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Johnnie Walker Black Label 12 Year Old (purchased 1979)

Time In A Bottle

0 795

@talexanderReview by @talexander

20th Oct 2014

0

  • Nose
    24
  • Taste
    23
  • Finish
    24
  • Balance
    24
  • Overall
    95

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

@Victor generously provided me with a sample of Johnnie Walker Black, from a bottle that he purchased in 1979. So the whiskies within would have been distilled in the mid-to-late 1960s, if not earlier. This was bottled at 43.4% ABV. As I just reviewed a 43% mini (possibly bottled in the 1980s), let's see how it compares, to this and the current bottling.

The colour is a deep caramel, identical to the 43% version from the mini. On the nose, very malty with baking spices, soft peat, baked apple, caramel and vanilla. Pretty much identical to the mini I just reviewed. Beautifully done, of course. Strangely, water does little except generally mute both the nose and palate.

In the mouth we have quite a bit of malt again, with pronounced spice, baked apples, caramel and vanilla. Water tames the spices a little, which is nice, but it seems to do little else. Again - no different to the 43% mini. Not that there's anything wrong with that!

The finish is cinnamon and cloves, peat and rich oak. Well, this is identical to the mini I just reviewed - I could have cut and pasted my previous notes and that would have been fine. The only difference is in how water affects the whisky. In the 43.4% 1979, water only dilutes it, causing it to fall apart just a little. Perhaps this indicates the sample I received is more delicate, perhaps through having been more oxidized over the years? Perhaps @Victor has some insight here, as he is quite an authority on the effects of oxidation. In any case - this is excellent. As much as I love the current JW Black, I so wish they made Scotch like these older ones again...

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7 comments

@Victor
Victor commented

@talexander, I was hoping that you'd like this 1979 JW Black Label as much as I have. As for oxidation of the whisky, the bottle from which this sample originated has been open for 2 years and 2 months. It was gassed about a year ago, and decanted maybe 6 months ago. I am sure it has lost a little bit of its qualities from the time when it was immediately opened, but I think that it is still pretty close in quality. I am delighted that you reviewed this one, and even more pleased that you enjoy it greatly. Thanks for your nice review.

5 years ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

Thanks @Victor. Yes, oxidation might have caused a bit of an effect, but really it wasn't open (without being gassed) for that long. It's is a gorgeous scotch. It's obvious (to me, anyway) that they used far more sherry casks then than they do now, and likely also used more casks that were much older than twelve years. Also there was clearly a much higher malt content then than there is now. Finally, one other note: today, Lagavulin is only bottled as a single malt, and is no longer used in Diageo's blends (nor anyone else's) - the demand for the standard 16 year old is too high. But back then, Lagavulin was a key component in JW Black, and tasting them side by side I can certainly detect the Laga influence!

5 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

Yes, I find the wine casks used in that batch to be striking and absolutely gorgeous. I was surprised when I didn't see you speak about them in the body of your review. Also, yes, it does appear to have a higher malt content than the current JW Black. I'll have to do a side by side comparison to observe the Lagavulin.

5 years ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

Read my prior review of the 43% mini - everything I say there applies to your bottle. I didn't want to repeat myself too much in my review of your bottle because they were pretty much identical. In my review of the 43% mini I mention the sherry cask influence and some more detailed notes, which 100% apply to your bottle.

5 years ago 0

@WhiskyBee
WhiskyBee commented

How I wish I could sample some vintage JW Black--and some older Red Label as well. I've only heard positive things about both, providing they're of pre-mid-'80s vintage.

Quick personal anecdote: when my father passed away in 1974, he left behind a cabinet full of JW Reds and Blacks, most of which he purchased in the 1960s. I was 19 when he died, and I couldn't have cared less about whisky at the time. Knowing my teetotaling mother, she probably just threw them out. I could cry.

Wonderful review, as always, @talexander.

5 years ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

Thank you, @WhiskyBee! If you are able to ask your mother, go ahead - who knows, she may have kept them locked up somewhere??

5 years ago 0

@WhiskyBee
WhiskyBee commented

@talexander: Well, Mom passed away in 2011, so that might be a challenge. We're talking a woman who refused to eat rum cake or anything made with cooking sherry. Believe me, those bottles were long gone. She accepted Dad's moderate drinking, however. There were also a few bottles of Canadian Club and Seagram's VO in his cabinet. How I wish he was around today so I could introduce him to single malts!

5 years ago 0

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