“We are determined to make our whisky, so far as quality is concerned, of such a standard that nothing in the market shall come before it.”Alexander Walker
Johnnie Walker is one of the most recognized and most widely distributed Scotch whisky brands in the world. Originally sold by John Walker in 1820 at his grocery store under the name Walker's Kilmarnock Whisky, it was not until his death in 1857 when his son Alexander Walker and grandson Alexander Walker II made the brand popular.
In 1906-1909 under the control of John's grandson Alexander II and his other grandson George Paterson Walker the brand expanded and obtained its current name and look.
Alexander Walker had previously introduced the signature square bottle and the angled label in 1870 but it was Alexander II and George who introduced the coloured labels and in 1908 the managing director James Stevenson suggested renaming the brand from Walker's Kilmarnock to Johnnie Walker.
This was also the time when the iconic Striding Man figure, designed by Tom Browne and modelled after the founder John Walker, was introduced as the Johnnie Walker logo.
Not Single Malt but Blended Malt
Contrary to some belief the Diageo owned Johnnie Walker is not a distiller but a blender, who blends whiskies purchased from 27 different distilleries located in Scotland, thus giving the blenders the resources to create Johnnie Walker Green Label Blended Malt, which consists of single malts from these distilleries, the key components being a minimum of 15 year old single malts from Talisker, Linkwood, Cragganmore and Caol Ila which all bring their own unique characteristics to Johnnie Walker Green Label.
Blended malt or vatted malt or pure malt, how Green Label was previously known, means that the blend contains no grain whisky and it consists of single malt whiskies only.
In 2004 the latter two descriptors were reclassified as "blended malt" by the Scotch Whisky Association to standardise Scotch whisky descriptors and to avoid confusion.
The design of Johnnie Walker Green Label's packaging has changed since the reclassification of pure- and vatted malt descriptors. Today Green Label comes in a nicely refined black and green box which together with the golden Striding Man logo near the bottom of the box evokes thoughts of a peaceful stroll in the lush nature.
Johnnie Walker Green Label pours clean with thin disappearing legs and a pale gold colour highlighted by straw colours.
The cork smells like fermented apples and from the glass, across the room, spreads the fresh aroma of ripe autumn apples. The aromas are slightly sweet and malty, peaty with apples all over and fresh country aromas.
Interestingly when smelling the empty glass after letting it dry on the table for a while there is a sweet smell similar to marijuana.
Cool to the tongue, apples, sweet malt, smoky peat and vanilla. Green Label is extremely smooth with little to no burn and it warms nicely when swallowed. There is also a hint of marzipan that creeps up to the mouth after swallowing, and rancio?
Vanilla mixed with peat, slightly dry and woody with tobacco and cereal once the vanilla and peat have passed.
A touch of water:
A drop of water opens the whisky some, bringing out floral and fresh berry flavours in the taste and butter in the aftertaste making this fine whisky even more nuanced.
Green Label is one of those spirits that you learn to appreciate more with every glass – I didn’t appreciate this whisky nearly as much as I did after a few glasses later on a different day when the complexities and the subtle variations were more obvious.
Johnnie Walker Green Label Blended Malt is deliciously nuanced and complex Scotch whisky that I would recommend savouring on minor special occasions or with close friends.
Details at a Glance
Details at a Glance