Johnnie Walker

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

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

Review: Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost and Rare Port Ellen

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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.

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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.

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Review: John Walker & Sons King George V Scotch Whisky

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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.

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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