Whisky Reviews

Johnnie Walker Gold Label


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Having already reviewed Johnnie Walker Black Label (where you’ll also find a bit of distiller history) and Green Label, both of which are fairly well-priced whiskies, I thought it about time to check out one of their slightly more expensive blends – the Gold Label, ooh! Very fancy name indeed, but does the whisky live up to it? And more importantly, is it worth the extra $30 on top of the Green Label – or $45 on Black? Let’s find out.

With the deliciously good value for money provided by the Green Label my hopes are very high indeed for this more expensive expression. Starting with the nose, it certainly doesn’t disappoint – there is a fantastic woody, nutty combination with great handfuls of buttery almonds (which can never be a bad thing if you ask me) along with honey (even better!), some oats, and dried fruits (warm muesli, anyone?). As ever when you put down a list of scents or tastes it’s easy to paint a picture that doesn’t quite put across the full complexity of the whisky, and I suppose I didn’t make this better by pointing out the similarity to muesli, so I feel I should clarify that the nose is well balanced and very creamy; all of the individual elements complementing each other beautifully.

So far, so good, but I’m afraid things are about to take a slight turn for the worse – the body is a bit water. Argh! Such a shame it is, too, because I’m one of those whisky drinkers that appreciate a rich and creamy body to go with a rich and creamy nose, and a watery body can put a massive downer on proceedings for me. Not everyone is as sensitive to this as me, though, and putting this slight disappointment aside the palate is good. It starts off with a somewhat surprising licorice note that I had not at all picked up on the nose, along with those beautiful almonds, honey, toffee, vanilla, a whisper of smoke and a pinch of spice. Importantly, there’s also a sort of sea-salt quality and general seaside feel to it, which adds a gorgeous balance to the sweetness and really does, in my mind, make the palate.

If I put the wateriness aside, and after the initial disappointment it isn’t that much of a problem, this is a gorgeous blend. As for whether or not it is worth the $30 on top of the price of a bottle of Green Label… I’d have to go with no, I don’t think it is. The Green Label is an outstanding blend and offers a bang for buck ratio that’s really hard to beat. With a creamier palate they might have been close to equals, but I’d still put the Gold Label a couple of points below the Green.

Color: Warm Sherry.

Nose: Wood, nuts, buttery almonds, honey, oats, dried fruits, thick.

Palate: Watery, licorice, almonds, honey, vanilla, toffee, whisper of smoke, spice, sea salt, maritime.

Want to buy this whisky? Available in: USA & World (click), UK & Europe (click)

About Whisky Critic

My name is Martin and I live in Scotland. I love fine things in life, such as gourmet food, travelling around the world and, last but not least, whisky (naturally, I’m partial to a tipple of whiskey or bourbon as well). I have tasted hundreds of whiskies during the recent years and I finally decided to share my experience.

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  1. jf pilon

    March 13, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    maybe taht thin body is the main reason why they suggest strongly to drink this from the freezer. I tried it last spring, and it was quite interesting, actually.

  2. Troy

    March 14, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    I have never tried it, but have also heard to drink it from the freezer (despite it seeming so wrong). I’ve heard it’s quite surprisingly good cold.

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