Johnnie Walker Showdown: Gold Label vs Black Label

A comparison of two iconic Johnnie Walker whiskies: Gold Label Reserve and Black Label

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Key takeaways:

  • Gold Label Reserve is smoother and more refined than Black Label
  • Both whiskies are bottled at 40% ABV
  • Gold Label Reserve is more expensive than Black Label, but worth the extra cost


In the world of whisky, Johnnie Walker stands as a prominent brand, offering a variety of blended Scotch whiskies for enthusiasts and novices alike. Two popular whiskies from their range are the Gold Label Reserve and Black Label. In this article, we’ll compare these two iconic blends and see which one comes out on top.

Johnnie Walker Black Label: A Staple Blend

Black Label is a well-known and widely available blend, often considered a staple in many bars and households. As part of the Diageo family, Johnnie Walker boasts a rich history deeply rooted in whisky-making. Black Label is a 12-year-old blend, with an affordable price tag of around £27 a bottle.

However, the downside to Black Label is the presence of grain alcohols like maize, wheat, or rye, which can give off a strong ethanol flavor. This can be off-putting for some drinkers, making Black Label a less desirable option compared to other whiskies.

Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve: A Step Up

Gold Label Reserve, priced at around £40 a bottle, is a step up from Black Label in terms of quality and taste. Although it shares some similarities with Black Label, such as being bottled at 40% ABV and containing grain alcohols, the overall experience of Gold Label Reserve is smoother and more refined.

The Gold Label Reserve has a fuller and rounder taste, with more pronounced smoke and vanilla notes from toasted oak. It is considered a more enjoyable and drinkable whisky compared to Black Label.

The Verdict: Gold Label Reserve Takes the Crown

When comparing Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve and Black Label, the Gold Label Reserve comes out as the clear winner. It offers a smoother, more refined taste that makes it worth the extra cost compared to the more affordable Black Label.

While Black Label may be more budget-friendly, the overall drinking experience and quality of Gold Label Reserve make it a better choice for those looking to enjoy a well-rounded and satisfying blended Scotch whisky.

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