In a move likely to enrage malt snobs, spirits giant Diageo has introduced an extension to the Johnnie Walker brand comprised primarily of malt and grain whiskies from closed distilleries. Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost and Rare, the first in the new series, was created by Master Blender Jim Beveridge.
Ghost and Rare is a blend of eight malt and grain whiskies: Brora, Cambus, Pittyvaich, Clynelish, Royal Lochnagar, Glenkinchie, Glenlossie, and Cameronbridge. The first three distilleries on that list are closed, though Diageo recently announced that Brora will reopen in three years. Official bottlings of Brora, which was closed in 1983, aren’t exactly budget friendly. So, the chance to taste it and other rare whiskies as a blended whisky versus a single malt or single grain at a fair price peaked my interest. Ghost and Rare is bottled at a hearty 46% ABV and priced at $399.99 a bottle.
The waxy fruit character Brora is known for is found in the nose here, along with hints of dark chocolate, creamy vanilla, toasted almonds, and a touch of witch hazel. Ghost and Rare carries a rich mouhfeel with notes of brioche, waxy fruit (apple and pear), and grilled pineapple. Darker and deeper flavors soon develop: dark toffee, Sumatra coffee bean, and subtle smoke. Mild oak tannins appear on the back palate. The long, slightly sweet and smoky finish features hints of cocoa powder and creamy vanilla.
Ghost and Rare is a blend that delivers the characteristics of Brora in a rounded way, thanks to the addition of other malt whiskies. Those same whiskies add nuance. In addition, grain whiskies contribute to the overall richness of the blend. The result is an exquisite addition to the Johnnie Walker lineup. I’ll certainly be looking for a bottle. Highly recommended! 9/10
Thanks to Diageo for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.