Coming from Kilmarnock Johnnie Walker whisky was a name I was always familiar with but yet knew nothing about. Very much in the same vein as people who happen to be born on Islay yet don’t care much for whisky I suppose. Anyway, the Green label was always the expression people got excited about. It was the one you got someone as a special gift to show you really cared. At least, that was my impression in my younger days.
The Green label has had a mare of a time since its release in 1997. It has been a duty-free only release, Taiwan only release, discontinued, released in select markets then finally back in full global release mode. If I had to guess why such an anecdotally popular whisky has had so much upheaval I would say Diageo have had better uses for the teenage single malts which are the components of the blend. Blends and blended malts tend to have smaller margins than an 15 year old Caol Ila or Talisker both of which are in this bottle.
I have previously reviewed the Black Label and Double Black Johnnie Walker bottles and the first big difference here is we get a litre bottle with a cork rather than a screw top. That is the first sign this is a product more targeted to be gifted and cherished than bought and mixed on a whim.
Johnnie Walker Green Label is bottled at 43%ABV with an age statement of 15 Years. The four key components are Talisker (Island, smoky), Linkwood (Speyside, fruity), Cragganmore (Speyside, meaty) and finally Caol Ila (Islay, peaty). The blend is given more than a little E150a before making it on the shelves with the tell tale “Mit Farbstoff” proudly hidden down the bottom rear of the packaging.
Green Label is fairly widely available now not just in airports and will set you back around £40. I am quite sure I paid something closer to £50 though when it was first re-released.
Colour – Surgically enhanced through precise usage of artificial food colouring
Nose – Sweet, very sweet actually. So sweet it is clawing in nature. A little barley water, instant coffee granules. Finally, boiled sweets and lemon sherbet give the sweet aspects definition.
Palate – Light texture gives a watery impression in the mouth. Peppered steaks, smoked wood and ash come through in the development.
Finish – Now the Islay peat comes to the fore and lingers on the finish for a fair amount of time. Tobacco leaves and fireplace ash is there most noticeably around lemon oil and orange rinds.
I am not convinced on this 4 way relationship of fairly strong distillery characters. Obviously, the house style of each hasn’t been mixed together in a naive fashion by the blender. However, equally I am not feeling like their is harmony in the voices shouting through. Its fairly unbalanced and disjointed is the best way of describing it.
It is not without its positives of course, it is “easy drinking” and I do enjoy it. There is a good amount of smoke and peat all of which is well integrated. I just can’t see myself buying another bottle if I am honest.