Brand Ambassadors have a pretty great life. They get to visit the world’s finest distilleries and wineries, gaze upon serene landscapes, and partake of libations that celebrate culture, technique, and terroir.
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When I was thus employed, I especially appreciated my visits to the Diageo Brand Technical Centre located in Menstrie, Clackmannanshire, where the award-winning Dr. Jim Beveridge OBE oversees the Johnnie Walker Blending lab. He has worked for Johnnie Walker (owned by Diageo) for almost 40 years and is only the sixth person to hold the master blender title there since the 19th century. In 2019, he was awarded an OBE by Her Majesty the Queen for his services to the Scotch whisky industry.
Dr. Jim recently announced his retirement and will be replaced by Dr. Emma Walker, who will become Johnnie Walker’s first female Master Blender. One of Beveridge’s last whiskies is being released globally and was a collaborative effort between Dr. Walker and whisky specialist George Harper.
Johnnie Walker High Rye Whisky ($36) is a blended Scotch made with a variety of single grain whiskies. The rye and grain whiskies come from the Cameronbridge and Teaninich distilleries while the signature single malt whiskies come from Cardhu, Caol Ila, Clynelish and Glenkinchie. The mash bill consists of 60% rye and is aged in first fill and refill American oak casks with an ABV 0f 45%.
In the glass, the whisky glints with copper and amber hues. On the nose, hints of sweet, spicy wood come forth immediately while notes of fresh fruit and creamy vanilla tantalize the senses. The earthy, dry mouthfeel has all the identifiable characteristics of a high rye mash bill.
Warming and slightly smoky, the peated elements of Caol Ila and the richness of Cardhu are sure to satisfy even the most discerning whisky enthusiasts. Oak and buttered apple flavors accompany the long, rich finish while the warmth of clove and spice pleasantly dissipates across the palate. This whisky certainly stands on its own without the addition of water or ice. Try using this well-balanced dram in your next Manhattan or alongside crème brûlée, holiday pies, or dark chocolate.