Johnnie Walker Green Label Vatted Scotch Whisky

As many folks have heard, Johnnie Walker Green Label soon will be no more.  So here we bid adieu to Green, which for the longest time was not available in the United States.  (It was sold in duty-free stores and East Asia.)

Johnnie Green was a rare bird—insofar as it was a vatted Scotch whisky.  Unlike Johnnies’ various blends (black, red, etc.), Green Label was not made with any neutral grain spirit.  Rather, the vatted Green was a mixture single malts, and it was aged 15 years.

Green label was a nice mix of smoke and earth, and frutiness (pear, apple).  It was good enough to be nipped neat.  (Rating ****1/4)  Pity that the little that remains in our glass is all we have and the last we liekly will see of it.


Johnnie Walker Swing Blended Scotch Whisky

Ah, the folks at Johnnie Walker sure know how to sling it:

“Johnnie Walker Swing was originally created by Sir Alexander Walker, Master Blender par excellence and grandson of John Walker, during the golden age of travel in 1932. On transatlantic voyages, barmen desperately stowed loose bottles onto racks to prevent breakages caused by the unrelenting pitch and roll of stormy weather on the high seas.  But one bottle rode the ocean waves like the most experienced of sailors, swinging elegantly back and forth and — in keeping with the Johnnie Walker philosophy — never losing its balance. Its unique glass decanter allows it to swing to and fro on a convex base. And cradled within this bottle lay a blend of Scotch whisky with a light yet luxurious depth of flavor.” Somehwhat ludicrously the reader is further told, “Ideally, Swing is served on the rocks, neat or diluted with water.”  Ice, no ice, with water—whatever.   And we thought an item could have at moest one ideal!

Mmmmm-hmm.  This duty-free product is a little odd—had we tasted it blind we would not haev thought it was Johnnie Walker.  It is oily, tasted of burnt pear, gran, and seaweed.  It is almost sour.  Will we drink it if we are on a crusie ship and that what is there—certainly.  Will we seek it out?  Not bloody likely. (Rating ***)


Johnnie Walker Double Black Blended Scotch Whisky

We first reviewed Johnnie Walker Black about 1 million years ago.  Well, o.k., it was in the late 1990s, and the conditons were less than optimal—we were at a bender of a whisky tasting.  In 2008, our older and wiser palates gave it Black a much closer look, and boy were we impressed. Considering the price a fifth of Johnie Black goes for ($28-$32), we thought the quality deemed it worthy of a perfect five star rating.  Really, it is a blend that provides extraordinary bang for the buck.

We mention all this history because we were quite surprised some months back when we received a sample of Johnnie Walker Black and a new iteration—Johnnie Walker Double Black.  “What?” we thought. “Are they trying to out-do classic Black?”

Perhaps—Double Black (80 proof) sells for about $10 more per bottle. It is pitched as the “bold, brash relative” of standard Black. Clearly, it is a different animal. Where as Black Label is loaded with delicate flavors but a sure whisky spine, Double Black is much peatier and has a distinct burnt/char note.  It is less floral but a bit fruitier.  Those who find Black label a bit too gentle may well enjoy this; we, though, found it a bit less sophisticated.  Of course, we would not turn down a glass offered, and the sample bottle we received is nearly empty. (Rating ****1/4)

You can read more about Double Black and the other Johnnie blends at, and you may order a bottle of Double Black here.



Johnnie Walker Gold Label Blended Scotch Whisky

We were a little skeptical of the rep’s pitch — “Pull that bottle of vodka out of your freezer and replace it with a bottle of Johnnie Walker Gold.” An $80 bottle of scotch?

When we sipped our chilled samples, we were pleasantly surprised. The whisky was very gentle and oozed honey, raisin, barley, and delectable smoke.

Back at our headquarters, we sampled Johnnie Walker Gold unchilled. The flavor was similar, but it was not so pleasant an experience. The less cold the booze, the lower the viscosity and the less velvety the mouthfeel. Though tasty, the flavors no longer seemed so harmonious. That does not, of course, mean we do not like this whisky—oh, no, we do. (Rating ***3/4)

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Johnnie Walker Black Label Blended Scotch Whisky

Johnnie Walker Black Label (40 proof) is a very impressive whisky. Especially astounding is that so much of it is produced each year (about 7 million liters), yet, the quality remains very high.

This is a very nice scotch that seems likely to appeal to a wide range of scotch drinkers. Newbies can take it with an ice cube in it, journeymen with a few drips of water, and veteran slurpers ought to take it neat. Diluted, Johnnie Black is frightfully easy to sip; straight up, it shows the Talisker in it, wafting light peat and smoke. It’s a very smooth and nuanced scotch, and it is, for certain, a top-notch blend. (Rating *****)

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