John Walker & Sons Celebratory Blend (2020)
It’s only March and this is already the second Johnnie Walker review of 2021. That’s quite unique, as I’ve only done a handful of tasting notes on the world’s best-selling Scotch whisky in this blog’s 7+ years of existence — three of which were of the high-end Johnnie Walker Blue Label. This time around I’ll take a closer look at the John Walker & Sons Celebratory Blend bottled for the 200th Anniversary of the Johhnie Walker brand.
Johnnie Walker’s history dates back to 1820, so last year saw a lot of special releases, like the Johnnie Walker Legendary Eight, which honestly seems like a great whisky that I’d love to try sometime. Alongside the liquid celebrations a book was launched, called A Long Stride: The Story of the World’s No. 1 Scotch Whisky. Written by Nicholas Morgan, formerly Diageo’s Head of Whisky Outreach, I heartily recommend this book to any whisky enthusiast. It offers much more than the story of just one brand, but rather an insight into how the whisky industry has developed over two centuries.
Seeing as I’m not a literary reviewer by any means, let’s turn our attention to the John Walker & Sons Celebratory Blend. The packaging is exquisite, but most importantly, this was designed to harken back to the original Old Highland Whisky. Launched by Johnnie Walker in 1867, it was the company’s first-ever commercial blend. This modern homage is bottled at a pleasing 51% to mirror the bottling strength of the Johnnie Walker releases from the 19th century.
John Walker & Sons Celebratory Blend (51%, OB, 2020)
Nose: Sweet, charred oranges with a very faint whisper of bonfire smoke, as well as warming baking spices and vanilla. What follows is a delicate combination of dried fruits, such as raisins and sultanas, and tinned fruits, like peach and pineapple. Top notch.
Taste: Creamy with soft notes of cherry syrup, toffee and raw sugar, quickly followed by oak tannins, peanuts and gentle spices. Finally some dry, earthy smoke and vanilla pods.
Finish: Somewhat drying. Lingering smoke, wood spices.
A whisky befitting such an iconic brand. It’s of high-quality yet affordable and widely available. Johnnie Walker’s blenders have done an absolutely admirable job here.
Whisky provided by Diageo
Thijs is a spirits writer and accredited liquorist from The Netherlands. He runs the blog Words of Whisky and contributes to a number of Dutch and international publications.