Johnnie Walker Black Label is one of the best-selling whiskies in the world and the signature blend from Johnnie Walker. It brings together whiskey from all the major regions of Scotland including Highland, Lowland, Speyside, Islay, as well as Islands. The blend is like a great sampler platter of all the great flavors that Scotch whiskey has to offer, from the smoky and peaty whiskey from the Islay and Island regions to the rich sherry-like notes from Speyside and Highlands. Johnnie Walker Black Label is iconic, so it was surprising when Johnnie Walker announced that it was going to produce a riff on this blend called Johnnie Walker Double Black.
To understand Johnnie Walker Double Black, you need to understand Johnnie Walker Black Label. Black Label has at its core Cardhu, a sweet and fruity Speyside Scotch whiskey. Cardhu is a wonderfully affable whiskey, and Johnnie Walker Black Label holds it in the center of the blend and builds complementary flavors around it. For Johnnie Walker Double Black, the center of the blend has shifted over to Caol Ila, a smoky and rich Islay Scotch whiskey. Cardhu is still very much in Johnnie Walker Double Black but it’s not a major focus. The result is a blend that is more defined by the smoky qualities than the sweet.
The great thing about Johnnie Walker Double Black is that it is a very balanced blend. Although it’s smokier than Johnnie Walker Black Label, it’s not too strong or overwhelming. Another key difference between the two blends is age. Johnnie Walker Black Label is a blend of 12-year old whiskey, meaning that the youngest aged whiskey in the blend can be no younger than 12 years (some of the whiskey in the blend is much older). Johnnie Walker Double Black has no age statement, so the whiskey in it can be of any age. This shift of focus from age to taste is very common in the whiskey space, where people more and more tend to seek out flavors more than age.
The Johnnie Walker Double Black runs around $40 and is currently available for a limited time. It’s absolutely worth picking up.