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Johnnie Walker Black Label 12 Year Old

Average score from 28 reviews and 160 ratings 82

Johnnie Walker Black Label 12 Year Old

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@RianC
Johnnie Walker Black Label 12 Year Old

I've been looking forward to reviewing a bottle of this for a long time. Why, you may ask? Well, it was this whisky that I hold accountable for me falling head over heels for all things Scotch (and whisk - e - y). In days gone by, where often the mere smell of most whisky could simulate a kind of gag reflex (ahem!), JWB was always a reliable and enjoyable 'end of the night' go to. Usually poured over a few ice cubes I distinctly remember one evening six or so years ago where, instead of simply tasting 'whisky', I could actually taste some of its nuances - toffee, something like liquorice (peat) and vanilla. Soon went the ice and then I tried Ardbeg . . .

I used to always have a bottle of this on the go and it was a Duty Free staple, along with 200 cigarettes. Thankfully, the latter habit has gone up in smoke but it's been a few years since my last bottle of this. So, how is it faring?

Bottle's been open a few months, half full. Review is neat but left twenty mins or so.

Nose - Very nice and fresh, classic, even. Peppery and slightly medicinal peat, buttery toffee, a little gingery tickle and, yes, there's a little hint of vanilla custard; but the grain notes, while more prominent than I recall, don't swamp things too much.

Taste - Silky, if light, mouthfeel. Black pepper again, liquorice and tangy peat with some maritime notes muddled in there. There is some toffee there as well but I do have to search for it. The grain notes show more towards the finish as vanilla and a little 'rawness'.

Finish - Reasonable length, for a blend, with more pepper, peat tang and some old tea bag at the death.

Perhaps not my greatest bottle but I'm thinking that's probably as much to do with my palate changing as anything in the blend. Although I do think this bottle leans more to the Talisker than I remember. So more peppery and coastal than I recall. Well, no bad thing is it? I hear you ask. Honestly, I feel the balance in this bottle is a little off and I'm missing that fudgy, toffee note that used to be very well integrated.

Still, for around £20 (if you shop around) this is still one of the best value blends out there and while I may hang fire on another purchase I'll still never turn a dram down. What I'd give to try a bottle of this from the 80's or even earlier . . .

As much as the marketing team at Diageo would like us to believe in consistency, something as volatile as whisky, especially a blended whisky, is bound to have significant batch variations. I’ve had excellent bottles of this and mediocre ones. But even the mediocre ones are pleasant enough. Thanks for your review.

@RianC nice review, JWB is a classic for a reason and for many people it is what comes to mind when they think about Scotch, much like you I have drank my share of this stuff.

I am not sure the changes you register is your evolving palate, while the general profile stays within the parameters, I have noticed a lot of batch variation and sometimes it leans heavy on the smoky/peppery end of the spectrum, other times it`s got tons of fudge, vanilla, caramel, always with that grain presence.

m

A bottle was recently given to me, and I decided to try it neat.

The initial scent is oak, honey and some smoke.

The palate is sweet, with immediate honey, licorice and barley. A bit of butterscotch and peat round it out. It is sweet without being overly so.

A decent medium lingering aftertaste leaves some smoke in the mouth.

Overall, this is a solid everyday whisky (albeit at a steep price), and a good beginning one for those adjusting to peat.

It's ok to drink when you don't want to think about what you're drinking. 85 points is very generous in my book though.

I tried Blue once. My best impression (not the best circumstances or glass) was that it was not much different in taste from Black.

not all JW Blues are alike. My B-I-L has 2, one bottled in the 70s or 80s which he got from our father in law in the same transaction as I got a Swing of similar age (I encouraged him to take the Blue) and one that he got at duty Free (a 200 cc bottle). one of them is 40% and one is 43%. One day we may open them and compare.

@OdysseusUnbound

Johnnie Walker is undoubtedly the most iconic scotch brand in the world. It sells 10 million cases of whisky more than its nearest competitor (Ballantine's). The company was started by grocer John Walker, who sold spirits in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland in the 1820s. John Walker had some success selling spirits, but it was his son and grandson, both named Alexander, who grew the brand into the giant it is today. Black Label is created from approximately 40 malt and grain whiskies aged for a minimum of 12 years. This is, in and of itself, pretty impressive. All whiskies have batch variation, but Johnnie Walker Black has, to my palate, remained remarkably consistent.

Tasting notes

  • Nose (undiluted): raisins and dried fruits, apricots maybe, light smoke, sherry, vanilla
  • Palate (undiluted): medium bodied, vanilla, toffee, a bit of pepper, orange peels, oak
  • Finish: Medium length, earthy peat, wood smoke, raisins, and malted barley.

Adding water tones down the sweetness a bit and pushes the smoke to the tail end of the finish. It may be denounced as whisky heresy by some, but Johnnie Walker Black Label is terrific with club soda or any sparkling water, like Perrier. I like to call this cocktail the Hitchslap, as it was reportedly the late Christopher Hitchens' favourite drink. I only have two quibbles with this whisky. The first is the 40% ABV. I'd like to see it bottled at a minimum of 43% ABV, but for some reason whisky companies don't want to base all their business decisions on my personal wishes. I’d also love to have a bit more smoke and peat in the blend. Oh well.

@mystycreek

I was tasting some miniatures with my younger brother a few days ago, we were sharing some ideas and my brother said he doesn't get that why everybody is drinking Johnnie Walker and it's overrated. So I opened a JW Black miniature from the 90s and gave it a chance to speak for itself.

This miniature is JW Black Extra Special, bottled at 43% and it's a plastic bottle.

Nose: Big, sweet and slightly smoky. Coffee beans, caramel, plum and sugarcane.

Palate: Quite thick, a lot of sherry and wine cask flavors. Plum, cinnamon, peat, leather and sea salt.

Finish: Cream brulee, licorice, earth and dark chocolate. Slightly bitter in the end.

Balance: Very subtle, would have guessed double the age if tasted blind. Very ripe sherry and wine cask flavors, with some peat and smoke hidden in the background. Almost perfect.

Thoughts: What a great blend. Imagine Ron Zacapa aged for 20+ years with Talisker's peat and smoke. If only every JW Black tastes like this nowadays.

And that's the thing... it's nothing like that now...

Maybe thanks in part to O(P)BE?

@markjedi1

It had been over 5 years since I allowed a Johnnie Walker Black Label to tinkle into my glass. It has a fair reputation, no? It contains quite a few malts, such as Glendullan, Mortlach, Lagavulin, Talisker and Caol Ila, upholstered with grain whisky from Cameronbridge. It is bottled as drinking strength.

The nose starts off fruity (think peach and candied pineapple), but soon turns somewhat dark on pear drops and brown sugar. It has a mildly salty and smoky edge, but quite discreet. Less than I remember, in any event. But the nose is more than pleasant, to be honest.

The arrival is surprisingly weak, almost watery. That is a pity, because the taste is not bad at all. Vanilla and some sherry, but then some pleasant earthy notes and a nice development of smoke.

The finish is fruity, but mostly sweet. And medium in length.

Well, it is far cry from a big whisky, but still quite pleasant. A card player’s dram in a smoky jacket.

J

An understated and average blend at an above average price. This whisky is fairly alcohol forward with some caramel, heather, and a really delicious nutty finish. Overall a decent whisky, not a great one. Slightly boring.

@PMessinger
@talexander

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?"

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 ; )

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...

@Nock

This is my second bottle. I have also had numerous tastes over the years. This is such a consistent blend.

Nose: Delicate smoke and small wafts of peat greet the nose. Next comes malt with a bit of grain in the background. Big malt! Now a robust sweet sherry. There is smoke and sweet malt with round sherry hovering in the background. Walnuts and leather finally appear along with some oak. Now some earthy mud and wet forest (pine cones, leaves and wet grass). Grass and fruit (apples mostly but also pears and berries) mingle behind all the malt. This is a thick blend!

Taste: Thick malt with apples, wood, and smoke. Now a hint of grass and grain in the back.

Finish: Nice big smoke with a growing fire. Big blast of malt and peat that has a medium fade to smoke embers. The fire is nice as is the smoke. However, the malt plays center stage to everything here. There is a wonderful little blast of pepper, cayenne and salt at the very end as it slowly dies down to a nice smoky ember of malt and house stove fire. By no means is this an Islay style blend, but you do get a nice layer of Islay in the mix.

Balance, Complexity: This is a wonderful balance of smoke, sweet, oak, sherry, and malt. I love the dominant role of the smoke with the huge malt body. The sherry and grain really take a back seat. If I didn’t know better I would swear I was drinking a single malt. It is quite complex for a blend.

Color, Body, Aesthetic experience: About the same amber as Grants . . . perhaps one notch darker. Medium-full bodied. Love this aesthetic. The Johnnie Walker label, bottle shape and black color associated with the 12 year old. Full bodied for a blend. Love the age, color and branding. Nothing here I can fault other then it being overly popular. Still . . . there could be a point.

Conclusion: This is one of my favorite blends – mostly because it seems closer to Malt then a blend. This is a well crafted blend. If this weren’t so dang expensive it would be my go to blend. Still, when I can get Grant’s or Teacher’s for half the price . . . I would probably do that ever time. I sill would want to have some of this around the house.

@Georgy

NOSE: slightly smokey and peaty with fresh fruits such as pears with a pinch of spices. All in a nice balance. TASTE: fruity, peaty and a bit sour. FINISH: a bit smokey. OVERALL IMPRESSION: tasty everyday quality blended scotch

I like this when I go out.

Nice review. I couldn't agree more. JW Blackis just a great blend, my favorite blend. I drink It regularly. Thanks for the review.

@JohnnyNorfolk
@MisterDigger

Here is another blend that I have always hated, but had the opportunity to order at a concert after having tasted about three dozen mostly single malts over a one month period. My first sip impressed me with smoke running between a Highland Park 12, but not quite as high as a Talisker 10. And then that was it! Poof and it's gone! After that, I could mainly taste the cheap stuff that turns it into a blend. By the way, several years ago, I tested Green Label and Black Label side by side, but could not tell them apart. Now I know why I hate thee!

Thanks for the review. I love JW Black label. It's thee scotch that got me into scotch. Still love it and drink it regularly on the rocks.

D

Johnny Walker Black Label 12 Year old blended whisky is a great dram. It has a wonderful balance between smoky and sweet. The nose is interesting, mild, and inviting.

The easiest way for me to describe Johnny Walker Black label is to imagine eating dark chocolate near a cozy oak wood fire. Not too sweet and not to peat, just right.

Can't go wrong with Johnny Walker Black Label if your into blended scotch in this price range.

Thanks for the review, man. This is my favorite blend. You nailed it with the description. Smoke and sweet, but not overboard. Great balance. Outstanding blend.

@hunggar

I try to avoid following the crowd with my reviews on this site, but I have to admit that I tend to agree with the general consensus here regarding the JW range. I don't like the red, I love the black and the green, and I think the gold and the blue are good but overpriced. So don't expect anything groundbreaking here.

Here's my take on the black:

Nose: Brine, citrus, cereal, caramel and smoke. Something reminiscent of moss or wet grass makes an appearance. The smokey scent isn't the strong phenol blast that you get with The single malt Islays. Overall the nose is not incredibly balanced but it's still very pleasant.

Palate: Cereal, apples, and caramel. Not the kind of thick, creamy caramel that you get with some of the good single malts (for example Benriach 12 yr Sherry Finish). This caramel is less smooth or savory. Smoke. A very natural peaty flavour. Perhaps it's not the industrial, briney phenol blast that so many peat lovers demand, but to the rest of us, this is certainly a wonderfully smokey dram.

We then move forward into the trademark JW finish. It starts with some mild floral flavours, then moves into a dry, salty, smokey mildly harsh final kick before fading into oblivion.

Sidenote: Am I the only one who has noticed the aforementioned "JW finish." To me, the finish is really quite distinctive to the JW range, yet I have read very few reviews that have taken note of it. It's the reason why I can always identify anything JW (regardless of the bottle's colour) in blind tastings. Anyway...

This is a strongly flavoured whisky without being very complex. To put it another way, it's a simple whisky but it's got real character. And it's good. It's distinctive. It doesn't taste like a cheap blend where random scraps from random distilleries were haphazardly tossed together (call me a malt snob, but I have tried more than a couple blends that fit that description). No, this was a calculated blend.

For me, it's a very enjoyable, modest, and unpretentious dram. It doesn't pretend to be what it isn't. The reality is that JW Black is a great mixer (nothing works better with Coke IMHO), but it's also an unassuming and pleasant whisky that can be casually enjoyed by itself. It doesn't try to copy or taste like single malts. It's a blend with it's own character. It's a uniquely simple and unapologetic personality that intentionally sets itself apart from others. Sure, it's not as balanced or sophisticated as it's elders, but it works, and it works well.

@robsm2013

A generally very good, well-rounded, well blended scotch....however, short finish I find, and leaves me wanting a little more complexity as I prefer the single malts; but, it is what it is. On the nose: sweet caramel, maple syrup, some floral notes as well. Taste is full bodied at first, but dissipates quickly; notes of honey, caramel, a touch of cinnamon coming through, and a hint of vanilla - very nice, very smooth...short finish, not too complicated. Nice!

@Volks

Johnnie Walker, the most recognised and most popular whisky brand in the world. This is the Black Label, the 12 year old. One step up (in terms of price) than the entry level malt, Red Label. This goes for around 50AUD.

  • Nose: sweet toffee hits you then goes, quite sharp, citrus fruits, definitely some peat and smoke, and some foost. With water fruitier spicier and sweeter

  • Pallet: honey, BBQ smoke, a dash more peat, some salt, wood sap, then some sweetness, just light fruit, a bit of nuttiness, brown butter. With water nut is more prominent, again it is sweeter, but the peat and smoke put up more of a fight, that’s good.

  • Finish: that little bit of foost comes back, bit dry, very savoury finish. With water more interplay of flavours, peat and smoke last better, some of the fruit notes linger around to give balance to the finish.

  • Mark – neat 7.8, with water 8.3

This blend requires taking your time and (i think) a little water, i added 2 teaspoons and it was significantly more balanced, the nose wasnt as good but the rest was better. Its good good, easy drinking, dare i say it, every day blended scotch whisky. Good value and some interesting flavours. Solid all round

@GotOak91

Outside on my back porch on a nice moonlit night I decided to go on with my minis I bought in N.C. with as planned J.W. Black Label. Let us begin shall we...

Nose: Sweet with the smells of honey and dark fruits quite inviting start. There is the earthy scent of malt and a slight assortment of grains. This is already proving to be better than its younger brother.

Body: Soft and gentle body on the tongue I call it around medium weight by volume. Still quite good.

Taste: Slight sweetness on the front of the palate then comes buttery oak and earthy grains and a little vanilla. Gentle subtle flavors, nothing too overpowering. Its as if there's a harmony among the blended flavors like if all of your friends came over to greet you in an orderly fashion after you've been away for a while instead of all of them running at you at once. (Odd I know had a little trouble coming up with a good one).

Finish: Medium to medium-long in length soft and smooth with a little bit of smoke and fruit on the tail end. Also semi-drying on the way down but no burn or harshness.

Overall: I can see why this is one of the good blends to go to when there aren't any singles near by. Quite the step up from J.W. Red. Now I've got to acquire a couple bottles of J.W. Green (one to save) before they're all gone, good thing my liquor store is in a college town.

Next up No.3 of 4 Bourbon Time: Woodford Reserve

@Unkempt27

When I first tried Johnnie Walker Black Label, I was at a stage where I enjoyed a whisky, but didn't know anything about them! However, when my wife (or fiancée, as she was than) brought me a bottle of this back from a family holiday, I instantly knew that it was good stuff. The flavours were different, and it wasn't harsh on the throat as some cheaper whiskies can be.

Although my whisky knowledge has grown since then, I still keep a bottle in my collection as it is the perfect 'everyday' whisky - great flavours, well balanced, and not too expensive.

Nose: Smoke, caramel, apples. Sweet and appetizing.

Taste: Caramelised sugar, toffee apple. Poached pears and dried fruit. Banoffee pie is in there somewhere, too, along with some spices - cinnamon, pepper, cloves. Well balanced.

Finish. Nice finish, decent length. Slightly oily and smoky - that'll be the Talisker!

Some 'malt snobs' will warn you away from all blended whisky. Don't listen to them - JWBL includes some stunning single malt whiskies in it. And the result is great, with a range of flavours and balance that some single malts could only dream of.

@SquidgyAsh

This is my final review of this week on entry level and bottom shelf whiskies. Those whiskies being Jim Beam White Label, Jack Daniels #7, Chivas Regal 12 yrs old, and Johnnie Walker Red Label and Black Label.

Now I had started this series of whisky tastings because I needed some sample bottles for a whisky exchange and after buying the bottles I thought it might be fun to actually sit down and analyze these whiskies, some of which I had some of my first drinks with and see how they'd changed and to hopefully give me a better appreciate for the good whiskies I now get to experience now that my paychecks are a little bit better and I'm more educated.

You can't appreciate the good stuff in life until you've experienced the bad and indifferent stuff.

And at the end of this review there will be an amusing little story (or I hope that you'll find it amusing.)

So last night I get home from work, head over to the computer after getting a kiss from my wife and giving my furry kids a hug and I sit down to do my whisky stuff and I crack open the last sample bottle.

Johnnie Walker Black Label.

Now this has been the whisky that has had me the most excited out of this recent batch.

Why? You may be asking yourself.

Simple: I'd heard nothing, but good things about this whisky.

Actually let me rephrase that statement.

I'd heard nothing, but GREAT things about this whisky.

As soon as I pour it into it's glencairn I can immediately smell apples coming off the glass. Very cool.

But I'm not quite ready to start, so I cover the whisky and finish my emails then join my wife to watch MasterChef.

So I sit down and remove the lid and again apples come wafting out, so much so that my wife can smell them from where she's sitting.

I enjoy the smell of the apples for a minute or so and then decide to nose the glencairn to see what else I can see, or smell as the case is.

Cinnamon comes wafting out, spices, some honey, smoke and peat and just a hint of earth. Very cool and extremely complex stuff. Especially considering that this is a blended whisky.

After about 30 minutes of just nosing this I decide to give it a taste.

Apples, Sultanas, Peat, Smoke, Earth, Honey, Cinnamon, Oak, hints of vanilla.

This is what courses through my mouth, each flavor calling out one and two at a time, shouting for my attention. I have to sit there and mouth the whisky around my mouth trying to pin point what each individual component I'm tasting is and what is where.

The finish is surprisingly long, being very dry and quite salty. The apples and sultanas follow it all the way down, catches in the back of the throat, decides to visit for a minute and then follows the rest of the whisky.

Very very cool stuff! And this is available for only $35-40 AUS!? Dram good value for money!!

And thus ends this weeks exploration into entry level whiskies.

But don't worry another whisky is on the block for tonight!

Now I'd said earlier that I would have what I hoped would be an amusing story for everyone at the end of this review and here it goes!

When I'd decided that I needed sample bottles and I'd had no luck finding any on ebay, craigslist, etc I decided to pick up the sample bottles from Dan Murphy's and use those. Walking home that night I thought to myself that since I'd never sat down and analyzed those whiskies that it might be quite a bit of fun to do so. However I didn't tell anyone about this idea.

Now just a couple days ago I was called a snob on the Connosr forums on a review (if you're curious please PM me.) This left me gobsmacked! I don't consider myself a snob and avoiding being snobbish is something I try VERY hard to avoid.

That morning when I told my wife in the shower about me being called a snob by a Connosr member she looked at me and informed me "Well honey, I hate to say it, but you are a snob."

Que sound of jaw hitting the floor.

"What do you mean Babe?! I'm a snob?! How so?! If I am being a snob without realizing it this is something I need to correct."

"Sweetie, we have alot of whiskies right?" She asks me and when I agree to this statement, she continues on.

"Now out of all those whiskies how many of them would rate below say 80 on most reviews?"

"Just a couple, The Canadian Club, The Glenlivet..."

"Exactly my love! You dear, research your whiskies to death. You don't just go into a bottle shop and grab a bottle of whisky, you sit there, research, analyze, then you start exploring trying to find whatever one has your current notice. Most people would just say I need a whisky and go into a bottle shop and grab the cheapest one they saw or one they'd had before, not you Babe. And that Sweetie, makes you a snob. Not a bad kind of snob, but a snob nonetheless."

I tried to explain about limited whisky money and making each bottle count, but there you have it folks, I'm a whisky snob!

Exit stage left.

Good stuff! The Black is (was) my standard go-to drink at pubs and clubs when I wanted a cheap, neat Scotch. I'm curious to try the Double Black, apparently it's smokier than the standard Black.

As for your being a "snob", I did see that mini discussion you're referring to and thought "I'll leave this one alone" - as you said, better to not feed the trolls! But if your wife's definition of snobbery holds up then I guess you ARE a whisky snob. And so am I. Do I care? Nope. Although the term "discerning whisky drinker" sounds better, I think!

For me, a snob looks down their noses at others; I'm pretty sure you're not like that however!

Great write-up and a wonderful set of reviews! I will happily join you in the 'whisky snob' category based on the description in your story (I am pretty sure my wife would agree with the rationale presented by your wife, though my better half might refer to it as being a 'whisky geek' or being 'whisky obsessed'). I prefer to think of myself, and the vast majority of those on this site, as 'whisky enthusiasts'. :)

@talexander

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?

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.

@RPS

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.

I liked Johnnie Walker Black Label the first time I tasted it 38 years ago, and I have never stopped liking it. It has been reliably good (something which I cannot say about Johnnie Walker Red Label) and excellent value for the money.

Great review, I had a bottle of this in my cabinet given to me as a gift years ago. I never had any desire to open it but a guest I had over for supper one night asked if he could have a dram. I must say it exceeded my expectations. It is a very nice blend well worth keeping in the bar.

@Eye_lah_Guy

Medium to dark amber in the glass; lively nose of mixed fruit; medium body; a bolt of fine grains, light oak, banana almond, then oak char this particular tasting; somehow, this all balances out, because the master distiller knows his craft. Long warm finish of heavier grains and sweet malt. Excellent dram.

@britwhiskyfan

The Classic Jonnie Walker Black label is one of the better blends, its a great starting place for anyone comming from the main steam blends such bells, or even JW Red label. For me JW Back was that gateway to the wider world of Whiskey.

Blended from 40 differents malts, its known for containing Lagavulin, Coal Ila, Glendullan,Tailsker from the Islands,from Speyside Mortlach and the grain addition from is contributed by Cameron Brig. Both peaty and smokey compared to JW other blend,with the help of the Islands malts.

You can't go far wrong with this good value blend

Black Label was the first legal drink I bought myself at 18 years old. I've tried all of the popular blended whisky but still find myself coming back to Black Label. It's been my good companion while watching a late-night movie or a football match.

@rwbenjey

Another delightful nose; I can sniff as hard as I want and no burn, just flavor : ) Sweet apple and honey dominate, followed by candied fruit.

On the palate, the flavors are presented in a silky fashion: apple, honey, spice, syrup, earth, a slight creaminess.

The finish is somewhat dry, salty, and woody.

@bobsterman91

Johnnie Walker black Label a 12 yro blended whiskey. Its is stated to be blended from over 40 distilleries. It is personally my favorite blends and remains a constant in my cabinet.

Nose: Is quite full adn complex. First its all smoke, but with repeated sniffs you can get creamy, floral, and spice notes. There is something sweet that I cannot rap my nose around.

Palate: Hits with a cool sweetness with spice notes and followed by lingering oak and vanilla. Weaker than was expected with the nose.

Finish: Long and enjoyable. Fruity, pear or a mild apple. Its smooth with honey and peated grain.

Black Label deserves more credit than it is given. I haven't sampled any other of Johnnie's other blends, but for the price of £23.44 you can't beat it.

@bobsterman91, good review ... I agree that JW Black is quite a good blend, and the vatted JW Green is even better. If you like smoky balanced blends, you might consider Teachers Highland Cream ... a yummy blend based on Ardmore Traditional Cask (a smoky Speyside). But then you will want to graduate and get a bottle of Ardmore :)

Sounds good! I'll have to look into it!

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This is great stuff. Just don't put ice in it. It becomes really bitter with ice. Straight or with the smallest drop of water it is glorious. I prefer it to the green label, as it has more smoke and attitude.

Orange and honey leads to smoke and a big malt finish which is longer than most blends. Love it.

Forgot to add sherbet on the nose at first. Refreshing!

@jfpilon

This is definitely my favorite blend. And honestly one of my top whisky as well. It was the first blend I truly enjoyed and is still my go to whisky in most less stocked bar. I even had the chance to participate in an official tasting with a band ambassador once where we explored the different single malt that comprised it.

I still remember my first nosing. To me, it was all about the smoke and the wood. But with some help, I was able to get some sweet white fruits. Now, I find that vanilla cake and barley sugar mixed with a wood smoke that is quite enticing.

The arrival is cool malt sweetness. Barley sugar for sure. Then a spiciness followed by vanilla. Sherry like notes comes after, Leaving on the tongue brings a far off echoe of salt and some nice iodine that evovles again in some slight floral fruitiness.

The finish is quite fruity: pear, soft pineapple. But with heather honey. And then the grain whisky becomes present. good grain. Old grain. But it evolves again: creamy soft milk chocolate. And a waxiness that lasts until the next sip.

Unbelievably well balanced, complex and generous.

Love it.

I agree about the blue: my brother aranged a vertical tasting and yes the blue is good but not enough to justify the price.

But more attention? It's the #1 selling scotch in the world! I guess you meant within single malt snobs. Then, yes, maybe. Although most reviewer agree it's one of the best. With teacher's and ballantine's 17 yo. The latter is just so expensive where I live.

Have you tried té bheag? Great blend with good peat. Talisker seems to be part of it, just like jw black. I'll review it when I get the chance.

Love your review! In my opinion the Johnnie Walker Black Label deserves more attentions. It's a very nice whisky, which can put up a fight (and often win) with most of the entry level malts. I sadly finished my bottle but still have a 20cl bottle of the Blue Label. I can only say that the enormous differnence in price does not reflect in taste. This one is a true bang for you buck.

@BonnieMac

I posted that I was going to attend the Johnnie Walker Tasting "Experience" in NYC. I am posting this as a review of the event, as we all know JW is all about blends (and do SO well!), but the event is free and was very interesting and informative. The best thing about JW, firstly blended so well, secondly can be found just about anywhere, and thirdly affordable. The event had Red, Black, Gold, Green, and Blue in small glasses (like a Dixie Cup)perfect for those just starting out with whisky tasting, as they went through them with noting color, scent, taste with & without water. (Also there was the strawberry dipped in black pepper shenanigans, which I did not take part in.) I took someone with me who had never had more than one sip of my whisky prior to the event, and he thought that was interesting, and found a few to be pretty good; but he said he'll stick to Pino Grigio!!! Ick. If a chance to go to this event comes up, don't be a scotch snob --- jump in with an open mind and try not to spit the Red on the floor! Taking away from this: a Striding Man pin; although I have tried all the JW's, I might drink the Green and Gold again if offered where there are no single malts on the shelf; an interesting story or two; and, there was some good people watching!

@BonnieMac, that was a fun review :-)) Yup, sometimes it requires a great effort to drag a guy to a whisky event ... maybe akin to a quilting convention? :-)

Sounds like a decent night!

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