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Up until this point, I have only reviewed single malt whiskies. The blended stuff, many have assured me, is not worth tasting. However, they'd be wise to listen to the eccentric and loveable Richard Paterson of 'Whyte and Mackay', who would soon dispel such nonsense.
Those 'connoisseurs' who are so quick to jump to conclusions about blended whisky often forget that only those at the top of their craft (i.e. the Master Blenders) create blends. For someone like Paterson it is a process that can take forty years to complete. So to those anti-blend whisky drinkers: thanks, but no thanks.
Johnnie Walker's Black Label whisky deserves its place in any cabinet. It has an extraordinary ability to change character effortlessly. The imposing colour of the whisky is like none I have seen thus far on my brief travels. Its rich nose is full of old, smoked and sweet wood gently burning. Within this, the softness of vanilla and the tang of orange emerge. It is excellently balanced.
Throwing a dram into the mouth brings out the wood and a rich, tobacco-led spiciness that grabs the tongue. But, as with the nose, it mellows and sweet vanilla liquorice breaks through and washes the stronger notes away. It persists to the finish, which is long, mellow and full of sweet lingering notes; even a minute or so afterwards, the mouth is still pleasantly sweetened.
Christopher Hitchens and Winston Churchill both named this whisky as their favourite. It is no surprise. Perhaps what links these 'Great Men' (if you'll allow my old-fashioned phrasing) is the golden liquid that I have in my glass.