Pros: So smooth. So complex. Definitely a master blend. Offers a different view Single malts cannot
Cons: Expensive, but worth it.
Johnnie Walker Blue Label Blended Whisky is the top of the Johnnie Walker line: Blue, Gold, Green, Black, and Red. At about $150 USD per bottle (duty free) this is an investment in some good whisky and many wonder if it is worth that price for a blend. Many whisky/whiskey consumers will dish out more for single malt, but why is this blended whisky so popular and so expensive? In teh end, I argue it is worth having around for special occasions (passing the bar, graduations, coming back from Iraq, getting out of the military, etc.)
SOME BACKGROUND ON JOHNNIE WALKER
Johnnie Walker is located less than 30 miles Southwest of Glasgow. The name is sometimes misleading to some that think Jim, Jack, and Johnnie are all bourbon cousins.
Johnnie Walker’s home is at Kilmarnock, Scotland where John Walker opened a grocery store in 1820. The Dewars family got a very similar start … I should look into pushing produce.
SOME BACKGROUND ON THE BLUE LABEL
Like most Johnnie Walkers (Blue, Gold, Black, and Red), the liquor is BLENDED WHISKY. You got it, I paid $19 for a couple drams of blended whisky. To some that is a crime, and to other, it makes complete sense. Johnnie Walker does have a cask strength whisky (no water added) which they label Green.
Links to my other JW Whisky Reviews:
Johnnie Walker Gold Label
Johnnie Walker Black Label
Johnnie Walker Green Label
The only difference with this label, much more so than the Gold snd Black labels is that Johnnie Walker Blue Label is a blend of some of the most expensive and rare whiskies of today. In fact, a couple distilleries that Johnnie Walker has in its stores (over 7,000,000 whiskies) are now out of business.
Johnnie Walker’s Master Blender says,
"I'm looking for particular flavours and properties from exceptional casks. These distinctive casks, which could be one or two in a couple of million, are usually spotted soon after they are distilled.”
Some of the whiskies used are straight out from other distilleries or it might be aged up to 60 years. The minimum age for the blended whiskies is 25 years, so you know you are getting some fine products.
At the heart of Blue Label is Royal Lochnagar, a rare malt distilled near Balmoral, the Queen's Scottish holiday home. This whisky is famous because is has been a favorite of the Royal Family all the way back to 1848 with Prince Albert. In addition to the Royal Lochnagar there are another 15 or so whiskies in this blend (Now this can change from batch to batch).
The Blue Label comes in its own box that probably costs 30 of the $150 you'll drop on this bottle. Is it worth it to have your own number and history for the bottle. Yeah, it goes with the territory. I've tried to get my hands on some blue for awhile and the cheapest I can find it is $150 with shipping. If you buy it in GA, you are looking at $200+.
Have you started licking your lips yet?
Like most quality whisky, the Blue Label is transparent and looks like darkened, liquid gold. There is something about swirling this expensive and rare (rare for your wallet) treat around watching the lines form on the side of the glass.
It is always wonderful when you can smell the smoky peat as the waitress is still a couple tables away. A closer nose only makes the experience better as you sense the complexity of the different characters that are well blended. There is a strong alcohol whisky smell, however, there is no, “Wow that’s strong alcohol” aroma that younger whiskeys present. You sense the balanced peat, oak, honey, vanilla, and even a bit of cocoa.
WOW. I just let the whisky sit for quite some time on my tongue before swallowing. I was satisfied to let the Master Blender’s talents take their toll. The warm, oak flavor present in most aged Scotches is abundant along with the blended characteristics of the other whiskies that add an almost wine, burnt peat, and chocolate taste. The complete massed assault of the different whiskies is what makes the Blue Label $150 a bottle. It is totally worth having whiskies that you would be drinking as single-malts blended together. This whiskey has spice!
I understand the Master Blender’s remarks about this synergy. This blending “often leads to interesting distinctive flavours that goes beyond the already excellent whisky that the distillery is producing. I never thought it was possible until I tasted it for myself.
THE AFTER TASTE
This whisky’s sweet and sour, burnt and bitter taste will linger with you pleasantly. The whisky warms your insides after it almost burns your mouth if you let the liquid linger too long. There is definitely a glow that you do not want to disappear or cover with any food or beverage.
MacArthur once said to the Corps of Cadets at West Point, “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.” Like MacArthur, the Blue Label is strong, arrogant, and it slowly fades away at the end of a great evening.
This is a MUST TRY for anyone that appreciates a quality product born by years of patience and an innate ability to marry wonderful products with one another.