Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve

Name:

Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve 
Джо́нни Уо́кер Голд Лэйбл

Type:


Score:
Blended whisky 
виски

89/100

ABV:
40% 
Region:
Scotland  
Body:
Medium-full 
Intensity:
Medium 
Texture:
Oily  
Balance:
Superb  
Best served:
Neat  

Theme(s):
Fresh citrus, citrus leaves, soft fruit, lush green  
In a nutshell:
A gust of fresh lush green peat carries soft citrus fruits (orange and lime in particular) that are moderated by a honeyed sweetness that weaves in and out of sparks of youthfulness and mellow luscious age that carry citrus, blackcurrant and star anise. This is a fresh and vibrant whisky, and dangerously “more-ish”.  
Likes:
Soft and mellow character with lovely texture 
Dislikes:
Can be a little one dimensional after a while, has mild stench of new spirit hiding within blend 
Price:
 $73

The new addition of the Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve into the Johnnie Walker family is marked by the removal of the 15 Year Old Green Label and the 18 Year Old Gold Label. Unlike its older siblings which are nearing extinction with each bottle that is enjoyed, the new baby of the family has no age statement and is thus the “Gold Label Reserve” (not to be confused with the Gold Label 18 Year Old, which is already unavailable in most retail shelves and in its stead rests the new Platinum Label 18 Year Old).

It is stated on the box that the Master Blender, Jim Beveridge, “hand-picked his favoured whiskies, including casks of Clynelish malt whisky – whose water source flows from the Kildonan Hills, where gold was discovered in 1868”. That is all very nice, isn’t it? This whisky is described as a “bold, confident Scotch whisky that is luxurious and indulgent”. 
The character of Clynelish shines through in this whisky, but Johnnie Walker have produced something that stands apart from its ingredients. 
Nose 
On the nose this whisky is soft and subtle, luscious and with little harshness. Sweetness gently floats up from the liquid, reminding me of pineapple, apple pie, fresh peaches and other soft fruits. The aroma of peat mingles with this sweetness, as it delivers lush green and dried twigs. This is quite different from the Clynelish 14 Year Old, as the Clynelish released the smell of citrus with orange zest dominating and of course it did not have a distinctive dry smoky peat in the backdrop. After letting the Gold Label Reserve rest in the glass, it opened up and released the smell of lemon zest and crushed lemon leaves. My nose can rest in this glass for a very long time relishing the smell of this whisky… but foreplay can’t last forever!

There is noticeable youthfulness to this whisky, as the smell of immature whisky fights its way through the more mature whiskies in this blend. That smell of new spirit shines very weakly in the complex orchard in the glass: lush green, twigs, orange, lime, zest, lemon leaves and gentle earthiness.

Taste 
When this whisky hits the tongue its fruitiness moves up a notch, releasing the strong citrus and orange peel I associated with the Clynelish single malt. I can definitely taste the Clynelish in this whisky, but all credit to Jim Beveridge for creating a magnificent whisky that has an identity and character of its own as it releases some notes of very mild peat with blackcurrant and star anise. This whisky offers a symphony of young and old grains offering a diversity of flavours that balances softness and a velvety smooth texture with clout.

The dried paw paw and apricot mingle with the slightest herbaceous earthiness, to provide enough smokiness for a dry lingering finish. 

Finish 
This whisky slides down the tongue and illuminates the mouth and throat with a pleasant warm glow. The taste of citrus fruits (especially orange peel) remains on my tongue. The back of my tongue is left with a crisp dryness like sipping a good chardonnay, as smokey notes chime in. This is a beautifully crafted whisky, very enjoyable and luscious.  

Overall 
  
The Gold Label Reserve is sophisticated, offering depth and complexity with lots of layers that need time to tease out and peel away. The addition of a splash of water (not too much!) releases lovely floral aromas, vanilla and almonds subduing the initial sharpness of soft fruits like pineapple. The nose then develops nutmeg and the wondrous scents of a bakery in the morning. Freshness then comes through, a gentle breeze of fresh air with leafiness and pine. The taste remains robust, with lots of citrus and orange though this is softened slightly and replaced with cantaloupe and softer fruits too. 
The Gold Label Reserve offers a distinct fire and charm with a soft silkiness in its delivery which allows the Clynelish to shine through while retaining its own distinctive character: nice work Jim!

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3 Responses to Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve

  1. Hi,
    I'm interested to know what your thoughts are concerning the very original bottling of Johnnie Walker Gold 15 yrs. @ 43% abv. that was intended for the Asian market in the early 90's, stocks are becoming quite low these days & rather costly as well when found, Thank's for your time, would very much like to read your musings as I havn't had any luck finding info on this subject, it's one of my fave offerings from Johnnie Walker with 'Pure' Malt 15 yrs. coming a close second, the Gold is LUSH, honeyed finishing with dried fruit (tropical) & subtle spice, I prefer it neat with no ice or water finding that it also develops after resting in the glass for a while, smooooth as silk !
    Cheers !

  2. Hello,

    Thanks for your comment. Do you mean the Johnnie Walker Green Label 15 Year Old? I've reviewed this here: http://maltmileage.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/johnnie-walker-green-label-15-year-old.html

    Cheers,
    Angelo

  3. G'day
    Angelo,
    I have the Green although mine are labelled *Pure Malt* 15 yr. old, the very first presentation & the edition of Johnnie Walker Gold label I'm referring to is also the first, the very original 'Gold' label 15 years old (750 ml. @ 43%ABV) offered to the Japanese market in the 1980's, do you have any information regarding this rare blend, it was bottled in blue flint glass with a cork closure.
    Regards,
    Virvoy.

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