If there’s one constant in the world of Scotch whisky, it’s that blended whisky will always be at the forefront of the industry, and that Johnnie Walker will always keep walking ahead of the pack in terms of popularity around the world.
For years, the brand has established itself as the No. 1 brand in Scotch whisky, with a consistent core range of coloured “Labels”, which include the flagship Johnnie Walker Black Label, the popular Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve, and the prestigious Johnnie Walker Blue Label.
However, Johnnie Walker recently displayed a desire to look outside the box in terms of its blend, and the result is the newly-launched Johnnie Walker Blenders’ Batch limited edition series.
The Blenders’ Batch is a series of experimental whiskies that showcase the innovation and creative process of the team of blenders at Johnnie Walker, led by Master Blender, Dr Jim Beveridge.
The first expression available in Malaysia is the Johnnie Walker Blenders’ Batch Bourbon Cask & Rye Finish, which was launched last month.
Inspired by the time Beveridge spent blending bourbon and rye in Kentucky in the 90s, this expression is the result of experiments to observe the influence of bourbon and rye whisky flavours on Scotch.
“The Johnnie Walker blending team believes that experimentation is the key to innovation. We have been experimenting with flavours to ensure that the blends are of the best they can be for the past 200 years through various techniques, expertise and advances in science,” said Rajesh Joshi, marketing director of Moet Hennessy Diageo Malaysia.
Bottled in individually numbered bottles, the Bourbon Cask & Rye Finish is a blend of whiskies from just five distilleries, including Dufftown and the now closed Port Dundas, aged in first-fill bourbon casks and finished for up to six months in former rye whiskey casks.
The whisky itself was quite a pleasant surprise – there is a honey vanilla sweetness on the nose that carries through to the first sip and onto the palate, with a nice balance of sweet honey and spicy rye notes, and some light peat on the finish. While the Scotch is good enough to sip on its own, it also comes out quite nicely in cocktails, especially in classics like the Manhattan, which typically uses rye whiskey as its base.
The Bourbon Cask & Rye Finish definitely gets the Blenders’ Batch series off to a good start, so it should be interesting to see what Beveridge and his team of merry blenders can cook up next.