Johnnie Walker Green Label 15 Year Old

This is what blends should be!

Reviewed by
Connosr member:

jdcook

Date:

17th Feb 2011

Reviewer rating:

90

About this score:

  • Nose: 24
  • Taste: 21
  • Finish: 23
  • Balance: 22

The average score for this whisky is 86.

Tasting Notes by jdcook

A friend of mine had aquired bottle of this and offered to pour some into a small hip flask for me to try. I jumped at the chance and tonight I get to try some.

According to the Johnnie Walker website, the Green Label is a blended scotch malt whisky, meaning that it is made up of a blend of scotch single malts, and not other grains. It also tells us that it is made up of malts from Cragganmore, Linkwood, Talisker and Caol Ila, all aged at least 15 years. I've never had any Linkwood, but I've enjoyed various expressions of the other three very much, so my hopes are fairly high!

The nose is intriguing, complex and warming. Caramel sweetness, floral notes, hints of apple, a savoury creaminess over a background of earthy, mossy peatiness and a hint of saltiness. This is seriously good, and I could sniff this for hours! When I say seriously good, I haven't had too many better!

The taste is initially light, full of apple, toffee, heather and a hint of old leather and good virginian tobacco before slowly developing a warm smokiness, with a hint of peat. Hints of dried fruits and nuts. Very smooth, nowhere near as intriguing as the nose, but is still excellent and very moreish!

The finish is moderately and comfortably long, warming slowly over several long seconds. Malty, honey sweetness over peat smoke and fruitiness. Slightly spicy - a mix of cinnamon and pepper. Hints of oak. The finish is slightly mouth drying - almost palate cleansing.

This is a genuinely good dram, and is an example of how blends should be handled. The taste is the weakest part, but even that is genuinely good... and the finish is excellent, while the nose is divine! I can get this for under $100 Australian, or under $80 when it is on sale, which places it in the realm of good value single malts, and it handily competes with them. At that sort of price point, this is definitely very good value for money!

Tags

Whisky details

Distillery/Brand:

Johnnie Walker

ABV:

43%

Colour:

Old Sauternes

Comments

Jean-Luc

Jean-Luc wrote:

Great review @jdcook - I'm a big fan of JW Green too - just look at its family tree!

17 February 2011 10:44
jdcook

jdcook wrote:

Thanks @Jean-Luc - it certainly perked my interest up. I've sampled Blue Label, and was a little unimpressed. But I'm certainly now interested in the Black Label, as some people reckon it is better than the Green!

17 February 2011 12:39
Victor

Victor wrote:

@jdcook, thanks for a nice review and I am glad that you like the Green Label. I have liked the Black Label a lot, but I like the Green Label even better. As for terminology, I shall continue to call this 'vatted' rather than 'blended' because 'vatted' is clear and succinct terminology.

17 February 2011 12:59
TracerBullet

TracerBullet wrote:

Really nice job on the review. I have some Green Label at home myself and although I tend to concentrate more on the single malts than the blends, I enjoy the Green Label very much.

17 February 2011 17:43
jdcook

jdcook wrote:

@Victor - vatted is indeed a better term, but the powers that be have decided that the term is verboten! For whatever sill reasons they have.

17 February 2011 21:46
Victor

Victor wrote:

@jdcook, my friend, I wish that I could ship you a boatload of whisky duty-free from my local shops. They are really sticking it to you with the taxes down-under!

17 February 2011 22:27
dbk

dbk wrote:

Wonderful review, @jdcook! I have yet to try JW Green, but I shall now have to test it out. As for "vatted," the powers that be only have sway over the producers, not the reviewers. You go ahead and use whatever terminology you like (so long as the rest of us can decipher it, of course)!

18 February 2011 00:30
JeffC

JeffC wrote:

Your review makes me wonder if I had an off bottle or we just have drastically different olfactory and taste experiences because I did not like it nearly as much in my review. I actually prefer the Black label.

18 February 2011 00:40
jdcook

jdcook wrote:

@Victor - alcohol excise and import taxes down here are remarkably draconian!

@dbk - vatted it is then!

@JeffC - Everyone's experience is different, and this certainly seems true of the GReen Label bottling, I have seen professional reviews vary on it by as much as 15 points from low 90s to high 70s. Clearly it is one of those malts that doesn't tickle everyone the same way! That said, it does owe quite a bit of its depth of character to its Caol Ila and Talisker forebears, and those drams aren't for everyone either. And some people who like those drams don't like that they have been watered down with gentler drams. And no two bottles are the same either! So it's no biggie, and certainly don't take my word as gospel, I'm just an enthusiastic amateur, so my thoughts on a dram are just that, my thoughts!

18 February 2011 02:23
Piero

Piero wrote:

@jdcook great review of an outstanding whisky. I'm getting more and more into blended whisky recently and at the more affordable end of the market this has to be one of the best I've tried.

18 February 2011 10:04
Andrew

Andrew wrote:

I really don't understand why TPTB are moving away from the "vatted" term unless it is to help draw people from the "blends". Blended and Vatted are both unique types and AFAIC pretty easy to understand. (But maybe this is because blends give me a hangover while Single malts and Vatted malts don't..)

That being said, I too really enjoy the Green Label, dislike the Red, don't mind the Black and think the Blue is way overrated/priced. For me though the class of the Bended line is the Gold Label, a lovely dram which stands in the same rank as the Chivas 18 and Royal Salute.

18 February 2011 13:32
jdcook

jdcook wrote:

@Piero - I agree, an excellent dram that is pretty good value for money!

@Andrew - I agree, although we now have 'blended malt' whiskies and 'blended grain' whiskies, which used to be called vatted and blended whiskies respectively. At least I think that's what the new terms are meant to be and mean. The old ones are much simpler IMHO! And I agree with you on the Green, Red and Blue completely. I have yet to try the Black and Gold, but both are on my list!

18 February 2011 23:36
Carl

Carl wrote:

This is definitely on my short list for "next scotches". I was at my local liquor store after work today, but they did not have it. They had all the other Johnnie Walkers, though. Instead, I had read so much about the Black Grouse, that I decided to buy a bottle, and was very pleasantly surprised. Incredibly smooth! Cheers, Carl

19 February 2011 03:26
jdcook

jdcook wrote:

@Carl - it's certainly worth looking at!

19 February 2011 05:40
BlueNote

BlueNote wrote:

@Carl. I believe you are in the Vancouver, BC area. The price in our gov't liquor stores is ridiculous...around $95 for 750ml. If you are going accross the border sometime, pick one up at the duty free on the way back...$48 for a 1 litre bottle. Cheers.

19 February 2011 21:56
Carl

Carl wrote:

I agree, the prices here are insane! The green JW actually is $70.00, I think the Gold is about $100. I don't drive any more, so it would be unlikely that I hit the duty free, so I just have to live with the prices I guess. At the private liquor stores, the prices are even worse. Of course, that is because everything they order, has to be bought through the LCB (Liquor Control Board) of British Columbia. So they have to mark it up as well. Fortunately, I am finding a lot of the younger and lower priced scotch whiskies appeal to me a lot. I am enjoying a few of the blends as well, had a Ballantine's today at a local bar, and really enjoyed it. Cheers, Carl

20 February 2011 05:59
BlueNote

BlueNote wrote:

You are right on the price of the Green Carl.It's not quite as bad as I thought. I was thinking of the Ardbeg 10. I agree with you on some of the younger singles and blends. There are still some good values there. The Aberlour 10 is good value and I hear that the Singleton is really good for the price.

20 February 2011 07:42
Carl

Carl wrote:

Hey BlueNote, Yeah, I actually have a bottle of the Singleton on the go right now as well. It is actually a good alternative to the HP 12 year old for me. I am really liking the Bowmore 12 year as well. I wish the Laphroaig 10 year was more available, I found lately I actually prefer it over the Quarter Cask. They do have some bottles of the 10 year at the West Vancouver liquor store, on 16th street. Don't get over there much, but when I do it's worth a visit. Their prices are amazingly close to the government stores, matter of fact some are the same, which is good for a private store here! Going to a local jazz club tonight, where they have a fairly decent scotch menu, so will probably treat myself to a couple that I havent yet tried. By the sound of your name on here, you must be into a bit of jazz yourself! I may even get me a bottle of JW Green label today! Cheers, Carl

20 February 2011 15:54
RoganFox

RoganFox wrote:

Dont get over to the West Vancouver Liquor Store on 16th Street as often as I would like but they have some good finds there for sure. Interested to try the JW Green Label after another splendid @jdcook review.

20 February 2011 16:24
jdcook

jdcook wrote:

Sounds like Canadians have similar issues with pricing to what we have here in Australia! I don't know the exact details over there, but the alcohol taxing over here is as a result of societal mores and rules of morality that pretty much don't exist any more... :p

20 February 2011 21:44
Carl

Carl wrote:

It is not really Canada as a country where it is an issue. It is,in particular, the Province of British Columbia. For example, in Alberta, the price of Laphroaig Quarter Cask is $51.00. Here in BC, it is 80.00! A 58% increase. Not only that, it is illegal for liquor stores in Alberta to ship to anyone in BC, so unless I actually drive to Alberta, I am out of luck. And all that within my own country. Old fashioned social and morale issues also come into play here. As a whisky lover, I have to try and put all that aside, and just enjoy the fact that we do have a good selection here, and that at least I can afford to get most whiskies that I really want. I suppose each area where we all choose to call home has got it's own advantages and disadvantages. Cheers, Carl

20 February 2011 22:28
jdcook

jdcook wrote:

@Carl - here in Australia you can't find the Quarter Cask for much less than $100 Australian (and the Australian dollar is roughly the same as the Canadian one). Import tax kills us here (and excise kills any locally produced goods). Still, having to drive to another province to get the good stuff at a reasonable price would irritate me as well. Unfortunately, to do even that I have to leave the country. And there is no easy or convenient way to do that by car from Australia...

21 February 2011 02:08
BlueNote

BlueNote wrote:

@Carl @jdcook. The rationale here for why we pay more for just about everything is to pay for our comprehensive social programs. The biggest of them all is our socialized medicine..we don't have to declare bankruptcy if we get sick. Everything is cheaper in the US, but you are much more on your own if you get sick, or are out of work. I guess we shouldn't complain about paying through the nose for a luxury item like single malt Scotch, but we do and always will.

@Carl. Yeah I'm a jazz freak man. Just listening to some late sixties Jimmy Smith right now, this guy was the king of the Hammond B3. I'm going to start searching out the torrents for Miles Davis's Bitches Brew Live. Have you checked out Whisky Fun? Serge has some great music links from all musical genres along with interesting whisky reviews. Cheers Mate.

21 February 2011 03:32
Carl

Carl wrote:

Thanks for that. I'll check out Whisky Fun. Cheers, Carl

21 February 2011 07:37
CJames

CJames wrote:

Brought JWGL in a flask to a 21st the other night - was an excellent decision! easy to drink, didn't have to worry about not letting it 'open up' too much, only problem is I'm almost out! Next time I might go with JWBL for the flask though.

ANd yes @jdcook, import duty is a killer! I bought a $160 bottle of 28yo HP and got another $50 slapped on it at customs. Considering it's generally a $300 bottle it's still within the 'worth it' realm!

21 February 2011 09:29
LeFrog

LeFrog wrote:

JD your reviews always seems to draw their fair share of comments (for all the right reasons). Just a random observation.

24 February 2011 19:55
BlueNote

BlueNote wrote:

@CJames. Are you talking Canadian Customs or US ? How do they calculate the duty and taxes? Why $50? I tried to get an answer from Canadian Customs and could not pin down any formula. I wanted to know what the charges would be if I brought back 3 or 4 bottles over and above the allowable duty free. I'd like to know if it's worth it before I show up at Customs to a nasty surprise. Couldn't get a decipherable answer

25 February 2011 01:27
jdcook

jdcook wrote:

@LeFrog - not all of them, I reckon more than half of my reviews have no comments at all. But it is good to know that at least some of my reviews sparked enough interest for people to drop by and make a comment!

25 February 2011 03:43
Pudge72

Pudge72 wrote:

@jdcook...Yes BC and Ontario seem to have similar pricing (I wish that I was in BC though, so that I could drive to Alberta) as Australia. Ontario, in addition to having the tax also has some bizarre liquor consumption laws that impact outdoor gatherings prior to sports events (that's a rant for another day). Those laws also seem to prohibit Ontarians from ordering liquor over the internet. On the bright side, the overall selection is pretty good, depending on where you live.

The kicker for Ontario and (it seems) BC is that since the provincial governments control the taxes on liquor AND operate the liquor stores, they are extremely reluctant (possibly unable due to tax codes??) to put SMSW's on sale. In Ontario, the only current sale is Smokehead being sold for $55 instead of $60...and I think that might only be because it is a newly introduced product.

25 February 2011 08:57
Andrew

Andrew wrote:

Pludge72 - ontario had a buyer a few years ago that oredered a LOT of SMSW, for about 18 months the selection was great, however it didn't move fast enough so there was a lot of dead stock onthe shelves. Retailers even Government run retailers don't like dead stock and the reaction has been to cut back on the supply. hopefully it will got back the other way soon.

Pludge72 and Bluenote Ontario, Quebec and BC all use similar formulas for pricing, but they are not identical which is why customes is vague about how much you will have to pay. Before they add the duty they have to apply the liquor tax formula for the province you clear customs in, where you actually live is irrelevant it is the boarder crossing that matters. If you are going to bring back SMSW be sure to clear customs in Alberta or New Brunswick.. sadly you can't often do that by air.

25 February 2011 12:29
Andrew

Andrew wrote:

Wow, I need to learn to proof read.. either that or type.

25 February 2011 13:08
Victor

Victor wrote:

30,31,32...OK,JDCOOK review fans, here it is, tied for the popular reviews record! Who will step forward to break it?!!? (Of course that is JD's own record which 'he' will be breaking)

25 February 2011 13:18
HP12

HP12 wrote:

Being new to the SMSW scene and quickly learning and acquiring my whisky legs, I'm now expanding my reach of interest into my own "backyard" and trying the American made whiskey's.

After recently buying the 2011 Whisky Bible and seeing that Murray crowned a vatted whisky as "Whisky of the Year" and after reading the review above of Johnnie Walker Green 15 and the various comments in this post, I'm further encouraged to further expand my exploration and venture into this vatted category of libation.

And it makes sense to explore this popular aisle in the liquor store. The necessary experience and delicate evaluation and tweaks required by the master blender to produce a well received bottle of vatted whisky is truly an art form that I should make room for in my cabinet.

Great review and comments. Thanks for further advancing my whisky education!

25 February 2011 17:55
jdcook

jdcook wrote:

@Victor - I wasn't aware there was a record, and it took me a few moments of exploration to figure out where I could find the most commented reviews section! I'm just happy that people are interested enough to drop by a few of my reviews!

@HP12 - the thing about whisky (and about anything really) is that if something is good, then it is good. Pretty simple really. Doesn't so much matter if it is a single malt, a blended malt, a vatted malt, a rye, a bourbon, Australian, Irish, American, Canadian, etc, etc, etc If it is good, it's good.

25 February 2011 23:46
HP12

HP12 wrote:

@jdcook - I couldn't agree more. If it's good it's good but "we don't know what we don't know". By having an open mind and not painting oneself into a corner as a "Scotch snob", a whole new world of libation awaits.

Heck, I just cracked open a bottle of Jim Beam Black Label 8yo. A Bourbon I would have never even considered a few weeks ago but @Victor suggested it and I'm glad I listened. Man, it's good!

26 February 2011 00:24
Pudge72

Pudge72 wrote:

A small update to my post from Feb 25th. It turns out that when the $5 off sale on Smokehead that I referred to ended, the LCBO kindly transferred the $5 discount to HP12...It is now $55 instead of $60...so maybe the LCBO isn't restricted on offering discounts on SMSW (since the regularly have sales on a wide variety of wines...not just those made in Ontario), they may just be cheapskates! :) Either way, the SMSW gods must be smiling on me a little bit as this was my next scheduled purchase...

01 March 2011 14:08
BillyStout

BillyStout wrote:

I had the good fortune to attend a Johnnie Walker tasting in Shanghai, China (Of all places ! But it's home for now.) They had Red, Black, Green and Blue. Tasting them side by side, the real character of each came out and you were truly able to see what distinguishes each one. The Red is pedestrian, but necessary to try in order to show off complex the others were up the line. It was an education and I highly recommend the experience.

05 March 2011 12:09
jdcook

jdcook wrote:

@BillyStout - vertical tastings are always fun - and it would indeed be fun to try it with the Johnnie Walker range.

06 March 2011 00:41
Carl

Carl wrote:

I finally got a bottle of the Green Label today. My first impression was not really much of a nose, although sweet and very pleasant. The taste is a bit honeyed, but not too sweet. Personally, I can't detect smoke or peat, although the Caol Ila is present. I am having a hard time trying to describe this one! I will say that it is very, very pleasant, and not dissimilar to the Glendronach 12 year, which is my current favourite. I would also compare it to a Highland Park 12 year ( I haven't yet tried the 15 year ). I have tended to go off the smoke and peat lately, there is just something about them that turns me off after a couple of drams. I prefer a whisky that will be able to keep me going all evening. The JW Green, the HP 12 and the Glendronach 12 (still my favourite) all take care of that beautifully. I am enjoying my first tasting of JW Green with a fresh baguette, a slice of pungent English Stilton cheese, and slices of a lovely Sopresatta Italian sausage. This whisky is a wonderful accompaniement to food, as well as being a more than pleasant dram all on it's own. As fine, if not better than, most single malts I have tasted! After reading all of the comments and jdcook's review, I don't think that any of us have overrated this wonderful JW at all! Cheers, Carl

06 March 2011 02:29
Victor

Victor wrote:

@Carl, yes, isn't that Green Label wonderful stuff?!

06 March 2011 02:35
Carl

Carl wrote:

One thing I did forget to add, in my previous comment: the body is not quite as thick and syrupy as I would have hoped. A small thing, and it does seem to thicken a bit after a few sips.

06 March 2011 02:36
jdcook

jdcook wrote:

I was offered a glass of this last night - a properly good dram this one!

06 July 2011 07:19
almapercus

almapercus wrote:

The bad news is that the Green Label will be removed from the JW list...

Sad, isn't it?

16 May 2012 04:30
jdcook

jdcook wrote:

@almapercus - that is indeed a shame!

16 May 2012 05:03

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