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Whisk(e)y Wednesday: Johnnie Walker Black Label

Editor’s Note: Whisk(e)y Wednesday is a weekly feature in which we focus a spotlight on one of the myriad of whisk(e)ys we’ve reviewed over the years. It should be noted that by clicking the buy link below our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

Johnnie Walker Black Label, bottled at 80 proof (40% ABV) and born in 1908, needs little introduction. One of the most popular among the myriad of Walker expressions out there, this core bottling is a 12 year old blended Scotch whisky that consists of around 40 single malt and grain whiskies sourced from various Scottish distilleries owned by spirits giant Diageo.

This whisky, which was awarded Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2020, is perfectly at home drank neat, on the rocks or in a whisky highball or cocktail. It is well positioned as an entry level Scotch for those looking to explore this style of whisk(e)y, particularly for the price point.

Johnnie Walker Black Label review
Johnnie Walker Black Label (image via Diageo)

From The Brand: Johnnie Walker Black Label is one of life’s true icons. A masterful blend of single malt and grain whiskies from across Scotland, aged for at least 12 years. The result is a timeless classic with depth and balance of flavor. Drink it with ice, neat or in a Highball.

Official Tasting Notes: On the nose, a bold scent of fruits with a touch of sweet vanilla. On the palate, creamy toffee, sweet fruit and spice roll over the tongue. On the finish, warming smokiness.

Our Thoughts On It: The popularity of Johnnie Walker Black makes a ton of sense. It is accessible and inoffensive without completely lacking in character. It is easy to drink neat and is multifaceted enough to work in a variety of cocktails. Speaking of cocktails- after finishing my tasting glass I added seltzer to my shopping list because this will make a solid highball.

This will probably not be a seasoned Scotch drinker’s favorite dram, but if someone tells you they HATE this whisky, they’re being a snob for no reason. There is nothing whatsoever to dislike here. It’s a near perfect place to start if you are looking to get your palate around Scotch but don’t want to dive straight into single malts. If there was such a thing as a greatest hits album for Scotch, this would be it. Just like with your favorite artist’s greatest hits collection, the popular, recognizable notes lose something without the context a full album provides, but not so much that you aren’t happy to hear ‘em.

A Cocktail To Try It In (recipe from the brand):

Johnnie Walker Black Label And Soda

  • 50ml of Johnnie Walker Black Label
  • 100ml Soda Water
  • Lime Wedge

Fill up the glass with ice cubes. Pour 50ml of Johnnie Walker Black Label. Fill to the top with soda water. Garnish with a lime wedge. Serve.

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