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Johnny Walker Aged 18 Years

Review: Johnnie Walker Aged 18 Years  92/100
a review by Chip Dykstra
March 8, 2021

Johnnie Walker is one of the most iconic whisky brands in the world. With its unique square bottle, and the labels tilted off-center, the company has created a strong brand image and its spirit is considered by many to be the quintessential Scottish whisky.

About 12 years ago I reviewed Johnnie Walker Gold Label – The Centenary Blend (see review here) which was an 18 year old vatted malt Scotch whisky reputed to contain 15 separate single malt whiskies each aged a minimum of 18 years. The whisky was discontinued a year or two later in favour of the younger blended Scotch whisky, Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve (see review here), a non age stated dram which sits just above the 15 year old Johnnie Walker Green Label (see review here) in stature on the ladder of Johnnie Walker Whiskies. However just a few of years ago Johnnie Walker re-introduced an 18 Year Old Scotch Whisky into its line-up, the Johnnie Walker 18 Year Old.

According to the Johnnie Walker website:

Johnnie Walker Aged 18 Years is a smooth, well-rounded combination of up to 18 different whiskies from all over Scotland. Most of these are classic malt whiskies – which have undergone a slow, easy maturation in Scotland for at least 18 years.

It is interesting to note that Johnnie Walker does not claim that all whiskies within the spirit’s make up are malt whiskies, rather the producer only claims that most of the whiskies within the blend are Classic Single Malts. My interpretation is that the Johnnie Walker 18 Year Old must also contain a certain amount of aged grain whisky within its blend. This mans that in terms of classification, the new whisky would be termed a Blended Scotch Whisky.

Johnnie Walker 18 Year Old is bottled at 40 % abv..

In the Bottle 5/5

The Johnnie Walker 18 Year Blended Scotch Whisky arrives in the sleek rectangular bottle which is a modern version of the square bottle shape, designed in 1920 by Alexander Walker. A key aspect the bottle presentation is the slanted label which is tilted about 24 degrees off-center. The angled label was designed to catch the attention of shoppers when the bottle sat on the shelf next to the other whisky bottles.

As well, every bottle of Johnnie Walker Scotch features the Striding Man logo which artist/cartoonist, Tom Browne created on the back of a menu card while at lunch with the Walker Brothers in 1908. The logo portrays a man walking forward, which has come to symbolize forward thinking and the pursuit for excellence for the brand. Diageo, the owners of the Johnnie Walker Brand have also created “The Striding Man Society” which is a members club for Johnnie Walker drinkers.

Besides the more sleek bottle shape, another aspect of the bottle presentation which elevates the 18 Year Old above the younger members of  the Johnnie Walker Family is the thickened glass base at the bottom of the bottle which adds substance to the presentation. I should note that an attractive Gold coloured display box (not shown) is also usually part of the retail presentation.

In The Glass 9/10

Colour: Burnt Gold

Legs: Thick legs which amble slowly down the inside of the glass

Nose: Light honey and toffee notes meld with oak, vanilla and hints of peat. Pears and canned apricots appear with indications of raisins and wisps of Turkish Delight. After a few minutes, willow thicket, and poplar trees begin to grow and hints of wetland grasses and waters seep into the consciousness.

The dram is really really nice to nose, but you have to be patient. The scents and smells are melded so well together that it takes time for each aspect of the nose to reveal itself. This is one of those whiskies which should be allowed to breathe to reach its full potential.

In The Mouth  55.5/60

My patience was rewarded as the soft creamy whisky has much to say as I sip. There is a touch more peat and wetland presence than I first suspected based upon the nose, and there also is a light herbal taste of heather and menthol carried within the light peatiness. Mild honey and toffee are combined with hints of vanilla and almond and all of this seems to be melded into the oak spice.  Hints of raisins and dates lay underneath as well. A light fruit quality reminding me of yellow apples and pears comes forward, and just as it was on the nose, the longer I take with the dram, the more satisfying the dram becomes. I love that little taste of willow and dry grass right at the very end of the swallow.

In The Throat  13.5/15

The finish is long and smooth with the creamy whisky coating the palate as you sip. The exit is punctuated by a little blast of oak spice and then the soft herbal peat just sort of lingers. And then of course is that little taste of willow and dry grass right at the very end of the swallow.

The Afterburn 9/10

I have seen a few other reviews of the Johnnie Walker 18 Year old, and most of those seem to (IMO) under appreciate the excellence of this whisky. I wonder if perhaps those other tasters neglected to take the time to allow the nuances within this dram to be revealed. I mentioned it earlier; but it bears repeating, this is a whisky which should be allowed to breathe. When it is given time in the glass, the blended Malt has many wonderful secrets to tell.

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


As always you may (loosely) interpret the scores I provide as follows:

0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)


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