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Johnnie Walker ‘Blue Label’ (2015, OB, 40%)

Schermata 2015-12-14 alle 12.33.12

A couple of weeks ago we participated, together with Davide, in the presentation of Johnnie Walker Blue’s pop-up store in Corso Garibaldi, Milan, which will remain in business until Christmas Eve. Johnnie Walker Blue is the ‘top-of-the-range’ version of the famous Scottish blend brand, owned by Diageo. The store is very nice, decorated with many things that will appeal to the self-styled contemporary gentlemen (who can also take a test to find out how much they are gentlemen: we’re only 80% gentlemen, damn it): a limited Milanese edition, a calligrapher, old cocktail guides and a short film, which seemed frankly necessary, shot ad hoc with Jude Law and Giancarlo Giannini playing among old Bugattis and other amenities. It was an opportunity to have a chat with the Diageo team, as always very kind and professional despite our irony, and to experience the exclusivity of the concept of marketing applied to whisky. A dimension that purists may consider questionable, but which constitutes “the real world” much more than the discussions about tertiary aromas. This was a really very interesting and privileged window on the dynamics of the market; but above all it was an opportunity to get our hands on a sample of Johnnie Walker Blue Label. You know, we started a blog in order to scrounge…

JWBL - Milano edition

N: we haven’t drunk plenty of them, but it certainly seems that the grain contribution is quite massive: there’s a deep and cereal-like ‘sweetness’ that immediately reminds us of chocolate and honey (or those cereal bars with honey…). Then it becomes very citrusy, with a lot of orange peel, still glazed; another suggestion is warm panettone. Dried fruit (almond). After a bit of oxygenation, the dram begins to live a second life, made of an elegant mineral shielding, almost a wax/peat (à la old Clynelish, to be precise). Damp wood. Tea, stewed fruit (apples, pears, plums).

P: at 40% it’s tasty but not explosive; the less exciting point is the attack, still grainy (with that cereal sweetness a bit too easy) and with a distinct prolonged woodiness. Only after a while it emerges that complexity we appreciated in the second part of the nose: wax, a drizzle of peat, wrapping dried fruit, pipe tobacco. Still consistent with the nose, clear orange and honey, caramel and yellow fruit.

surprisingly, the most interesting part: it maintains the maturity of the nose and palate for a long time, without conceding anything to the easier notes. So tobacco, wax, damp wood, a veil of wax…

BlueLabel003

Indeed, this JW turns out to be a meditation whisky, as the furnishings of the pop-up store wanted to suggest: it should be listened to carefully, and the very long finish refers to endless conversations in the smartest lobbies. At least, if you drink enough, it makes you believe it. Johnnie Walker’s flagship blend is objectively good, with really pleasant notes that reveal the presence in the blend of barrels that are certainly very aged. The low gradation, which burns the fuse of intensity and makes us stop at 87/100, it’s a little crime. Otherwise, we would have probably climbed even higher. How much is it? Rather trivial to talk about money, however it’s almost 200 €. Aside from our irony, we thank Franco, Silvia and Fabrizio very much for the invitation and for the pleasant conversations.

Recommended soundtrack: Gentleman – To the top.

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