Johnnie Walker Blue Label

A Subtle Balanced Chameleon for Apprentices and Enthusiasts Neat Before and After Dinner

photo courtesy Diageo

Whisky Reviewed: Johnnie Walker Blue Label
Distiller: Diageo
Region: Primarily Speyside
ABV: 40%
Suggested Retail Price: $150-$250 (Watch Out!!)
USC Rating: 97
Distiller Rating: 90
Whiskey Wash Rating: 92

Mark’s Review

OMG, the aroma is incredible, maybe life changing! If you wanted one whisky to create the standard of velvety, sweet smoke, this is it. I could smell JW Blue all day and smile each time. Vanilla, caramel and apple bouquets rotated through every sense; yet with a feel of permanent coexistence. Normally in spirits, each of those potent smells vies for domination. Here they’re vibrant, rich partners.

How can a single spirit be such a delicate changeling? I even postponed the tasting because of the astounding aromatics. When I succumbed to the temptation to drink, my world got confused. When flavors don’t align with scents, disorientation often occurs. Fighting such confusion, I forced myself to ask:

What happened? I had to stop and think. I figured out that my subtle chameleon morphed into a soulful soft, mouth coating balanced whisky with a long finish. You’ll pause and do the same.

I then pondered: To whom would this appeal? That’s an easier question to answer. The Adventurer has no mountain to climb here and the Hedonist’s lurid desires are unfulfilled.

Johnnie Blue is, however, a rare mix of subtlety, balance and shifting tastes. It will tempt the Apprentice eager to learn and the Enthusiast embraces each aspect while admiring the harmony.

Enjoy a dram before a meal or as a reward after dinner, but forget about a cigar. It’ll blow away the gentility.

Use in a cocktail? To quote Jeff Dunham’s Achmed, the Dead Terrorist, I kill you! 

In the end, rest assured that the more you sample, the more you’ll want until, Voila! The glass is empty! Hurry and refill!

A note on price: This is not cheap stuff in any dimension. Shop with caution. I’ve seen bottles for less than $150 and over $250. Try this at a bar first to see if it’s for you and do the research on shops to know if you’re getting value or ripped off.

Mark Garbin’s Evaluation

Aromas & Flavor Appeals to: Optimal Client Type Great For:
Subtlety Aficionado Apprentice Cocktails
Power Flavor Admirer Enthusiast Neat Before Dinner
Balanced Devotee Adventurer With Food
Chameleon Lover Hedonist Dessert or Afterwards


USC rating:  Distinguished nose of pipe tobacco, saddle leather, crushed pistachio, brown butter, and chocolate covered strawberries. Elegant and mellow mouthfeel with soft chewy caramel and milk chocolate bolstered by bright fruit and honeyed nuts. Luxurious and persistent. rating: Where Johnnie Walker Black is more like Daniel Craig as James Bond, Blue Label is more Pierce Brosnan; less brute force with a touch more elegance. Take a sip and find dates and floral notes with a touch of spice. But make no mistake, the smoldering peat does eventually sneak up on you…perhaps like an MI6 agent might. – Stephanie Moreno review: I know for myself, the question is not whether or not I would like to leave a store with a fresh bottle of Blue Label under my arm, but rather when I will feel the time is right to do so. After all, there is always a bottle sitting behind the register. The challenge becomes one of identifying an appropriate circumstance under which to finally make the investment. Once made, it is an easy one to live with. – Joshua St. John