Johnnie Walker’s foray into varied maturation took life with the Blender’s Batch release, beginning with the Red Rye finish, Bourbon Cask & Rye and the Triple Grain American Oak finish. Diageo’s experimentation paid dividends and testament was the long line of releases within this particular array of expressions, the eighth (EXP #8) being the Rum Cask finish, introduced in October 2017.
THe Blender’s Batch release is a culmination of the efforts of 12 blenders under the watchful eyes of JW’s master distiller, Jim Beveridge. Exp #8 was in particular the brainchild of Chris Clark; a blend of highland and lowland whiskies, finished in Caribbean rum casks and available in 500 ml bottles. The expression sports a very simplistic image, the exception being the bottle cork with the ‘striding man’ engraved at the top, something not very common with their sub-100 dollar releases.
ABV : 40.8%
Eye: Pale gold
Nose: Begins with vanilla and honey accompanied by hints of peat and smoke. Floral to the nose, grainy and nutty with nuances of cherry and white grapes. Some reminiscent caramel sweetness is trailed by a mild herbal earthiness, white pepper and ginger.
Taste: Rich vanilla is greeted with smoke and green grass. The sweetness lingers on with some stone fruits and hints of melon but is soon interrupted by licorice, nutmeg and pepper.
Finish: Short to medium | Vanilla sweetness and some heat lingering on.
The Rum Cask finish is light with a crisp sweetness that swirls around the palate; the spice doesn’t initially show itself off but with each sip it begins to shimmer and shine. The whisky is quite delicate with the delivery being subtle – characteristics of its lowland DNA perhaps!? If I were to criticize, it would it it’s largely one dimensional profile, with the rum adding some complexity in terms of its sweetness and spice but with that, it’s a FULL STOP.
For around fifty something dollars, I would have preferred a little something more; but having said that it does offer a sweeter, lighter twist to your usual Johnnie Black with still some underlying peat. All in all a decent dram lacking some extra oomph, but still managing to cross the finish line.
Preference : Neat, some ice, or a highball with a 1:1 ratio of whisky to sparkling water.