We’ve made it through the whole Johnnie Walker lineup to arrive at our final whisky, Johnnie Walker Blue Label. Blue Label is the most expensive of the series (Not counting Blue King George V). A 750ml bottle will cost you upwards of $200, but we’ve settled for a $70 200ml bottle.
Is Johnnie Walker Blue worth the money? Is it even any good? Or is it just a status symbol? We’re going to find out.
If you’re wanting an overview of Johnnie Walker’s history and to learn more about scotch, check out our review of Johnnie Walker Green Label.
Johnnie Walker Blue Overview
- Spirit: Blended Scotch Whisky
- Owned By: Diageo
- Distilled By: Various distillers across Scotland
- Aged: Unknown
- ABV: 40%, 80 proof
- Mashbill: Blend of malt and grain scotch whisky
- Price: $200
Johnnie Walker Blue was released in the 1990’s and since has been the gold standard of blended scotch. While it’s received plenty of awards, Johnnie Walker Blue Label has also been criticized as a whisky that serves as a status symbol – one that shows a life of luxury and prosperity instead of a whisky whose flavor and richness matches its price tag.
It’s commonly served at high-end weddings, to woo potential customers, or show off at parties. Among whisky enthusiasts, it’s light body and 80 proof point is cause for concern.
How Long is Johnnie Walker Blue Aged?
We don’t know. It likely contains some old whisky and some younger ones too as we aren’t told the age statement. An age statement requires the producer to put the age of the youngest whisky on the bottle. So, you could have mostly 25-30 yr whiskies in a bottle, but if one barrel is 15 years old then they’d have to market it as a 15 year whisky.
The step below Johnnie Walker Blue is Johnnie Walker 18 Year, though. I’d presume that a lot of the whisky that goes into Johnnie Walker Blue is close to or older than that. It’s said that Blue Label contains 30+ year old whisky, but we don’t really know.
Why is Johnnie Walker Blue so Expensive?
Okay, we don’t know how old Johnnie Walker Blue is, so why is it so expensive?
According to Johnnie Walker, only 1 in 10,000 barrels is of high enough quality to make it into a bottle ow JW Blue.
Diageo owns some 30 distilleries across Scotland, so they are taking the best of the best to go into a bottle of Blue Label. Couple this with some likely 25+ yr old barrels, and you’re going to be looking at an expensive whisky.
Johnnie Walker Blue Tasting Notes
Okay, we’ve discussed some of the basics behind Johnnie Walker Blue, let’s pour myself a dram and find out if the whisky matches the price tag.
Nose: Not as much peat as green or platinum, but still there. Berries and sugar. Reminds me of Cap’n Crunch All Berries! Honey and a touch of baking spice, too. Very pleasant nose.
Palate: Very light on the palate. A light honey and caramel note with sugar and more berries. It tastes much like it smells, pleasant but light. Letting it sit for a couple minutes brings out more peat and smoke.
Finish: A little baking spice sizzles with honey and berries. Medium in length, at best.
I was expecting to be underwhelmed by Johnnie Walker Blue Label, and I went into this review wanting to be more critical of it – I mean, it’s $200, I don’t want to judge it on the same scale as the $60 Green of Gold Label.
But then I nosed it, and I really loved the nose. Sure it was a little light, but man it smelled just like Cap’n Crunch All Berries and brought some nostalgia with it. I was ready to be sold on Johnnie Walker Blue Label.
And then I took a sip. It felt indistinguishable from Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve. Light, smooth, easy are words I’d use to describe it. I had to take a big gulp to even get all the flavors from it. After sitting for a couple minutes, more peat and smoke showed up which helped add some flavor.
The finish is, like the palate, underwhelming yet quite pleasant. It goes down easily, there’s no burn or harshness to the spirit whatsoever, but there’s no punch or robustness to it either.
Is Johnnie Walker Blue Label the Best Johnnie Walker?
I don’t think so. Even without factoring in the price, I think Johnnie Walker falls in behind Green Label and the 18 Year and fits somewhere next to the Gold Label Reserve. Of course, we’ll wait to see where it lands in my blind ranking.
Once you take into account price, I don’t think there’s any need to pick up a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue – unless of course it’s for the status symbol or if money is really no concern of yours.
Don’t get me wrong, Johnnie Walker Blue is still a delicious whisky to sip on, but I’m buying Johnnie Walker 18 over Blue any day of the week and twice on Sundays. I’m taking Green Label over it, too. I think I prefer it to Gold, but with price in mind, I’m picking up Gold Label Reserve over it, too.
Johnnie Walker Blue Label Summary
There’s a reason Johnnie Walker is the best selling scotch in the world, they make some very good blended whisky that appeals to the masses. Appealing to the masses can turn off some of the more serious whiskey drinkers, though, because people that actually like whiskey want to taste it.
We want robust flavors that pack a punch. Johnnie Walker, primarily when you get to Gold Label and up, has perfected what it means to be a ‘smooth’ whiskey.
If you’re looking for a status symbol and want smooth, appealing whisky for all, Johnnie Walker Blue is great. If you want a full, robust whisky and are willing to spend $200, there’s no need to look in this direction. For half the price, I’d go with the 18 Year (Platinum Label in countries outside of NA).