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Johnnie Walker Red Label

Back To The Basics:Mr. Walker Red

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@SquidgyAshReview by @SquidgyAsh

22nd May 2012


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

This week I've been reviewing entry and very low level whiskies. Now I'm doing this for a couple reasons.

First I needed sample bottles for a whisky swap and this seemed the only way to get some. Second to be able to appreciate good whisky, you need to understand whisky that is bad and whisky that is just meh.

Thankfully so far none of the whiskies reviewed this week have been bad, they've all been meh so far.

Now the Johnnie Walkers in the test were the ones I was really looking forward to, the big reason why is that I'd never had them before. My only experience with Johnnie Walker up to now had been Green Label, which was quite yummy!

Now I'd heard bad things about Red Label before so I was pretty curious as to what I was getting into.

So I crack open the sample bottle and I pour it into the glencairn after a quick smell of it in the bottle where all I got was alcohol.

As I nose the glencairn I'm surprised to find the smells of Speyside greeting me. Very interesting!

So I sit down with my wife and I start to nose this whisky, this Johnnie Walker Red and as I do so I immediately get some apples and pear, which causes me to start salivating, but there is also something in here that all I can say is savory.

I swear the bloody thing has meat coming off it!? What the bejesus?!

I hand the glencairn to my wife and she immediately gets "Week old cut grass, apples, and burnt butter"

When I comment that I'm smelling something like meat coming off it and blinks, renoses the glencairn and informs me that she can see that.


I then take a sip and I get those apples coming at me with just a hint of cinnamon, not bad, but very watery with the apples mainly making their appearance at the end of the sip.

My wife gets the apples and the cut grass. She doesn't care for it, but doesn't immediately dislike it.

The finish is fairly short, but there is an aftertaste that lasts for maybe 30 seconds with the apples crying out as I try to analyze and find that savory in the flavor.

I can not.

This isn't a bad whisky my friends, just not a very good one. I put it in the meh category. Use it for mixing, but it won't kill you to sip it.

But that's ok, it retails for a meh price. Roughly $30 AUS and able to be purchased in any liquor store.

Tomorrow is the end of this series of reviews, ending with Johnnie Walker Black Label, which I'm looking forward to. Now at the end of tomorrow's review there will be an amusing story that occurred during the course of these reviews.

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systemdown commented

Pretty spot on. Watery, a bit harsh, no real character - an ideal mixer. Sippable if you're absolutely desperate and have nothing else on hand. I think for me a score of 65+ means I wouldn't turn down a free drink. Below 65, I would have to think about it, so I think we're on the same page here.

Spend an extra $5 and get the Bailie Nicol Jarvie - makes Johnny Red seem WAY overpriced in comparison.

Looking forward to that "amusing" story!

10 years ago 0

SlowPuffs commented

Apology... I wrote the above but did realize I wasn't signed in.

10 years ago 0

SquidgyAsh commented

@Slowpuffs Hahaha no apolagies SlowPuffs! I can't see any sort of comment? Not sure why.

@Systemdown I wouldn't say no to a free dram of this, but I sure wouldn't pay for it. If it was a choice of paying for a dram of this and a free glass of water I do believe I'd go with the free glass of water everytime. Having tried it once I do not find myself needing to try it again.

10 years ago 0

Jason0142 commented

This is more or less the way I think about Red Label, no bad flavours just quite bland, prime mixing scotch. Also has a very distinct throat burn that screams cheap alcohol, not necessarily bad, in fact it's burn takes me back to memories of first year uni ;)

10 years ago 0

BlueNote commented

I always found JW Red just plain nasty. If I could only afford a blend in that price range I would go for Ballantine's, Bell's or Famous Grouse, or pop the extra for JW Black.

10 years ago 0

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