Brand: John Barr Black
Type: Blended Scotch Whisky
ABV: 40 %
Nose: There are no unpleasant off-notes but there's not much to discover as well. A very basic combination of Wood, Spices (Mainly Pepper), Cereals, light Peat/Smoke, Caramel, Nuts, Honey, Alcohol and hints of Sherry and Green Apples.
Palate: Smooth, Sweet and Uneventful with Caramel/Butterscotch, Malt, Grains, Honey, Wood, Nougat, Pepper and a bit of Sherry.
Finish: Short with Caramel/Butterscotch/Toffee, Oak, Vanilla, Licorice (Slight) and Pepper.
With some added Water, extra Fruity tones (Apple, Pear) appear on the Nose. Although Palate and Finish are watered down slightly, the John Barr Black Label does accept a couple of drops. Just try it out.
Nose: 19.5 - Taste: 19.5 - Finish: 19 - Overall: 19
General Remarks: John Barr Cumming was a whisky trader from yesteryear. His family background dates back to the Speyside region in the 19th century. The Brand became known in 1977/1978 when it replaced Johnnie Walker Red Label in the UK following the EEC ruling on pricing and taxes. At that time the EEC ruled in favour of the free flows of goods and JW's owners at the time (Distillers Co.Ltd) decided to vastly increase the JW prices, effectively pricing itself out of the market for a while. Almost immediately, Distillers Co.Ltd introduced John Barr Blends with very similar quality, packaging and bottles in order to keep their customers satisfied. Eventually, the Brand name was acquired in 1986 by John Barr & Company of Glasgow, part of the Whyte & Mackay Group. The John Barr Blend was created by Richard Paterson, W&M's Master Blender. Malt whiskies of up to 15 years are used in the Black Label. Speyside - and Highland Malts are said to be at the heart of this Blend of 40 Grain - and Malt whiskies. I'm fairly sure a bit of peated Highland or Islay is mixed in as well. In most places, John Barr Black sells at between 22 and 25 US Dollars. In Brazil I paid 35 US Dollars. There are also Red, Gold and Blue versions of this Blend. In some countries the John Barr Black Label is bottled at 43%.
Drinking Experience Neat: Okay/Good
Drinking Experience On the Rocks: Good
Conclusion: There's nothing really wrong with this blend. It's quite drinkable both neat and on the Rocks. I can't find any significant off-notes. And it's a big step up from the unpleasant Red Label. But on the other hand it's almost completely dominated by Caramel and Wood (Spice). Too one-sided really and therefore a bit boring. It's no match for Johnny Walker Black Label if you allow me to make the comparison.