Johnnie Walker Blue Label

Johnnie Walker Blue Label (Photo by the brand)

When does feeling blue mean feeling good? When you’re talking about Johnnie Walker Blue, of course! JW’s website describes Blue Label as a blend of “rare whiskies with exceptional depth.” Today was my first time sampling Johnnie Walker’s Blue Label Blended Scotch Whisky, and I’ll admit that I didn’t know what I was missing. In my not-so-humble opinion, their blurby description doesn’t even begin to characterize this spectacular whisky.

It arrived packed in a gorgeously appointed blue linen box that looked so nice with the encased bottle that I almost hated to open it (I forced myself). The bottle is also a study in elegance – it’s heavy and slightly blue-tinted, giving the appearance of quality cut crystal. The raised gold leaf labels add to that look of class, and the individual bottle numbering accentuates the overall concept of exclusivity and the singular nature of the liquid inside. Even the cork is fancy, with an attached tassel that serves as an initial foil cutter as well as being, well, fancy.

Poured into my trusty Glencairn nosing glass, the dram appears a deep amber, turning more golden held up against a bright backlight. Initial aromas of layered vanilla, honey, leather, orange zest, and a wisp of campfire smoke are initially identifiable. That none of the components overwhelmed the whole speaks to the whisky’s quality. Hand-warming and swirling release some of the less apparent notes, including hints of roasted hazelnuts, treacle, marzipan, crushed heather, honeysuckle buds, and some savory spices – rosemary and thyme first come to mind.

The mouthfeel is soft and mild, likely due to its relatively low 40% ABV. There’s a roundness that’s not quite oily but more like vanilla pudding (feel, not taste). It’s initially slightly sweet but dries quickly. Honey and toffee are first out of the gate, followed by notes of cedar, golden raisins, caramel, chocolate milk, and eventually soft peat and pencil shavings/cedar. Mid-swallow releases a touch of smoke and then a burst of baked fruit – peach cobbler and blackberry pie filling most notable. The swallow brings back a hint of sweetness, then a pinch of white pepper, allspice, and nutmeg. The peat and smoke reappear in the afterglow, along with more honey, caramel, and malty goodness. The final goodbye? A kiss of leather and smoke!

So, is a blended Scotch with no age statement possibly worth just under two bills? Absolutely! JW Blue is a first-rate-dignified-sitting-by-the-fireplace-in-a-leather-armchair whisky that deserves a place in every well-stocked bar. My only qualm is the low ABV – 40% doesn’t do the blend proper justice. A cut of 46% ABV would likely intensify the best aspects of the malt components, but since 40 is what we have, I’m glad for it! If you’re on the fence about choosing Johnnie Walker Blue Label, I highly recommend taking the plunge.