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Johnnie Walker Black Label 12 (1980's)

Older isn't Always Better

4 080

@RianCReview by @RianC

13th May 2021


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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This is a 35cl bottle from the late 80's, bottled for the 500th anniversary of Scotch Whisky and was an Italian import. I picked this up at auction and it came in a larger pack with an information booklet (all in Italian - Non parlo italiano) and a full size bottle. I suspect the contents may have changed over the years.

I will attach an image of this and the previous bottle from the same era I reviewed a few months back. This half bottle is the more recent bottling of the two.

I have added literally two small drops of water to a 25ml pour. This tones down some sharp, grainy notes.

Nose - the grain takes centre stage here with a wee touch of sharpness, grapefruit and rhubarb notes. There's some golden toffee, a little orange peel and a pleasing nip of peat, diesel and smoke. Some sour fruity notes sit quietly in the background.

Taste - sweet and sour, grain dominant (more of the grapefruit and rhubarb) arrival, lots of peat and sour, yellow plums as it develops. Quite an oily mouth-feel and very clean.

Finish - short - med. A little of the peat and smoke hangs in there but the bitter and sour grapefruit, grain notes dominate.

Well, honestly, this is not a patch on the older bottle but, in terms of a blended whisky, it's still pretty decent and enjoyable, and definitely still has that Black Label signature style. As you may have guessed, the grain notes seem young and fresh and rather dominate proceedings, but there are enough malty notes, and overall character, to just about pull it through. It definitely needs that little bit of water though. Perhaps not the best of batches and I suspect may not have been stored in optimal conditions over the years.

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