Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve Review

"Party Time"

Country: Scotland
Brand: Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve
Type: Blended Scotch Whisky
Age: NAS
ABV: 40%
Date: 12/02/2014

Colour: Light Amber

Nose: There's a young feeling to the Nose. I find Grains, Heather and Honey, Toffee and Caramel, Oak, a little Sherry, a touch of Sulphur of the Vegetative type, Floral, Vegetable and Earthy tones, Straw, Banana Cake, Apple Pie with Raisins, Malt, Citrus Peel, a little Perfume and a pinch of Nutmeg. It's a bit of everything but nothing is really convincing. The Alcohol is not fully integrated.

Taste: The Delivery is quite Thin and Watery. Nothing to get excited about. I find Honey, Toffee/Butterscotch, Wax, Citrus Peel, Dried Fruits, light Oak, Grain  and light Spices.

Finish: Rather Short and Disappointing. Sweet at first, Dry later on. A bit of Toffee, Honey, Orange Peel, Pepper, Raisins, Wax and Oak.

The Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve does not accept Water very well. It's best enjoyed over a little Ice.

Rating: 79.5 

Nose: 20.5 – Taste: 19.5 – Finish: 19.5 – Overall: 20

The New Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve

General Remarks: The Johnnie Walker Brand is owned since 1997 by the Diageo Group. The Gold Label Reserve was released in 2012/2013 and was crafted by the current JW Master Blender Jim Beveridge to celebrate almost 200 Years of the JW Blends. At the heart of this Blend lies Clynelish. This distillery uses Water from the Kildonan Hills were Gold was found in 1868. The new Gold Reserve is supposed to replace the old Gold Label 18 Years that has been discontinued. The Blend sells at between 65 and 90 US Dollars, quite expensive for a NAS Blend. Nice modern bottle though!

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay

Drinking Experience on the Rocks: Okay/Good 

Conclusion: Quite disappointing. At this price level I would simply expect a better Blend. The Nose is okay but not really exciting. On the Palate and in the Finish, the Johnnie Walker Gold Reserve is easily drinkable but Thin, Boring and Bland. It's impossible to compare this NAS Gold Label Reserve to the old Gold Label 18 years although their prices are quite similar! The old Gold Label was meant to be appreciated, perhaps on a special occasion, like the Green and the Blue. The new Gold Reserve screams " Take Me, I'm Easy To Drink" and "It's Party Time"  and clearly aims at a different and younger public. At a lower cost of production (younger whiskies) and with more or less the same sales price this means good business! At least in the short term. But many Whisky fans, including me, miss the Old Comfortable Gold and the Vatted Quality Green! 

Jan van den Ende                                                           February 2014

The Old Johnnie Walker Gold Label

"I Miss You"


Whiskycuse said...

Seems to be the custom: young whisky and high prices... I liked the green label. The Gold doesn´t seem to be an adequate replacement bottling...


Jan van den Ende said...

I'm afraid you're right Marcus. And no, it's not at all an adequate replacement. It's just another of those boring mainstream blends!

Unknown said...

Sadly I bought a bottle of gold label reserve for about $80, I used to go to a friends restaurant very often, and at the end of the dinner, he used to tell me "what do you want to drink", and I said "if you invite me a bit of whisky", and he took out a bottle of gold label from the bar and we both siped it in an old fashioned glass with one or two cubes of ice and I loved it, specially with the idea that in that restaurant the glass of gold label was at around $20, I remembered it had very good strong flavor. I wasnt awared when they change the bottle, I bought it a week ago for around $80, then I realized it was not the same than the old one. Specially when I opened it I inmediatly smell it, and it was different than the sense I had when I smell the green label, I just had to do it harder to feel something grateful, then the first sip, again, not like green label, that I loved, and not like the old gold label I used to drink with my old friend in his restaurant, this new gold label reserve is not something to sit back and enjoy, the taste is strong at first but it gets weak after the first sip if you have even one ice cube in the glass, it is sweet, but then it gets dry, and just like that it disapears and you have to drink another sip right away to try to remember the flavor, I like it, I think, but certainly disapointing as it is a step back in quality from the old gold label, and certainly not something that I could be happy to pay $80 to mix it with something, if JW is trying to make expensive whisky that anyone could like to be thrown in a fancy party, thats not what I wanted when I purchased the bottle for my personal use, in my house, for moments of joy, or to drink with a friend as I used to do in those friendly nights. I dont hate it but certainly I'm not very satisfied, and now I doubt about the quality of their new products, Ill have to taste it before buying it, and I'll miss the green label as well, cheers.

Jan van den Ende said...

Thanks for your comment El Caco. I completely agree. Both the Green and the "Old" Gold were good Blends. The new Gold is merely Okay. JW is clearly aiming at the young market where appearance is often more important than content. And most young people mix it anyway! Cheers, Jan.