an orange twist. After all, this blend was designed with cocktails in mind. That could explain the whisky’s airy and fruity character. Bottom line, don’t expect a bold, smoky Johnnie Walker. If light and fruity is your thing, Wine Cask Blend will be right up your alley. 7/10