Whilst I have bad memories about Johnnie Walker Red Label which continue to haunt me when when I smell a scotch and coke, Johnnie Walker Green and Blue Labels sit on the polar opposite of the spectrum and they are amongst the tastiest drams I’ve tried. This made me curious about a lesser known member of the Johnnie Walker family, the XR 21.
Johnnie Walker XR 21 is, as the name suggests, a 21 year old blended Scotch whisky. It commemorates the knighthood of Alexander Walker, the son of Jonnie Walker who inherited the business from his father and exported whisky around the former British Empire. Alexander Walker’s knighthood was earned in 1920 and received from King George V.
The whisky itself, being a “blended whisky”, comprises of malt and grain whiskies which have been aged in barrels for at least 21 years. In that respect, it seems positioned as a direct competitor of the, perhaps more well known, Royal Salute which is a 21 year old blended Scotch whisky produced by Chivas Regal.
Nose: Dense oak, cigars, and smoke, softened by candied oranges, vanilla and honey.
Taste: Soft peat emerges more strongly than on the nose, layered with dark chocolate, subtle dried fruit, spicy tobacco, and oak with soft wood smoke and sweet dark honey.
Finish: A long, lingering and drying finish with gradually intensifying wood spices, dark chocolate, and wisps of smoke.
Overall: Very well balanced oak driven flavours meld with soft peat smoke to make this a luxurious tasting whisky with a rich character which moves seamlessly from the nose to the palate, culminating in a drying spicy finish.