Diageo

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.

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Review: Crown Royal Blenders’ Mash Blended Canadian Whisky

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Crown Royal’s latest release, Blenders’ Mash, might be its most controversial. Here’s the short version of the story: When it first hit shelves, the name on the label was Crown Royal Bourbon Mash. The name stemmed from what Crown Royal distillers and blenders internally called the bourbon-like mash bill of this whisky. Apparently that’s a big no-no here in the United States, where a whisky made outside of the country cannot use the word ‘bourbon’ on its label to describe it. The “Bourbon Mash” label was already TTB approved, but the government agency reversed its decision, causing Diageo, Crown Royal’s owner, to change the name to Blenders’ Mash.

Don’t let the label controversy detract from what’s inside the bottle.

This release kicks off the Crown Royal Blenders’ Series, which focuses on, er, blending. Produced at the Crown Royal distillery in Gimli, Blenders’ Mash features a blend of bourbon-like, corn-heavy whiskies aged in new and used oak barrels. It’s bottled at 40% ABV and available on shelves for about $28.

The nose is a bit subdued but nonetheless quite nice, featuring hints of vanilla pod, kettle corn, cinnamon toast, and a touch of toasted oak. The entry here is smooth, for lack of a better word. That rich and sweet profile Crown Royal is known for can be found here in spades, with hints of maple syrup and creamy vanilla leading the way. A bit of spiced green apples and sandalwood soon follows. The finish is rather clean, with notes of sweet caramel corn.

In terms of flavor, Blenders’ Mash sits perfectly in a world between Crown Royal and a standard bourbon, carrying over the “smoothness” the Canadian whisky is famous for. In other words, folks who like their bourbon without the bite would enjoy this whisky. However, don’t conflate “smooth” with “lack of character.” Blenders’ Mash is an enjoyable pour, one I don’t have to think too much about while drinking it. Recommended! 8/10

Crownroyal.com

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

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Entrapment 25-Year-Old Canadian Whisky

image005Entrapment is the latest entry in the Orphan Barrel series, as well as the first non-American whisky.  The 25-year-old whisky was distilled in 1992 in Gimli, Manitoba, where it was meant to be blended into Crown Royal Deluxe.  According to press materials, several barrels didn’t fit the blend.  The whisky continued to mature in those barrels until now.  Entrapment is distilled from a mostly corn mash bill… 97% to be exact, along with 3% malted barley.  It’s bottled at 82 proof and available for a suggested retail price of $149.99.

The Orphan Barrel series has been a bit of a mixed bag, with some excellent releases like Lost Prophet sitting alongside a couple of terrible ones. Whoop & Holler, anyone?  Where on the spectrum does Entrapment fit?  Quite up there, actually.

Though the low proof subdues the nose a bit, rich aromas of vanilla, maple syrup corn bread and light oak abound.  The palate is airy and soft, again mostly likely due to the low proof.  Notes of angel food cake, spice and vanilla mark the beginning of the flavor journey.  From there, rich notes of maple and leather develop in the mid-palate.  The journey continues, as baking spices reappear alongside dried fruits in the medium-length finish.

This is a well-aged whisky.  The development and complexity of flavors is welcome.  My only qualm with Entrapment is its low proof.  What’s delivered in the glass is fantastic, but a few more proof points (45% ABV instead of 41% ABV) may have propelled Entrapment into the stratosphere.  Only Diageo holds the answer to why Entrapment was bottled the way it is.  Regardless, my opinion of what’s currently in the glass remains steadfast.  Entrapment comes with a high recommendation, so long as potential buyers aren’t looking for a bold whisky experience.  8/10

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