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Johnnie Walker Black Label 12 Year Old

A Classic Revisited

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@talexanderReview by @talexander

7th Feb 2012


Johnnie Walker Black Label 12 Year Old
  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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After a nice night with Maggie (devoted mostly playing the Lego Pirates of the Carribean video game), I decided to revisit Johnny Walker Black. I've only had it in bars (on the rocks) and until recently had never owned a bottle. A while ago I picked up a small-ish 375mL, and so, here we are. Even though it is Johnny Walker Red that is the #1 selling Scotch in the world, that title deserves to be held by the Black. I had no idea what a fine blend this is.

A deep amber colour, very rich looking, though thin legs at 40%. Very complex nose - malty and salty (from the Talisker in the blend?) but also sweet with maple syrup (from the Mortlach?), dark honey and apple butter (from the Glendullan?), cut through with a hint of cumin. Delicious on the tongue, with some peat (from the Caol Ila and Lagavulin?), nutmeg and cinnamon. The oily mouthcoating contributes to the long smoky finish, which becomes very earthy, bringing to mind soil and grass clippings.

Besides the single malts mentioned above, this blend also includes Cardhu (a distillery I'm looking forward to visiting this year when I attend the Speyside Whisky Festival!) and is held together by Cameron Brig grain (and God knows what else is in this elixir). It's all beautifully balanced, deep and rich but not heavy - I imagine this would make a great mixer in a cocktail given the balance of subtle but equal elements. Definitely deserving of its place as a classic blend. That it is also widely available and reasonably priced is a gift to all of us.

ps. I also have a bottle of Johnnie Walker Swing, purchased at a duty free shop on the way back from Mexico. It has never been available in Canada (as far as I've seen). I haven't opened it yet, and am kind of afraid to in case there is some value in it I am unaware of? Anyone know? Or should I crack it open and share my notes with all of you?

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Victor commented

I liked Johnnie Walker Black Label the first time I tasted it about 38 years ago, and I have continued to like it consistently since then. 25 years ago I had a bottle of Johnnie Walker Red Label that was absolutely horrific, but over the years the Black Label has never seemed to have lost its high level of quality.

12 years ago 0