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JOHNNIE WALKER 12 YO ‘BLACK LABEL’ (2016, OB, 40%)

SUP_8394.153544

A good rule for any drinker with the ambition to classificate his drams (or to host a whisky blog, which is even worse) is to try not to limit yourself to high-end products, indie bottler single casks and inaccessible malts: sometimes it’s good throw yourself into the fray, get your hands dirty and test your nose and palate with some best seller blended whisky. Why? 1) It helps you put things in perspective 2) It allows you to understand what normal people (not whisky geeks like us) think about when they say “I like whisky!”. Today we taste one of the world best selling blended whisky, Johnnie Walker 12 years old Black Label’. It’s about 20 euro, with a hard rock band dedicated to him (and not just a simple band!). Diageo doesn’t declare the single malts that are part of the recipe, but there is rumour of a high presence of Lagavulin, Talisker, Mortlach and Benrinnes… Those are all full bodied malts: let’s see how they behave…

black label-500x500N: it reveals a double profile, although the two souls are well integrated. On the one hand, there is a quite indistinct sweetness, like dried fruit of various kinds (from dried apricot to hazelnut). It reminds some cereal biscuits. Then there’s caramel, in great evidence; citrus peel (maybe orange, maybe lemon); we think of maple syrup. The whole thing has a mineral vein, slightly peaty… 

P: …that on the palate becomes an artery instead: a smoky note explodes, we would say smoked tea, our beloved Lapsang Souchong, and there’s a deep peat, always together with a beautiful minerality. The sweetness is still very strong, and it is again on maple syrup, caramel, vanilla; again hazelnuts. The citrus side is here, with a nice deep orange. Coffee bean (it’s a bit toasted).

F: not very long, of course, but sweet (dried fruit), toasted and smoky.

If you talk about descriptors, it’s a yes: it is not too crude in terms of sweetness, and in addition it has persuasive mineral and gently smoked notes. On the palate maybe it is a bit too watery, effectively revealing its “supereasydrinkingwhisky” nature. For this reason we can’t really fall in love with it, but in our opinion it deserves a more than decent 82/100. Can we say it? We like it more than many single malts that cost even more than double…

Recommended soundtrack: Black Label Society – Rust.

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