I’m continuing on with my journey to review all of the Johnnie Walker whiskies in their core lineup (with the exception of a few). We’ve reached our 2nd to last whisky in the series, Johnnie Walker 18.
What was once Johnnie Walker Gold 18 Year transformed into two whiskies – Johnnie Walker Platinum and Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve. The Platinum, still available in the UK, was rebranded to Johnnie Walker 18 here in the US.
Today, we’re going to discuss all there is to know about Johnnie Walker 18 and find out if it’s any good or not. After this review, we’ll be on to the Blue Label.
Johnnie Walker 18 Year Overview
- Spirit: Blended Scotch Whisky
- Owned By: Diageo
- Distilled By: Sourced from numerous distilleries
- Aged: 18 Years
- Proof: 80 proof, 40% ABV
- Mashbill: Blend of single malts (100% malted barley) and grain whisky (various mashbills)
- Price: $95
What is Blended Scotch?
Let’s jump right into the basics of Scotch whisky. You’ve likely heard of the regions of Scotch whisky – Highlands, Lowlands, Speyside, Campbelltown, and Islay – but all of these regions and distilleries within these regions produce a type of scotch. There are 5 types of Scotch whisky, and they are as follows: Single Malt, Single Grain, Blended Malt, Blended Grain, and Blended Scotch.
- Single Malt: Uses 100% malted barely in the mashbill, and it’s produced/distilled at a single distillery.
- Single Grain: Uses malted barley in conjunction with other grains (corn, wheat, unmalted barley, rye, etc.). Produced/distilled as a single distillery.
- Blended Malt: Two or more single malt whiskies, produced at separate distilleries, blended together.
- Blended Grain: Two or more single grain whiskies, produced at separate distilleries, blended together.
- Blended Scotch: A blend of both malt and grain whiskies.
The most popular and prevalent scotch whisky is blended scotch, large part thanks to Johnnie Walker. The most coveted/respected/appreciated (subjective, but taking the majority of people here) would be single malts.
Blended grain scotch and single grain scotch is way less common. Grain whisky is primarily produced to be used in blended scotch; however, there are still plenty of options available if you’re looking to try some.
What Whisky is used in Johnnie Walker 18?
Johnnie Walker 18 is made up of up to 18 different scotch whiskies that are all aged a minimum of 18 years. The whiskies are chosen by Master Blender Jim Beveridge.
While we don’t know all of the whisky used in this blend, Johnnie Walker does do us a favor and let us know a couple of the whiskies used.
Cardhu, Glen Elgin, and Auchroisk make up a few Speyside malts, Blair Athol is a Highland malt that’s used, and then unspecified Island malts are added. Of course, some grain whisky makes it’s way in, but a majority of whiskies used are single malts.
It’s also worth mentioning that Diageo, the owner of Johnnie Walker, owns nearly 30 (29 – 28 malt distilleries and 1 grain distillery, according to Cask Trade) different distilleries across Scotland. All of the distilleries mentioned in the blend, perhaps even all that are used, are owned by Diageo.
Johnnie Walker 18 Year Tasting Notes
I’m excited. I’ve had all of the Johnnie Walker whiskies up to this point with exception of the 18 and Blue Label. Have they been the most interesting whiskies? Not quite, but they’ve certainly been enjoyable. Let’s see if their 18 year whisky follows suit or throws us a curveball.
Nose: The Islay whiskeys jump out first. They’re light, but very rich. Some smoke, brine and tobacco. Honey, green apple bring lighter, fresh aromas. Almost smells like a blend of Green Label and Gold Label.
Palate: Yeah, this is a solid mix of the rich, smoky Green Label and the fresh, smooth Gold Label. The nose transfers over. Honey and apple, sugar cookie, and then the peat. It’s not very complex, but, again, it’s rich.
Finish: More of a candied apple here on the finish. Caramel glazed apple. It fades quickly leaving behind some smoke and oak. Medium in length.
I really like Johnnie Walker 18. It’s the best of Johnnie Walker Green Label and the best of Johnnie Walker Gold all in one. It’s got more smoke and character than Gold, but it’s more fresh and ‘smooth’ than Green.
Johnnie Walker 18 falls short on the finish. Even for an 80 proof whisky, the finish is a little on the short and mild side. I would like just a bit more, but that’s what you get with Johnnie Walker.
Is Johnnie Walker 18 Year Good?
Yes. It’s a quality dram, and I quite enjoy it. The problem is value, which is nothing new for a Johnnie Walker whisky. Once you get past Red and Black, things take a turn.
Is this a good whisky? Absolutely. Is it worth $95….? I’m not so sure. There are so many options to explore for $95 that offer much more than smooth and delightful.
Do you want a high-end crowd pleaser? This is your whisky. You want a rich scotch full of flavor? Look elsewhere. Johnnie Walker 18 is rich, but at 80 proof, you’re only going to get so much out of it.
When we’re just talking about taste and enjoyment, Johnnie Walker 18 is giving the Green Label a run for my favorite whisky. We’ll see where it stands when I do my blind taste test, but I’m confident in this whisky. Next, we have Johnnie Walker Blue Label.
Johnnie Walker 18 contains up to 18 different whiskies that are all aged 18 years or more. It’s a very enjoyable whisky, but for $95, it’s hard not to want more from it. Again, that’s the downfall of the 80 proof that Johnnie Walker bottles their whisky at. However, it’s also why so many people can easily enjoy a dram, and why Johnnie Walker is the best selling scotch in the world.
Stay tuned for our next review and, ultimately, our blind taste test between all the whiskies in the Johnnie Walker line-up.