The Johnnie Walker blended Scotch whisky brand from Diageo is celebrating a special anniversary for 2020, with it being some 200 years since its founder, John Walker, opened “the doors to a small grocery store in Scotland.” It is thus that a number of new releases, including a new bottle design and three newly crafted whiskies, have been launched to mark this milestone.
Three of the four new Johnnie Walker offerings, according to those behind them, will be coming to the United States for release this fall. We will thus primarily focus upon them below, which is where you’ll find full release details on each based upon information provided by the brand.
“Each of these exclusive releases bring a fresh perspective to our 200th anniversary story and are the perfect way to celebrate this huge moment for Johnnie Walker,” said Johnnie Walker Master Blender, Jim Beveridge, in a prepared statement. “It feels very apt to be announcing them this week to coincide with John Walker’s birthday.”
Johnnie Walker Blue Label Legendary Eight
- “An exclusive release celebrating 200 years of bold and passionate craft. It is a smooth, mellow Scotch crafted using some of the very rarest whiskies in the unparalleled Johnnie Walker reserves. Each whisky is hand selected from only eight legendary distilleries that all existed when John Walker made the first steps on his journey, including some very rare expressions from long-closed “ghost” distilleries.”
- Distilleries used: Oban, Blair Athol, Lagavulin, Teaninich, Brora, Cambus, Port Dundas and Carsebridge.
- “It’s fascinating to reflect on the idea that these famous distilleries also walked a 200-year journey and their whiskies still inspire us today. This new limited edition celebrates that shared experience and the contribution these rare whiskies continue to make to Johnnie Walker today and into tomorrow.” – Jim Beveridge
- ABV 43.8%
- Around $350 per 750 ml bottle
- Nose: The blend is rich with layers of brown sugars, soft fruit and sweet wood. These flavors evolve to reveal hints of green apple and a subtle zest; complementing the gentle peat unfolding in the background to give an overarching warming sensation.
- Palate: A wonderful sweetness envelops the taste buds, through which notes of stone fruits, stewing apples and cocoa emerge.
- Finish: A wisp of smoke comes through to deepen the flavor resulting in a soft and lightly peppered finish.
John Walker & Sons Celebratory Blend
- “This exclusive release is inspired by a breakthrough moment in John Walker & Sons’ history – the launch of Old Highland Whisky in the 1860s, the company’s first commercial blend to travel from Scotland to the four corners of the world. This rich and complex whisky is inspired by the flavours found in the Walker family’s grocery store in the 1860s and uses whiskies from distilleries which were operating at that time. The exclusive pack design reveals the only existing image of the Kilmarnock grocery store 200 years ago.”
- ABV 51%
- Around $75 per 750 ml bottle
- “This rich and complex blend is inspired by the flavors found in the stock books from the Walker family’s grocery store in the 1860s and uses whiskies from distilleries which were operating at that time. The blend’s unique strength is similar to that of our Old Highland Whisky sold during that era. John Walker & Sons Celebratory Blend is a sensorial journey featuring notes of sweet dried raisins and subtle spice and marzipan, which develop into hints of roasted nuts, icing sugar sweetness and gentle peat, with a soft pepper finish. It celebrates this historic moment in the Johnnie Walker story” – Jim Beveridge
- Nose: On the nose this whisky has sweet dried raisins, subtle spice and marzipan.
- Palate: The palate develops hints of roasted nuts, icing sugar sweetness and gentle peat.
- Finish: The finish is soft pepper.
John Walker & Sons Bicentenary Blend
- “A celebration of where it all began; this exceptional whisky is a sensorial journey down the fragrant aisles of John Walker’s original grocery store in Scotland. Master Blender Jim Beveridge and his team have drawn inspiration from John’s store and meticulously crafted a whisky with rich layers that re-imagines the exotic flavours that shaped his imagination. It is crafted with rare and exceptional whiskies, all aged for at least 28 years, including whiskies from long- closed “ghost” distilleries such as Pittyvaich, Cambus and Port Ellen.”
- ABV 46%
- Around $1,000 per 750 ml bottle
- Nose: On the nose it’s a complex, rich whisky with layers of flavor in which an array of fruit aromas come together in harmony, balanced with warming spices and a soft, rolling smoke redolent of the rich array of exotic goods on offer. Dried fruit such as sultanas and figs are sweetened by hints of candied ginger, before berries, brown sugar and aromatic spices fill up the senses.
- Palate: The first sip opens the doors to reveal delicious layers of spice mingling with sweet honey and rich molasses inspired by the rows of tempting jars. Waves of sultanas, cocoa beans and herbal notes are carried on wisps of soft smoke leading you further down the aisles of John’s store with every sip.
- Finish: A sweet spice lingers as the door closes behind you.
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Nino Kilgore-Marchetti is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Whiskey Wash, an award winning whiskey lifestyle website dedicated to informing and entertaining consumers about whisk(e)y on a global level. As a whisk(e)y journalist, expert and judge he has written about the subject extensively, been interviewed in various media outlets and...