By Richard Thomas
I’ll make it through the day
With some help from Johnnie Walker Red
Johnnie Walker Red is the entry-level label of the famous brand, making it the cheapest and most generally available Johnnie Walker whiskey, albeit not the most iconic. Despite its standing at the bottom of the Johnnie Walker ladder, Red Label has been a favorite of many famous, hard-drinking people over the years. Former vice president Dick Cheney is known to be a Red Label lover, and according to author William Manchester, so was Winston Churchill.
This is despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that, according to Johnnie Walker anyway, Red Label is intended for use in mixed drinks. The company says Red Label scotch is fine on its own, but it was made with cocktails or scotch and soda in mind, a fact that ought to be kept in mind when you put it on your liquor shelf.
Johnnie Walker Red dates back to the brand’s Special Old Highland scotch, an early 20th Century product of Johnnie Walker. It is made from a blend of at least 35 different grain and malt whiskeys, and bottled at 80 proof (40% alcohol).
The Red Label’s nose is heavy on the alcohol and has a strong evergreen forest scent, like juniper or pine. Red Label is maltier than Johnnie Walker’s other products, and the flavor has a hot, peppery quality to it, with peat smoke coming on in the finish.
Overall, I must agree that these are qualities that do well when mixed with other flavors, the sort of thing that is the cornerstone of golf clubhouse drinks. I can’t imagine what Winston Churchill saw in mixing it with soda, however.
Johnnie Walker is usually cheap at the bar, but on the store shelf it often costs between $22 and $25. Sometimes prices run as high as $30, and that is far too high.