A great Scotch is so much more than just a drink. It’s a direct portal to the sublime landscape in which the storied liquid was born. Don’t believe us? Uncork a bottle of Johnnie Walker and take inventory of the flavors, aromas, and colors that pour into the glass. The rolling hills of northern Scotland instantly unfurl before you. Nose the brine of ocean air; the heather of the windswept highland meadows. Taste the terroir and let it carry you away. The question isn’t whether or not you’ll go somewhere, it’s where exactly you want to go.
For each expression of Johnnie Walker there’s an accompanying journey in the dram. So, with the help of a few seasoned whisky pros, we thought we’d explore the brand’s most iconic bottlings to see which specific area each one evokes. Now get ready and steady a pour of the world’s most popular Scotch.
Johnnie Walker Black Label — Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park
For over a century, Black Label has existed as the benchmark by which all other deluxe blends are measured. It is an elegant Scotch that has been aged for a minimum of 12 years, and is a blend of Scotches that pulls malt from all four corners of the country. The marriage of liquors results in a complex sipping experience that is, at once, smooth and robust.
“Its woody undertones remind me of the dense forestry along the banks of Loch Lomond,” explains Atif Naim, Glasgow native and Scotch enthusiast. “There’s a freshness to this whisky that immediately reminds me of the crisp air you breathe when you leave the crowded city and enter into the [national] park.”
And there’s still more traveling to be done here: an inviting touch of spice and smoke in the finish. “It evokes the lingering smell of the fireplace from the country cabin where we’d vacation during my youth,” Naim recalls.
Even if you’ve never visited the wondrous waterway at the heart of Scotland’s most visited park, you likely have memories alongside your own local lake, sitting around the campfire, telling tall tales. The ineffable essence of fireside camaraderie is yours to behold in every bottle of Black Label.
Johnnie Walker Green Label — the Outer Hebridean Isles
The Outer Hebrides (or, “Na h-Eileanan Siar” as they are known in Scottish Gaelic) are a narrow archipelago along the northwestern edge of Scotland. They are rugged, remote, and almost mythical in their scenic grandeur. The bens and corbetts are dotted with sheep and ancient stone ruins, and the shore looks almost tropical with its turquoise hue. Arrive by plane to the south in Barra and you’ll land on an actual beach — one of the only commercial flights on the planet to operate off sand.
The idyllic nature of this setting is summed up quite succinctly in a bottle of Johnnie Walker Green Label, a signature blended malt matured for more than 15 years in oak cask.
“Johnnie Green is like vacation in a bottle,” explains Sarah Belizaire, a drinks industry professional. “It has this profound earthiness to it that feels to me like the moss-covered earth of the Western Isles. There’s also a hidden layer of tropical fruit, which calls to mind the hidden beaches in this part of the world. Some seem straight out of the Caribbean.”
Luskentyre Beach, a golden example, is a postcard idealization of cerulean surf and limestone-tinged sand. Most visitors to Scotland would never imagine such a setting could exist here. Similarly, many blended Scotch drinkers fail to grasp the beauty of blended malt. Green Label lifts the undervalued category to the realm of high art. A menagerie of crisp earth, fresh fruit, and oak spice ascends, before a gentle whisper of sandalwood rounds out the end of the sip. As impossibly grand as these far-flung islands scattered along the edge of the earth.
Johnnie Walker Blue Label — Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh
Blue Label is the pinnacle; the height of what a Scotch Blend can be. What it is, is nothing short of a masterpiece. The storied expression combines the rarest and most exceptional whiskies from across all of Scotland. In fact, only one in every 10,000 casks contains the character worthy of entry into this ultra-luxe liquid. And there’s one special spot just outside of Edinburgh city center worthy of evoking this sort of loftiness.
Arthur’s Seat is a prominent landmark protruding nearly 1,000 feet above Scotland’s capital city. From here you’ll spy sweeping views extending from the Duddingston Loch, at its foot, across the royal mile and Edinburgh Castle and out toward the Firth of Forth.
“Believe it or not, this was the first place I ever had Blue Label,” remembers Rachel Harrison, a spirits specialist of nearly two decades. “I couldn’t believe the complexity — the majesty of that particular pour. To this day it’s impossible for me to sip or even smell it without being whisked back to that moment all those years ago.”
It’s a fitting connection, as Edinburgh now acts as the spiritual home for the esteemed brand. With the opening of Johnnie Walker Princes Street this fall, visitors to the city can enjoy a one-of-a-kind immersion into the world of Walker. It’s an elevated experience to rival that special sip atop Arthur’s Seat. But even if you’ve yet to explore “Auld Reekie,” a proper pour of Johnnie Walker Blue Label will have you feeling as if you’re sitting on top of the world.
This article is sponsored by Johnnie Walker.
The article Travel to Scotland Through the Iconic Flavors of Johnnie Walker appeared first on VinePair.