Scotch By Nino Marchetti / May 15, 2017 Share Tweet Over the last few years, the bottlings of the John Walker & Sons Private Collection have represented some of the higher end expressions under the Johnnie Walker blended Scotch label. Each has focused on a particular theme, and now this year’s release does just the same, taking the form of the exploration of oak. The John Walker & Sons Private Collection 2017 Edition “Mastery of Oak,” according to those behind it, focuses upon the richness cask character can bring to whisky. To that end, an undisclosed mix of malt and grain whiskies were handpicked from Diageo distilleries by Walker master blender Jim Beveridge, having been drawn from a mix of American oaks casks, refill casks and experimental casks. “For ‘Mastery of Oak,’ we assembled some of our finest casks into three main styles of oak effects,” said Beveridge in a prepared statement. “Each vatting, brimming with complexity, was re-casked into blending puncheons for the flavours to combine. We’re delighted to have been able to bring them together to such great effect in the 2017 Edition, a sumptuous blend of oak-rich fruit notes.” Plans call for Mastery of Oak to be available globally for a price point of around $995. In keeping with the limited availability of the previous bottlings, this one as well comes in only 5,588 individually numbered decanters. It is said to be served neat, or with “a few drops of water to really accentuate the vibrant fruit notes.” You’ll find some official tasting notes below. On the nose are toffee, vanilla and ripe orchard fruit notes that translate on the palate. Dark berries, soft peach skin and stewed apple flavours also emerge, with a hint of green apples from the refill casks and leather from the European oak casks. Experimental oak casks give the whisky a deep, rich vanilla finish.