There are fewer whisky brands out there more famous and well known than Johnnie Walker.
Produced by drinks giant Diageo, Johnnie Walker is a brand of Scotch whisky, often blended, that is incredibly popular all around the world.
With a history dating all the way back to 1820 when it was initially founded, Johnnie Walker now has millions upon millions of loyal fans who can’t get enough of this wonderful tipple. Sure, some Scotch whisky purists out there may not be fans, and that’s perfectly fine, we all have our preferences. Some love blended Scotch, and some don’t. We have at Great Drams however, love whisky in all its forms.
While Johnnie Walker have released a number of fantastic drams over the years, generally their ‘Red Label’ and ‘Black Label’ releases are their most popular, and most well-known whiskies. That could soon change.
Recently, Johnnie Walker announced the release of their Blue Label Xordinarie – an expert blend of premium Scotch whiskies which have been finished in XO cognac casks. The end result is something truly spectacular indeed.
A Quick History Lesson
Before we can look at what it is that makes Johnnie Walker Blue Label Xordinaire so popular, we’ll first give you a brief history lesson of the Johnnie Walker brand.
The brand was founded by a grocer by the name of John Walker, back in 1820. Walker, who was a native of Kilmarnock, founded the business, as well as a grocery shop, with his son and grandson.
Johnnie Walker whisky is the world’s most popular Scotch whisky and is available in virtually every single country. Initially it was produced and bottled in Kilmarnock, at the town’s Hill Street plant. This was once the biggest bottling plant in the world. Sadly, all good things must come to an end and in 2012, after Diageo decided to close the plant, the relationship between Johnnie Walker whisky and Kilmarnock, came to an end after more than 190 years.
Interestingly, Walker himself didn’t drink and was teetotal. His grocery store however, sold numerous spirits including gin, brandy, rum, and of course, whisky. Whisky proved his most popular spirit and he began focussing on that.
The blending of malt whiskies with grain whiskies was banned, so Walker would sell blended grain, and blended malt whiskies, rather than combining the two. He used to sell them to order, blending them based upon what his customers asked for. As the years went by, Walker began using his name on the labels of his blends. He sold a hugely popular blended malt, labelled as ‘Walker’s Kilmarnock Whisky’.
Walker sadly passed away in 1857, leaving his son Alexander ‘Alec’ Walker, and his grandson Alexander Walker II to take over the whisky business.
In 1860, a new act known as The Spirits Act 1860, was passed which made it legal once again to blend malt whiskies with grain whiskies. The Walkers were all over this and helped to revolutionise the whisky blending industry as we know it today.
Now, those of you familiar with Jonnie Walker whisky, will instantly know that there is something unique about the bottle. ‘What’s that’? We hear you cry. Well, the bottle is actually square, rather than your typical cylindrical bottle shape. This was done deliberately by the Walkers and in 1860 they introduced their signature, and now-iconic, square bottle design. This was very clever because not only did it reinforce the bottles and make them harder (hopefully you’ve never experienced the heartache of smashing a full bottle of whisky) and tougher to break, but it also meant that they could fit more bottles on shelves, and in boxes for shipping.
Another very interesting thing about Johnnie Walker whisky is the labels. The labels were, and still are in fact, applied at a 24 degree angle up and to the left. This allows the text to be bigger, and therefore more visible. You have to admit, if whisky hadn’t worked out for them, the two Walkers would have been fantastic in marketing and advertising.
The years ticked by, the brand grew, the Walkers purchased numerous distilleries, and they managed to turn Johnnie Walker whisky into the world’s most popular blended Scotch.
Now, obviously there is so much more history to cover, but we’ve got a review to write, so we’ll cover the history of Johnnie Walker in more detail another time.
Johnnie Walker Blue Label Xordinaire
Johnnie Walker is a brand very well known in the travel whisky industry. Well, for travellers all over the globe, their newest release, Blue Label Xordinaire, may very well be their best yet.
The brainchild of Johnnie Walker’s Master Blender Emma Walker, this new expression of Blue Label whisky was created by using just 1 in 10,000 casks pulled from the JW aged Scotch reserves all across Scotland. It has then been finished in ex-XO French Cognac casks to give a unique sweet finish unlike any other Johnie Walker expression to date.
Available in a number of select airports worldwide, this is a truly special whisky offering all the notes and layers of flavour you might expect from Johnnie Walker whisky, along with an distinctive sweetness and velvety smooth texture.
Bottled at an ABV of 40%, if you don’t like the harshness on the throat that you get with some Scotch, this is an incredibly smooth offering that you won’t want to put down.
It is a gorgeous copper/amber colour that looks absolutely stunning in the bottle and even better in your glass.
On the nose you immediately should detect ripe black cherries, dried fruits, sticky toffee apple, and a whisper of winter spices.
Take that first sip, and your palate should immediately burst to life, providing plenty of ripe orchard fruits, dried apricots, velvety smooth vanilla, peaches and cream, and a hint of soft cinnamon.
The finish is long and drawn out and is so, so smooth. Again, ripe peaches come through, along with the gentle spices and a complex aftertaste that keeps getting more and more intense as time ticks by.
If you’re looking for a selection of rare, award-winning, limited-edition, and delicious Scotch Whisky just like the one listed above, be sure to head on over to the Greatdrams.com website and check out the selection of amazing drams we have available.
Here you’ll find all manner of different whiskies, primarily Scotch, to suit all palates and budgets.
Whether you’re looking for smooth and creamy reminiscent of the blended travel whisky covered above, a harsh and smoky dram, tart and fruity, or anything in between, here at Great Drams, we’ve got everything you need, and plenty more besides.