Friday, November 19, 2010

Malt Mission 2010 #389

Johnnie Walker Blue Label
King George V
Blended Scotch Whisky

43% abv
$480 (USD)

The last malt mission was posted at the height of another season altogether; tonight I have traded shorts and sandals for a thick wool jumper and cozy slippers to compose two posts from my wee cottage in the Scottish Highlands. Yes, I am back on the island to stay.

And I couldn't be happier. Arrived on the day of the incredible Whisky Show, reconnected with friends, spent days relishing each sip of the perfectly tempered cask ales I missed so much, and was fortunate enough to be invited to enjoy a few drops of (arguably) the world's finest blended scotch whiskies at the Coburg Bar at the Connaught in London.

In a quiet, candlelit corner of the bar, Ambassador Jonathan Driver shared the liquid histories of three different Johnnie Walkers: Blue, King George V, and The John Walker (Malt Mission #390). The intimate setting and warm environment was ideal for careful dramming and Jonathan's knowledge, sincerity and charm resonated with each small group lucky enough to join him.

He explained that this whisky was inspired by the desire to have a "late night" alternative to Johnnie Walker Blue, to create something flavourwise that was more luxurious than robust. The press release informs us that the whisky was created to celebrate the first Royal Warrant granted to John Walker and Sons Ltd to supply Scotch whisky to the British Royal Household in 1934 and also says some rubbish about luxury and how the whisky is geared for "power players."

Jonathan was not afraid to discuss the liquid in depth, not that we gave him any choice. It emerged that this whisky was created from rare stock from nine of the Scottish distilleries that operated during the days of Johnnie Walker himself, including the much loved, but lost distillery, Port Ellen. These same facts also mean, we were told, that KGV will only be able to maintain its recipe for 6-7 years.

For more on the House of Walker and for all Johnnie Walker had on the mission, click HERE.


Fruit-forward with grapes, candy orange, raisins and banana chips. Solid woody impressions, and then the expected, deep and tarry smoke delivered gently. Overall restrained, tight and bright, and politely asking for a drop of water.

Wood and oak-extractives on the palate, vanilla, tannins, all rather intense and hitting my palate with pins and needles. Again, water needed.


A very rich drop with woody whisky in the mix and a muddy road of peat through its core, I was given the impression that this whisky was, perhaps, blended to be enjoyed with ice. A shame, some may say, but in this case a mute will not hurt the instrument, it will just gently restrain the timbre while leaving the melody itself sufficiently expressive.

Malt Misson #386
Malt Mission #387
Malt Mission #388
Malt Mission #390

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1 comment:

Jason Debly said...

I've had this twice at whisky festivals and was very impressed. Not sure it is worth $600+ Canadian, but when I am not paying, I am enjoying it immensely.