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  • The Whisky Guy reviews: Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve
    Posted by on Oct 31st, 2014

    I bet if you asked people to name the first whisky that comes to mind, you’d no doubt find that the majority will mention Johnnie Walker. That says a lot about the brand which is the most widely distributed blended Scotch whisky in the world hey. The iconic square bottle is pretty much standard on every bar shelf and today The Whisky Guy will be having a few sips of the shimmering Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve and giving you some background history to use as bar ammo and some tasting notes to educate your tastebuds.

    Instantly recognisable. Like a sunset trapped in a bottle just waiting to be set free.

    Right…as with all previous reviews i’ll give you some bar ammo about the whisky that you can impress your friends with or make your sh*t look cool and knowledgeable at a bar. Then i’ll tell you what it tastes like and what not.

    The story behind Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve:

    The first interesting fact about Johnnie Walker is the reason behind the iconic square bottle which was introduced in 1870. The square bottle meant more bottles fitting the same space and resulted in fewer broken bottles. Another identifying characteristic of the Johnnie Walker bottle is the label, which is applied at an angle of 24 degrees and allows text to be made larger and more visible. Bet you didn’t know that. And then there’s the unmistakable Striding Man logo. While at lunch with the Walker brothers in 1908, cartoonist Tom Browne sketched the striding man on the back of a menu and it became one of the first advertising icons of the century.

    The Gold Label is an 80 proof (40% ABV) blend of over 15 single malts. It was derived from Alexander Walker II’s blending notes for a whisky to commemorate Johnnie Walker’s centenary. His original efforts were thwarted by a shortage of these malts following World War I. Gold Label is commonly bottled at 15 or 18 years, or without an age statement as Gold Label Reserve. Gold Label has been replaced, without an age statement, as “Golden Label Reserve” as of 2013.

    What’s it taste like?

    Nose: opening the bottle of Gold Label Reserve is like getting slapped in the face with a pillow filled with vanilla and honey marshmallows. The sweet syrupy aroma is immediately apparent and once poured into a glass releases a more fruity smell with hardly any spicey notes.

    Palate: as you’d expect from the aroma, the taste is dominated by honey…almost like you’ve just bit into a piece of honeycomb and can even taste the wax. There also some smooth vanilla biscuit vibes going on and a very faint smokiness in the background. It’s  light and easy to drink. Not peaty at all. Could drink it all day, every day.

    Finish: no lingering here. It’s goes down rather quickly and at the very end you’re left with a woody aftertaste and some smoke signals like standing around a fire where some of the spices fell onto the coals.

    Appearance and price: the iconic square bottle is unique and the golden detail stands out in any whisky cabinet. And anyways…you really couldn’t call it a whisky cabinet if you didn’t have at least one bottle with the Striding Man logo strutting through it with pride. A definite talking point at any dinner party especially if you throw in your newfound knowledge on why it’s square and why the label is slanted. Pricewise the Gold Label Reserve ranges from R700 to R900. Pricey, but worth getting a bottle.

    Overall score on the Life is Savage Whisky Index: the Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve gets a slowclap and an outstanding 9 out of 10. Definitely a keeper.

    For more info check the website HERE.

    Good times.

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