Johnnie Walker Red Label was launched in its current form by brothers George and Alexander Walker in 1909, though it had existed as Walker’s Special Old Highland Red Label for some years previously. Alexander blended a type of whisky which is more suited to mixing with soda than the heavier, more old-fashioned whiskies, and named it after his grandfather, who had started the family business in 1820. Today it is the world’s most popular whisky and is sold in more than 200 markets world-wide.
The drink is taken neat, over ice, or with sparkling water.
The whisky itself is of a medium-bodied, golden amber colour, with a clean, fragrant, slightly salty nose and a light floral, vanilla taste. It is produced exclusively from malted barley. It is triple distilled and then blended to produce a fine and intelligent liquid. The taste is rich and mellow with complex, spicy and fruity flavours.
Red Label, worth a mention because it is one of the world’s leading whiskies, but forgettable if you don’t care for it. Perhaps considered unnecessary and expensive by some, some people enjoy it. If it does happen to sit on the shelf and no one buys it, I would suggest just to give up and accept that you do not have the palate of a connoisseur, as you will never be able to appreciate any brand of whisky.
Red Label is a blended whisky. Blended whiskies are generally produced to be either a blend of malt whisky of a lighter consistency, or a blend of malt and grain whisky. This whisky is a blend of grain and malt barley. Malts are the grains which are mashed and fermented to produce the base whisky.
As stated above, grain whiskies are generally produced for those who can not tolerate the stronger malt whiskies. Whisky is created by distillation. Distillation is the continual process in which malt whisky is distilled to form the final product. Distillation involves the continuous pouring of a mixture of water and alcohol over a column of hot, thinly cut.
The spent mash is then run through a funnel at a shallow angle to a second column, which holds the whiskey at a temperature of about 80°C. There are two types of spirit used in spirit distillation: Pot still (also known as Column still) spirits, and Drum still spirits. Unlike pot still, Drum still spirits heat the beverage by other means, such as by direct fire, indirect fire or steam.
The taste and colour of this whisky is slightly darker than the other whiskies on this page. I think this is because it is a blend with some malt whisky, which by law must be distilled at a lower temperature to produce a lighter whisky with a more robust taste.
Johnnie Walker Red Label is bottled at 40% ABV. The ABV content is at 40% by volume, which compared to most blended whiskies is on the lighter side, but that is to be expected. A typical strength for a blended whisky might range between 40% and 48% ABV whereas a blend of pure malts might be distilled in the 53% to 56% range.
I would suggest that Johnnie Walker Red Label is one of the world’s best whiskies, but it is not intended to be the world’s cheapest whiskies. Johnnie Walker Red Label is a blended whisky which is aged for a minimum of six years in oak barrels which have been used for port or cognac. It is also claimed that Red Label possesses a “unique, mildly smoky, sweet, lightly peaty aroma”.
Red Label is one of two whiskies which are blended primarily from malt whiskies (whisky produced from barley), although it has been blended with grain whisky from time to time. The grain used in the blend is wheat, but this is not apparent on the palate because it is blended with malt whisky. The malt whisky is triple distilled, then aged, distilled and blended. The typical strength for a blended whisky might range between 40% and 48% ABV whereas a blend of pure malt whiskies might be distilled at a lower temperature and stronger alcohol content of 52% to 54% ABV.
The vanilla and the peat are in perfect balance, with the smoke well supported by the strong malt attack. It balances out the sweetness in a good way, and the burn is long and clean. The peat is not smoky, but rather it has a fresh woody aroma which is quite nice. It finishes dry and clean.
In short, this is a damn fine drink.
This is a very satisfying drink which has a powerful aroma, but is taken very easy as it is very tannic alcohol. It is nothing like Johnny Walker Black, it is quite light.