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Johnnie Walker Black Label 12 Year Old

Whisky Advent Calendar - Day 14

0 1094

@talexanderReview by @talexander

14th Dec 2013


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

I reviewed this classic, iconic scotch back in February of last year, so I've re-posted it below. The only change I would make is a correction: Johnnie Walker Black does not have Lagavulin in it (or at least, it doesn't anymore). 100% of all Lagavulin is bottled by the distillery as a single malt (and they still can't keep up with demand):

"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?"

Related Johnnie Walker reviews


CanadianNinja commented

In total agreement with you talexander! JWB is a great whisky.

I hope you do end up opening the Swing and giving us a review of it. I consider your reviews to be some of the best on the site. Our tastes tend to be quite similar so I would be interested to read your take on the Swing ; )

7 years ago 0

talexander commented

Thanks CanadianNinja! Yes, I'm sure one day I will. It was one of the first "interesting" bottles I bought very early on in my whisky journey, and at the time I wondered if it was collectible. But now, I don't think it really is, having seen many bottles in the UK and at duty free. So…one day…I will open…one day...

7 years ago 0

WhiskyBee commented

Great review, as always. I might not award JWB 94 points, but I've always found it reliable and packed with good flavors. It was the only Scotch I drank for many years before I delved into single malts.

By all means, open the Swing and share your sage wisdom! I don't think it has much collector value, as it's widely available in the States. Next to the Green Label, it's my favorite in the JW range. My thoughts on it: tinyurl.com/mb9soxm

7 years ago 0

paddockjudge commented

Nice review @talexander. JW Black was the only scotch in my cabinet for many years, and yep, mostly on ice.

Did Maggie school you at Lego Pirates of the Carribean?

7 years ago 0

GotOak91 commented

An excellent review for a great whisky.

7 years ago 0

Nozinan commented

I've never been a fan of anything in the JW range. I've had 2 reds (old and new)' black, double black, green and blue. My favourite was the green.

I have a swing which I purchased at an anaemic duty free shop in Newark this fall. Maybe we could carjack them together on Skype? Or, if you're in Toronto, maybe we could open one of them together. The other could bring another bottle to try.

7 years ago 0

Nozinan commented

Oops. My iPad changed "crack" to "carjack". I would never promote a felony

7 years ago 0

talexander commented

@paddockjudge - Maggie is quite the Captain Jack Sparrow, let me tell you…

@Nozinan - given recent occurrences, I understand why you subconsciously typed "carjack"! I am in Toronto, we should totally get together! Do you want to drop me an email at talexander84west@gmail.com? Please don't use connosr direct message as those alerts go straight to my spam folder for some reason.

7 years ago 0

Jules commented

JW Black is a strange one... some days I really like it, but recently I've found it to be quite flat.

It's definitely better than most blends on the shelves, but it just make me want to grab for the bottle of single malt next to it...

7 years ago 0

Elapid commented

I'm still a fan of JW and Particularly JW Black and have the same opinion. I would go farther and say the Oak has the lead with the finish, I'm new to this and have much to learn, especially some of the flavors that close take on the wood. If toiy have been drinjibg

6 years ago 0

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