Whisky Review – Johnnie Walker Black Label


It would appear that all roads led to Johnnie Walker Black this past Wednesday afternoon…

First, I read an article by Don of the Beer & Whiskey Brothers blog about Christina Hendricks of Mad Men, and how her favorite whisky is Johnnie Walker Black. Here is a photo of Ms. Hendricks with her husband at the opening of the Johnnie Walker House in Manhattan:

Ten minutes after reading Don’s article, I received an email from our friend The Hip Flask about an Australian TV commercial for Johnnie Walker Black. Apparently, the people at Adweek think it’s a rip-off of the Old Spice commercial. Rip-off is such an ugly word. I prefer homage. Anyway, here’s Johnnie Walker’s “The Important Man” commercial:

And here’s the Old Spice commercial that they supposedly ripped off:

Did Johnnie Walker rip-off Old Spice? You be the judge. I think they are both quite amusing.

Since I had a sample sized bottle of Johnnie Walker Black at home, I thought to myself, “Now is the time to review this whisky!”.

Here is what Johnnie Walker has to say about this whisky:

With its origins in the 1870s Old Special Whisky, Johnnie Walker Black Label became simply “Black Label” in 1909. In 2009, the year of its 100th Anniversary celebration, Johnnie Walker Black Label is regarded by experts as the ultimate Scotch deluxe whisky, the benchmark by which all others are measured.

Each bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label is two decades in the planning, draws whisky from the finest distilleries across Scotland and is aged in the finest whisky casks. Each whisky is matured in a slightly different way, due to the intricacies of wood, climate and location. The Master Blender’s skill is in blending these whiskies together to create a whisky with an extraordinary range of flavor.

And now for the review…

  • Appearance: Deep amber color. Thick, slow moving legs form after tilting the glass to coat the walls with whisky.
  • Aroma: Vanilla. Caramel. Maple Syrup. Brown sugar. Cinnamon. Very subtle smokiness.
  • Taste: Very smooth, i.e. minimal alcohol sting when sipped at full strength. Mouth coating, warm, cinnamon flavors from start to finish. Caramel and brown sugar notes in the background. The finish is short and somewhat drying.
  • ABV: 40%

Overall, I found the Johnnie Walker Black to be a very well balanced and easy drinking blended Scotch whisky. This whisky is so smooth that I would never add any water. If you’re a Bourbon drinker that has been curious about Scotch whisky, then this is a great place to start. My only complaint is with the finish since it ended rather abruptly.

One last thing…

If you like Johnnie Walker Black Label but want to try something with a bit more smoke, Diageo has recently released the Johnnie Walker Double Black to the US market. Until recently, this was only available in Duty Free shops. I am really curious to try this one!

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14 thoughts on “Whisky Review – Johnnie Walker Black Label

  1. You’re spot-on in your comment that this is a great scotch to try for a bourbon drinker – I know because that was me! I tried out a couple other blends and even Glenlivet 12 single malt and was just like “what’s the big deal?” Johnnie Walker Black was my “ah-ha” moment. It has a little something for everyone. I think every whisky drinker should try this at least once. Good review!

  2. I’ll have to give this one a try. I was Drinking Johnny Walker Red Label during my now infamous college experience which landed me in bed for two days, so I have stayed away. But this sounds very drinkable.

    • It’s very drinkable Don. And affordable. Not the first whisky I would reach for, but still worth a try. Pick up a sample sized like I did. For less than $5, you can’t go wrong. And if you hate it, you can curse me on the interwebz. :)

      And FYI, three of us drank a bottle of this stuff when I was a freshman in college. Made for an interesting morning at the deli where I worked the next day. I know that we consumed several pots of coffee and an entire Entenmann’s Banana Crunch Cake the next morning to nurse our hangovers. I obviously survived and have even gone back to it on several occasions.

    • So i just saw the line about double black at the end. Here it is available in most normal liquor stores at this point. My feeling is that it isn’t long before it becomes a regular to the line-up as opposed to just a “limited edition”

      • Yo Chuck!

        I have seen the Double Black on many a liquor store shelf down here. Very curious to try it since the vast majority of the reviews have been positive. I’ll probably pick up a bottle after the New Year. Need to thin the herd a bit before adding any new bottles. Besides, Christmas is a short time away. Hoping to get some new stuff.

        Cheers!
        G-LO

  3. Absolutely. For me, Black Label is just a bit too harsh and smoky (not really a scotch drinker), but with Double Black I dont get that wince before the swallow I do whenever I drink Black Label. I’m curious as to what you think once you give it a go.

    Chuck

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