Johnny Walker Blue Label

Limited Edition ‘King George V’

By Franz Scheurer and Andrew Derbidge (Director, SMWS Australia)

 

 

Blue Label has always been the most expensive whisky in the Johnny Walker stable but not necessarily their best. Now Diageo have released a special limited edition: King George V. This whisky stands out with its presentation, price and content. The Master Blender not only succeeded in making a terrific whisky, but he created a whisky using whiskies from distilleries that were operating during the reign of King George V. Trying to find out from Diageo exactly what whiskies are part of this blend is like pulling teeth and the only confirmed inclusion is Port Ellen and a possible inclusion of Cardhu.

 

A bit of history:

King George V reigned from 1910 to 1936.   So the list of distilleries that were owned by Diageo is quite extensive.

 

The original company that eventually went on to become Diageo was DCL, or the Distillers Company Ltd founded in 1877. DCL was originally a collective of six Lowland grain distilleries and predates King George V by some years.  A subsidiary of DCL was later formed to represent the malt distilleries that came into the fold.  This was called SMD, or Scottish Malt Distillers.  SMD was responsible for many of the closures that occurred between the First & Second World Wars – particularly during the depression years.

 

All six of the so-called Classic Malts were operating during King George V’s reign, and they were part of the DCL at the time including Lagavulin, Talisker, Dalwhinnie, Cragganmore, Glenkinchie and Oban.

 

Other DCL companies operating between 1910 and 1936 that are still owned by Diageo and operating are:  Blair Athol, Benrinnes, Caol Ila, Cardhu, Dailuaine, Dufftown, Glendullan, Glen Elgin, Glenlossie, Glen Ord, Glen Spey, Inchgower, Knockando, Linkwood, Lochnager, Mortlach, Strathmill and Teaninich.

 

Other DCL companies still owned by Diageo and producing between 1910-1936 but which are no longer operating include Banff, Brora, Coleburn, Convalmore, Dallas Dhu, Glen Albyn, Glenlochy, Glen Mhor, Glenury Royal, Glenesk, Millburn, North Port, Port Ellen, Rosebank, and Saint Magdalene.

 

So you see there is a fair choice for the Master Blender in creating a whisky that approximates a dram of the period in question. While we don’t know the recipe for the King George V blend one must understand that blends are made up from many different whiskies from different distilleries and don’t just contain malt whiskies but grain whiskies as well. Johnnie Walker Black Label is in fact a blend of 42 different whiskies (37 malt and 5 grain whiskies).  Whatever is in this whisky I suppose we can’t really find out, but with that many distilleries to select from, the Master Blender certainly has the foundation to create a multi-faceted dram! Here are the tasting notes:

 

 

 

Franz Scheurer

Andrew Derbidge

Colour

Rich amber

Shiny bronze

Nose

Biscuit, a touch of smoke, heather, nougat and some ‘lowland’ aromas, reminiscent of Rosebank.

Softly fragrant towards the floral end of the spectrum. Gentle hint of peat and fresh laundry notes.

Palate

Slightly oily with shortbread and floral notes. Good, chewable texture with Amaretti and Lilly of the Valley undertones and soft, good heat.

Good mouthfeel, gentle oiliness.  Flavours are predominantly sweet, with honey toffee and ginger to the fore.

Finish

Long, warm, sweet and slightly astringent towards the very end.

A good length that remains sweet and is satisfactorily consistent.

Comments

Best Johnny Walker so far and it’s head and shoulder above the standard Blue Label. It’s complex but well blended to the point where there are no sharp edges or flavour spikes. A great dram meant for drinking, not storing away in a showcase.

A very good blend and coming from me that’s one hell of a compliment! It has been well crafted and shows just enough richness to give a sense of luxury and style. Certainly the best in the Johnny Walker stable.

 

 

Johnnie Walker® Blue Label King George V™ is a limited edition bottling that has been produced to celebrate the first Royal Warrant granted to John Walker and Sons Ltd to supply Scotch whisky to the British Royal Household in 1934. The blend has been handcrafted using the original techniques practiced during the era and only whiskies from distilleries operating during the reign of King George V have been used. It retails for $850.00.