These two whiskies have been pushed with healthy discounts in recent months [I wrote in the summer], but discounts come round and round, particularly now with Black Friday looming. I thought I’d bag one of each for a revisit.
Black Label has gained a respectful slow-earned reputation over the decades and holds a decent age-statement too – its recipe and quality setting it apart from Red Label, for example. WBMarkjedi says: ‘It contains quite a few malts, such as Glendullan, Mortlach, Lagavulin, Talisker and Caol Ila, upholstered with grain whisky from Cameronbridge‘. Let’s see how it holds up as a sipper.
- N: Profile-wise, we’ve an all-round creamy-husky~fusty~malty > honeyed~raisiny nose with a vague caramac/Demerara/chocolatey-ness the order of the day. I find it Glendullan & Talisker=Caol Ila-forward, the iodine-d whelks soon joining the fray, and the grain thus far politely taking a back seat. Also, there’s a sugar-ripe [stewed] fruity [melon, and lemon juice] coppery pong, from the Mortlach I’m guessing. Furthermore, there’s no overtly fussy/clever [wine/grape syrup-ed] cask-management detectable. Some elements seems older than the 12 years at times,… that old carbolic fustiness being the main contributor to this perception.
- T: Even after JW ‘Green’, comparably, the grain/malt balance of this blended 12yo is more than reasonable. The arrival talks of a soft-consolidated yet sharp/soft-nippy salty citric sweet arrival into a chewy malty/ripe [toffee/date/fig] sugary weight-ishness & grassy~waxy=ghee fattiness,.. aromatic spice into liquorice,.. Rapidly becoming malty/black tea,… metallic bitter/sweet,… it’s somewhat flat and short – as expected – although it still takes the odd drop of water [in mouth] if you fancy taking that sharpness off. A precarious balance between quality and [450 bottles per minute] quantity resides. One’s judgement of this one will ultimately come down to value/BFYB.
- F: Soft-spirity ashy=dusty~grassy-black tea, bitter-to-sour milky caramel/budget chocolate,… more [grassy] black tea,… bitter-sweet citric and salty to the last and with more detail than one might expect at the final furlong.
- C: ‘Limited Edition Design’, pah! I’m assuming it’s the exact same whisky/different packaging. Having said that, for me, the juice has improved since 2017 [WLP78]. At £20 when on offer, the 12yo is a very realistic proposition against to its price-comparable competition – Dewar’s 12yo , Old Parr  or Famous Grouse, for example [WLP78].
Scores 83 points
First introduced in 1997 as ‘Johnnie Walker Pure Malt 15yo’, it was renamed Johnnie Walker Green Label in 2004. It received a remarkable 95 points from Jim Murray in 2010. I last tried this in 2016 – with a modest score of 81 – after it had just been reintroduced after a four year absence [from 2012].
Made up of Talisker and Caol Ila, Linkwood, Cragganmore,…. [further reading SW], Ralfy says there’s also Glen Elgin, Dalwhinnie,.. He [Ralfy] also remarks that something is lacking, though consistency of quality has remained [or indeed increased]. It was recently nominated for ‘Best Blended Scotch or Blended Malt 2021’ at oswa.com.
- N: Being crisper/cleaner/sharper than the 12yo, the peatiness is more low-key [slightly washed out yet consolidated] though more farmy & carbolic with some heathery/grassy toastedness showing amongst the malty fatty honey-weighted citrus fruits.,.. a hint of Matchmakers, cinnamon/cherry lozenges, some old wax~waxy synthetic peach melba, Gala melon, something of the proverbial old man, leather, Shreddies,… In a nutshell, an accomplished sweet/rounded decent quality blend of single malts.. This benefits massively being allowed to breath, becoming richer/deeper, more consolidated. Gotta love those glycerine-d fruits.
- T: [Relatively yet determinedly] crisp ~> sharp sweet-sour grassy honeyed [citric acid]-citrus fruits,.. a malty > salty chalky side,….. the journey and mouthfeel elongated with water. Well sculpted overall,… good cask mix, nothing silly, nothing poking out, no overt vanilla/syrup-ed casks etc,.. Travels with regularity. Certainly the Elgin and Dalwhinnie speak after the Talisker. Is there a drop of Clynelish in here also?
- F: Finishes with further malty > grassy-heathery-honeyed traits [with a slight cardboard-y tendency] into dried citrus fruity < black tea-dry > barley sugar – similar to the 12yo though without the more permeating bitter-to-sourness – and some tasty oakiness at the tail. Stays far more buoyant than the 12yo blend overall. The empty glass confirms Talisker & Caol Ila’s soft peaty influence.
- C: For me, this has improved significantly since 2016, At £27 [when on offer], I’d happily pour this for beginners and more experienced malt heads when something decent but untaxing is required.
Scores 85 points