Very complex, smooth, a master blend
The Bottom Line
Johnnie Walker Gold is a rare, fine Scotch blend that is still affordable to those that desire the Blue Label complexities. A must for any Scotch lover.
Another Johnnie Walker review you might ask? I had to because I loved the Johnnie Blue, liked the Johnnie Black, so what was the Johnnie Gold like right in the middle? What could the difference be you might ask?
The Johnnie Walker Blue Label Blend has Scotch aged a minimum of 25 years and will run you around $295 a bottle.
The Johnnie Walker Gold Label blends Scotch aged a minimum of 18 years and will run you around $110 a bottle.
The Johnnie Walker Black Label Blend has Scotch aged a minimum of 12 years and will run you around $80 a bottle.
Did you see that nasty word in there … the BLEND word? Yes, Johnnie Walker Gold is a Blended whisky. This means that it distillery buys whiskeys from other companies around Scotland and marries (blends) them together to create this delightful treat. Most of the time Johnnie Walker does not even have to buy the Scotch as they own upwards of 30 distilleries in Scotland. The Johnnie Walker Master Blender makes this “synergy” a little easier to understand when he said blending, “often leads to interesting distinctive flavours that goes beyond the already excellent whisky that the distillery is producing.”
JOHNNIE WALKER HISTORY
The Johnnie Walker Gold Label blends several whiskies that have all been aged at least 18 years. Blended whiskies, in general, can also contain grain alcohol, however, Johnnie Walker only uses single malts to blend for its Gold. Even though it says 18 years, you will find whiskies that are at least 2 decades old as 18 years is the bare minimum age of any addition.
A family company has always independently owned Johnnie Walker. Because of this, the Johnnie Walker still grows its own barley, carries out its traditional floor malting, and even employs its own barrel makers and coppersmiths.
John Walker started out just SW of Glasgow in 1820 as a grocery, wine, and spirit distributor. It was not until the 1850s, however, that his whisky business really got on the move when his son, Alexander, joined the business. Alexander was the actual creator of Johnnie Walker Gold. This blend, like the Blue, was created for the Walker’s special friends and clients. Alexander created this for the centenary of the founding of the House of Walker even though they did not actual blend it until after WWII. This is because of the lack of Scotch due to the Europe/U.S. prohibitions, the depressions, and the after-effects of WWI and the ongoing WWII.
The rare Clynelish “Brora Single Malt” of 22 years is at the heart of the Johnnie Walker Gold. Specifically, the Brora is known to be heavily peaty, sweet, and spicy. These characteristics of the staple of the blend will carry through to the other 14 malts blended.
The Gold is strikingly “Scottish” as the peat and heather reach your nostrils a foot away. You will nose different aromas from sip to sip, so I will just be on the safe side and state that there is peat, there are some types of flowery, sweet ingredients, and spices. I do not know a soul that can pinpoint aromas in Scotch as there are upwards of 20-30 aromas in most whiskies, so what do you do with a blend?
The sweetness the Gold is rumoured to have is there, but it quickly is consumed by the darkness of the rest of the blend. The smoky peat, the heather, and some spices I cannot name will overcome your palate and linger long after you swallow. If you have the patience to swirl The Gold around your mouth, you can replay this dance of taste over a couple of times. The Gold is stronger than some younger Scotch not so much in the alcohol percentage, but in its ingredients. This Scotch might actually burn your mouth with all its complexities and that might be taken as unrefined and harsh. Tasting over and over again, the burn is actually from ingredients and can be appreciated.
Johnnie Walker’s “Keep on Walking” site recommends freezing your bottle at least 24-hours prior to consumption. I actually pour myself a tumbler and then put that in the freezer to chill. I do not add ice to this blend as I do enjoy its strength straight out of the bottle. The freezing is a reverse of something that David Manning once wrote:
“Very generally speaking, the more complex a beer is, the warmer it should be before drinking. Ales (again, very generally) are recommended to be served at around 50 degrees F up to cellar temperature for barleywines and their cousins. Experiments are how you figure out what you like best.“
Johnnie Walker recommends the freeze as it will “release its light fruity flavours and true honey sweetness, as the whisky warms in the mouth.” You will, however, lose your ability to nose the different aromas if the whisky is at a freezing temperature.
I hope you find the right way be it hot/cold, neat/mixed, or with a cigar or a tear-stained Dear John letter.
Enjoy it your way.