A Brief History
Originating in the early 1800s, the Johnnie Walker whiskey brand began as a small family enterprise and has since become the most popular brand of Scottish whiskey (Scotch) on the market. Johnnie Walker is a blended Scotch whiskey, which means that each blend is a carefully created mixture from a variety of single-malt and grain whiskies produced from multiple distilleries across Scotland. Every distillery has their own unique process for making Scotch whiskey which gives each and every cask of Scotch its own unique flavor. A Johnnie Walker "Master Blender" is responsible for selecting the exact blend of unique flavors produced from the many distilleries in Scotland to give each Johnnie Walker Scotch its own signature taste and style.
As it is the most popular brand of Scotch whiskey out there, it is a lot of fun to learn the difference between the multiple varieties of Scotch that Johnnie Walker produces. Hopefully this summary gives you a good starting point for discovering what their Scotch is all about.
The Red Label
Age: No Age Given
Approximate Cost: $20
Recommended Drinking Method: Used as a Mixer in a Cocktail
The Red Label is the most basic scotch produced by the company and is a blend of 30 single malts and grain whiskies. The Red Label has no age given but is generally aged for much less time than the other blends produced. The original intention of the Red Label is to be used as a mixture in a cocktail. A common and favorite cocktail is Red Label mixed with soda or ginger ale.
The Black Label
Age: 12+ years
Approximate Cost: $25-30
Recommended Drinking Method: Over ice or neat with a small splash of water.
The Black Label is the next step up in quality from the Red Label and is a great starting point for a first time Scotch drinker. The Black Label is comprised of 40 different whiskies which are all aged at least 12 years inside of oak casks. The long aging process gives this blend a much richer and smokier taste than the Red Label. Black Label is commonly served either over ice or with a splash of water.
Double Black Label
Age: 12+ years
Approximate Cost: $30
Recommended Drinking Method: With a Small Splash of Water
The Double Black Label is similar in quality and cost to the regular Black Label. The Double Black Label is blended from a variety of single malt whiskies very similar to the regular Black Label but this blend has been slightly modified by adding casks containing more of an earthy tone. This slight change gives the Double Black Label a much smokier flavor than the regular Black Label. It is recommended that the Double Black is mixed with only a splash of water for best quality.
The Gold Label Reserve
Age: No Age Given
Approximate Cost: $85
Recommended Drinking Method: Neat or with Crushed Ice
The Gold Label Reserve is the replacement to the former Gold Label and lands itself in between the Black and the Platinum Label in terms of cost and quality. Their is no age given for this blend but is generally considered to be blended from whiskies that have been aged between 12 and 18 years. The Gold Label Reserve is a premium whiskey but is intended to be used for non-traditional scotch tastings such as celebrations and parties. Gold Label Reserve is intended to be the go-to scotch for the nightlife scene. It is recommended to be served neat (no ice) or with crushed ice in a glass.
The Platinum Label
Age: 18 years
Approximate Cost: $100
Recommended Drinking Method: Neat or with a Few Drops of Distilled Water
The Platinum Label is the newest variety of the Johnnie Walker brand and is blended from a variety of select single-malt and grain whiskies which are aged a minimum of 18 years. Casks used to create the Platinum Label are hand selected from the more exceptional distilleries in Scotland. Once selected, each whiskey is allowed to age much longer inside of its cask than it normally would so each whiskey can become more rich and flavorful before being added to the final blend. It is recommended to be served neat or with just a few drops of distilled water.
The Blue Label
Age: No Age Given
Approximate Cost: $180
Recommended Drinking Method: Neat inside of a Snifter Glass
The Blue Label is by far the rarest and most luxurious of the different blends produced. What makes the blue label so special is that it is a blend of some of the most rare and perfect casks of whiskey ever produced. Only one out of every ten thousand casks of whiskey produced are selected for use by the “Blend Master” in the final production of the Blue Label blend. Some of the casks used in this blend are selected from distilleries that no longer exist making the Blue Label even more exclusive. To add to the luxury, each bottle is given a serial number and delivered inside of a silk-lined case. It is recommended that the Blue Label be served neat inside of a snifter glass.
(Approximate costs are for a 750ml bottle)