Over the more or less two years that I’ve tangoed with el whiskey. There has been no better compadre than Johnnie. I’m not saying that he’s él mejor whiskey, just that he is like the funny fat guy: always there for a good laugh. If you are relaxing with a good friend, why not make it tres with good ole Johnnie?
My scotch journey probably started off with a taste of the Johnnie Black. At that point I really enjoyed the whiskey. Not that I think it is bad, but it is a very safe whiskey. It kicks you, yet doesn’t. Its smooth to go in, yet still tickles. It can be the taste you are looking for as long as you have the right amount of rocks in the mix. As I found myself trying more and more scotches of various tastes (see “A Rough Guide to Scotland”), I started to acquire a liking to certain types of scotches. So, the main problem that the Black has is that it will not satisfy your taste for that specific fruity or smoky scotch.
Lets downgrade a bit here and discuss the Johnnie Red. Now, I like to clump Johnnie as one entity even though he is several bottles. Maybe that’s just the Spanish pseudo-Catholic in me. Johnnie Red is that fat friend you like to have around, however today he is down in the dumps because he had a bad day. Sir Red is not even worthy of having it on the rocks. It still will taste rather bad. If you do happen to find yourself with a bottle of red in your shopping cart, do yourself a solid and pick up some Pepsi/Coke. You’ll thank me later. There is a reason that at least one time when I happened to buy it, it came with a free mixing rod.
Next, lets move onto the upper tier of Johnnie: Blue and Gold. I place these two together because I’ve only had a little bit of Gold. From that bit I came to the conclusion that even though it was pretty good, the bite was not worth the price. In regard to the Blue, which is the more expensive taste of the rainbow, it was an excellent drink. Now, notice I said “drink” and not “scotch.” The taste was fruity, and not in a spicy scotch fruity. It was completely void of any bite whatsoever. It still went down the hatch with a sweet, smooth, and fruity flavor. I like a certain bit of bite in my scotches to keep some of that hair on my chest. So even though the taste was very good, it was not what I was looking for in a $150ish bottle of scotch. Some people may say, “You paid that much for a blended scotch?” Yes, I did. Was it worth it? Yes. Will I do it again? Probably not any time soon.
Finally the last of the Johnnies: the Green Label. It is probably the only one I would recommend to avid scotch drinkers. I like to have it on the rocks, but I don’t think it needs to be. I just prefer to have my scotch a little bit chilled. The taste in the beginning is a rich smoothness that eventually changes into a satisfying bite as you swallow. I still remember after having that first taste of the scotch letting out a small grunt as I’m looking at the description of the bottle in hand then saying, “Damn.” Recently I had another taste of the scotch and was glad that my thoughts haven’t changed at all. Very Solid. I was even surprised to find that even as the ice melts to water and dilutes the scotch the bite is still prominent. So if you want to have a taste of Walker, go Green.
Samuél de Gama