Our journey upwards through Johnnie Walker’s Label releases began with Red Label before continuing through Black Label and Double Black. This upward trajectory has carried us to what has been easily the most mysterious entry in the line over the last few years: Johnnie Walker Green Label.
Depending on your feelings regarding the Scotch whisky juggernaut that is Johnnie Walker, you may have read that opening sentence as eager or ominous. Green Label is a blended malt from Diageo which had previously been a prominent member of the Label series of Johnnie Walker whiskies. The blend has been conspicuously absent from most retail shelves and Walker promotional material in western markets for the better part of four years until bottles started to appear with regularity once again in 2015.
Despite the seemingly miraculous reappearance, Diageo had remained largely silent on the status of Green Label until spring of 2016 when it was confirmed that the blend is indeed back, and on a permanent basis.
Johnnie Walker describes Green Label as representative of the Speyside, Highland, Lowland, and Island regions of Scotland. They have even gone so far as to name Cragganmore and Linkwood of Speyside, Islay’s Caol Ila, and Talisker from Skye as being chief components of the blend.
Being a blended malt, all individual spirits comprising Johnnie Walker Green Label begin their existence as single malts before blending, at which time no additional grain spirits are combined in the vat. Only malts go in, and only a singular malt blend comes out. Johnnie Walker Green Label is bottled at 43% ABV (86 proof) and carries a 15 year age statement.
Tasting Notes: Johnnie Walker Green Label
Vital Stats: 43% ABV (86 proof), aged 15 years, blended malt Scotch whisky, available around $65 per 750 ml bottle.
Appearance: Honey in a glass. Medium legs.
Nose: Vanilla bean ice cream, banana, allspice, shortbread cookies, oak more green than charred, very subtle smoke.
Palate: Vanilla, nutmeg, honey, cinnamon, mild amount of peat smoke. Very round, full, and silky mouthfeel. The finish is soft, with very subtle wisps of smoke mingling with malt and lingering toffee.
I have to admit that I found the lack of information regarding Green Label’s status over the past year or so to be frustrating. Rumors were routinely published as fact without verifiable sources, which only compounded the problem. The choice to essentially perform a soft launch for the label with little to no official fanfare is curious and adds to the overall quirkiness of the label itself. Green Label is as solid an example of what is possible when blending single malts as I could reasonably hope for.
Strictly on its own merits, I find the whisky to be enjoyable, interesting, and effortlessly drinkable. Combined with a comparatively reasonable $65 price point, I find the stuff absolutely irresistible. Dollar for dollar, ounce for ounce, this very well may be the best Johnnie Walker you will find.
FINAL SCORE: 93/100
User Review3 (18 votes)
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Joshua St. John
When not sampling whiskey, Joshua St. John can most likely be found running the trails of the Pacific Northwest surrounding his home in Portland, Oregon. A lifelong world-traveler, Joshua was first introduced to single malts while visiting distilleries in Scotland, and continues to explore the world through the countless interpretations...