Johnnie Walker Green Label
By Eric Schmalz - June 13, 2019
Back in the first article, I discussed how there are a plethora of single malts and grain whiskies that are being produced simply to be thrown into big-name blended whiskey. What I sought from this was to highlight this practice and show that there are hidden gems buried within. However, I feel that through this I provided a somewhat skewed perspective on these blends and what they themselves can bring to the table. So I thought it beneficial to take a look at one and pick it apart, piece by piece.
As a brand, Johnnie Walker has very humble roots, and an understandable origin. Born on July 25, 1805, John Walker grew up the son of a farmer until the age of 14, when John’s father passed away. All his parents funds were put into a grocery store in the town of Kilmarnock, Scotland where he would become the manager and eventually begin to build his empire.
Originally a seller of just fruits, meats and other daily necessities, John started procuring and providing a plethora of fine teas, wine and spirits as well. Not long after this, he switched mainly to selling whiskey, most of which were made-to-order for his customer's tastes. However, it wasn't until his death in 1857 that the Walker brand began. His son, Alexander Walker, observed what his father had been doing and started blending whiskey to provide a product that would be of high quality with incredibly consistenty in taste, branding it with the Walker name.
Since then, the story of Johnnie Walker tells itself. It has gone through some changes; growing, branding and slight hand changing, but ultimately remains true to its roots those many years ago. Presently, the brand is owned by Diageo, an umbrella to dozens of distilleries world-wide, giving them the ability to maintain the quality and consistency of these blends.
While every Johnnie Walker expression has its own strengths, I wanted to highlight my favorite, Green Label. Often glossed over and relatively unknown, Johnnie Walker Green Label is, I find, one of the most approachable blends they make and provides great quality for the price, so let's dive in.
Johnnie Walker Green Label (image via Ray's Wine and Spirits)
This is a blend of single malt scotch whiskies that includes Talisker, Caol Ila, Linkwood and Cragganmore, along with many others, each component being aged at least 15 years and bottled at 43% ABV.
Nose - Vanilla, lavender, rosewater and heather notes are dominant. There is an undertone of citrus, specifically oranges and lemon. After resting for a short moment, a hint of smoke comes out briefly, and finally settles on a sandalwood and soapstone blanket.
Palate - Rich vanilla leads, clung to by fruits. A pear and apple tart is the immediate thought. The smoke is a bit more pronounced but by no means in your face. The florality is more pronounced as well with honeysuckle, roses and heather again. A fast hit of caramel swings by, coating the tongue with sweetness.
Finish - Sandalwood again, along with pear. Fairly thin and fleeting, but leaves a refreshing taste. Wisps of citrus oils roll around the tongue, showing up and disappearing again. Just a faint hint of banana.
This is always a refreshing malt and provides many nooks and crannies to explore. The prominent florality is nice, and combined with the fruit notes, sends me into a world of mother nature’s bounty. The sweetness is also very well-balanced with the slight hint of smoke that underlines everything else. A great blend that shines through, overcoming the stigma others may receive.
Overall: 8/10 Excellent
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