Johnnie Walker Blue Label is the epitome of luxury (in the affordable range at least). It is very popular as a gift, hence the endless stream of special editions. Luckily it is also very good. But in 2017 Johnnie Walker launched a new, limited edition of their Blue: the Johnnie Walker Ghost & Rare. The protagonist of the first release is Brora. But Pittyviach and Cambus – also closed distilleries – play an important part as well. The other whisky’s are Clynelish, Royal Lochnagar, Glenlossie, Glenkinchie and Cameronbridge. The result is a bottle at 250 EUR, albeit in an exquisite packaging. I long doubted buying this one, but after trying it at a festival I was convinced and got me two bottles.
It does not happen often (at least not often enough) that I get an ‘OMG’-moment when first sniffing a whisky. This is one of those. A very rich, aromatic, complex nose on roasted pineapple, peach, oranges, joined quickly by earthy notes as if I am standing on the earthen floor of an old dunnage warehouse. And while it is impossible to guess how much Brora went in the mix, I could swear I can detect it! The typical waxiness from Clynelish is also very prominent. Loads of nuts (almonds and hazelnuts) and some honey give it an extra sweet twist. It is even slightly tropical in the background with some banana and coconut. Hint of eucalyptus. In case you were still wondering: yes, this is very complex!
The arrival is very sweet, a tad spicy and quite smoky. Yellow and green fruit softly evolve towards barley sugar and nuts, upholstered with mint, pipe tobacco, garden herbs, dark chocolate, candy floss and crème brûlée. The smokiness grows.
The finish starts smoky, but then quickly makes room for subtle sweet, fruity notes and some oak at the death.
This is a wonderfully good Blue Label, in which the end result is much more than the sum of its parts. A masterpiece. Oh, by the way… the second edition will be coming soon. And the protagonist in that one will be that other trophy malt from Diageo. Yup, you’ve guessed it: Port Ellen. Start saving up.