First of all, this is not the kind of whisky I usually buy! At $220+ per bottle in my Alberta market (and I know it’s more than that in most other markets) it’s beyond my normal drinking budget! Fortunately I have a good buddy who doesn’t think twice about his drinking budget and he decided I should have this bottle for my last birthday… I hope everyone has a friend like that!
This bottle obviously has that “holy shit” factor. Even semi-knowledgeable scotch drinkers will likely have seen this bottle on a top shelf somewhere but even non-scotch drinkers will immediately recognize that this is something more than an everyday bottle. Everything about the presentation screams ultra-premium. “Blue” is among the rarest is the Johnnie Walker lineup and the back of the box says that this blend is composed from whiskies that their “Master Blenders handpick [from] just 1 in 10,000 casks of the rarest whiskies, from the four corners of Scotland to craft an rivaled masterpiece.” I can’t find an age statement anywhere on the bottle or the box, which is somewhat surprising, but I imagine that some of the rare whiskies in the blend must be rather mature. (For the price, some of them had better be!) As with most blends, Johnnie Walker Blue Label is bottled at 40% abv.
To the Eye
This whisky appears pretty standard, as is true for most blends… pale gold. A swirl of my glass releases skinny, stubborn legs down the side of my glass. It looks good enough to drink.
On the Nose
With a whisky that sits in this price range, you can bet I’m going to let the damned thing breath a bit! Actually, maybe I just let this one sit for so long because I enjoy nosing it so much.
Right away, I smell fruit – green apples. I also get sawdust… maybe this is what some people call pencil shavings. Yep, I’m definitely reminded of pencil shavings. As the nose develops, the Islay character in the blend begins to assert itself with a mild peat and a subtle smoke. It is sweet and inviting, there is nothing harsh or overbearing about this dram and it has a really nicely balanced complexity about it.
In the Mouth
The first sip of this whisky always surprises me… it’s not as sweet as the nose suggests. It is a very smooth, easy-drinking dram with a light mouth feel. I don’t really sense any of the rough edges that are usually present in younger whiskies, so I suspect that the bulk of his blend is rather mature. This whisky has a mild, muted honey flavour and a slight caramel note. Additional sips reveal oak and an almost rye spiciness. Of course, there is the signature Johnnie Walker smokiness, but it is smoothed out nicely in comparison to the more common Red Label. The finish is medium, maybe a little shorter than I’d like. I don’t know if I’d call it overly complex but “Blue” is very good!
Every time I have a dram of Johnnie Walker Blue Label, I appreciate it a little more. My instinct is to say I have $50 single malts that I enjoy as much or more than this whisky but I’m probably a bit of a single-malt snob and I know I’m also a little harder on “Blue” because it costs three-to-four times more than most of the bottles in my collection. Taking it for what it is, “Blue” is a fantastic overall whisky. It’s complex, but approachable, and exceedingly drinkable! Will I buy myself another bottle when this one is gone? Probably not. Do I hope my buddy decides to buy me another one for my next birthday? Absolutely!