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Johnnie Walker Island Green

Sunday Morning Blended Malt

5 989

@talexanderReview by @talexander

25th Mar 2018


Johnnie Walker Island Green
  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Happy Birthday Mum! Today is her 69th birthday, and before we head out to see her (and while Pam naps after cooking all morning), let's celebrate her Scottish heritage with this limited expression, available in Travel Retail only (I picked it up on my way back from Boston last fall).

The Island Green is a variant of their excellent 15 Year Old Green Label blended malt; the differences are that it is NAS, and it emphasizes Caol Ila over the other malts within (Cardhu, Clynelish and Glenkinchie (though there may be more, I don't know).

The colour is a yellowish gold. No surprise we get crisp malt on the nose, but it's also exceptionally fruity with green banana, papaya, lime pith and raspberry. Coastal peat wafts throughout. Slightly medicinal. Vanilla pods. Quite herbal with mint and sage. Water works brilliantly, bringing out more smoke with sardine (good to see you, Caol Ila). The nose is a perfect balance of fruit and smoke, with a lot of character.

That balance is retained on the palate, with kumquat, strawberry cream, key lime pie, more vanilla and a slight touch of caramel. Oily mouthfeel. The peat is more restrained this time, but reminiscent of smoked fish (Pam woke up, nosed it and gets Trinidadian saltfish). Maltier with water. It's very easy drinking, but could use a bit more spice.

The finish is candle wax, prickly peat, white pepper and very lightly toasted oak. I am generally a fan of the Johnnie Walker brand (except for the bile-inducing Red) and one thing they do very well is balancing peat smoke, which is done exceptionally here. While overall I think it could use a bit more oomph, this is lovely stuff and might make a nice introduction to peat for someone who really hates the bombast of most Islays. I kind of wish it weren't called Island Green - to me this invokes the tropics, when really the messaging is "It's a blended malt like Green, but with a lot of Island malt." By the way, how does it compare to the 15 Year Old Green (thanks @Nozinan for the wee sample)? While the 15 Year Old dials down the peat, it is a heavier whisky with more body and spice, especially on the finish (where the quieter smoke becomes more forward). If you come across it at the airport, grab it.

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Victor commented

Happy Birthday to Mum! I am interested to try this Island Green. So far I know the original Green only, not having had the re-issue, after the temporary discontinuation several years ago. That is quite a distillery change to the Island Green's current line-up from the original Green Label's combo of Caol Ila, Talisker, Cragganmore and Linkwood.

6 years ago 0

talexander commented

@Victor I agree, and I wonder if the omission of Talisker is a contributing factor to its lighter body.

6 years ago 0

Victor commented

I do very much like that Johnnie Walker Brand is once again selling blended malt.

6 years ago 2Who liked this?

Nozinan commented

Great review (as usual).

I liked this...I liked it mixed 1:1 with the 15 YO Green a little bit more. The problem I've found with this expression is that I only see it if DF going OUT of Canada, and not coming in. I did see it in Hong Kong on my way home but weird US regulations would not allow me to purchase it (PAST SECURITY) and take it on the plane). And of corse it wasn't available in my stopover in SF.

It's in plentiful supply at the airport in Toronto if anyone has the capacity to hang on to it until the return trip.

6 years ago 0

paddockjudge commented


@talexander, this is one that can be purchased at travel retail without reluctance. I enjoy the quieter smoke expressions as much or more than the bombastic Island styles. A good one to have in the cabinet.

6 years ago 0

Nozinan commented

@paddockjudge Given your experience with this product this is a solid endorsement.

6 years ago 0

BlueNote commented

I've yet to come across this one in any airports recently (Vancouver, Calgary. Puerto Vallarta) but it sounds very much worth tracking down. Great review @talexander and I hope your Mum has a happy birthday and a long and happy and healthy life.

6 years ago 1Who liked this?

MadSingleMalt commented

I agree with @talexander about the name. "Island Green" conjures the exact wrong imagery.

6 years ago 0

Nozinan commented

But it tastes good...

6 years ago 0

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