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Johnnie Walker Red Label

Talisker Lite (tm)

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@TheConscienceReview by @TheConscience

19th Feb 2013


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Ah, Johnnie Walker Red, the whipping boy of scotch whisky reviewers the internet over. If you read enough reviews of this whisky you'd think that Diageo were bottling raw sewage and industrial waste decanted from 8th fill casks that once held dead kittens.

However, interspersed among the litany of reviews slagging poor old JW Red are a few islands of rationality that manage to describe this blend for what it is: a simple, competent blend best suited for mixing.

This is certainly my experience with JW Red. It reminded me of Talisker, albeit a very subdued Talisker tamed by soft, diaphanous pillows of grain. Basically, Talisker Lite. Soft, relatively boring nose with some soft smoke; subtle smoke and pepper riding a wave of soft and vaguely sweet grains; a simple vaguely peppery finish.

A simple yet competent blend. There is a reason, aside from marketing, that this blend sells widely. It's not nearly as bad as many reviewers describe it. Not great, but not bad.

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MCM commented

Dead kitten finish. Sounds like a limited edition bottling.

7 years ago 0

TheConscience commented

Special edition indeed. Bottled at a meagre 40% and harshly chill filtered, the new dead kitten "Puss-illanimous" bottling is sure to disappoint.

7 years ago 0

Rigmorole commented

Bill Clinton used to slug JW Reds down. A friend of mine, whose father was the librarian to a US President prior to Clinton, dined with Clinton once, and said the man threw back Johnnie Walker Red doubles like water. Dick Cheney had the good sense to add soda water to his. And, of course, Churchill drank his with soda water, as well.

Sounds as if it's even worse now with the new bottling you mention. Good to know. I've been known to order red and soda at bars, but perhaps it's not worth it any longer. Teacher's Highland Cream is the same price in bars that carry Teacher's. That is a much better choice, I think. Yesterday, I was dining in a bar that listed Glenfarclas 105 at $23 per glass. That is over three times the $85 bottle in a liquor store here. I stuck with my dinner and grapefruit juice, and then retired home to a glass of Old Pulteney 21 with a good book.

7 years ago 0

TheConscience commented

The new bottling (the one with dead kittens and industrial waste) was a joke, so no need to fret over the quality of JW Red. You can continue to consume your whisky and sodas. I'm sure they will taste just fine.

I actually didn't mind sipping this whisky, and certainly would not turn down a free dram. It would never be a staple in my cabinet or a go-to whisky, but it's not bad. I should try it with soda water next time.

7 years ago 0

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