The Johnnie Walker Red Label – a review of one of the world’s iconic blended scotch whiskies!
Alright, after my brief Rye Whiskey diversion, it is time to get back to the Closet Clean Out! Over the next few posts I will be going through the bottles of Johnnie Walker that I have left from our September NWC meeting. As we did in the meeting, I am starting with the entry-level bottling of the range, the Johnnie Walker Red Label, perhaps the most ubiquitous blended Scotch whisky in the world! Much (too much?) has already been said and written about the Red Label as a whisky, but if I’m going to have a whisky website, it is one that I need to review as one of those standard whiskies everyone should try (before moving on to better things!)
Review: Johnnie Walker Red Label, Blended Scotch Whisky, Bottled 2015, L5313T5000 17107547
Color: Amber, orange-gold.
Nose: (N) Immediate and rather significant note of acetone, and it never really dissipates. Very woody with off notes of swamp oak, and also some cedar shavings. There is some ginger and black pepper, a light vanilla, and unripe Bartlett pears. The nose is very muted, really pretty dull. In the background, perhaps a very distant smoke. (W) The low abv to start with means that adding water is dicey, and frankly, water really doesn’t do much to help. Oak remains dominant, now also a hint of the butterscotch. Correction, the water does seem to reduce the acetone note, although not entirely. Pepper, mushrooms, cedar, ginger, with very little of the fruits.
Taste: (N) A bit of butterscotch on arrival, accompanied by pepper, mushrooms, cardamom, and stale ginger. Very thin body, Sharp and ragged. A big cereal note that remains throughout. (W) Even thinner, lemon vanilla, and pepper on the arrival. Unripe apple and pear, bitter twigs, mushroom again, tannic sharpness.
Finish: Peppery, bitter oak, a touch of the butterscotch, the cereal some vanilla, a hint of the smoke, tannic. Something softly chemical. Moderate length.
Overall: better w/o water, although not by much. Rough, ragged, oaky and bitter. Red Label is unquestionably one of the world’s biggest selling whiskies, and there are reasons for that fact; it’s inexpensive, it is literally everywhere, and it probably works sufficiently well in cocktails. As a sipping whisky, though, the Red Label really does leave a lot to be desired.
Type: Blended Scotch Whisky
Maturation: not disclosed / various
Price: $18.99 (750 ml) / $25.99 (1 Ltr)
Sample Source: My own bottle