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Thursday, 19 July 2012

Casks Of Glory

A few weeks ago, we bought you news of a brace of brand new Johnnie Walker bottlings which have now hit the shelves across the globe.  Gone now is the old style 18 year-old Centenary Gold Label (although retailers still have stocks available, so grab a bottle whilst you can) replaced by the un-aged Gold Label and the spanking new Platinum Label, which introduces the same age statement of 18 years to this differently formulated blend.   Both new releases fair extremely well in our opinion, especially the Platinum, which could very easily slake our thirst for the dearly departed Centenary edition (you'll be sorely missed...)  

Now it seems the Striding Man has been furiously pacing about again and rather than resting on his laurels, has been at it again with yet another new release -  this time an addition to the Blue Label family.

The Casks Edition is a duty free only release, hitting airports across Asia, Europe, South America, the Middle East and Australia.  Bottled at 55.8% the blend is another Jim Beveridge special, which aims to highlight a more powerful, robust nuances in whisky making that individual casks can bring to the party. Released in small batches (although we don't know of what size)  the price is not that far off the price of the regular Blue Label, ($300 for a litre bottle) so for those Blue Label fans with that hung-ho holiday spirit passing through a major airport, this looks like an attractive bottle to take to one's poolside retreat. 

So what is it like?  Where does it sit next to the new releases and indeed- the regular edition of Blue Label??
Not the official bottle shot

Johnnie Walker Blue Label - The Casks Edition - 55.8%

Nose: Ooh. Big, bold and quite mossy on the first nosing. Very spicy, with notes of garam masala, peppers, dried ginger, a hint of smoke (less than I expected), then moist fruit cake, with a vanilla cream butter icing. Given some long lingering wafts, notes of spiced apple come to the fore, alongside sponge fingers dipped in Oloroso sherry.  With water, white pepper and some toffee apple notes develop, alongside a weighty dry sherry.  As a JW, this is certainly a big meaty fellow, like the striding man has been in training for a forthcoming athletic spectacle perhaps? 

Palate: Undiluted, the palate is fiery and untamed at first, as one would expect with a cask strength whisky, but soon the heat dies away to reveal a gingery, spicy side, steeped in touches of classic JW golden syrup, sponge cake, cinnamon apple strudel and a touch of vanilla pipe tobacco.  With water, the stewed apple, golden syrup and spice (liquorice this time) develop.  As July days go, it's a bit nippy around the drinking halls of Caskstrength towers and this is working through from within to revivify me. 

Finish: Lingering dry spice notes, with just the faintest smoke and sweetness in cake form.

Overall: For fans of JW in general it won't come as a surprise that this whisky is exquisitely put together.  Less smoke than the Gold and Black Labels, with a heavier slant towards sherry casks,  whatever Mr Beveridge has to play with in his blending rooms is clearly superb and this JW edition just highlights why his understanding of the striding man is becoming almost like a 6th sense.