Aug 062012

Johnnie Walker Green Label

43% abv

Score:  87/100


It’s really quite nifty when a blended whisky is more than the sum of its parts.  So how ’bout when a whisky is actually more like an exhibition of its parts?  Kinda like an exploded view wherein you can see the workings and trappings? this case that works too.

Green Label is a blended malt, comprised of single malts, none of which are younger than 15 years.  Since 1997 Johnnie Walker have been producing this nifty little gem by marrying Cragganmore, Talisker, Caol Ila and Linkwood.  This polygamous little gathering is a marriage made in heaven.

It comes together nicely in its smooth and rich overarching theme, but is easily dissected into some of its components.  The pepper and spice are reminiscent of Talisker…the smoke and tartness are Caol Ila through and through…while the Cragganmore and Linkwood would logically carry the big purple fruit notes and sweetness.

The smoke on both nose and palate (but particularly the palate) is rich and cloying (in a good way) like a fine cigar, while hints of leather and spice are both charming and complimentary.  There is a little bit of peat distinguishable from the smoke that shows off a little of the Islay side of this one.

The arrival is big and sweet and carries a bit more heat than the other Johnnie Walkers I’ve sampled to date.  It coats the mouth in thick slices of tingly peppers and bold flavors.  Rich, warming and rewarding.

Though not as good as the black label, and not necessarily better or worse than the blue label, this certainly is a worthy addition to the JW stable.  If you can find it…buy one.  Quite highly recommended.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Pat

 Posted by at 8:24 pm

  4 Responses to “Johnnie Walker Green Label Review”

  1. Rest In Peace, O Faithful Vat

    Johnnie Green, though we hardly knew ye, you were too solid and classy to last.

    Indeed, the good die young.

  2. I won’t miss it one bit. I’ve been trying Ralfy’s suggestion of one part Caol Ila 12 to two parts Talisker 10 for a few months, and it is MUCH better than the Green. The smokey delicacy of the Caol Ila smooths and adds a complexity to the peppery attack of the Talisker. So, bye-bye Green. Don’t let the screen door hit you! No, really! Try it! It’s really good. I actually agree with Ralfy on this!

    • It’s true, Robert, I defend my sackcloth and ashes here as much on principle as punch. But with the 18 age statement now moved from the Gold Label to the upscale (?) Platinum, and the former knocked back to an NAS bait-and-switch “Gold Label Reserve”, the loss of a mass-produced 15-year-old pure malt product still strikes me as a bit of a loss, certainly to JW and to scotch in general. That said, the Green was scotch done old school, with an age statement and no shame, or “secret recipe” nonsense, about its components. As vats go, it was as good as many, and it was its quality and affordability, and not the lack thereof, which probably made the Green an endangered species – margins are higher on younger, cheaper blends using grain spirit and the relatively few who knew the difference between a vat and a blend would not be able to support the price hike necessary to make up the difference. It’s ironic that, with JW’s focus on class and quality, it may have been the humble Green which tested the limits of their dedication.

      All sentimental nonsense aside, yeah, there were always better bottles (and better combos), but given the proliferation of immature whisky hitting the shelves, each with its own niche “spin”, the demise of the Green may still prove to be the dead canary in the mineshaft.

      Hoping your Christmas was great and wishing you a Happy New Year, Sláinte!

      • As the price of Green now in the $60 range, I can actually make my own “Ralfy” blend for less money, and still be able to enjoy each separately (esp. Caol Ila, which I really like). The Green is okay with me, but I prefer the Black or Double Black when I want a blend, and they’re cheaper. I really like the James Buchanan 18 SR better than all of them and can get it for the same $60.

        I understand what you are saying, but for me its not a loss, although for many it is. There are still so many malts out there I need to try, including about 10 in my cabinet that I hope are even better than the Green. The bottom-line will always decide such issues, esp. for large corporations.

        In fact, in memory of Green, I’ll open one of those 10 today and compare it to the few drams of Green I have left. Have a great holiday weekend! Cheers!

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