John Barr Black Blended Scotch Review


Country: Scotland 
Brand: John Barr Black
Type: Blended Scotch Whisky
Age: NAS 
ABV: 40 %

Colour: Mahogany

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.

Rating: 77

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.

Jan van den Ende                                                                     April 9, 2013

11 comments:

  1. I have enjoyed John Barr scotch whiskey for a long time. Now it is no longer on store shelves. Why?
    I live in Plant City, FL. Where is the nearest store that stocks John Barr?
    Sal Casolaro

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    1. Hi there, it's a pity you didn't leave your name. I'm afraid I don't know why it's not available anymore in your region in Florida. I live in Brazil myself and here in Sao Paulo it's still easy to buy both the Red and Black Expressions. Maybe one of our other readers can help you out. Please leave your comment if you have any info on the subject. And Thanks for your comment!
      Cheers!
      Jan

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    2. coming to Total Wine and ABC in September

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  2. I have already tried this whisky and I can truly confirm that this is one of the most interesting blended I have ever drunk. The price is fair too, for the whisky lover is strongly recommended!!! ;-)

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    1. Thanks for commenting! Please leave your name next time. John Barr Black has a good price quality ratio. Taste wise I still prefer JW Black. Cheers!
      Jan

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    2. I also enjoy John Barr and it's no longer sold in Arkansas, Mississippi or TN. There is some type of disagreement going on between the distributors of Johnny Walker Red & John Barr. This is the third time this has happened. I have a friend who lives in Atlanta who brings me cases down when he comes or I bring it back with me when I go there.

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    3. Sorry for the late reply but I was traveling! Please leave your name next time around! Thanks for the added information. Cheers, Jan.

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  3. I found this site because I was so excited about this Scotch that I had to find out more about it. I haven't found a blend - at my price point - that I have enjoyed this much, and I'm so glad to have found an affordable Scotch that I love. A bit worried about supply but thankfully this doesn't seem to be too big of a problem.

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    1. Hi there! Sailing is a joy indeed! Sorry for the delay in responding! Glad you like the JB Black. It certainly is good value for money. There are better Blends with this flavour profile like the JW Black but they are more expensive. Have you ever tried the Black Grouse? Cheers, Jan.

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  4. I haven't been able to find out if this is an 8 year old or
    12 year old scotch. Anybody able to tell me?

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    1. Hi Double D, thanks for commenting. Sorry for the late reply but I was traveling. I have no direct answer to your question but the following might help. Around 70% of the Blend is formed by 3 year old Grain Whiskies. Around 30% of the Blend is Single Malt and I would not be surprised if around 20-30 different Malts are being used. Judging by the aromas, mostly Speyside and Highland Malts are used with a little added peated whisky from the islands. Could be Jura. I would estimate that the malts used are in the 5-15 years range. Hope this helps! Cheers!
      Jan

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