Saturday, December 17, 2011

Like Drinking Angels’ Tears

Johnnie Walker Blue Label

No age statement - 80 proof

One thing I’ve tried to be careful to avoid in this blog is the concept of “better”.  Scotch is not better than Irish Whiskey, Bourbon is not better than Rye Whiskey, and Single Malts are not better than Blends.  These different types of whiskies each have their great expressions and their poorly bottled expressions.
This brings me to one of the finest blended scotch whiskies in the world, Johnnie Walker Blue Label.  On Saturday night, I had my first experience with this legendary bottle.  I had thought that my first drink of the Blue would be “like drinking angels’ tears” – and I was not disappointed.

The great challenge of an exceptional blend is to use rare and ever changing ingredients to create a balanced, remarkable, and consistent expression year after year.  In the case of the Blue, that starts with Royal Lochnagar, a rare malt distilled near Balmoral, the Queen’s holiday home.  Add another 15 or so mature whiskies and you have yourself Blue Label.  The inventory of these ingredients is rightfully scarce, so slight changes are required year after year.  While there’s no age statement on the bottle, it’s expected that most of the ingredients are at least 12 years old, with some over 20 years old.

The experience with Blue Label began with the bottle itself.  It is beautiful.  The bottle looks thicker than your standard Johnnie Walker bottle, and with a slight blue crystal tint to it. 

The whisky has a pale amber color, extremely clear.

When I took a whiff of it, I realized I should expect a brief tour of Scotland in this glass with hints of smoke, sea, honey, and vanilla.

The palate brings peaty flavor, with a little bit of salt and pepper, although very light and slight vanilla taste.
The finish is extremely smooth, and relatively long.  Normally, I would say there’s a danger a bottle like this might meet it’s demise in one night.  But for some reason, I don’t think that’s going to happen to this one.

Now I know you probably don’t need some guy’s blog to tell you that if you get a chance to drink a glass of Johnnie Walker Blue Label that you should.  But that’s exactly what I’m going to do.  It’s one of those expressions and experiences I will remember for a long time.

(special thanks to Mark K. for making this happen)

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