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Johnnie Walker Green Label 15 Year Old

Happy Birthday Dad!

8 2895

@talexanderReview by @talexander

16th May 2017

1

  • Nose
    24
  • Taste
    23
  • Finish
    24
  • Balance
    24
  • Overall
    95

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

Today happens to be my father's 74th birthday, but I don't know why I'm honouring that with this bottle. My dad is not a scotch guy; he loves Canadian whisky and bourbon, but has never taken to scotch at all (believe me, I tried....and so did he...) But this bottle has been staring at me for about a month or so, so I thought I'd better write it up.

Actually, it's been staring at me for many years: just when Diageo discontinued the bottling, I snapped one up and buried it in my basement, thinking that one day it might increase in value. Alas, it has been released again (so no appreciation of value is likely to happen) but instead of opening that one, I just bought another bottle. I figure I can hang onto the first bottle for a few more years yet.

Johnny Walker Green is a 15 year old blended malt. Diageo helpfully (for once) lists the component malts on the back: Talisker, Caol Ila, Linkwood and Cragganmore. Makes me want to try blending my own...

The colour is a pale gold. Extremely malty on the nose, with Granny Smith, lemon meringue pie, toasted oak, mint and papaya. Lots of vanilla and toffee as well; I presume these are mostly bourbon casks. Both briny and peppery, with some fresh sea air. A wee drop of water brings out more malt, peat and brine. Crisp and complex.

On the palate more vanilla is brought upfront, with some nice peat and some savoury spices. Here we get more of the sherry casks than we did from the nose. Dark chocolate, tobacco and more green apple. Biscuity. Water brings out sultanas and dark honey, with a bit more spice. Delicious - this is what great scotch is all about.

The finish is a bit oaky, with more salt-and-pepper, cayenne and a hint of lime. It is extremely hard to find much to fault with this. Among my circle of friends, it's the one Johnny Walker product they seem to absolutely love, and I don't blame them. It's complex, easy to drink and has just the right balance between sweet, spice and smoke. Jim Murray scores this a big 95; this also won the World Whisky Award this year for World's Best Blended Malt.

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28 comments

@Victor
Victor commented

The earlier releases of Green Label were great. It is very good to hear that the recent release is also great.

Thanks for your review, @talexander.

6 months ago 0

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge commented

Very nice review for a very nice malt. @talexander thanks for sharing. I had a couple of pours from your bottle after Spirit of Toronto. This particular batch is a stunner. The bottle I opened on Easter weekend didn't stand a chance.

6 months ago 1Who liked this?

@talexander
talexander commented

Interestingly, Pam really didn't like it - which is funny as I thought it was right up her alley.

6 months ago 0

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

@talexander I am almost down to the half waymark in my last bottle of the original release. I am very happy to hear that the current offering is just as good. BTW, is the newer one corked or capped?

6 months ago 0

@Ol_Jas
Ol_Jas commented

Does the label really say, unambiguously, that it's made from four malts—Talisker, Caol Ila, Linkwood and Cragganmore?

I have a vague memory of the phrasing being slippery enough to give them room to use pretty much whatever malts they want.

6 months ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

@Ol_Jas The box is very unambiguous - it very clearly says those 4 malts make up the whisky.

6 months ago 1Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

@talexander It would be nice to know the proportions of each of those malts. I suspect it is heaviest to the Cragganmore. I'm glad to hear that the bottle is corked. I had read back when it was first re released that they were capping the bottles.

6 months ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

@BlueNote The cork is also not "real" cork - it's the more stable and environmentally-friendly "fake" cork. Also, nothing wrong with screw caps at all!

6 months ago 1Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@talexander

I disagree, cork makes a particular popping sound without which the whisky just doesn't taste as good wink

@BlueNote, I think, actually, that it would be more fun to buy the malts and try to recreate the blend, similar to @paddockjudge's Legacy work...

6 months ago 3Who liked this?

@Ol_Jas
Ol_Jas commented

I've noticed some Japanese bottles, especially, that have really nice screw caps that deliver a sense of substance & quality. I dig 'em.

6 months ago 0

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

@Ol_Jas It's good enough for the wine industry so we may see higher end single malts moving in that direction. I think it is still a matter of perception: expensive single malts have corks, cheap blends have caps. Cork=high class, caps=lower class. We probably need to get over that.

6 months ago 1Who liked this?

@Nelom
Nelom commented

@Ol_Jas and @talexander - unless @talexander's box is different than what's currently on store shelves, it's actually not that unambiguous​. It says the listed malts are the "key components" not only components. It seems to me that that gives them enough of an opening to use other malts as well, as long as the listed malts are present. I feel like it's even up for debate if "key" means "primary" in terms of volume, or if it's a reference to flavours. An argument might be able to be made that those malts impacts the flavour so significantly that they are "key" even at less volume than some other, unnamed malts.

This is all pure speculation on my part. Well, other than the wording of "key components" which I am positive is written on the boxes I've seen.

6 months ago 0

@Ol_Jas
Ol_Jas commented

@Nelom , thanks for giving us a little quote. I can tell you based on professional experience that "key" means nothing. Does anyone have the full exact language? Google couldn't help me.

I hope I'm not the only one interested in little wording shenanigans like this. I work as a tech writer, and my mind is drawn toward such things.

6 months ago 0

@Nelom
Nelom commented

This is a different box than what I'm quoting, there are no pictures on that one, but the "key components" part is still there.

6 months ago 1Who liked this?

Expand image
@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

@Nelom @Ol-Jas. Good pickup. I was pretty sure that the original edition only contained those 4 malts. The "key components" wording leaves a lot of flexibility for additional input.

Regardless, the original version is a very good malt and @talexander, whom I consider a very reliable reviewer, scores the current version 95. That's good enough for me and I'm in for another bottle. Cheers.

6 months ago 0

@Ol_Jas
Ol_Jas commented

I happened to be at a liquor store last night (OK, three) and I took a peek at a box too. The current ones have the same phrasing in @Nelom 's picture above: "These single malt whiskies represent the key components of Johnnie Walker Green Label:"

That, to me, sounds meaningless x 2. I don't really doubt that they use those four malts a lot, but their claim on the package gives them room to use whatever malts they damn well please for any given batch.

6 months ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

@Ol_Jas Interesting - I didn't interpret it that way, but given the loosey-goosey terminology in marketing and packaging these days (and Diageo's history around "Pure Malt" from Cardhu), I am sure you are right. Maybe @Nozinan can play with the 4 malts, and if he creates something like the Green, then we will know!!

6 months ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@talexander Maybe once I've paid off the renos I can buy 4 bottles of malt to produce 1 bottle of blended malt I can get for a cheaper price...

6 months ago 1Who liked this?

@65glenfarclas
65glenfarclas commented

@talexander Hi Tom, while I have issues with cork as a closure for whisky bottles, real cork is in fact environmentally superior to the fake stuff. Cork is the bark of a specific oak tree and is harvested (if memory serves, about once every 8 years) without harming the tree. In fact, these oak trees live for hundreds of years and the bark is removed several times over the years! Cork is 100% natural and 100% biodegradable. The fake stuff is usually plastic which are made from synthetic materials and far from bio-degradable! Note that many of the cork stoppers used for whisky (think Laphroaig) are cheap/crappy composites (small bits glued together). www.youtube.com/watch

6 months ago 1Who liked this?

@Robert99
Robert99 commented

@talexander Allow me to go back to the whisky itself with a discording voice. I have waited a few weeks to make sure my bottle would not change but I have to say that I have a minty varnish note that ruined for me the otherwise excellent JWGL.

This varnish note is related also to the alcohol coming to much forward. It's too bad because first I have wonderful balance between the wood spices (shooting Cragganmore) and the smoke.

6 months ago 2Who liked this?

@dcbill
dcbill commented

@Ol_Jas According to a recent "Scotch Noob" review there are 27 malts (he acknowledges that the figure is unsubstantiated) in the new JW Green Label. I think I recall seeing the same figure on another website as well. Regardless... I think it is delicious, so i has been welcomed next to the Monkey Shoulder as the second blend on my shelf.

2 months ago 2Who liked this?

@talexander
talexander commented

@dcbill Interesting...if these distillers had any sense of transparency, we wouldn't have to guess...

2 months ago 1Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound
OdysseusUnbound commented

@talexander Yet they'll blame the Scotch Whisky Regulations....even though most ownership groups have members sitting on the Advisory Council of the Scotch Whisky Association who could, in theory, petition the various governments to have the legislation changed. I'm convinced some powerful groups (cough-Diageo, Edrington) like the secrecy and see it as far more profitable than moving toward transparency. It's the reason I think someone like John Glaser from Compass Box is persona non grata.

2 months ago 1Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@OdysseusUnbound @talexander

I don't think that the reason they don't name the 30 m alts has anything to do with SWA regulations. As long as they don't use inner staves and all the whisky is aged 15 years they can name each malt that goes into the blend.

However, they may not use all of the lesser malts each time and so for packaging reasons (not excuse) they may not want to put them on the label. Or they don't want someone like @paddockjudge to improve on their own blend, like he did with Wiser's Legacy.

2 months ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

@Nozinan Or they may want to highlight the Diageo-owned brands - if they have 20-30 malts in there, I'm sure some of them are sourced from non-Diageo distilleries.

2 months ago 1Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor commented

This Johnnie Walker Green Label conversation makes me think that the reason for the original discontinuation of Johnnie Walker Green Label 15 yo was that Diageo felt that they could no longer supply sufficient quantities of malts from those four distilleries alone to supply it...and that they decided later, "Hell, it's too popular to discontinue. Let's just continue to put it together with whatever we can get."

I have yet to taste the 'new' Green Label. I am a big fan of the 'old' Green Label, with one bottle of it nearly finished and one bottle of it put aside unopened.

2 months ago 2Who liked this?

@MadSingleMalt
MadSingleMalt commented

Or they just don't want us to know that it's nearly all Glendullan! smile

2 months ago 2Who liked this?

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