- Johnnie Walker has a diverse range of whiskies to suit different tastes and occasions.
- Despite its popularity, a higher price does not necessarily mean a higher ranking among Johnnie Walker’s offerings.
- Taste and flavor profiles are crucial factors that influence the ranking of different Johnnie Walker whiskies.
- Johnnie Walker offers a unique blend of peat-infused whiskies, adding a distinct smoky layer to the taste.
A Legacy in Every Bottle: Understanding Johnnie Walker
Johnnie Walker, with its iconic square bottles and striding man logo, is synonymous with Scotch whisky around the globe. It is the best-selling whisky brand worldwide, not just maintaining its popularity but actively growing with over 20 million cases sold in the past year alone. That’s an astounding accomplishment, given that the entire American whiskey market is slightly above 30 million cases.
However, with such an extensive range of offerings, one question often arises among both whisky beginners and connoisseurs alike: Which is the best Johnny Walker? To answer this, we’re delving into the ten core bottles of Johnnie Walker that are readily available on the U.S. market.
Ranking Methodology: A Matter of Taste
Before we dive into this exploration of the best Johnny Walker, it’s worth noting that our ranking methodology is rooted in simplicity – it’s all about the taste. Johnnie Walker is renowned for being an approachable peated blend, meaning there’s a faint layer of smokiness in all its whiskies. However, some expressions boast deeper and more captivating flavor profiles than others.
10. Johnnie Walker Red Label Blended Scotch Whisky
Known as the entry point expression, Johnnie Walker Red Label is the best-selling Scotch whisky globally. It is a blend of single grain and single malt whiskies designed specifically for mixing, not for drinking straight. Expect a sweet, citrusy nose and a peppery spice palate with a hint of orchard fruits. The finish leans towards Islay with a faint hint of smoke. However, remember, it’s a mixing whisky, not a sipper.
9. Johnnie Walker Black Label Blended Scotch Whisky Aged 12 Years
The classic Black Label is a blend of over 40 grain and single malt whiskies, including stalwarts like Talisker and Lagavulin. All the whiskies are at least 12 years old when merged into this blend. The tasting notes are predominantly citrus, Christmas cake, creamy maltiness, caramel sweetness, and dry herbs. The finish introduces oak with a dose of peaty smoke. Today, Johnnie Walker positions this as a highball whisky.
8. Johnnie Walker Blonde Blended Scotch Whisky
A newer expression from the brand, Johnnie Walker Blonde, is intended for mixing. Aged in American oak barrels, the blend of wheat and single malt whiskies gives a sweeter profile catering to the American whiskey palate. The nose is sweet toffee candy, bright red berries, soft vanilla, and a hint of oakiness, while the palate reveals vanilla, sweet toffee, dried apple chips, and a mild winter spice malted cookie vibe.
7. Johnnie Walker Double Black Blended Scotch Whisky
Double Black is essentially the Black Label that has been re-casked in deeply charred oak barrels for a final maturation. This process maximizes the peat and amps up the smokiness of the Islay andIsland whiskies. The nose is characterized by clove-forward spice and softwood smoke, while the palate offers vanilla creaminess punctuated by bright apples, dried fruit, and more peat. This whisky is quite delightful on the rocks but truly shines as a highball base.
6. Johnnie Walker High Rye Blended Scotch Whisky
Johnnie Walker High Rye whisky, relatively new to the market, comprises a blend of 40% single malts from Diageo’s distilleries — especially Cardhu, Glenkinchie, and Caol Ila — and 60% Scottish rye whisky aged in American oak. With tart apples spiked with clove and anise on the palate and a buttery caramel sweetness, this whisky serves as an ideal gateway for American whiskey drinkers looking to explore Scotch whisky.
5. Johnnie Walker Aged 18 Years Blended Scotch Whisky
Formerly known as Johnnie Walker Platinum, this blend consists of 18 whiskies (single grain and single malt) — all a minimum of 18 years old. This rich blend features apple chips, toffee, ripe berries, old leather, and supple malts on the nose. Salted caramel and marzipan dominate the palate, resulting in a flavorful journey for the taste buds.
4. Johnnie Walker Swing Blended Scotch Whisky
Not as commonly found as other blends but certainly worth seeking out, the Swing bottling is unique due to its rocking bottle, designed to sway back and forth without falling over. The blend boasts over 30 malt and grain whiskies, focusing on the Speyside region. Expect a nose full of lush dried fruits and honey, with a hint of spice. The palate presents dried apricot, malt biscuits, and roasted nuts. The finish is long, warming, and slightly smoky.
3. Johnnie Walker Green Label Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
Green Label is the only “blended malt” in the Johnnie Walker range. This means it includes only single malt whiskies, no grains. Each malt whisky is at least 15 years old, originating from four distilleries: Talisker, Linkwood, Cragganmore, and Caol Ila. The nose is full of fresh orchard fruits, honey, and light smoke, while the palate presents rich malty notes, dark chocolate, vanilla, and exotic spices. The finish is quite long, leaving a hint of smoke and spice. This expression is a real gem in the Johnnie Walker lineup.
2. Johnnie Walker Blue Label Blended Scotch Whisky
Blue Label is the premium offering in the core Johnnie Walker range. The blend features some of the rarest and oldest whiskies from Johnnie Walker’s extensive stocks. It is a velvety blend of sweet vanilla, honey, orange zest, dried fruits, and a wisp of peat smoke. The finish is long, mellow, and slightly smoky. While the price tag might be higher than other expressions, Blue Label’s rarity and exceptional character make it well worth the investment.
1. Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve Blended Scotch Whisky
At the pinnacle of our ranking is Gold Label Reserve, a luxurious and smooth whisky crafted from selected reserves across Scotland, with Clynelish whisky from aged casks at its heart. On the nose, the blend exudes aromas of honey, peach, and delicate smoke. The palate offers a harmonious balance of fruits and cream, leading to a warm, smooth finish. This blend offers an exceptionally rounded taste experience, striking a perfect balance between luxury and accessibility.
Which is the Best Johnny Walker? A Spirited Summary
The Johnnie Walker range is exceptionally varied, catering to different tastes, occasions, and budgets. From the smoky richness of Double Black to the fruity and creamy nuances of Gold Label Reserve, Johnnie Walker showcases the best of Scotch whisky.
So, which is the best Johnny Walker? For the ultimate luxury experience, Blue Label undoubtedly stands out with its unique and rare blend of whiskies. However, if we consider quality, taste, and value for money, Gold Label Reserve earns the top spot. This expression perfectly embodies the depth and complexity of Scotch whisky, offering a remarkable tasting journey that is both enjoyable and accessible.
Whisky is a subjective experience, and your preference may differ. The best way to find your personal best is to taste, explore, and enjoy the journey that Johnnie Walker offers through its exceptional whisky expressions.