Two centuries after Johnnie Walker began blending Scotch whisky out of his family's humble Kilmarnock grocery store, the eponymous brand is celebrating its 200th anniversary with the launch of four limited-edition bottles offered at a variety of prices.
At the most affordable end of the spectrum is John Walker & Sons Celebratory Blend , priced at $75 per Forbes. This expression features whiskies from distilleries that were operating in the 1860s Scotland. Expect sweet dried raisins, subtle spice and marzipan on the nose, hints of roasted nuts, icing sugar sweetness and gentle peat on the palate, and a soft pepper finish.
Moving up the libation ladder is the Johnnie Walker Blue Label Legendary Eight, priced at $350. As its name implies, the blend is comprised of whiskies that were hand-selected from only eight distilleries that all existed in Johnnie Walker's earliest years, including some very rare expressions from long-closed “ghost” distilleries.
The nose features layers of brown sugars, soft fruit and sweet wood with hints of green apple and zest. An overall sweetness delivers subtle notes of stone fruits, stewing apples and cocoa on the palate before a smoky and light peppery finish.
John Walker & Sons Bicentenary Blend hits the four-figure range at $1,000. Master Blender Jim Beveridge and his team drew inspiration meticulously crafted rich layers created by a blend rare whiskies aged for a minimum of 28 years, some of which were sourced from more ghost distilleries.
Fruity aromas of dried fruit such as sultanas and figs mesh with sweet candied ginger, berries and brown sugar on the nose. The layered profile includes honey, molasses, cocoa beans, sultanas and herbal notes, while a sweet spice finishes each sip.
A price and tasting notes haven't been revealed for the fourth release, Johnnie Walker Blue Label 200 Anniversary Limited Edition Design. According to the distillery's website, only one in 10,000 reserve casks feature the "remarkably rare, hand-picked single malt and grain whiskies" used in this exclusive blend. Bottles are listed on WineSearcher for a minimum of $3,499.