The two whiskies subject to today’s Whisky Showdown! are neighbours in my whisky cabinet. The rivals consists of Johnnie Walker’s fine Black Label vs. the Glenlivet 12. Both are popular products and easily accessible. They both contain identical age labels, though the Johnnie Walker Black is a blend, and each is bottled at 40% alcohol by volume. Let’s see how they stack up against each other.
The colour on the Johnnie Walker Black is deeper than the Glenlivet and the legs run thicker and slower.
The nose of the Johnnie Walker is more intense than the Glenlivet. The Black, especially contrasted against the Glenlivet, brings up smoke, citrus, honey, and fruit. The Glenlivet is more floral overall and more than subtly suggests apple in its presentation, but shares some of the honey and citrus that the Black so elegantly conveys. These are very different introductions and made all the more apparent by the side by side tasting.
The palate of the Johnnie Walker starts with oak and smoke before turning to some of its sweeter elements. By contrast, the Glenlivet starts soft and heads into apple and wood eventually developing a hint of oak if you keep it on the tongue long enough. The Glenlivet’s oily texture is easily discerned while I didn’t give a second thought to the Black’s texture until taking a second swig. The Black is slightly more gritty, but nothing quite apparent about it’s texture.
The finish on the Black is smooth and satisfying, comparing nicely to the Glenlivet. The Glenlivet is shorter however, mixing in some mild chocolate and a bit of fruitiness, and lacks some of the complex mix of oak, smoke, and sweeter expressions of the Black. Instead, the Glenlivet begs for another sip to keep the experience going.
Overall, I’ll call this for Johnnie Walker’s Black. It is a richer experience overall, but really pulls out ahead because of the richer and more satisfying finish.
You can read my initial review of the Johnnie Walker Black here.
My review of the Glenlivet 12 can be found here.