Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us a free sample to review by the party behind it. The Whiskey Wash, while appreciative of this, did keep full independent editorial control over this article.
It goes beyond mere cliche to suggest that Johnnie Walker may be synonymous with Scotch whisky for a great many people. According to their own website, the Red Label offering is currently the “best selling Scotch Whisky in the world.” In the case of Johnnie Walker, the blended Scotch from global drinks giant Diageo, I don’t feel that is altogether warranted.
Red Label is considered the entry-level Johnnie by a great many whisky enthusiasts due to its position as the lowest-priced Walker in a series that runs from a shelf or two just above the floor to “who needs to eat this month?”
The magic of the Red Label comes from the fact that it is a quality bottling within a price point populated primarily by releases that will have one cursing the malt gods more frequently than gloating over an undiscovered gem. All things considered, Johnnie Walker Red Label fits a need in the market at large, and fits it well.
Vital Stats: 40% ABV (80 proof), no age statement, blended Scotch whisky, priced around mid-$20 range per 750 ml bottle.
Appearance: Honey gold. Medium legs.
Nose: Oaky, malt-heavy nose, a hint of raisin bread, disinfectant, bandages, solvent notes.
Palate: Flavors of honey, vanilla, small amount of nutmeg. Lightly oily mouthfeel.
Finish: A touch of wispy smoke, rather thin finish with a medium burn.
There is a safety in Johnnie Walker Red Label. That can be a strength or a weakness, depending on where one encounters the dram. Not a great many surprises are to be found in the iconic squared bottle. The nose is appropriately malty. The flavors are well-balanced, if a bit muted. The finish affords a slight amount of smoke and a decent shape, though it lacks body.
None of these elements is enough on its own to send me reaching for another glass, nor is it likely to have me clutching my stomach and praying for death under a table. It is a comforting sight in even the most sparsely appointed bars should you find yourself thirsty on your travels, but the label truly finds its value as a mixer.
FINAL SCORE: 75/100
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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...