Johnnie Walker isn’t a stranger to the whisky enthusiast nor the amateur, irregular whisky sipper. The unmistakable bottling, the striding gentleman and the 24 degree labeling are all hallmarks of a brand that has pretty much stood tall, fending off most if not all competitors in terms of both sales and popularity.
In the long line of expressions that make up the Johnnie Walker product spectrum , the Gold Label Reserve stands somewhat midway. This bottling was relaunched in 2012 after shedding its age, now reduced to an ageless blended whisky. The older labeling, The ‘Gold Label Centenary Blend’ housed spirits that were a minimum of 18 years; but all that changed with the distillers re-branding and marketing this under the new Platinum expression.
The major malts in this whisky comes from the Clynelish and Cardhu distilleries, that have been carefully blended with a number of grain spirits , under the watchful eyes of master distiller Jim Beveridge.
ABV : 40%
Eye: Burnished – E150a colouring, chill filtered.
Nose : Brown sugar and honey, greeted by hints of citrus zest, some grain and smoke. Coconut cream, green apples and golden raisins, infused with dark chocolate. Green pepper and the spice from ginger peels and cinnamon sticks.
Taste: Caramel and butter but with the grain element more pronounced, a good whiff of smoke followed by red grapes, nougat and dark chocolate. The palate finally tapers with bits of cinnamon.
Finish: Medium; Vanilla with some spice from the cinnamon.
The Gold Reserve is very straightforward and not at all complicated, not that it is a bad thing. There is a richness from the European cask aging that makes its presence felt in between all the caramel and honey sweetness, and let’s not forget that bit of smoke that is very JW like, more so on the palate than on the nose. The cinnamon spice too continues to play on both palate and nose, quietly but still prominently leading to the medium finish.
However, for a mid tier whisky I could almost feel a void, from all the grain in the blend perhaps?! And for the price it fails to stand shoulder to shoulder to the Island Green or even the Black Label. On sale, this bottle costs around $68 AUD making it more competitive at best and worth a try. But if you aren’t really inquisitive you can might as well give it a pass.
Preference: Versatile – neat, with rocks, a splash of water or even served as a cocktail.