People are kind, this post is brought to you by altruism. Chivas Regal is a standard first choice for regular bar kids who want to upgrade from their other perennial favourite; Jameson. And all I know about this particular dram is it’s from Speyside and that as a blended 12yr old, the youngest whisky in the barrel has to be at least 12years old. And that’s about it. So it’s with a sense of anticipation that I will try out this standard.
The nose was fruity with a dusting of smoke, it vaguely reminded me of the Crown Royal Harvest Rye in that there is a slight medicinal quality. The nose is quite sharp brimming with brute force despite the 12year maturity.
The palate is a little sharp at the front of the taste and would do well with a drop of water to open it up. Without the extra room provided by the droplet the expression rolls around the mouth lacking a place to settle down and open up.
The finish is light and tingly on the side of the palate. This expression has all the flash with only just enough meat to back it up.
So I took my time for this one. It’s special this is the first time that I’ve reviewed a #1 world whiskey winner. I have written a review of the announcement that surprised us all. Kind of out of left field, a Canadian whiskey, #1 really… OK, great, I was excited to try it out but then quickly found out that it was not available in my region or province and soon to be backordered in the country. Jim Murray (renown whisky reviewer) has the ability to make stock disappear so I thought that one day I would get to set my lips to this expression, one day…..
Christmas miracle, a dear friend shipped a bottle on the sly and I was shocked, touched and exited. How to get ready to experience the best whisky of this year. Well dive in, take pictures, pour a dram and take the time it deserves. I also have not read the Jim Murray review in an effort to not skew my own observations.
Resting comfortably on my over-sized couch I opened the bottle and poured a dram. The nose on the onset is rounded and deep, it does not attack the nostrils but lets you inhale deeply to reveal a predominantly sweet aroma with a subtle rye note. It resemble cherry strudel with a slice of rye bread: it works. It also gives a clear idea of how the palate is going to play out.
The sip hits the palate smooth and pleasant with a strong flavour of medicinal cherry; not quite like a Halls lozenge (but if you like that, then you’ll love this) and a little spicy. The mouth feel takes a little coaxing, I had to swish and aspirate (sucking in air, snooty wine snob style) a little to elicit a little extra depth. That little extra is a hint of sweet butterscotch, and I’m stretching to find something that goes beyond the agreeable cherry essence. The glycerol that is evident when you swirl your glass coats the inside of your mouth with no more than a few seconds of coverage and then it slips away into the finish.
The finish is quick and warm, the warm stays longer than the finish and still leaves you wanting more. It’s clean and easy but does not develop into anything remarkable.
So there you have it, this years best whisky as reviewed by me. Final thoughts are that this is a fine blended whisky, it’s easy on the palate and goes down smooth. It’s flying off the shelves and Crown Royal (owned by Diageo, a huge spirits company) has done well because the bottles that are bought will be finished quickly and will gladly need to be replaced.
What comes to mind when you hear Black Label, serviceable, Middle of the row, adequate, every day. But what’s wrong with that ? We can’t always be sipping on the finest of dram we can’t always be sipping on the finest of drams. Every shelf has its highs, lows and gifts. To fill out a collection and have it last there has to be a good middle ground, it doesn’t have to break the bank and it fills a role. It’s not for special occasions but it is there after a good day of work.
Johnnie Walker has an offering that fits the brief. With a wide range of expressions that vary from the work-a-day Red Label to the much vaunted Blue Label there is s middle ground. Johnny Walker Black Label 12 year blended Scotch whiskey is that middle ground and it serves it well. The blend itself is comprised of about 40 different whiskies taken various areas all around Scotland. They have all been ages for 12 years. The result is a smooth, relatively light experience.
The nose has pleasant smokiness with an underpinning of deep salt. After repeated sniffing, trying to gain any other insights from smelling and then for a fleeting ephemeral moment I think I smelled a plume of plum. I suppose that can be the joy of blends. If you keep digging you can experience moments singular to the expression.
The palate has a simple introduction, the light spice washes quickly through subsiding while leaving a deposit of light peat. The mouthfeel for this dram is a mixture of light handed and just out of reach. You think something will develop but then it doesn’t.
The finish matches the nose and the palate, pleasant but fleeting. It seems that the numerous blends that provide the smoothness also muddles the various interesting notes. Blending is an art and by all means Johnny Walker has a fine handle on this expression.