Johnnie Walker Blue Label has pretty much cemented itself in pop culture as the de facto premium Scotch whisky. If you’re a fan of the cartoon series Archer, you might have heard of Glengoolie Blue. A pretty overt nod to the blue label. With it’s younger brother, Johnnie Walker Black Label, catering to palates of many whisky drinkers, the Blue seems to be reserved for the wealthy or special occasions. Whenever people find out that I like whisky, the most common question I get is if I’ve tried the Blue Label. Curiously, I haven’t tried it up until very recently. Mostly because the price tag seemed unjustified (at least I wasn’t interested in paying that much just to try it) and the availability of it made it likely that samples would eventually cross my path.
Lo and behold! Our good friend Barry from the Whiskyphiles, gifted us a very nice sample of the Blue. I had actually tried it last year at a family gathering but I was not able to take notes due to party duties. So it felt pretty awesome to get a sample from Barry!
Something that has always fascinated me about the Blue Label is the line it seems to draw between whisky drinkers (not inlcuding those who have it in a cocktail). By this I am refering to the blend drinkers and the single malt drinkers. Perhaps this dichotomy is best described by a line from the 1996 cult film “Swingers” where one of the main protagonists orders at the bar, “I’ll have a scotch on the rocks, please. Any scotch will do, as long as it’s not a blend, of course.” (I love the idea of drinking only single malts on the rocks, very Kardashian). Premium blend drinkers seem to be stereotyped as overly wealthy individuals who trust the price tag of the product as a verification for quality, while single malt drinkers seem to be stereotyped as a bit like craft beer drinkers with a snobbishness for the sake of snobbery and perhaps hipsterness. It seems to me that both camps are more similar than they would like to admit with their focus on defining their identities by consumption. But hey that’s the whole premise of this blog! Just a bit of brain gum for you to chew on. If there’s a moral in there somewhere, I think it would be that we should all just be happy that we have whisky.
While no age statement is provided with the Blue Label, it is often hinted that some very old whiskies are used to make this blend.
Age: No Age Statement
Cask: No information available
Lemon zest, vanilla cream, cookie biscuits, white pepper, wax, honey. Very sweet and fruity. Like fresh summer fruits with honey drizzled on and whipped cream.
Caramel followed by waxy bitterness, peppery like rocket. Hint of canned fruits.
Waxy tartness, Vanilla wafers, caramel, rocket bitterness.
This has a really lovely inviting nose with warm fruity creamy sweetness balanced by a waxiness that reminded me a lot of Clynelish. The body and finish however just didn’t seem as forthcoming with the fruity side being very under represented. It is definitely a smooth drink and I can see how it caters to more relaxed whisky drinkers. I suppose it is very blendy in character which may appeal to a wider audience but lacks that bite that I love. I wish I could try this at 50% because I think it would probably be a whole different story.
Image at top sourced from: