Showing posts with label Johnnie Walker XR 21. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Johnnie Walker XR 21. Show all posts

Johnnie Walker XR 21

”This Blend Misses the X(R) Factor”

Whisky Review # 965

Country: Scotland

Brand: Johnnie Walker XR 21 (Legacy Blend)
Type: Blended Scotch Whisky
Age: 21 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 40%
Maturation: Unknown - My guess: (Refill) Ex-Bourbon casks & some Sherried Wood 
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range: US$ 100-140 (October 2022)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👎 Too expensive for what it offers
Buying Advice: 😐 Very nice presentation but too Thin and heavy on Grain


Dark Amber with shades of Brown and Orange (Artificially Coloured)


Thin arrival. It's almost a crime to bottle a 21 Year old high-end Blended Whisky at 40%. I understand it from a financial point of view but that's all. Such a shame! I also get lots of Grain Alcohol so I would guess that the Grain to Malt ratio is likely to be in the range of 70/30%. The Nose is mostly Sweet but I get a few Sour and Salty notes as well. The Sherry casks are there but are drowned somewhat in the sea of Grain. Main drivers are Caramel, (Dried) Dark Fruit, Honey and Spices with some Smoke and Peat in the background.
Main Aromas:

Grain Alcohol, Toasted Malt, Buttered Toast, Honey, Salted Caramel, Dark Red Fruit like Berries & Cherries, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Apricots, Sultanas, Apples & Plums, Distant Campfire Smoke, Orange Marmalade, Dusty Oak, Cinnamon and Cloves.
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Toffee, Vanilla, Butterscotch, Demerara Sugar, Nougat, Straw, Earthy Peat, Lemon, Canned Peach, Polished Leather Upholstery, Cigar Ashes, Tobacco, Coconut, Dark Chocolate, Licorice Pepper, Nutmeg and Cardamom.


Thin delivery. The slightly Harsh Grain Alcohol rules. The Palate basically follows the Nose with Sweet Dried Fruit, Salted Caramel and slightly Sour Berries.

Main Flavours:

Grain Alcohol, Toasted Malt, Salted Caramel, Dark Honey, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Sultanas, Plums and Apricots, Orange Marmalade, Smoke from a distant fire, Peat, Dark Chocolate, Dusty Oak, Pepper, Cinnamon and Menthol.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Toffee, Butterscotch, Vanilla, Nectarine, Lemon, Toasted Nuts, Strong Black Tea, Cranberry, Gooseberry, Dark Cherries, Tobacco, Burnt Toast/Herbs, Polished Leather Upholstery, Ginger and Cloves.

Port Dundas

Short/Middle-Long, Bitter-Sweet & Medium-Dry. The Grain Alcohol is slightly Harsh. I find Grain Alcohol, Burnt Toast, Vanilla, Salted Caramel, Dried Fruit like Sultanas, Raisins & Apricots, Dark Honey, Distant Campfire Smoke, Earthy Peat, Dusty Oak, Burnt Herbs, Tobacco, Polished Wood, Toasted Nuts, Dark Chocolate, Strong Black Tea, Pepper, Ginger, Cinnamon, Cloves, Menthol and Licorice.    

Drinking Advice:

Added Water does not improve this Blend. It's already too Thin as presented.

Rating: 84.5 - Stars on a 1-10 scale: 7 (*******)

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 21.5 - Finish: 20.5 - Overall: 21

*** Important Note with respect to Rating.

A few of my loyal readers have pointed out that every once in a while my final Rating note does not seem to be totally in line with the written text. I recognize that. When I started this Whisky Blog back in 2011, I was not at all experienced in tasting and scoring Single Malts & Blends. Looking back I realize that during the early years I probably scored the good Whiskies too low and the not so good Whiskies too high. Ever since the beginning I try to remain consequent in my rating, always comparing the outcome to the rating of comparable whiskies in terms of quality and taste and adjusting the final rating if necessary. This might lead to the discrepancy I mentioned before. It would have been much easier if I would have chosen a simple 1-10 rating since the beginning but after having reviewed 950 whiskies it would not be wise to change the system now. I will however from now on add stars on the 1-10 scale so you will have a better idea of what I thought of the whisky reviewed. And I'm planning to only use the 1-10 scale as of January 1, 2023. Please feel free to comment!

Drinking Experience Neat
: Good but too Thin

Drinking Experience on the Rocks: Good but I still prefer JW Black


This Blend is made by the current JW Master Blender Jim Beveridge in honour of the late JW Master Blender Alexander Walker II who received a knighthood from King George V in 1920. The Blend is based on Sir Alexander's hand-written notes. It is produced in three subsequent steps. In step 1, quality casks of Port Dundas Grain Whisky are married. In step two, mature whiskies from Ex-Bourbon casks are added to enhance the core flavours. In step 3, mature Single Malts are added adding Fruit and Malt. These Single Malts are said to include Mortlach, Cardhu, Caol Ila and even a few drops of the old demolished Brora distillery.

I can't help but feel that the XR is all about marketing again. It comes in a beautiful heavy bottle and a nice cask. I can imagine that people see this bottle in the Travel Retail shops and go "Wow, this must be great". But once again we are tricked by appearances. The XR is a good Blend but is way too expensive for what it offers. One of the main reasons is the 40% ABV. That simply does not do justice to the mature Malts that are included in the Blend. At this price level the Malt content could and should have been raised to around 40%, thus improving the overal balance Vs. the slightly Sharp Port Dundas Grain Alcohol. The presentation is really beautiful but the contents leave much to be desired. Like Amy Winehouse I'm going Back to Black that presents a much better P/Q ratio! 

Cheers 🥃

Jan van den Ende                                                                         October 6, 2022