Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The blacker the better – Johnnie Walker Double Black

Johnnie Walker Double Black

So I think we have al heard about the Johnnie Walker Double Black for many many oaths now but only recently has it seen its way to Aussie shelves. I was actually on the hunt for a Glenlivet 12yo but then I saw the Double Black. While being reminiscent of the Woolery Tartan it was also $47 at my local Dan Murphy's so I just could not pass it by (considering the Vintage Cellars 20 meters down the strip was selling it at near on $80 a bottle… seriously what are they thinking!). I do not actually know what the RRP should be but hands down it certainly is not worth anything over what I paid.

Things you will note different to the Black Label is of course a different name, no age statement, slightly different and darker outer carton (wood finish), and a much heavier glassed bottle that is about 85% opaque smoky blue/black in colour. Marketing has certainly had a heavy hand how far they took the deviation from the Black Label.

Johnnie Walker Double Black (no age statement)
Blended Scotch Whisky
Alcohol: 40%
Colour: Steeped Tea

Colour is recognisably more amber and darker than the standard Black Label. Much more steeped tea but with a viscus sticky caramel effect.

Nose clearly islay smokes, island salts, orange citrus, vanillas, followed by a rather hard hit of furniture polish. In some ways you could swear that there has a heap of Talisker in this one…

To taste it is quite soft on the tongue and pallet filling initially, though it soon moves all to the front and back of the mouth with very little in the middle somewhat reminiscent of a vacant car lot. Lots of sweet grains, briny salts and then again comes the peat smoke.

The finish is quite dry in the throat, short in length while finally delivery a dry unpleasant metallic finish back into the front of the pallet and tongue.

Overall the balance could have been great but just gets broken by that metallic finish. Certainly more structured than the Black Label and potentially a great introduction for a seasoned veteran of the blends to start exploring the world of Island Vatted Malts or Single Malts. Potentially a great bridge to a Johnnie Walker Green Label considering that is a Vatted Malt. For those not in the know a Vatted Malt (now know as a Blended Malt) is a marriage (blending) of only Single Malts, while a traditional Blend is a blending of  Grains and Single Malts.

Now you may be thinking I keep mentioning the Black Label too much but the reality is all the marketing I have seen and heard relating to the Double Black is always set against the standard Black Label. One could argue that it is one in its own but I do not think so. Don't go out and buy this expecting great things. This is a Black Label but just with heavier smoke and salts. I prefer it and if I was inclined to buy another bottle it would certainly be this over the standard Black Label provided the price remains comparative.

Is the Double Black completely welcome into the House Of Walker? At this time Double Black is still not showing up on the official website as a part of the product range and any searches will end up leading you to the Facebook fan page. Is marketing once more taking a leading in this product or is it all a bit of an experiment to see how par it will go... potentially both. A serous think will lead you to the conclusion this is an attempt to class up the Back Label and reach a far younger newer whisky drinking audience than the main stable of nags that have been sipping Johnnie Walker on the rocks for the last 40 years. Not everyone is on the internet and certainly not everyone is on Facebook.

If I was to give a dram it would be 3 3/4 out of 7. Get out there and try it but keep your expectation low and you will end up being probably quiet happy with the results.

The Blacker Baron