By Richard Thomas
Johnnie Walker Green Label is noteworthy in my book as the first entry in the Johnnie Walker line I actually like. Johnnie Walker Red Label is the sort of bottom-barrel whiskey fit only for mixed drinks, and I think the Black Label is often overrated. It is in its Green Label that Johnnie Walker finally furnishes the kind of sipping scotch I might want to keep on the shelf.
The Green Label is a relatively new Johnnie Walker label, having been first introduced in the late 1990s. This is a blended whiskey, but whereas the previous entries in the Johnnie Walker line — Johnnie Walker’s Red and Black– are blends of grain and malt whiskey, Green Label is all single malt. Johnnie Walker bills the Green Label as a blend drawn from “the four corners of Scotland,” which isn’t quite true, since it is made from whiskey from only three of the four major scotch regions: Caol Ila (Islay), Cragganmore (Speyside), Linkwood (Speyside) and Talisker (Highland Islands).
This is a 15 year old scotch, bottled at 43% alcohol and in the standard Johnnie Walker squared bottle and labeling style. In the glass, Green Label shows off just how much better it is than its predecessors in the Johnnie Walker line with its honey gold color. The scotch has a rich, sweetly earthy nose with undertones of smoke, wood and just a hint of sea spray. Imagine sitting in a cottage perched on cliff over windy, rough seas, in front of a fireplace and enjoying a sweet treat. The smoky flavor and wood come out more on the palate, but overall the taste is velvety sweet and just a little chocolatey. The finish is of medium length, warm and spicy.
Johnnie Walker Green Label can sometimes be found for as little as $40, but $55 or $60 is more common. In Europe, expect to pay around 35 euros, and in Britain about 30£ seems to be the norm.
Jim Murray reportedly gave Johnnie Walker Green a score of 95 in the 2010 and 2012 Whisky Bible.