Blended Scotch Whisky

Review: Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost and Rare Glenury Royal

Johnnie Walker’s Ghost and Rare collection started strong with a blend built around Brora, followed by a second blend that placed malt from cult-favorite Port Ellen front and center. Sadly, the series comes to an end with this expression – Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost and Rare Glenury Royal.

I have to admit, I hadn’t heard of Glenury Royal until news of this release hit my inbox. The distillery operated from 1825 to 1985, when it was shut down. In addition to Glenury Royal, this blend contains malt whisky from Pittyvaich and grain whisky from Cambus, but long gone. Rare malt and grain whiskies from Glen Elgin, Inchgower, Glenlossie, Cameronbridge, and Glenkinchie are also utilized here.

The nose features a distinct apricot note as well as hints of creamy vanilla, roasted almonds, and slight herbal and earthy undertones. Bottled at 43.8% ABV, Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost and Rare Glenury Royal starts with creamy butterscotch drizzled with white and dark chocolate. Crisp orchard fruits bring some brightness while candied almonds add to the whisky’s complexity. A touch of smoke leads to a medium-length finish with lingering hints of dried fruit, nuts, and mocha.

Wow. Based on the nose, I was expecting a very fruit forward whisky. Instead, I was treated to a rich, decadent whisky… one I’d easily reach for after a big dinner. All the flavors pair well together, creating a nice balance. The Ghost and Rare series itself is almost like a three-course meal. Brora serves as the appetizer, with the hearty Port Ellen acting as the main dish. Glenury Royal provides a beautiful ending. 9/10

Johnniewalker.com

Thanks to Diageo for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Review: Chivas Regal Mizunara

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Chivas Regal’s latest addition to their US portfolio is Chivas Regal Mizunara.  Mizunara is a Japanese Oak.  It’s generally not used outside of Japan, which makes Chivas one of the first wave of Scotch whiskies utilizing the oak.  In this case, a portion of this blended whisky is finished in Mizunara.  You might recall a Bowmore Mizunara a couple of years back.  It too was finished in this eastern oak, which tends to add some spice notes.

This new expression from the big blending house is bottled at 40% ABV and available for a suggested price of $45.  Chivas has always been an approachable whisky.  Let’s see how this one fares.

The somewhat muted nose features hints of vanilla, cloves, light toffee, and a greenish grain note, suggesting some young whisky in the blend.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially given the price.  The palate fares a bit better with waves of spiced toffee, sweet grain,  anise, and dried apricot.  The mid-palate does come across as a bit thin.  Chivas Regal Mizunara carries a short, clean finish.

It was interesting to taste spicier notes than what I usually find in a Chivas Regal blend, and that’s thanks to the Mizunara oak finish.  However, the brand only finished part of this whisky in said oak.  What’s in the bottle is pleasant enough, but at the same time non-offensive and maybe a bit bland.  A slightly higher ABV might have made for a better tasting experience.  Chivas Regal Mizunara should appeal to people who don’t like bold whiskies.  7/10

Chivas.com

Thanks to Chivas Regal for the sample.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Review: Johnnie Walker White Walker Blended Scotch Whisky

White Walker by Johnnie Walker.  There couldn’t have been a better partnership between Diageo and one of my favorite programs, Game of Thrones.   In fact, this blend is only the first release of this partnership.  Diageo has just released eight single malts tied to the different houses in the show.

Johnnie Walker blenders started with Cardhu and Clynelish.  The fruit-heavy flavors from those distilleries are very present, as you’ll read in my tasting notes.  White Walker is bottled at 41.7% ABV and available for $36 a bottle.  The packaging needs a bit of mention.  The bottle is wrapped as such to reveal icy blue writing and marks as the bottle reaches freezing temperatures.  Winter is here, indeed.

I typically taste whisky at room temperature.  However, the makers of this blend have created one that is meant to be served straight from the freezer. Before you start writing angry comments below, I know a lower temperature subdues the bouquet on the nose and the flavors on the palate.  However, whisky drinking is supposed to be fun.  Let’s let our preverbal hair down with this one.

Right out of the freezer, the nose shows some honey and sweet grain, as well as red fruit.  The palate maintains a sweet profile, with hints of creme brûlée, berries, and honey.  There’s a bit of vibrant sweet grain underneath. The clean finish evokes hints of caramelized fruit and a slight sprinkling of spice.  As the whisky warms to room temperature, it expectedly becomes a bit more aromatic on the nose.  More caramel and vanilla appear on the palate, and the finish becomes noticeably longer and richer.

The show tie-in and cool bottle aside, White Walker is a sweet and pleasant blend, but I wouldn’t call it a complex one.  This whisky is designed to be served cold in a tumbler and sipped while watching Game of Thrones.  I doubt it is meant to be dissected in a glencairn glass while writing lots of tasting notes… which is exactly what this writer did for this review.  It’s enjoyable enough.  I can sip on this, which is more than I can say for Red Label.  Overall, not too shabby.   7/10

johnniewalker.com

Thanks to Johnnie Walker for the sample.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.