blended whisky

Review: Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost and Rare Port Ellen

Johnnie Walker Ghost and Rare Port Ellen.jpg

Last year, Johnnie Walker launched what turned out to be one of my favorite whiskies of 2017 – the Blue Label Ghost and Rare series. The introductory blend was built around Brora, a distillery that closed in the early 1980s.  I loved the whisky so much that, upon tasting and writing my review, immediately bought a bottle.  I probably should have bought two…

For the second edition of Ghost and Rare, Johnnie Walker Master Blender Dr. Jim Beveridge started this blend with malt from another classic distillery – Port Ellen. Beveridge also used grain whiskies from the closed distilleries Caledonian and Carsebridge.  The three whiskies comprise the “ghost” portion here.  Additionally, rare malts from Mortlach, Dailuanie, Cragganmore, Blair Athol, and Oban are included.

IMG_4019.jpg

Though there’s no age statement on the label, press materials state all whiskies used in this blend are at least 20 years old.  The whole thing’s bottled at 43% abv and available for a suggested retail price of $349.99, which is less expensive than the first release.

The nose is rich and full of stewed orchard fruit, tropical fruit, and brine alongside some salted caramel and fresh herbs. This whiskey is velvety and a bit oily on the tongue. More salted caramel on entry, with sweet smoke and spice building. Fresh and candied fruit give way to a sprinkling of herbs, minerals, and tobacco leaf. The long finish sees grilled pineapples and seaweed.IMG_4014-2.jpgTalk about an enjoyable pour! Johnnie Walker Ghost and Rare Port Ellen sort of reminds me of a fruitier version of John Walker King George V. It starts off sweet and becomes less so as the whisky swirls around the palate. Great development of flavors and complexity. The Port Ellen in the blend stands, adding its signature smoke and maritime notes. The old grain whiskies add a sturdy background, allowing the malt whiskies to shine.  Again, a delicious and intriguing blend from the House of Walker. Highly recommended! 9/10

Johnniewalker.com

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

Be sure to follow Adventures In Whiskey on social media for more content.

IG_Glyph_Fill flogo_RGB_HEX-512 Twitter_Logo_WhiteOnBlue

Advertisements

Review: John Walker & Sons King George V Scotch Whisky

IMG_2351

This past November, I left my job of nearly nine years for a promotion at the competition.  Scandalous!  The night I accepted my new position, I celebrated by opening my bottle of John Walker & Sons King George V.  Notice it’s not Johnnie Walker.  I guess once it surpasses a certain price threshold, Johnnie becomes a more formal John.  King George V costs around $600, though I’ve the price as high as $800.

John Walker & Sons King George V is part of John Walker & Sons Exclusive Blends, which also includes Odyssey, The John Walker, and the annual Private Collection.  The whisky commemorates the Royal Warrant awarded by the late British monarch.  According to the brand’s website, the blended whisky only uses whiskies from distilleries that were in operation during George’s reign (1910 – 1936) and blended to “reflect the distinctive Johnnie Walker style of the era.”  That includes Port Ellen, among many others.

IMG_2356

The nose features hints of stewed fruit, toffee, wood smoke, and a light touch of earthy peat.  Bittersweet dark chocolate and peanut brittle hit the palate first. A bed of light smoke complements rich notes of honey, figs and blackberry jam.  Hints of spice and leather appear on the back end and into the long, slightly smoky finish.

I like Johnnie Walker whiskies, but I love when they are bottled at more than 40% ABV.  King George V is slightly higher at 43% ABV.  A little alcohol can go a long way in terms of flavor and mouthfeel.  King George V turned out to be a superb choice for a celebratory pour of whisky.  Because of its high price, this whisky won’t be poured a lot at my house.  I say that, but a third of the bottle is already gone.  This luscious whisky will most certainly be replaced by another once the bottle is empty. 9/10

Johnnie Walker Blender’s Batch Triple Grain American Oak Blended Whisky Review

New from Casa de Walker is the limited edition Triple Grain American Oak.  It’s the third entry in the Johnnie Walker’s experimental Blender’s Batch series, and first released here in the U.S. The Triple Grain American Oak (TGAO) is made up of three grain whiskies (wheat, barley, and corn) including some from Port Dundas, and two malt whiskies from the Cardu and Mortlach distilleries.  The whiskies here are at least 10 years old, and have matured in American oak casks.  

This blend is said to be inspired by Master Blender Jim Beveridge’s interest in American whiskies.  The last new Johnnie Walker expression I tried, Select Casks Rye Cask Finish, also tried to cater to the American whiskey drinker.  I really enjoyed that blend.  I’d love to see rye whiskey barrels used more in Scotland.  Johnnie Walker TGAO is bottled at 41.3% abv and can be found for about $30 a bottle, while supplies last.

Information from the brand suggests it was designed to be a mixer in cocktails, but it’s really nice on its own.  On the nose, I pick up – no smoke!  A rare deviation for Johnnie Walker.  Instead we get candied fruit, vanilla, caramel and a light floral note.  The palate is creamy, and combined with the vanilla on entry comes across as vanilla pudding.  Some caramel apple and spice follow, with hints of buttered wheat toast and very, very light whisp of wood smoke (maybe I’m imagining).  The finish is short and clean – sweet grain with just a touch of spice.

Add this to my list of Scotch whiskies for bourbon drinkers to try.  Sweet fruit and vanilla are the stars here, and are two notes usually found in bourbon.  There’s virtually zero peat here, which I know seems to turn off a lot people thinking of getting into Scotch.  I have to reiterate that Johnnie Walker Blender’s Batch Triple American Oak is a one-time release and very well priced for what it delivers.   8.5/10

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