Johnnie Walker 15 Year Green Label blended malt scotch is a complex grown-up whisky with prominent fruit notes. The whisky’s approachable flavors of fruit, smoke, spice and oak lead the way to a slightly smoky finish.
Classification: blended malt scotch
Distillery: multiple distilleries
Cask: multiple cask styles
Mash Bill: 100% malted barley
Proof: 43% ABV
Aged: 15 years
- Complex and intriguing, bouncing among fruit, spice, smoke and oak
- Easy approach at the front of the palate
- Long smoke-and-spice finish that pairs nicely with a cigar or steak
- For those familiar with the softer Red Label, the peat and smoke notes may be too intense.
- Fans of single malts may balk at the lack of “focus” in a blended malt.
Color: Vibrant gold with a hint of amber
Nose: A mild, pleasant nose filled with lush notes of cinnamon, baked apple, toffee and hints of sea brine
Palate: Opens with sweet cooked fruit and apple, moves to a medium-bodied but fuller flavored and “chewier” brine on the midpalate and finishes spicy and smoky toward the back of the mouth and throat
Finish: A long spice-and-smoke finish with just a hint of the fruit and floral notes
First introduced in duty-free stores in 1997 as Johnnie Walker 15 Year Pure Malt, it was reintroduced globally as Green Label Blended Malt in 2004. Scotch classifications can be a bit confusing: A blended scotch (think Dewar’s or Johnnie Walker Red or Black Label) combines single malt component whiskies (often from different distilleries) with grain or single grain whiskies (not malted, usually not barley). A “blended malt” consists solely of single malt component whiskies from different distilleries. In the case of Green Label, the primary component whiskies come from the Caol Ila, Cragganmore, Linkwood and Talisker distilleries, displaying geographic as well as stylistic diversity.
At first sip, you get the apple, pear and softness you might expect from any Johnnie Walker expression. As it moves to the midpalate, there is a medium-bodied lightness initially, followed by the weight and chewiness of the Islay-based Caol Ila distillery. As it exits, smoke, peat and saline all kick off, with hints of pepper, oak and grilled apricot topping things off. There’s little to criticize here. It may be too intense for those who prefer the fruit-and-sweet lightness common to many blended whiskies, and it may be too unfocused and overly approachable for fans of specific single malt styles. But overall, it’s a well-balanced and enjoyable dram.
All in all, this is a mature, elegant sipper best drunk neat or diluted with a single ice cube. Take your time with this one, and let it open up in the glass. Though it might work to create a self-contained Penicillin riff, it’s likely that no specific element stands out enough to create a satisfying enough drink to justify throwing 15-year-old whisky in with mixers.
John Walker, who got into the whisky business in the early 1820s, was reported to be a teetotaler, not drinking alcohol himself.
The bottom line: This is a well-made easy-drinking blended malt whisky that introduces an inventive yet sophisticated expression to the Johnnie Walker lineup.