Johnnie Walker Gold Label Review

Johnnie Walker Gold Label

43% abv

Score:  88/100


There is simply no getting around it.  JW make some really nice whisky.  Occasionally these are simply stunning in their complexity and spiraling depths (Black)…and other times they are bold strokes of primary flavors that make a brilliant patchwork whole (Green).

Get your head around the fact that you are drinking a blended whisky (or blended malt with the Green Label) that is going to cost something on par with a single malt.  After all…are you drinking scotch to say you are a malt enthusiast, or are you drinking to enjoy the flavors and aromas?   When you’e certain you can suspend judgement…pull up a seat.  Let’s talk about Johnnie Walker Gold.

I love a whisky that takes me a while to unravel.  I enjoy, not being confounded, but led along a path where the individuals notes continue to reveal themselves in a slow striptease, one after another, until I suddenly realize my tasting notes are a page and a half long.  This tells me that every time I sit down with the whisky it will be a deep and rewarding experience.  I think that is why we do this, isn’t it?

The loudest voices here are certainly the sweet honeyed fruit (think puckered fruit), woody walnut, peppery smoke and light cinnamon spice.  There is a bit of peat dancing around back there too amid a hint of sharp orange zest.   From here the aromas and flavors are like ghosts, hinting at their presence, but when you turn in that direction they fade and leave you wondering if they were there after all.  Was that a hint of pipe tobacco?  Maybe…or not.

Gorgeously elusive and tantalizing.  Even the finish ebbs and flow with curiosity.  One thing certain though…the finish is all pleasant and long lingering.

If you’re curious as to where this stacks up in the Johnnie Walker portfolio…quite well, actually.  You won’t be steering yourself wrong with the Blue, Green or Gold.  Personally though…I’ll still take the Black Label.

By the way…this would be a hell of a dram paired with a nice cigar.  (Blasphemy to some, I know.)


Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Lance (Bastardized by Curt)

10 thoughts on “Johnnie Walker Gold Label Review

  1. Jeff

    Good review. There is a lot to like with the Gold: its refinement, depth and subtlety. The 18 years do show here – in the finish, but also in an unexpected fashion: the older grain spirit staying out of the way to let the modest malt content shine through in a highland-writ-small kind of way. It does stale fairly quickly, so I liked it more at first dram then when I got around to putting a number on it, but it still rated an 86.

    It’s hard to say that you can buy a better blend, but relatively easy to say that you can buy cheaper, and more vibrant, scotch, even if you restrict your search to JW’s own stable. As my buddy, the Scotch Guru, said in a Zen-malt moment, “it’s almost too smooth.” Trying the Gold is probably something that every scotch lover can learn from, but the main lesson for me was that I prefer the malt content in vats and single malts.

  2. Robert

    You might want to try JW Swing. Not bad at all for a blend. It is definitely dominated by Speyside whiskies, having a fruity and sweet palate. It’s great as a summer dram and is cheaper than Green or Gold. Finish doesn’t last long, but it is a blend, so that’s part of the territory. I would buy it over any of the JW colors, due to decent taste and cost.

  3. Jeff

    I’d like to try Swing, given the chance. The Green is my favourite JW overall and, as an age-statement vat, it will be sorely missed when it disappears (to allow for expanded marketing of the Platinum?!?!?). Big Peat is well worth the money as well, and I’m hoping the cask strength version comes back at Christmas.

  4. Phil

    My Scotch club did a JW tasting in June and gold was definitely the disappointment of the night. It was, as someone said above, “too smooth” and seemed to lack the complexity of Black/Green/Blue. Definitely not worth the price tag for me.

  5. Robert

    Check out the Ralfy review of Swing. He even gave it a higher score than I would. I’m planning on picking a bottle up in the spring. Also hoping his next blend review is the Buchanan 18 SR, which is even better.

  6. Robert

    Close! He reviewed Buchanan 12, not the 18, but gave it a great rating, 92. Hmmmm! Does that mean he can’t review the 18 w/o going over 100?

  7. David

    The best blend I’ve tasted so far is Compass Box Peat Monster. On opening it was a monster, but with time the peat has tamed and the monster is now a friendly dragon, kind of like “Puff”

    1. Robert

      Really good stuff! Check Curt’s review. I was referring to blended whiskies with the Swing and Buchanan, so I guess I should have been clear. Blended malts, like PM, should generally appeal more, as they have no grain whisky added. And they should still be called vatted whisky to avoid the confusion.

      I currently prefer to have my Caol Ila and Talisker mixed, either 1 to 2 or 1 to 1, which I find better and cheaper than JW Green. Now I need to do the same with Laphroaig and Caol Ila along with a bit of Ardmore and compare to the

  8. ATW Post author

    Truly enjoy reading the dialogues you gents trigger here and engage in. Hopefully opportunity presents itself at some point where we can share a dram.


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