It’s really quite nifty when a blended whisky is more than the sum of its parts. So how ’bout when a whisky is actually more like an exhibition of its parts? Kinda like an exploded view wherein you can see the workings and trappings? Well..in this case that works too.
Green Label is a blended malt, comprised of single malts, none of which are younger than 15 years. Since 1997 Johnnie Walker have been producing this nifty little gem by marrying Cragganmore, Talisker, Caol Ila and Linkwood. This polygamous little gathering is a marriage made in heaven.
It comes together nicely in its smooth and rich overarching theme, but is easily dissected into some of its components. The pepper and spice are reminiscent of Talisker…the smoke and tartness are Caol Ila through and through…while the Cragganmore and Linkwood would logically carry the big purple fruit notes and sweetness.
The smoke on both nose and palate (but particularly the palate) is rich and cloying (in a good way) like a fine cigar, while hints of leather and spice are both charming and complimentary. There is a little bit of peat distinguishable from the smoke that shows off a little of the Islay side of this one.
The arrival is big and sweet and carries a bit more heat than the other Johnnie Walkers I’ve sampled to date. It coats the mouth in thick slices of tingly peppers and bold flavors. Rich, warming and rewarding.
Though not as good as the black label, and not necessarily better or worse than the blue label, this certainly is a worthy addition to the JW stable. If you can find it…buy one. Quite highly recommended.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt
Rest In Peace, O Faithful Vat
Johnnie Green, though we hardly knew ye, you were too solid and classy to last.
Indeed, the good die young.
I won’t miss it one bit. I’ve been trying Ralfy’s suggestion of one part Caol Ila 12 to two parts Talisker 10 for a few months, and it is MUCH better than the Green. The smokey delicacy of the Caol Ila smooths and adds a complexity to the peppery attack of the Talisker. So, bye-bye Green. Don’t let the screen door hit you! No, really! Try it! It’s really good. I actually agree with Ralfy on this!
It’s true, Robert, I defend my sackcloth and ashes here as much on principle as punch. But with the 18 age statement now moved from the Gold Label to the upscale (?) Platinum, and the former knocked back to an NAS bait-and-switch “Gold Label Reserve”, the loss of a mass-produced 15-year-old pure malt product still strikes me as a bit of a loss, certainly to JW and to scotch in general. That said, the Green was scotch done old school, with an age statement and no shame, or “secret recipe” nonsense, about its components. As vats go, it was as good as many, and it was its quality and affordability, and not the lack thereof, which probably made the Green an endangered species – margins are higher on younger, cheaper blends using grain spirit and the relatively few who knew the difference between a vat and a blend would not be able to support the price hike necessary to make up the difference. It’s ironic that, with JW’s focus on class and quality, it may have been the humble Green which tested the limits of their dedication.
All sentimental nonsense aside, yeah, there were always better bottles (and better combos), but given the proliferation of immature whisky hitting the shelves, each with its own niche “spin”, the demise of the Green may still prove to be the dead canary in the mineshaft.
Hoping your Christmas was great and wishing you a Happy New Year, Sláinte!
As the price of Green now in the $60 range, I can actually make my own “Ralfy” blend for less money, and still be able to enjoy each separately (esp. Caol Ila, which I really like). The Green is okay with me, but I prefer the Black or Double Black when I want a blend, and they’re cheaper. I really like the James Buchanan 18 SR better than all of them and can get it for the same $60.
I understand what you are saying, but for me its not a loss, although for many it is. There are still so many malts out there I need to try, including about 10 in my cabinet that I hope are even better than the Green. The bottom-line will always decide such issues, esp. for large corporations.
In fact, in memory of Green, I’ll open one of those 10 today and compare it to the few drams of Green I have left. Have a great holiday weekend! Cheers!
Green label is outstanding! I score the recent release 94/100
Ah Ralfy there’s much that I disagree on with that guy. He is likeable.
Firstly, you cannot buy the single malts contained in Green label, they are all on contract. Occasionally you can go to distilleries and they will sell some single malts in casking strength. The majority of the whisky contained in green label sells for far more than then green label if you can get them (some you can). It is JW buying power that allows them to secure these fine whisky’s at such a good price then sell it for cheaper.
Second, don’t worry about the price, green label is very very affordable but I’ve drunk whisky worth thousands per bottle over the years. Price does not always mean value.
Thirdly, this IS a blend of single malts, it is nothing like black label which is probably around 40% malt and 60% grain whisky. It’s apples and oranges within whisky. Hands down green label is a finer whisky by a long long long way. But who am I to argue with all these ice and cola drinkers that gulp it down.
Fourthly, do not trust anything on the net. Most people don’t know how to taste or aspirate to enhance flavor. Watch Ralfy, does he aspirate? Nope, instead he smacks it around in his mouth and doesn’t even breath much. You actually taste a limited amount in the mouth, it is actually the olfactory centres where the big taste happens. So most people haven’t even really “tasted” what the smell suggest it might be like. Do a blind tasting and see, just like most people who drink coffee could taste any difference between a dark roast of a city roast in an espresso. So seriously what do people know, I’ve heard people express opinions that are real palm to forehead moments.
Fifth, people love to bag out a commercial company and yeah that’s fine where it merits it but seriously give credit where credit is due people. Sure JW is a big company and the rest of their line up is overpriced but they have hit an absolute cracker with green label that is probably going to develop a “cult” following for green after many taste this recent release of it. Only thing that I can bag out on it is the probable use of E61 however not the whisky itself. It is outstanding like I said, you will not be able to easily reproduce something close to it. Sure some boutique whisky’s are great but to have access to high quality 15year old whisky at this price is something only a large company like JW can do.
Six, whisky age, yes whisky does age nicely but it does also lose some liveliness, there is a sweet spot and 15 years in this green label blended single malts does prove a lot.
Anyway that’s my 2 cents worth. Sick of people jumping on the bandwagon to big note themselves when it is obvious how little they know.
Wow! Not sure how to respond to such a thorough dissertation from an obviously learned übermensch. Maybe you need to correspond with Jeff.
I think I’ll just have to stop visiting whisky forum sites. Clearly I’ve learned it all now.
So clear, so definite.
Medical thought is that drinking alcohol to excess put you at greater risk of “aspiration”. Silly me, I always thought it was a bad thing. I’d better start hitting the bottles…
I would agree with you if I were as willfully ignorant as our host has said. But just as David Suzuki took on a racist at Western University fighting fiction with fact, so can we here.
I agree, you cannot buy the single malts in JW Green… Unless you go into an obscure thing called a LIQUOR STORE. They are not on contract…the distilleries are all owned by Diageo.
Diageo, owner of the JW brand.
I don’t worry about the price. But remember it is branded and at 43% and overpriced. Lots of better whiskies around. Is it the best of the JW range? Maybe, but if you hate liver like I do, will you buy the best liver around. And I will sleep easy knowing my friend has sipped (and likely not appreciated) whisky from bottles that were even more overpriced.
Probably the best thing Rob tells us is not to trust anything on the net, starting with his post. Actually, I would probably have missed out on some great flavour experiences (and excellent deals) if I didn’t trust the net. You just have to know what to trust, and when that 40 million dollar inheritance you can get 10% of just by giving you banking info out is not as reliable as Curt’s scores.
I think if Ralfy told us how we must drink our whisky, you may have a point. However, having reviewed 99% or more of his videos, I would say the only thing he insists on is that you drink it the way you like to. He frequently reminds us he is simply an enthusiast sharing his opinion. Rob, when you go through all that effort to communicate, maybe people will pay attention to you too.
Unless, of course, you’re acting as a Diageo mole, giving your company’s product a high “score” (based on what?).
I’m sorry. It’s rare that I outwardly engage in a bit of a takedown here on the site, but I have to say a few words here.
I don’t moderate comments (for the most part), and I think everyone is entitled to share their thoughts, so long as they do so in a somewhat respectful manner. I’m not going to sugar coat it though, this post is offensive in so many ways. It’s a shame you can’t rein in your vitriol, as it is apparent you do have some knowledge. Unfortunately your unchecked (and quite frankly, unfounded) and confrontational opinions get in the way of your ability to bring anyone around to your way of thinking. Toss in the aggressive stance you take and it’s really hard to want to read past the third paragraph. You’ve called out scores of others here for their perceived faults, put forth your own stance as the ONLY stance and essentially alienated yourself from the masses through ignorance. Out of curiosity, how do expect anyone to take you seriously when you say ‘don’t trust anything on the net’, yet proceed to spew a bunch of rubbish as truth?
First: You can literally buy every single one of the component malts in any well stocked liquor store.
Second: JW Green is now retailing (in its current ‘limited’ run) at close to $100 a bottle. I would take almost any single malt at 15 years over this, though I do actually like this whisky.
Third: Not everyone who drinks JW Black is an ‘ice and cola’ ‘gulper’.
Fourth: Just as you’ve heard people express opinions that are ‘real palm to forehead’ moments, I’m sure you now have your own legion of head slappers. Perhaps ease back on the judgmentalism.
Fifth: Not sure where you’re coming from with the ragging on JW idea, but I’m pretty sure most Johnnie Walker has scored rather well here on ATW and comes fairly highly recommended.
Sixth: Also not sure what bandwagon you’re referring to, or whom it is jumping on it to ‘big note’ themselves, but in your small handful of paragraphs you’ve managed to prove that it may only be yourself that is proving how little you know. I’m pretty certain most of the posters on this site have definitely earned their stripes and speak with both intelligence and knowledge on their side. Oh yeah…and they manage to do it without coming across as a self-righteous prat even when engaging in heated discourse.
Glad to have you aboard, mate, but maybe take it down a notch and realize you’re about as ‘right’ in your opinions and preferences as everyone else is.
“Though not as good as the black label”
You have GOT to be kidding me. Otherwise solid review.
I picked up and tried the latest, if not new(?) Green; early days yet and air and time will probably help, but I think it’s a very solid 80-class whisky. Very enjoyable, with the many facets of a vat that I appreciate – even though vatting, like multiple casking treatments, is a way to “create” complexity that isn’t the same as that created, with time, through the formation of tertiary flavours.
It would be interesting to try versions of this vatted, not as four finished whiskies, but say, at 12-13 years, and then allowed to marry for 2 or 3 to see the interactive results.
I like this a lot, but I’d like other opinions as to whether it’s the unchanged, dead-ringer, that Morgan says it is; it seems like a brighter, somewhat spicier/hotter, product than I remember, but the full-malt content is very evident.
We’ll have to ask “Rob” if you’re correct though…
Yes, no doubt many of you will..
I very much doubt it. Unless…..
No, I don’t think it could be….no resemblance in writing style… and he wasn’t rattling on over and over about time in cask…
I see the connection, but I’m not Rob; in fact, I somehow missed his entire confrontation here. Reading over what he wrote, though, about
“Firstly, you cannot buy the single malts contained in Green label, they are all on contract.”
a point might have been missed. Although the idea of Diageo “contracting” against itself doesn’t make much sense, and no one brought up the huge bugaboo element of age (why would they, it doesn’t matter), it’s not easy to find Talisker, Linkwood, Caol Ila and Cragganmore at my local LCBO at 15+ for anything like $80.
It’s certainly not impossible to just buy products from the four distilleries (although Linkwood comes and goes), but the stuff formerly, and now presently, being held for Green Label in terms of confirmable age (much less at price point) doesn’t appear by itself. I’m not saying that’s the point Rob was trying to make, but he might have been right in a way.
Rob’s skepticism over the value of internet opinion is too extreme in my view, but not entirely misplaced. There is more commentary than expertise and, at the top levels OF expertise (and at every level below that), you find people supporting demonstrably false bullshit (age only matters where producers say it does) just to keep connections with the industry strong and friendly. As Dominic Roskrow said, what professional whisky writers do isn’t journalism, it’s advertising – and that’s as much truth as you’re going to get out of any professional whisky writer.
With considerable time/space (are they the same thing?) on the new bottle (maybe a couple of months and air at 35%), this is a solid 80-class whisky for me (86-89). I like the roundness of vats in general and, unlike JW’s other offerings, this doesn’t scrimp on the malt content. Although the complexity/complication (and I think they are two different things) comes more from the vatting than the time/casking, there’s enough here to like, particularly in the current climate of Diageo products. I’d still like other opinions as to whether this is the “same” recipe as it was before the Green was temporarily discontinued – to me, it’s just a little more bourbony and the Talisker isn’t quite as prevalent, resulting in a little “greener” whisky overall.
I’d be interested in knowing how the new compared to the old as well. I liked the old one but don’t see the point of shelling out for the new one unless it’s as good or better.
Interesting you mention time and air in the bottle. So time is important even OUTSIDE the cask.
As to the malt content, this is composed of 43% malt spirit (and 57% water). The other JWs have considerably less malt, I agree..
Interesting opening (Ruy Lopez?) – so is something that is 100% malt spirit 100% alcohol? As far as I know, being a vat, it’s 100% malt spirit (with four sources) which happens to be bottled at an ABV of 43% – as opposed to JW Black Label, which is maybe 35% single malt(s) and 65% grain spirit which happens to be bottled at an ABV of 40%. Malt vs. grain vs. Irish potstill (a combo of malted and unmalted barley) only speaks to the type of grain source, not concentration. Both Macallan (40% ABV) and Big Peat (46% ABV) are “all malt” – but, that being the case, do presentation strength (and distillery source, for that matter) still matter a great deal to performance? Sure, but so does grain source. Will this somehow lead us back to the idea that because, as product information, presentation ABV doesn’t tell you everything then it somehow follows that ABV, like age, tells you “nothing” about whisky? Time will tell.
Speaking to the larger point, however – on which I hope we can agree – the fact that strength and time beyond the cask both matter is pretty obvious to anyone who has ever drank an over (or under) diluted glass of whisky or from a bottle/glass that’s gone stale. The idea that this can be readily demonstrated yet people will tell you that strength and time further upstream – where both factors are usually manipulated to a far greater degree than at home in the bottle/glass – somehow “doesn’t matter” makes me despair for the future of whisky.
Just had an opportunity to try some of this from a bottle of the newer version head to head with Island Green. Yes, I know the latter is NAS. It was a sample from a friend. With a few drops of water I scored this one a 86 and the Island Green a 87 (a couple of points less if neat), but interestingly, when I dumped the remaining together, it enriched the experience and I’d score it an 88-89!
If any of you were to guess the mix of the malts for JWG, what would you suggest? Example: 70% Cragganmore, 5% Linkwood, 25% Tailsker, 5% Caol Ila….. suggestions