Johnnie Walker has created three impressive new blends to celebrate 200 years since John Walker began blending whisky and opened his grocery store. The John Walker & Sons Celebratory Blend is based on Walker’s Old Highland Whisky from the 1860s, the first to use the iconic square bottle and slanted label, and includes modern stocks from distilleries that would have been operating at that time. Johnnie Walker Blue Label Legendary Eight builds on the Ghost and Rare series and is created from whiskies made at distilleries that existed 200 years ago. The aromas and flavors that might have been found in the grocer’s store in the 1820s inspired the selection of rare aged stocks in the John Walker & Sons Bicentenary Blend, including Port Ellen, Cambus, and Pittyvaich.
Johnnie Walker master blender Emma Walker led a tasting of Legendary Eight and the Celebratory Blend on Whisky Advocate’s #TasteWithSpace Instagram Live series. Hear how she and her colleagues created these special whiskies, and raise a glass to the entrepreneurial spirit of the man who began the Johnnie Walker journey.
Scores and Tasting Notes: Johnnie Walker Limited-Edition 200th Anniversary Blends
John Walker & Sons Bicentenary Blend
95 points, 46% ABV, $1,000
Drawn from stocks aged at least 28 years, this magnificent blend begins with aromas of burning heather, toffee, nuts, cigar smoke, leather, raisins, broken orange pekoe tea leaves, fruit loaf, black licorice, allspice, and cinnamon. Truly classic Johnnie Walker with smooth, warming flavors of orange, brown sugar, barley sugar, and gentle harmonious spice, followed by dark toffee, vanilla pod, candied peel, sultana, prune juice, malt, and cocoa.
Johnnie Walker Blue Label Legendary Eight
94 points, 43.8% ABV, $350
A blend of eight whiskies including Oban, Brora, Cambus, and Lagavulin, producing a sweet yet complex dram that may surprise regular Blue Label drinkers. The nose has peach, marmalade, brown sugar sprinkled on caramel, fine pepper, soft peatiness, oiled wood, and campfire smokiness. The sugary palate yields toffee apple, fudge, vanilla, dried fruit, peach, and gentle spice, then fiery smoke, pepper, cocoa, milky coffee, and chocolate. Legendary indeed.
John Walker & Sons Celebratory Blend
92 points, 51% ABV, $75
This spicy concoction, inspired by John Walker’s original Old Highland Whisky, has a nose of marzipan, candied peel, raisin, marmalade, aromatic spices, pepper, and ginger loaf, with a trace of cool smoke and peppermint. The strength and pepperiness give this plenty of clout, with a flavor unique among Johnnie Walker whiskies: brown sugar, hazelnut, royal icing on wedding cake, nuts, pepper, clove, peat, and blackened fruitcake.