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Which well-respected veteran radio presenter is synonymous with a similarly time-honoured brand of Scotch whisky? Its not David Jacobs, its not Terry Wogan (that would be Irish, I think), its Johnnie Walker.
Long before Radio Caroline in fact, over a century earlier, in 1820, the original Johnnie Walker established his business at Kilmarnock, west of Scotland. At the time, malt whiskies and grain whiskies were bottled singly. Having discovered that single whiskies, like wine, could vary from one year to the next, he pioneered the art of whisky blending, in his aim to create a high quality whisky with consistent flavour and quality. Through blending, he found he could achieve a depth of flavour unattainable in a single malt. His son Alexander continued the tradition, and made the name Johnnie Walker synonymous with the best Scotch. Its not the only brand on the market, but the walking man in the red coat is surely one of the best known.
The experts say you should drink it neat, or with a little spring water, as careful dilution helps to release more flavour and helps to rein in the alcoholic excesses. (Steady on folks, were talking about being connoisseurs, tasting and enjoying the stuff, not trying to get smashed and turning into another Shane MacGowan or Bon Scott). I prefer mine neat, or on the rocks. Ive tried it with a touch of soda water, but theres something not quite right about that possibly both tastes cancelling each other out? Apparently the cognoscenti dont recommend you do this either, so I won't argue with them.
I also read somewhere that getting the best out of whisky requires going somewhere with abysmally bad weather, questionable gastronomy and distinct lack of daylight hours. The author recommended Scotland, but although I live at the opposite end of the British mainland, I wouldnt be so presumptuous as to dare agree with him or her. All balderdash, though I tend to prefer Johnnie Walker whisky in colder weather.
The red label (40% proof), which is the least expensive, has an enticing, pleasantly sharp and slightly smoky taste. It doesnt leave an unpleasant aftertaste, though. Some whiskies (no names, no pack drill) taste too sharp and bitter and seem devoid of flavour. Thats not the case with this one. Most bars stock this one because of the competitive price, though theres no need to look down on it because of that. A standard size (70 cl) bottle will set you back about £16-18.
If you want to move upmarket, theres also Johnnie Walker black label, gold label and blue label. These are more expensive, but (or should I say and), Ive never sampled either of these. Gold is 43% proof, the other two 40% like its inexpensive red sibling, but the prices vary again in 70 cl bottles, black label sets you back around £22, gold £50 and blue label - take a deep breath - a not inconsiderable £180. (Thats quite a lot of dooyoo miles, isnt it?) If it makes any difference to you, each bottle has its own serial number. The words investment potential come vaguely to mind.
One day maybe Ill get to taste these (I can dream, cant I), but until then the good old red un does me nicely.
I cant fit in any saucy jokes à la The Great Alcohol Expert on this site, but I do have one little true story to run past you. A few days ago, wife and I poured ourselves out a small glass of medium sherry with which to greet the early evening before going out somewhere. She went upstairs to get changed, picked up a half-empty glass and knocked it back in one, only to get a bit of a burning sensation on her tongue (sadly, she has a long-running chronic problem which so far has baffled the doctors). Unbeknown to her, I had finished my sherry early and give myself a wee top-up of the red label JW. I still havent lived that one down.
For more info and the usual grossly biased extravagant claims, see the official website at http://www.scotchwhisky.com/english/about/blended/johnnie_walker.htm
The name Johnnie Walker is synonymous with whiskey and the name epitomizes quality and respect. Johnnie Walker was a grocer in Kilmarnock in the 1820's. He began to blend whiskey under his brand called Walker's Kilmarnock Whiskey and from then on he thrived and became world famous. The Red Label was launched by his sons in the early 1900's and as the company began to prosper Black Label was introduced by his grandsons. More recently other labels like the Gold Label and Blue Label have been introduced. Red Label is the flagship label of Johnnie Walker and is presently the biggest selling brand in the world. Personally I am not a whiskey drinker but this has not stopped me in indulging in the odd one every now and then. The brand that's usually available at homes of my friends is Johnnie Walker Red Label and therefore it became my brand of choice if I'm ever in the mood for a whiskey. The choice although sort of forced on me by circumstances is an excellent one and one that I have no reason whatsoever to feel adversely against. I usually have mine straight and on the rocks which is supposed to be the way that whiskey is drunk. However the norm nowadays is having it with soda, water or coke. How Mr Johnnie Walker would have cringed in his grave if he knew that. One thing that I can say about Red Label is that, as I had mentioned in the first line of this opinion, it and all other labels, are synonymous with quality and this is the primary reason why Johnnie Walker is the best selling brand in the world today. Over 40 varieties of malt are used in the brewing process for Red Label and more varities are used in the Gold and Blue Labels. All these varieties of malt are perfectly blended to create superb whiskey that has all the arributes of an excellent Scotch. A 70cl bottle of Red Label goes for just under £18.00 which to me is very reasonable for such a high quality spirit.
For those of us who are not so accustomed to it one of the simplest ways to know a good whiskey is it's smoothness. I have tasted other cheaper brands and with these you can feel the sharpness of the spirit in your mouth and when you swallow it the same sharpness and almost brutual feeling is felt as it goes down your throat and into your stomach. Red Label is just the opposite. It is smooth and sure you can feel the alcohol but it's evident in such a way that makes the drink pleasant and in such a way that you feel comfortable with. It's really something that pretty difficult to explain but I hope that you get the jist of what I am trying to say. As was the case with my father I will surely end up a whiskey drinker myself in the forthcoming years of my life and the brand of my grandfathers, fathers and probably my choice will be Johnnie Walker. Wether it be Red, Black, Gold or Blue, this I will not know until the time comes.
For anyone out there that has not tried Johnnie Walker whisky all I can possibly say is you really don't know what you are missing. Even if you don't like whisky, JW is an extra special treat. That may sound silly but for most people who say they don't like whisky, it's probably because they tried Bells first. This is rather a strong whisky, not so much in alcohol content but a rather strong pungent flavour. If it has put you off whisky, don't let it! To start with I recommend you drink a little single malt, with some spring water added, gradually easing off with the water until its neat and then you can appreciate the "real" taste of whisky. One of the best single malts that I like is Cardhu Highland Scotch Whisky. Funny enough, it is this very same one that is part of the Johnniw Walker blend. Cardhu is distilled in the Speyside region of Scotland, in Knockando. The water used for distilling is from the Mannoch Hills. If you are ever in Scotland, a visit to Cardhu distillery is very worthwhile. If nothing else, the smell of whisky there is gorgeous! Now, moving on to Johnnie Walker.... You can get JW is 4 different varieties... Red Label Black Label Gold Label Blue Label Most common is the Red and Black label. --------------------------------------------- Red Label: 40% Red Label whiskies have consistently won awards in competitions; recently Red Label won Gold and Grand Gold Medals at the Monde Selection Awards, one of the drinks industry's most respected international events. And in 1996 it won a Gold Medal in the International Wine and Spirit Competition in the blended Scotch Whisky category. This whisky is the cheapest of all and has a strong deep taste to it. It contsians 35 malt whiskies and 5 grain whiskies. Still nice though. -----------------------------------
---------- Black Label: 40% At the heart of Black Label lies 12 year old Cardhu, as was mentioned earlier. This whisky is beautiful, and has a lovely smoky finish to it. Over 40 single malts are blended in the Black Label so you really have a varied taste in this one. This is also common and can be bought for around £20 in a lot of shops. There is no reason why you should not try this one!! --------------------------------------------- Gold Label: 43% For around £50 depending on where you buy this, you will get one of the best blended whiskies in the entire world. This was the first JW I tried and the taste is stunning. If you like whisky but have never tried this for hell and high water go and buy it ASAP! You will not regret it. --------------------------------------------- Blue Label: 40% This is a rare whisky and it is not sold in too many shops, I have only seen it a few times. It is mainly made up of Isle of Islay malts and has a strong inner taste like nothing else. This should be drunk after you have tried all the others though. This is very expensive though. A 70cl bottle can cost around £135. --------------------------------------------- "Johnnie Walker & Sons have pursued a single minded vision to make our whisky of such quality that nothing shall come before it". That is the message Johnnie Walker gives out to it's customers, and rightfully so! They must be tried at least once, but I will warn you, if you do try it once be prepared to try it again as you will become addicted. Even the Royal family can't get enough of it!
Johnnie Walker Whiskey is the finest whiskey available, but unlike any other luxery good you have to pay top dollar to enjoy the excellence. Johnnie Walker Red: This costs $32 for a fifth and is good in soda or on the rocks. Most bars carry this as it is the cheapest of the JW stable. Johnnie Black: This cost about $42 for a fifth. It is much harsher and it has a deeper charcoal flavor. It is not as smooth as the others. This is drunk straight or on ice. Johnnie Walker Gold: $68 per fith. In my opinion this is the best of the JW. It is silky smooth, great on the rocks or straight. It is awesome. The best whiskey in the world. Johnnie Walker Blue: $200 per fith. Smooth, not as smooth as gold. It is just a status symbol and my next fifth will be Gold. This is a much more rarer scotch. It is harsh and the taste is ironically similar to the red with just a greater price. I bought a bottle of this last month to celebrate my last child support payment. Just so you know this opinion has been very well researched by emptying countless shot glasses and bottles. This whiskey doesn't leave me with such a headache as other scotch. I have found that tequila generally makes mem mean and Vodka makes me sad and angry and want to break stuff. This Scotch just makes me happy.
Johnnie Walker is a brand of Scotch whisky produced in Kilmarnock, Scotland and imported to the United States by Diageo North America, Inc. Norwalk, Connecticut. It is the most widely distributed brand of Scotch whisky in the world, sold in almost every country and with yearly sales of over 120 million bottles.