Monday, November 22, 2010

Malt Mission 2010 #390

The John Walker
Blended Scotch Whisky
43% abv

Watched a great piece on Bloomberg late last night, as the wee'un refused to pass out before 1am, about the creation and rise of Google. The relevance of this relates directly to this post as my engagement with this whisky called attention to the complete superiority of Google as a search engine.

Using Google to search "The John Walker" the top results related to the whisky and also brought up relevant images and video. Bing apparently hates whisky and the first TEN results had only to do with the (amazing) Walker Brothers, some English jewleller, and a German Studies professor at Birkbeck. The videos and images were equally unrelated. Sure, sticking " " around the term, like we used to do back in 2002, got me the results I wanted, but c'mon.

If "don't be evil" really had any meaning they would spend more time (and money) creating ways to share information OTHER than personal information with advertisers and researchers and thinkers and hackers (like Wikipedia, which incidentally NEEDS your support) But Bing just confused me and got me downloading new music and online lectures.

Moving on, as I have nothing too clever to say as I lie here quietly typing between a sleeping wife and a sleeping baby...

In a conversation with friends and whisky lovers the other night, the idea emerged of whether companies could release their fancy-bottle whiskies alongside plain package versions with the appropriate price difference. The topic is relevant in the case of this beautiful £2000 bottle, which, in the press release, spends nearly every word in and around describing the luxury, workmanship and eleven layers of lacquer with only two lines relating to the liquid itself.

That being said, and perfume bottle comparisons aside, I think the pack is beautiful. Disctinctively Johnnie, bold, confident and stylish. Would I buy it? No. Would I drink it? Oh hell yes.

The John Walker was created out of a desire to have a "top shelf" Johnnie Walker along the lines of Louis XIII from Remy Martin, Ambassador Jonathan Driver informed us at the Coburg Bar in London. With such an aim, the liquid had to be gold and Jim Beveridge, Master Blender of Johnnie Walker, was given the enviable task to "go away and make a technically brilliant blend."

Pulling from grain distilleries like Cambus, malts like Cardhu, Glen Albyn, and Talisker, the whisky uses the full stable of whiskies available to a Diageo nose. It isn't made up of a bunch of old whiskies, or just rare closed ones, rather it is a wide spread of styles and ages to create something different and exquisite. Jonathan spoke of "breaking conventions by knowing traditions", and there is no doubt that the nose behind it all has the chops for the task. And really, that is what blending is all about.


Accumulative, growing and developing with each whiff, floral, fresh and outdoorsy with chamomile and sweet grass, coffee, brown sugar, complex and alluring. Citrus and smoke appear, with more aromatic sweetness. Something new with each nosing.

Licorice, honey, more chamomile and coffee, mocha, a distinctly resiny character balanced by a beautiful melon freshness. Elegant and layered with richness.


As cynical as a whisky geek can tend to be, this was really quite wonderful and I can only hope that the folks shelling out the dough for this stuff appreciate the provenance, the history, the quality casks and the blending skill that went into making it. To make up for those who don't, I seriously advise those who DO give a shit to find a drop of this and taste it. It is a remarkable blend.

1 comment:

Jason Debly said...

I could never buy this. I just think of how many bottles of Balvenie Portwood 21yrs I could have for the price of one bottle of Johnnie.