Whisky Review: Johnny Walker Celebratory Blend

Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by Diageo. This in no way, per our editorial policiesinfluenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

From the square bottle to the slanted label, Johnnie Walker is one of the most recognized, distributed, and easy to find brands on the market. You know what you are going to get when you or your bartender pour a glass. Over the years there have been many iterations of specialty blends that Johnnie Walker has presented to generate fresh buzz for their highly recognized brand.

For any company, let alone a brand such as this, to stay in business for 200 years is cause for celebration. So, when they put out their Celebratory blend to mark the occasion does it stand the test of time as well as the name itself?

Though Scotch whisky tends to be defined by the lauded single malts such as Lagavulin, Oban, Benromach, etc., blended scotch such as that of Walker makes up the market share of about 90% of production. Put succinctly, blended scotch starts as a lesser quality grain alcohol and is blended with one or more higher quality malt whiskies to enhance the flavor profile. This process allows the distiller to deliver specific flavor profiles based on their blending as well as keeping their time frame and price point to a level where mass production throughout the year is more attainable.

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When I cracked this bottle open, I expected something unique, particularly given it is inspired by the flavors found in the Walker family’s grocery store in the 1860s and uses whiskies from distilleries which were operating at that time. Though it is said to harken back to the original Highland whisky recipe that helped gain global recognition, sometimes the past should be left in the past.

John Walker & Sons Celebratory Blend

John Walker & Sons Celebratory Blend (image via John Dover/The Whiskey Wash)

Tasting Notes: John Walker & Sons Celebratory Blend

Vital Stats: The Celebratory Blend, made up of whiskies from distilleries which were operating in the 1860s, is bottled at 51%ABV. It is priced around $75.

Appearance: It is the color of dry hay.

Nose: Butter and dried apricot hit the nose first. After a bit I also found a hint of baking spices such as clove, cinnamon, and even a bit of white pepper.

Palate: This whisky was hot. The heat hit first and grew to a sharp prickle that stuck around through the entire tasting. It has a nutty note that is followed by a bit of orange peel. It is bready on middle of tongue and oak and black pepper hi the back of tongue followed by a hot finish to accompany the hot start.

The Takeaway


What it lacks in nuance it makes up for in heat. There is a trope in movies when someone tries whisky for the first time. They take a drink, hold onto it in the mouth for a second, choke it down then hiss out the heat while saying, “Smooth” through welling of tears. My initial impression is of that moment.

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The whisky is not fun, or nostalgic, or even interesting. It is hot and lacking in depth which for a 200-year-old celebration, my taste buds were not partying down, they were trying to put out the fire. Even over ice, this whisky never really finds its stride. While Johnny Walker may find a place in many a drinker’s hearts, I will reserve my celebration for something more refined.

User Rating 3 (28 votes)