Johnnie Walker Gold Label 18 Year Old
More perfect than good
25th Aug 2012
Best price to buy online:
Tasting Notes by WhiskyBee
This is the Scotch that started me on my single-malt journey. That's right, a blend. A couple of years ago, the only Scotch I knew well was Johnnie Walker Black Label. When my supply of Black ran out, I visited the store to replace it, and, having some extra cash that week, decided to spring for some Gold Label. "Gee, this must be REALLY good!", I thought. I decided to read up on J.W. Gold after I purchased it (my dyslexic logic at work), so I went online to find some reviews, started learning about whisky...one website led to another, and I was soon delving into the single malts, never to look back.
This review is based on that same bottle of Gold I purchased two years ago, now down to but a few drams. No doubt some changes and oxidation have taken place. It's also the first taste I've had in several months (and I didn't take any previous tasting notes), so this is a review based on those qualifications.
Nose: The first thing that strikes me is...Johnnie Walker! Dressed up in his Sunday finery, but Johnnie Walker nonetheless. Revisiting it after several minutes of opening up reveals much more. The care and balance that went into this blend become apparent, with layers of flowers, nuts, honey, and a slight touch of peat. A very pleasant nose, to be sure, but already I can sense that it's been fine-tuned past the point of distinctiveness.
Arrival: Sweeter and nuttier than I recall, with a bit of non-citrus fruit.
Development: Much going on -- candy, spices, malt, honey, peat, and...Fig Newtons, maybe? Layered, but subdued.
Finish: As smooth as you'd expect, with some of the aforementioned sweet notes giving way to a bit of bitter nuts and...well, more bitter nuts. Not the slightest burn as it goes down.
In all, I like this whisky, but I doubt I'll be replacing it on my shelf once it's gone. I can think of at least two dozen single malts on which I'd rather spend the money. J.W. Gold is contrived elegance, and so bloody refined that it's almost boring. Sort of like a photographer's model: beautiful to look at, but no personality behind the airbrushed perfection.
I'm a teacher, so what may seem a relatively high score is but a "B" in my gradebook. Good enough for the honor roll -- but for the price and the hype, it ought to make the Dean's List.