[Review] Johnnie Walker - Black Label 12 years old 40%

Having been quite busy in the last couple of days, I have been looking for an easy-drinking dram to enjoy without having to spend hours nosing it or trying to pick all sorts of different flavours neat or with a few drops of water, so no Aberlour A'bunadh, Spice Tree or Caol Ila 19. I didn't want anything too peaty or too strong-flavoured. Bourbon, why not, but after a small Buffalo Trace I realised it was a bit too sweet for my mood, and that led me to my bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label. When I say "led me", my bottle of Buffalo Trace is sitting just next to my bottle of Black Label, no other real link between both bottles otherwise.
I bought the Black Label a few months ago now, and I probably enjoyed some kind of offer on it as you can pick up a bottle for just over £20 in the UK. I had never had Johnnie Walker before, again, it was a brand I associated more with mixing blend than anything else, until a few of my whisky-drinking friends told me the Black Label was amongst their favourite whiskies, single malt included. That's why I decided to give it a go, and trust me, I have still not been disappointed since I cracked the bottle open. The only thing I would say about it is that it is so smooth that it is way too easy drinking...
The Black Label comes after the Red label (mainly designed for mixing or cocktails). It is a blend of about 40 different whiskies (grain and malt), aged for at least 12 years, the main malts present in it being Caol Ila and Talisker. You might have realised by now that I am a fan of Caol Ila, so it was already looking good before I opened the bottle. In the range, you will also find the Double Black (smokier version of the Black), the Gold, the Platinum and finally the Blue. The Black is therefore the first sipping blend of the range.  

Johnnie Walker Black Label is a mass-produced, not very expensive whisky as I mentioned above, so it comes in a screw-top bottle, at 40% ABV, chill-filtered and coloured. If you look at how deep amber the liquid looks, I think it is pretty obvious, but again for what it is, as long as it tastes good...

Nose: Sweet fruitiness coupled with peaty notes, a little vegetal and hints of sherry and citrus.

Palate: Again a lot of sweetness, toffee, honey and vanilla, some spices and some Caol Ila peat/smoke which I find, personally, quite obvious.

Finish: Still some peat and spices on the finish but also sweet raisins, toffee and spices

With water: the nose gets fresher, more herby and citrusy, the palate and the finish are both sweeter.

With a drop of Caol Ila 12: More tropical fruit on the nose first before some ash notes appear, the palate gets a bit more complex with obviously more peat and salt and a stronger alcohol feel. The finish is now peatier and the sweetness just lingers on the background. Another great thing to try!

Overall, for the price you cannot go wrong. I think it is a nice easy-drinking sweet-peated blend, and I would definitely agree with those who told me how good this whisky is. It obviously plays in a different league than the likes of Laphroaig, GlenDronach, Lagavulin... but has and will undoubtedly have a place in my whisky cabinet. 


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