Johnnie Walker is often looked down upon. I think this has three reasons. One: it’s the victim of its own success; two: the current Red Label is ridiculously bad; and three: unknown is unloved. When talking to some of my whisky friends they often tell me that they skip most of the Johnnie Walker releases. And that’s a pity, for they do have quite a few good ones. Today is my first encounter with the 21 XR Legacy Blend, thanks to a good friend from Bruges. He may be bald and support the wrong soccer team, but he sure knows good whisky.
Lovely, round, matured nose on all kinds of citrus fruits (pomelo and yuzu in the lead), maraschino cherries, caramel and… errr… don’t laugh… gherkins! I have never had this on the nose of a whisky before. This is great. And to be clear: it actually works. There is also a hint of cloves and saffron. All the way in the back I get the first inkling of smoke. This is a fine nose.
The body is somewhat light, which is a bit of a pity. Again citrus fruit and caramel with cloves and pepper, but pretty mild. But the smoke persists and now I get some sweet and sour peat, giving the whisky some body. A bitterness as if from walnuts rears its head, while spicy oak kicks in. Some late honey softens things up a bit. This is just fine indeed.
That bitter note and the smoke continue in the fairly long finish. Mind you, the balance is always maintained. Again: fine.
You have to give this one some time, both on the nose and on the palate. But it pays off. There is a lot to discover here. And the gherkins on the nose are a funny twist. Thanks, Carl, for the sample.