Howdy! Heading to the dice house for some prairie dew? Park your desert canary right over here. Just past that there bone orchard is the local bucket of blood they’ll get you setup reeeeaaaaal nice like. Kick off those round browns and have the bar dog paint your nose with a fresh dram of Johnnie Walker Green Label. I dare say, that’s the finest cowboy cocktail in these parts…
Hearing the well-renowned Johnnie Walker name will likely be familiar to most adults across the globe (cowboys included); it’s a marketing machine and a darn good one, at that. Over 130 million bottles are sold per year. The “Johnnie” brand seems to be well received by the casual whisky drinker. Perhaps they enjoy it, or think they do (Hey, Red Label, I’m looking at you!). I will say, Johnnie has a great look through and through. The exquisite appearance of the blue-hued bottle for the Blue Label is a supermodel among bottlings. Blue is priced through the roof (~$200), and carries with it a manufactured elite social status. And, herein primarily lies the divisive stigma of the Johnnie Walker brand…
For seasoned whisky drinkers, this brand usually elicits mixed feelings. Johnnie is a huge corporation making a product enjoyed by the masses. And that’s one reason it is tough to get behind, who trusts huge corporations? Second, those considering themselves knowledgeable in the scotch realm might simply find it hard to get behind a company so big, especially when they are in constant search of new special bottlings or boutique brands to try. Finally, JW's flagship product (Johnnie Blue) is a blended scotch selling for over $200. Having tried Blue, I can’t say that it is particularly good. Are the bigwigs at Johnnie Walker fools for putting the Blue Label on the flagship pedestal? Well, if they are, they are presumably at least rich fools.
All that said, I see Johnnie Walker as a large company with huge resources and the ability to release anything they desire in terms of quality or quantity. Entering this review, I release myself from any premonitions I may have for the brand and focus on the scotch at hand. So-
Recently it was announced that the Green Label was to be discontinued. I figured why not grab one while I could? Before even trying, I admit to feeling a bit dismayed as it is one of the few Blended Malt Scotches (a vatting of Single Malts) from Johnnie, combining malts from four great distilleries. Mixed feelings on Johnnie Walker aside, I was excited to try the Green Label. How does it stack up against the competition? Here was my experience-
The Scotch: Johnnie Walker Green Label. A blended malt of Talisker, Linkwood, Cragganmore, and Caol Ila, each a minimum of 15 yrs. Light caramel color, rated at 43 % abv, priced ~$60-$70 per bottle.
Palate: Strong-bodied scotch. Medium to high maltiness, raisin bread and dried cherries add sweetness. Smoked oak embers subtly saturate, and at the same time compliment, the wood base. Mature scotch, I tend to notice scotch aged at 15+ years. Adding water is unnecessary as it continues to the blur the qualities of the underlying components.
Finish: Finishes sweet, smoky, extended light fruit, and wood, respectively. Better finish than the Red, Black, Double Black, and Blue.
Final Thoughts: Johnnie Green covers many flavor profiles among scotches, and brings them together in harmonious fashion. This all draws from the quality underlying components. I prefer Johnnie Walker Labels in this order: Green, Black, Blue, Double Black, Red. I have yet to try Gold Label. Green Label is the most complete Johnnie I have yet had. Props to JW for combining Talisker, Linkwood, Cragganmore, and Caol Ila, all great single malts on their own merits. While likely still a step short of brilliant, Johnnie Walker shows us that they can identify quality attributes in whisky and find a way to bring these together. Green Label demonstrates that much.
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