Thursday, September 15, 2011

Johnny Walker Black Label Whisky Review:

"Never, Never, Never, Never, Never, Never, Never, Never, Never, Never, Never, Never, Never, ever give up unless they offer Johnny Walker Black." – Winston Churchill

One of the first and the best selling blended whiskies in the world, Johnny Walker Black label (owned by Diageo of course) has been eying for a review for quite some time. Within the blended whisky category, that is blended grain whisky from continuous stills and single malt whisky from pot stills, Johnny Walker Black is one of the best you can get, at least for its price point, reliability and accessibility. Simply put the Black Label name is almost synonymous with quality blended Scotch. Supposedly this blend, as Johnny Walker states, is based on the original 1820 Walker Family recipe. Either way this is no doubt the flagship of the Johnny Walker brand and has won more awards than any other deluxe Scotch whisky brand out there to prove it.

Blended whiskey markedly was what most people drank in the 20th century. And today, though it still holds a strong place in the Scotch whisky market (roughly 90 percent!), it is very much seen as inferior to single malt Scotch. Which I have to say is unfortunate because the rightly blended whisky, as generally stated, can be greater than the sum of its parts and it can simply be a joy to drink. Johnny Walker Black is a blend of 40 different whiskies, each aged 12 years or longer. More clearly the age statement on a blended whiskey actually distinguishes the youngest whisky in the blend.

This was the first of the whisky tastings from my last vacation – shout out to my father who joined me for this blended experience.

Johnny Walker Black Label Whisky Review:

Price: Around $30 for a 750ml bottle.

Packaging/Labeling:  Classic Johnny Walker square bottle which cones at the top. One brand which has really stayed true to its original design and label and for that I say: “Thank you Mr. Walker!”

Alcohol Content: 80 Proof, 40% ABV.

Color: Burnt golden hue. A bit too much E150e.

Nose: Vanilla and caramel, dried apricot, and nutmeg, a lot of cinnamon on the back. Smoky.

Tasting: Butterscotch and pepper. Floral notes, raison, vanilla, and light peatiness. Not very sweet – more rounded and less direct compared to any particular single malt. A wonderful dryness.

Conclusion: This is a very well balanced and well rounded blended whisky. Yes, we know this isn’t a single malt and yes, we know this isn’t Johnny Walker Blue Label. Get over it! Ignore most reviewers who say it taste like crap – we don’t want to be malt snobs anyway. The time and dedication it took to blend this is apparent and for the price this is a fabulous blended whisky. Great to start someone off with because of its standard setting excellence, but something you can always have tucked away in the bar for easy drinking or a starter while your single malt opens up.

Scotch Pronunciation Guide with Brian Cox:

“I’m your uncle, Argyle”
– Brain Cox as Uncle Argyle (Braveheart)

Brian Cox is undoubtedly one of the greatest British actors of the age. From Braveheart to the Bourne Identity, no matter what character he is comprised of he always seems capture your heart and your imagination. So when I found out about these 40 some-odd videos he was in I had to post them. Myself being an American, and not necessarily growing up around heavy Scotch drinkers, the sometimes tongue-twisting names can make one shy when trying to ask your local whisky seller to point you in the direction of Caol Ila. This is where these videos come in handy. In Brian Cox's debonair style, one can practice pronouncing each like a true Scotsman. For all videos click here

Monday, September 12, 2011

Posting Forecasts:

"Drown in a cold vat of whiskey? Death, where is thy sting?"  - W. C. Fields

Though I’ve been on a little hiatus’ the past week and a half I have not simply been lying around. Well, at least I have not been lying around doing nothing. As with all my family vacations a large part of our time is surrounded by good food and drink. So needless to say I have quite a few posts coming up of bourbon, blended scotch, and Oregon wine tasting notes. Please stay tuned!