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Every Bottle Of The Core Johnnie Walker Scotch Whisky Line, Ranked

Johnnie Walker is one of the best-selling whiskies in the world. And it’s the best-selling scotch whisky by a pretty big margin. Meaning there are a lot of loyalists to Johnnie Walker’s blended scotches out there. The whisky shingle doesn’t leave its fans starving for options either, with seven core bottles in the U.S. line up and 16 active limited editions (although several of those are variations on the spendy Johnnie Walker Blue, which itself has five limited-edition expressions).

We’re not here to discuss hard-to-track-down limited edition scotches today. The drams we’re tasting are all available at your local liquor store or, at the very least, online (check by clicking the price). They’re also relatively affordable when compared to the limited-run expressions.

As for the science behind this ranking, we only considered two elements. The first and most heavily weighted aspect was taste. The second was cost. Johnnie Walker’s price can jump drastically between expressions, so we had to weigh whether the more expensive bottles were really that much better than the cheaper stuff.

With that all in mind, here’s a definitive ranking of Johnnie Walker’s core line of scotch whiskies.

7. Johnnie Walker Red Label

Diageo

ABV: 40%
Average Price: $26

The Whisky:

Johnnie Walker’s entry point expression is also the best-selling scotch expression on the planet. The juice is a blend from Diageo’s deep stable of distilleries around Scotland that’s specifically designed to be mixed and not taken straight.

Tasting Notes:

The nose reminds you more of a sweet and citrusy Speyside or Highland whisky. The palate holds onto those notes while adding a peppery spice and a hint of orchard fruits. The end shifts towards Islay with a wisp of smoke as the sip fades quickly away while warming you with alcohol heat.

Bottom Line:

I feel bad putting this whisky in the last spot. It does exactly what it says and that means something. It’s also very affordable. This is a very solid base for a highball, especially for anyone looking to get into a mild blended scotch that brings all of Scotland into the glass.

Still, this is the broadest of all the sips on the list and really only works as a mixer at the end of the day.

6. Johnnie Walker Double Black

Diageo

ABV: 40%
Average Price: $46

The Whisky:

This is basically Johnnie Black, a slightly peaty blend, that’s been casked again in deeply charred oak. The idea is to maximize that peat and amp up the Islay and Island smokiness of the final dram.

Tasting Notes:

Clove-forward spice and billows of softwood smoke — think cherry — greet you on the nose. The palate has a vanilla creaminess that’s punctuated by bright apple, dried fruit, and more peat. The spice kicks back in late, warming things up as the smoke carries through the end with a nice dose of oakiness.

Bottom Line:

This was a struggle to place. While it’s not that much more expensive than standard Johnnie Black, we can’t say it’s that much better, either. It feels like they took Johnnie Black and just added more smoke for the sake of more smoke. If that’s your jam, wonderful — this is the whisky for you.

For us, it always feels a bit like a nice hat on an already nice hat.

5. Johnnie Walker Black Label

Diageo

ABV: 40%
Average Price: $38

The Whisky:

This is Johnnie’s signature blend that’s dialed in to be a sipper with a few rocks thrown in. The blend leans into the peaty seaside distilleries with 30 plus whiskies from powerhouses like Lagavulin, Talisker, and Cardhu.

Tasting Notes:

Mild notes of spice mingle with bright and sweet fruits and a hint of vanilla. The taste allows the malt to shine as the vanilla, spice, and fruit counter a distant wisp of smoke. That smoke warms as the sip fades out, leaving you with a final note of sweet wood.

Bottom Line:

This is a very quaffable whisky that works wonders on the rocks. It’s also affordable, for what it is. We’d argue that this is a good place to start if you want to dip your toes into mildly smoky whiskies without diving headfirst into a Lagavulin or Ardbeg.

4. Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve

Diageo

ABV: 40%
Average Price: $80

The Whisky:

This no-age statement blend leans into that signature Walker marriage of Highland and Speyside whiskies with a small dose of Western Scottish juice for good measure. The lion’s share of the whisky involved in this gilded bottle is Clynelish, a Highland whisky that adds a modicum of peat to the mix.

Tasting Notes:

Honey and oak greet you with a distant fruity nature and a little warmth. The fruit kicks up on the palate and becomes slightly tropical as a counterpoint of rich vanilla creaminess arrives. The end is subtle and long with the fruit and honey standing tall against a very distant echo of earthy peat.

Bottom Line:

This is tasty, refined, and fairly affordable. It used to be one of those bottles you could only get at duty-free but became widely available a few years ago. At the end of the day, this is a perfectly decent bottle of whisky that will not disappoint.

3. Johnnie Walker Blue Label

Diageo

ABV: 40%
Average Price: $230

The Whisky:

This is the mountaintop of Johnnie Walker’s whiskies. The blend is a marriage of ultra-rare stock from extinct Diageo distilleries around Scotland. That’s just … cool. This expression is all about barrel selection and the mastery of a great noser and blender working together to create something special.

Tasting Notes:

Dried fruit with a plummy sweetness mingles with a very soft and almost dry pall of smoke. The palate then veers in a completely different direction — folding in orange oils, marzipan, rose water, honeycombs, and a dusting of bitter cacao once water is added. The end is slow, smoky, and full of dry fruits, nuts, and a malty nature.

Bottom Line:

This does taste really f*cking good. It’s hard to get past the price though. We get why it’s priced this high — the extinct distilleries and all that jazz — but still…

Anyway, if this bottle was in the $100 range, we’d probably never shut up about it.

2. Johnnie Walker Aged 18 Years

Diageo

ABV: 40%
Average Price: $90

The Whisky:

This blend used to be called Johnnie Walker Platinum, which was aged for 18 years. You might still see some of those bottles on shelves where scotch sells slowly. This is the same juice, which is comprised of 18 whiskies all of which are a minimum of 18 years old. The primary distilleries in the bottle are Blair Athol, Cardhu, Glen Elgin, and Auchroisk.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a rich and buttery toffee that’s counterpointed by a bowl of ripe and sweet fruit that really draws you in. The caramel malts mix with marzipan, creamy vanilla pudding, and a nice rush of juicy winter tangerines that have just been peeled. Adding a little water, those orange oils marry to a deeply dark chocolate nature, which leads towards a velvety and ever-so-lightly smoky end.

Bottom Line:

This is some refined goddamn whisky. This is one of those whiskies that’s really hard to put down. Full disclosure: For us, this and the expression above are basically a tie when it comes to how tasty they are. The only reason this one’s technically “second” and not “third” is that it’s a lot less expensive.

If you do snag a bottle, make sure to add some water or a rock and really let the scotch bloom in the glass.

1. Johnnie Walker Green Label

Diageo

ABV: 43%
Average Price: $65

The Whisky:

This whisky was actually taken off the market in 2012 and people lost their shit. Diageo came to its senses and brought it back by 2016. The juice is a blend of single malts only, making it a “pure malt” and not a “blended scotch whisky” (that blends malt and grain whiskies). The juice primarily comes from Speyside, Highland, Lowland, and Island malts with a focus on a minimum of 15-year-old Talisker, Caol Ila, Cragganmore, and Linkwood.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a woodiness that’s softly cedary with notes of bright, sweet fruit, spicy black pepper, oily vanilla pods, and fresh-cut grass on the nose. The taste really delivers on the softness of the cedar while adding more tropical fruitiness and a subtle edge of dried roses. The end is deliberate with the cedar, spice, and fruit giving way to a measured wisp of earthy smoke and a splash of sea brine to finish off the sip.

Bottom Line:

1) This is just a great whisky, period.
2) this is only $65 (depending on local taxes) and that’s crazy cheap for a whisky this good.

This expression really is Scotland’s best whisky flavors all in one single dram with none of them overpowering or diminishing the others. Add a little water to let it bloom and take your time with it. You can also whip up a hell of a cocktail with it at this price. Even if this bottle was twice its going rate, we’d still be raving about it.

Never take this one away from us again, Diageo.

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