Thanks to my buddy for pouring this as part of a Johnnie Walker vertical at a recent whisky tasting (we all socially distanced and stayed outside and were all fully vaccinated).
Average person asks you about whisky. In their head they barely know that Irish Whiskey and Bourbon and Canadian Whisky and Rye (both of them) and Scotch are all whisky. They think that you, a whisky drinker, will shriek in fear if water or ice comes anywhere close to your drink. They know of some brands but don’t necessarily know that it’s whisky. There’s no knowledge of abv, cask influence, regional differences, different types of stills, or ingredients.
Then you have new whisky fans, who know a bit, know they like the taste, and are just trying to figure it out. They will shriek if water comes near a whisky. They act like Scotch is liquid gold. They buy cases of stuff a crazy cat-eyed anime bible thumper says is good. They mix up the people above, and own whisky rocks, thus continuing on that terrible trend.
That is where blends come in. Blends are not lower than single malts or greater, they are just different. I’ve revisited them as a way to see the difference between ones with grain versus ones solely using malt. I don’t think I’ll ever stop revisiting them.
Enter a tasting where Johnnie Walker 18 popped up. My buddy has a thriving business and a mortgage and a daughter who he likes to hang out with and a group of friends. He doesn’t have the time of some whisky nerd who drinks so he can write in his ample spare time from a rented apartment.
So what’s in here? We don’t know. We only know it’s at least 18 years old. We know the alcohol by volume, and we know it’s a blend from multiple regions. We could go through the marketing to try and parse it out, however in the day and age when I can search their (much smaller) competitors and find out what’s in their blends I don’t feel like it.
It was at a tasting, I hadn’t had it before, I wrote notes and put it in my face hole. Let’s see how it tastes, shall we?
Price: $151 CAD
Colour: 2.5Y 8/10
Nose: Caramel, toast, seeds, heather
Lots of cereal and grass. Yes, I was sitting near a flower garden, no it wasn’t those flowers. Though it was lovely before the rain came. No rough notes, easy to nose. Nothing going too out of bounds on this one, though it’s different from other JW releases.
Taste: Caramel, orange, violet, gravel, toast
Sweet, a bit of acidity, no I’m not sitting near violets, and some more of those cereal notes. I think they meant to add some minerality here however it has a bit of mustiness that’s throwing it off.
Again, easy to drink. “Smooth” even, but there’s some different things going on with floral and minerality. Like someone remembered that the Lowland region existed. That makes dozens of us.
Finish: Toasted cereal, orange, chicory, heather
Long finish. If there’s any part of this whisky that finally screams “getting your money’s worth” then it’s the finish. More developed smoke, keeps with the acidity for brightness, has a bit of floral/smoke with the heather notes. I feel like there’s a bit missing in the lower abv. but colour me impressed: I’ve had other high end blended malts don’t land the finish.
Conclusion: Quite tasty, very smooth, nothing too over-the-top but a nice dram to sip. The finish is the most impressive part, taking a step up on floral or smoke notes while keeping that cereal element.
So should you buy this? Maybe. I think I still would recommend the Green Label for nerdier whisky people. This one keeps that up and coming group. Or if you would like a daily dram that tastes of seeds and flowers. Also the bottle and case looks nice on a shelf.
Otherwise I think there’s other whiskies (Scotch or not) out there that do the same thing.
Scotch review #1449, Blend review #128, Whisky Network review #2139