Johnnie Walker Gold Label Centenary Blend

Spirit Name:

Spirit Type:

Johnnie Walker Gold Label 18 Year Old “Centenary Blend”
Джо́нни Уо́кер Голд Лэйбл 18-летний

Blended whisky

3, medal, silver icon


Best served:

Peat, flowers, vegetation, frost, dried fruit, fresh fruit, vanilla, clay woodfire, crusty pastry, olive bread, buttery, marshmallow, chocolate, sprinkles, salt, honey soaked pastry, nuts, creamy vanilla

Торф, цветы, растительность, мороз, сухофрукты, свежие фрукты, ваниль, глины Woodfire, хрустящие печенья, оливковый хлеб, маслянистый, зефир, шоколад, брызгает, соль, пропитанные медом печенье, орехи, сливочное ванильное

A stroll in a dewy English garden on a frosty morning is interrupted by a sudden spray of peat and salt that develop into a smoky haze as shades of vanilla, fruit and honey soaked pasty balance the harmonious fusion of peat, flowers, fruit and oak – a magical union that leaves the tongue tingling with life and craving more of this Johnnie Walker sorcery! 

Tasting notes/Story:
A joyful stroll down the leafy green suburbs of Melbourne was interrupted by the sight of bottles in a window, and I could not resist a quick peek in Vintage Cellars in Williamstown (Victoria, Australia). I had purchased my girlfriend a massage voucher that morning, and I had an hour of uninterrupted and unhurried spirit perusing. The flash of a number “18” reflecting the sun caught my eye. The bottle was a Johnnie Walker Gold Label “Centenary Blend”, a now discontinued Johnnie Walker expression that has vanished from all the bars and retailers I have visited in the last year. After rubbing my eyes in disbelief and rushing to the counter with the goofiest smile I’ve had in years, I purchased the bottle for $74.90– the very last one. Bargain! I could not wipe the smug (OK, I’ll admit, goofy still) smile off my face all day.

This “Centenary Blend” was first crafted by Sir Alexander Walker in 1920, about 100 years after his grandfather, Johnnie Walker, started selling blended whisky as a 14 year old grocery store manager in Ayrshire, Scotland. It was released to the market in 1997 and has now been discontinued, having been replaced by the (in my opinion at least) inferior Platinum Label and Gold Label Reserve. Be careful, some bars still claim to sell “Gold Label” but in fact all they have is the Gold Label Reserve – be sure to ask to see the bottle before ordering anything “Gold Label”. Unlike the Gold Label Reserve which has no age statement, the “Centenary Blend” is comprised of malt and grain whiskies that are at least 18 years old.

The “old” Johnnie Walker core range
The new additions: Gold Label
Reserve and Platinum Label
You may already know that the Johnnie Walker core range consists of a number of whiskies, and from least expensive to most expensive these are: Red Label, Black Label, Double Black, Green Label (discontinued), Gold Label Reserve (new), Gold Label 18 Year Old (discontinued), Platinum Label 18 Year Old (new) and Blue Label. In my opinion, the Gold Label 18 Year Old, Green Label and Black Label are the very best in the range. The Gold Label Reserve and Platinum Label sit quietly collecting dust, and there is no desire to return to them… but the mere utterance of the words “green label”, “gold label” or “black label” causes the mouth to salivate! 

To add to the legendary status of the Johnnie Walker Gold Label (or “JW Gold”), fans of The Sopranos will remember that the show had a lot of product placements (perfectly placed at times, so that the product label was in clear view for the viewers). Salvatore “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero, a member of the Soprano crew played by Vincent Pastore, offered Skip, an FBI agent played by Louis Lombardi, a bottle of “JW Gold” which was “rejected” but still taken back to headquarters and left with the FBI boss… 

In The Sopranos “Big Pussy” offers fictional FBI agent “Skip”
a bottle of “JW Gold”

JW Gold is legendary. It reflects a blend created by Alexander Walker in 1920, and celebrates the success of his grandfather Johnnie Walker who started it all 100 years earlier. Not only does it have a great story and marketing history, but it is also exceptional blended whisky. Unfortunately Johnnie Walker have not (in my view at least) been able to replicate the magic of the Gold Label and Green Label in its existing portfolio which now includes the Gold Label Reserve and Platinum Label. 

Now, here are my tasting notes for the Gold Label. 

Nose: A floral bouquet adds sweetness to the underlying peat, creating a flowery wonderland – like a dewy English garden on a frosty morning. The fruit is ridiculously complex, with a fleshy mandarin segment and citrus peel shavings lying over dried fruit and crusty olive bread slathered with butter. Fresh banana rises up with some marshmallow and chocolate layered with sprinkles, as the oak strikes ever so gently; flickering with the flecks of barley that both illuminate the fog of peat and fruit. This whisky offers an almost perfect union of peat, fruit, floral, vegetal and cereal notes – they all gel together harmoniously. As the whisky rests, the smell of a clay woodfire oven develops with the aroma of salt pastries. 

Taste: Luscious and indulgent, the whisky is mouth-filling and resonates gentle shades of vanilla that counteract the sprays of peat and salt – that peat and salt progressively develop in intensity after swallowing, but the sweet notes act as a counterbalance.  Those sweet notes beam through the peat brightly, much like honey soaked baklava (pastry) with crushed nuts and the gentlest shimmer of glazed cherries. There is a smoky haze, mild and rekindling memories of the clay woodfire oven in Anzano di Puglia (Italy) many years ago – we found some wood in the pizza that day! That memory comes to my mind every time I taste this whisky – I’ve not thought about it in many years. Amazing. This whisky comprises of about 15 whiskies, but the Talisker and Clynelish shines through as the other whiskies add a little bit of their own charm to create one of the most spectacular blends I have tasted. This is sensational whisky, and it is obviously very high in malt whisky. 

This whisky is very different to the Gold Label Reserve and Platinum Label, having more peat and salt in its character with a smokiness and sweetness that gels everything together in one harmonious stoke of genius. When compared to the Gold Label Reserve and Platinum Label, the Gold Label is more interesting, balanced, peaty, vibrant and harmonious without clashing character.  

Finish: Fruity, with a creamy layer of vanilla lingering on the palate with mild plumes of smoke and salt. The tongue tingles with energy, superb.

Complexity and indulgent character that merges beautifully the worlds of peat and unpeated whisky to create a vibrant buzz that energizes the palate 


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