This is Walk the Line: a series where I explore the entire product lines of the most popular liquor brands together with a panel of friends and tasters. Click here to view the entire Walk the Line series.
Johnnie Walker joins the Walk the Line series to help prepare us for the return of Mad Men on Sunday. Christina Hendricks (who plays Joan in the show) is the brand ambassador for Johnnie, which is the top-selling brand of whisky in the world. Prices of some Johnnie Walker varieties sell for hundreds of dollars, and every type of Johnnie is a blended scotch, as opposed to single malt. This means Johnnie Walker is a blend of different scotch varieties from different distilleries, and it also means their taste is well-balanced and predictable.
Johnnie Walker Red Label. Originally blended in 1909, this is the most affordable Johnnie of the line at $23 a bottle. Red Label is the scotch of choice for mixed drinks, stuff like a Rusty Nail or a Scotch and Soda. Red Label is a blend of “young malts,” so it’s a bit less mellow than a more mature scotch. This blend is dry and clean and the flavor is light.
Johnnie Walker Black Label. A blend of whiskies that are at least 12 years old, Black Label will run you $34 a bottle. Outside of maybe ice or a splash of soda or water (your preference), this Johnnie is one to drink straight. As this is an older scotch, it’s more mellow and has a more wood and spice in the flavor. This blend was the preferred one for all the testers except for one who prefers a smokier scotch. For the price and taste, Black is a great buy.
Johnnie Walker Double Black. A limited-edition release for Johnnie in 2011, Double Black was permanently added into the line late last year. Double Black retails for $40 in a taller, smoked glass bottle that hints about what lies inside: a blend of smokier whiskies from smaller Scottish distilleries. Double Black is surprisingly less aromatic than the others, but makes up for it with rich, smoky, slightly mossy flavor. This label was preferred especially by drinkers who love bolder, smokier whisky. One taster said it was like “smoke in a bottle.”