Affordable blends – such as the entry-level Johnnie Walker, Jameson, J&B, Bells, Famous Grouse and others – are where many of us started our adventures in whisky… mainly because they’re cheap and available at just about any bar!
So it was with a fair amount of excitement that we did a direct comparison within a single brand, designed to sate our curiosity about more expensive blends and find out whether the price difference was matched by a difference in quality. In this case, we stuck to the brand we know the best – Johnnie Walker – and climbed the price ladder (almost) to the top!
First up, another look at Johnnie Walker Red and Johnnie Walker Black Label, set as a benchmark to compare the next whiskies in the lineup. Johnnie Walker Black in particular is a huge favourite among many of our members – a sweet-spot in terms of price and delivering a mild peaty, spicy complexity.
On to the new Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve, a NAS replacement for the old 18 YO Gold Label and a very different sort of beast to the other Johnnie Walker blends – creamy, rich and buttery as opposed to the pepper and paprika notes of the rest of the range.
Finally, the 18 YO Johnnie Walker Platinum Label, absolutely loved by the Whisky Club and the culmination of that complexity and interest introduced by the Black Label. Great stuff, and good value at 18 years old.
In the end, we agreed that the difference in price was indeed justified… but nevertheless there’s still a tough decision to be had between choosing a top-tier blend and a mid-range single malt. It all comes down to preference and what you’re looking for in a whisky, so best to try them all!
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Photo by Scotch Punk