To celebrate Johnnie Walker’s 100th year, the family produced a top notch blend which is the subject of today’s tasting. A multitude of whiskies are blended to produce one of the market’s more premium blends, Johnnie Walker Gold Label. This blend is labelled at 18 years, meaning the youngest of the whiskies blended into the final product was aged 18 years, though a good portion of the whiskies used are probably considerably older. I’m not quite sure which whiskies are used in the blend, but Johnnie Walker mentions that the distinctive single malt produced by Clynelish is one of them. Interestingly enough, blended Scotch was illegal for quite some time, and it was only in the 1860s that Johnnie Walker started to produced blends more vigorously.
The Gold Label, like the Red Label and the Black Label, is bottled at 40% abv. Most blends are consumed in mixes drinks, but I’ll be hard pressed to recommend that you mix Johnnie Walker Gold 18 with anything but a little bit of water. The quality of the whiskies involved is just to great to be diluted and lost in glass of ginger ale. This tasting will consist of a glass of Gold Label already seasoned with a few drops lf water and chilled in the freezer for a few minutes as recommended by Johnnie Walker. Let’s see how that works out.
The colour is tantalizing with golden hues that match the label and box perfectly. The legs run thick and slow, though that may have something to do with the temperature at which it is served.
The nose brings on honey at first and most prominently. Fruit and manzanilla cherry can be whiffed on subsequent takes. There’s an impression of smoke somewhere in the background that drives all the other scents.
On the palate, the whisky must be allowed to warm and release its flavour. A rich texture, somewhat oily coats the tongue and whispers of wood, smoke, honey, and fruit. This is a sweet whisky and the flavours are not what one could call intense.
The finish is smooth and long. It is a soft and satisfying mix of sweet fruit, mainly honeydew melon, smoke, wood, and vanilla at the very end.
Overall, a wonderfully light and easy drinking spirit that is flexible. It’s only weakness is that is lacks some depth and complexity. The flavours are light and fruity and quite enjoyable, but it lacks the extra layers of depth that for me help a fine whisky stand out from the crowd.
I would like to point out that you shouldn’t confuse this for the new Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve, which has no age statement and is a different product altogether. Gold Label 18 can be purchased at the SAQ for approximately $86. It is surprisingly unavailable in Ontario and, insane as it may seem, is actually more expensive in New Hampshire!!