Published on April 5th, 2014 | by Gavin0
Johnnie Walker Super Deluxe Portfolio
On an unusually sunny evening in East London, I was invited to try out some of the best blended whisky that money can buy courtesy of Johnnie Walker. After a long day in the office and an avid whisky fan, I couldn’t think of a more perfect way to unwind!
I arrive at the Hoxton Hotel to find 4 vials staring back at me, beckoning me to come over and say Hi. Inside the vials we have four products in what Diageo (multi-national company that owns Johnnie Walker) call the Super Deluxe range; Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve (RRP £42 / 70cl), JW Platinum (RRP £65 / 70cl), JW Blue Label (RRP £135 / 70cl), and the jewel in the crown, JW Blue Label King George V special edition (RRP £440 / 70cl).
I’m licking my lips intently, but before I can get in, brand ambassadors Colin Dunn and Andrea Montague talk us through Johnnie Walker’s humble beginnings in the family green grocer’s in Kilmarnock in 1820. The then 15 year old John began blending teas but soon applied the skills gained to whisky instead. Although John was one of the best at his craft, it wasn’t until the late 1800s when the brand started gaining worldwide recognition, thanks to ships leaving Scotland taking Johnnie Walker all over the British Empire.
And nearly 200 years on, Johnnie Walker is arguably the most recognisable spirit brand in the world, and that’s the reason I’m sat in an East London Hotel with their luxury portfolio in front of me. Gold Label comes in a shiny gold bottle and the liquid inside is equally impressive. Unlike much of the JW range, the flavour is dominated by summer fruits with a subtle creaminess to it.
Next up, it’s Platinum Label which has much of the strong smoky character of Johnnie Walker I’ve become accustomed to from spending many an evening sipping Black Label; strong, woody; and plenty of in your face profiles. A great whisky to drink while sat in front of a wood fire.
The third in the line-up is the unmistakable Blue Label. Before drinking, Colin Dunn asks that we let it settle on the tongue for a monstrous 60 seconds before swallowing?! Surely this is some kind of sick joke, but no, he’s deadly serious. The first 30 seconds is alcohol burn hell, but the final 30 are pure heaven; deep and rich with a taste that evolves as it slips down the throat and the tongue has time to digest every flavour. It really is as good as blended whisky gets, and it’s easy to see why only 1 in every 10,000 casks is good enough to make it into Blue Label.
Last, but by no means least, we have Blue Label King George V special edition; a blend created to celebrate the first warrant given to Johnnie Walker in 1934 to supply the British royal household. At over £400 a bottle, this is not whisky to take likely, so I take my time savouring every drop. Although it was beautiful, I don’t think I’d pay such a premium price when I could buy Blue Label for roughly a third of the price.
A thoroughly enjoyable evening that reaffirmed my love for Johnnie Walker. Blue Label is obviously the big draw in the Super Deluxe range, but that’s not to take anything away from the others. Gold will appeal to those who enjoy a light, subtle whisky, whereas Platinum has a rugged, enjoy with a Cuban cigar, type attractiveness.
The entire Johnnie Walker portfolio is available from The Whisky Exchange, prices vary.