Best served: Neat, with ice
Theme(s): Peat, smoke, fruit (esp apple)
Likes: Over 40 whiskies blended with near perfection
Dislikes: Weak finish
Johnnie Walker Black Label was the favourite whisky of Christopher Hitchins, a public commentator and free thinker who I admire very much. His masterful intellect and witty humour kept me in awe as he would OWN without a shadow of doubt anyone he debated, “Hitchslapping” them without mercy! In fact, his love for Scotch re-ignited my own passion for whisky; a passion which was hibernating for a few years after initially enjoying whisky tasting in my College as a masters student in England.
Johnnie Walker Black is aged for a minimum of 12 years, and it is a blend of over 40 whiskies. It takes you on a journey through the Scottish whisky regions, from Speyside to the Islands. I am not sure what is in this blend, but I can taste some Talisker and characteristics of Speyside.
This whiskey received a gold medal at the 2012 International Wine and Spirits Competition and it is described as “liquid gold” in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2012. I blind tasted this whisky alongside Johnnie Walker Blue Label and Johnnie Walker Platinum Label – the Black Label was my favourite of the three. While less elegant than the Blue Label and less fruity than the Platinum Label, the Black Label had good clout with a lovely creamy soft delivery and sensational dry smoke. For this reason, I chose the Johnnie Walker Black Label as my favourite.
The Black Label has a remarkable nose. It is soft and supple with grain cutting through light smokiness as delicate sweetness adds beautiful balance.
With the texture of velvet this whisky delivers a creamy bitterness with a dense smoke that soon evaporates giving way to dried apple and buttery shortbread. The Black Label delivers a vibrant sweetness that weaves around the dry peat smoke to provide a beautifully balanced whisky, as hints of sea salt, peat, sweet fruit and bursts of spice complete the magical balancing act. This whisky takes me on a journey through the sweet mannered whiskies of Speyside, the coastal saltiness of some Island whiskies then south to the peat smoke of Skye and Islay!
I have three pages of tasting notes… but I’m sure you know by now that I love Johnnie Walker Black Label.
Pacing itself, the Black Label ignites the tongue with a warm glow which remains for a long time. It does not deliver an initial explosion but instead consistently warms and releases flavour; though it is weak and frail.
In my opinion this whisky is the best value blended whisky on the market. It is gentle and soft with the characteristics of a well aged whisky (remember, 12 years is just the minimum age of the whiskies used in this blend, they can be older). With the snap of youth and the silky delicateness of age this whisky offers a light smokiness that leaves a crisp dryness on the tongue combined with dried fruits and creamy oats all gelled together with an oily texture.
Ravishing, this whisky is definitely sex in a glass. It is fitting then that this whisky is a gift from my girlfriend, the most beautiful woman in the world.