I reviewed it last year and didn't like it straight at all. This is also the year the Lincoln penny replaced the Indian head cent design. I have managed to get my hands on a number of samples of Johnnie Walker Red Label which occupy a range of periods from the s through today. But this isn't that post. I started the tasting dead in the middle with a bottle that dates from the late s to the late s I'm not certain which.
It surprised and delighted me - shocked me really. Thus the stand-alone review. Dating a dusty Johnny Walker Red. They were discontinued in They came into use, generally, in the late s. There are more - particularly for a slightly more recent era.
A great place to start is Steve Urey's post Dusty Thursday: You'd think a big clue would be the strength. Another potentially likely sounding clue is the importer: However, a review of the advertising shows this on a multitude of labels with essentially identical style, importer, and Even earlier ads have different label details and start having cork closure. That's right, the proof wasn't reduced from The same except Canada Dry Corporation is the importer.
So where does this leave us with dating this bottle? It's somewhere after at the earliest and the late 70s at the latest because of the lack of a UPC code - and it's tough to be precise. So, bottom line, this is a late s through late s bottle of Red Label. I have a feeling, aided by the provenance, that this is from the late s to early s - but it's a hunch. But, really, so what? Red Label is Red Label, right? Turns out that isn't so: Johnnie Walker Red Label late s - late s dusty Highland honeycomb, floral heather, some fruity esters, and a distant complicating tang of coastal air, and a rich foundation of gentle smoky background peat.
It's a rich and lovely Scotch nose - quite vivid. This has nothing in common with the current Red Label's nose. In fact it cleanly blows away most of the current Johnny Walker line and most regular blends. Heather honey, with the meadow florals showing through in the opening. There is a grain note in the opening too - but it's good grain whisky flavor, with notes of coconut and a bit of bubblegum. It adds freshness and complication to the Highland heather floral honey entrance.
There are also hints of mint and pineapple. The mid palate blooms with spice overlaying a strong malt richness. The peat shows up here too in the spice and it waxes into a gentle and very well balanced waft of smoke as the midpalate fades into the turn. The finish is gentle, without bitterness at first, and moderately long.
There is gentle oak and an array of sweet herbals and lingering gentle peat smoke. With repeated sipping a bit of bitterness and grain whisky milk tang builds up on the palate - prompting me to take drinks of water to clear it.
This is delicious and I could drink it all day long. It's rich and yet soft and easy drinking - compulsively, dangerously, easy to drink. At no point does this call out the imperative to be mixed into a cocktail. On the contrary it is a delight to sip neat. The grain whisky component is readily detected - but it plays along in a really nice way with the malt.
I can feel the blenders art here and it's good. The star of the show is the rich honeyed floral nose and the presence of those flavors in the opening. The mid palate and finish, while fine, don't play at that level. But heck, this was and is the entry level expression. I'm really looking forward to tasting my old samples of Johnnie Walker Black! This is a shocking level of tastiness given where Red Label's flavor signature is at the moment. I'll reserve my conclusions for the full vertical of Johnnie Walker Red from the s to today coming up in the weeks or months ahead.
Klimek addresses the declining complexity of malt whisky and relates it to increasingly mechanized and homogenized manufacturing methods. This was ordinary luxury Scotch of the time. Whisky was simply more complex and tasty in that era. Or does bottle maturation play a role? This will be an ongoing debate. But bottom line - delicious. I wonder when that stopped? He comes with the same conclusions flavor-wise, but attributes the changes to the use of glut stocks and to extended marrying time in the bottle: