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Johnnie Walker Blue Label

Johnnie Walker Blue Label

Johnnie Walker
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Type    Scotch Whisky
Manufacturer    Diageo
Country of origin    Scotland
Introduced    1820: Grocery store
1865: Scotch blending
Discontinued    White Label
Variants    Red Label, Black Label, Swing, Green Label, Gold Label, Blue Label, Blue Label King George V
Related products    Ballantine's, Buchanan's, Chivas Regal, Cutty Sark, Dewar's, Vat 69

Johnnie Walker is a brand of Scotch Whisky owned by Diageo and produced in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland.

It is the most widely distributed brand of blended Scotch whisky in the world, sold in almost every country with yearly sales of over 130 million bottles.

History of Johnnie Walker
Originally known as Walker's Kilmarnock Whisky, the Johnnie Walker brand is a legacy left by John ‘Johnnie’ Walker after he started to sell whisky in his grocer’s shop in Ayrshire, Scotland. The brand became popular, but after Walker's death in 1857 it was his son Alexander Walker and grandson Alexander Walker II who were largely responsible for establishing the scotch as a popular brand. Under John Walker, whisky sales represented eight percent of the firm’s income; by the time Alexander was ready to pass on the company to his own sons, that figure had increased to between 90 and 95 percent.

Prior to 1860 it was illegal to sell blended whisky. During that time John Walker sold a number of whiskies — notably his own Walker’s Kilmarnock. In 1865 John’s son Alexander produced their first blend, Walker’s Old Highland.

Alexander Walker first introduced the iconic square bottle in 1870. This meant fewer broken bottles and more bottles fitting the same space. The other identifying characteristic of the bottle is the label, which is applied at an angle of 24 degrees. The angled label means the text on the label could be made larger and more visible.

From 1906–1909 John’s grandsons George and Alexander II expanded the line and introduced the colour names. In 1908, when James Stevenson was the Managing Director, there was a re-branding of sorts. The whisky was renamed from Walker's Kilmarnock Whiskies to Johnnie Walker Whisky. In addition, the slogan, "Born 1820 – Still going Strong!" was created, along with the Striding Man, a figure used in their advertisements to this day.

Johnnie Walker White was dropped during World War I. In 1932, Alexander II added Johnnie Walker Swing to the line, the name originating from the unusual shape of the bottle, which allowed it to rock back and forth.

The company joined Distillers Company in 1925. Distillers was acquired by Guinness in 1986, and Guinness merged with Grand Metropolitan to form Diageo in 1997.

Johnnie Walker is no longer blended in Kilmarnock, and has not been for many years. The historic bonded warehouses and company offices (now local authority) can still be seen in Strand Street and John Finnie Street.

On 1st July 2009, Bryan Donaghey, Diageo Managing Director for Global Supply Scotland, announced that Diageo intended to cease production of Johnnie Walker Whisky at the historic plant in Kilmarnock. Under a restructuring program across Scotland, production would be moved from the brand's original home to Diageo plants in Leven, Fife and Shieldhall, Glasgow. The Johnnie Walker plant, the largest employer in the town of Kilmarnock, is intended to close its doors by the end of 2011.

News of the planned closure has had widespread media attention and condemnation from MPs, celebrities, as well as the townsfolk of Kilmarnock and whisky drinkers all around the world. Following the decision, a public campaign started to persuade Diageo as a company to reverse this decision. However on 9th September 2009 Diageo stated that they intended to press ahead with the move away from Kilmarnock and that the matter was "closed".

Blends
For most of its history Johnnie Walker only offered a few blends. In recent years there have been several special and limited bottlings.

Standard blends
Red & Cola – a premix of Red Label and cola, sold in cans and bottles similar to beer.
Johnnie Walker Swing — supplied in a distinctive bottle whose irregular bottom allows it to rock back and forth. It was Alexander II’s last blend: it features a high proportion of Speyside malts, complemented by malts from the northern Highlands and Islay, and is "almost as sweet as a bourbon."
Red Label — a blend of around 35 grain and malt whiskies. It is intended for making mixed drinks. 80 proof, although it drinks fine on its own, being rather maltier than the other Walker colours. 40% ABV. According to William Manchester this was the favorite Scotch of Winston Churchill, who mixed it with soda.
Black Label — a blend of about 40 whiskies, each aged at least 12 years. 80 proof. 40% ABV.
Gold Label — a blend of over 15 single malts. It was derived from Alexander II's blending notes for a whisky to commemorate Johnnie Walker's centenary. His original efforts were thwarted by a shortage of these malts following World War I. Gold Label is commonly bottled at 15 or 18 years. 80 proof. 40% ABV.
Blue Label — Johnnie Walker's premium blend. Every bottle is serial numbered and sold in a silk-lined box, accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. There is no age declaration for Blue Label, however, the owners of the plant state that it is aged no less than 20 years. 80 proof. It is perhaps the most expensive blended Scotch on the market, fetching prices upwards of $200 a bottle.

Special/limited bottlings
"Johnnie Walker Black Label Anniversary Edition" 1908–2008 in two different Editions (every ~ $34)
"Double Black" - a blend that uses peaty west coast whiskies to create a flavour that is more smoky than Johnnie Walker Black Label.
Collectors Edition a collectors edition of 12 year old Black Label was released in limited amounts (~$43)
Millennium Edition – a collectors edition of 12 year old Black Label was released in limited amounts in the year 2000.(~$130 )
First bottling a very expensive Black Label with the first bottling of the Barrel (~$250)
Deco – a very limited number of 350 ml bottles were produced in beautiful Art Deco-designed bottles, hence the name of this blend.
Premier – a blend aimed specifically at the Japanese market.
Swing Superior – a limited edition variety based on the Swing blend, marked by its distinctive golden label. 86.8 proof.
1939 Swing $1500
Celebrity
Johnnie Walker 1820 Decanter - A gift to employees to mark the 50 years of operation at the Kilmarnock distillery.
Liquer Whisky $1200
21 year old – a rare aged variation of Gold Label. ($1200)
Quest – a very special blend, rarer than Blue Label. (~$500)
Honour – one of the most rare and most expensive blends of Johnnie Walker Scotch whisky.
Excelsior – a very rare double matured Scotch whisky, distilled in 1947, bottled in 1997. (~$1700)
Old Harmony – a rare blend marketed at the Japanese market. Very expensive. (~$850)
15 year old Kilmarnock 400 Whisky – an extremely rare Gold Label blend bottled to mark the 400th anniversary of the granting of burgh status to Kilmarnock. Released in 1992 in very limited amounts. (~$850)
150 years Anniversary 1820–1970 – the second most expensive of Johnnie Walker whiskies. (~$2,000)
Blue Label 200th Anniversary – 2005 saw Johnnie Walker's extremely limited bottling of its ultimate blend. A special release of cask strength Blue Label, in a special square Baccarat crystal decanter. It is the most expensive Johnnie Walker product, selling recently for over $3,599.99 a bottle.
Blue Label 1805 – On July 25 2005, the makers of Johnnie Walker Blue Label celebrated the birth (200th Anniversary) of its founder with the release of just 200 bottles of a special edition blend, specially created by the Johnnie Walker Master Blender, Jim Beveridge. None of the 200 bottles were made available for retail sale. In recognition of John Walker’s entrepreneurial success in bringing whisky of the highest quality to the world, the bottles were presented to individuals deemed to have made the most significant contribution to modern life. It is estimated that each bottle is valued at 30,000 USD.
Blue Label King George V Edition - 2007 To recreate the Johnnie Walker blending style from King George V era. King George V was the British monarch that first granted Johnnie Walker its Royal Warrant in 1934. Oak casks dating back to the last century were used to age the whisky, sourced from distilleries operating during the reign of King George V. Special packaging in crystal decanter accompanied by an individually numbered certificate of authenticity.($550)
Johnnie Walker Blue Label Mini Blended Scotch Whisky - a very rare item that includes a hand blown nosing glass and sealed tasting notes and booklet on blue label whisky, costing around $250.

Marketing
Every type of Johnnie Walker scotch has a different color as previously noted. The purpose is to denote the different type of scotch and to position them to be used for different occasions. For example, Johnnie Walker Blue Label is rare and expensive, and so it is intended to be used for special occasions.

A key feature of every bottle of Johnnie Walker scotch is the Striding Man logo. It was created in 1908 by an illustrator named Tom Browne to be a likeness of John Walker in traditional attire. In the logo, the man is walking forward, which Diageo says symbolises forward thinking and the pursuit for excellence. Diageo has created "The Striding Man Society" which is a members club for Johnnie Walker drinkers (Striding Man Society).

Another key aspect of its marketing is the slanted label. This was an advertising tool developed by Alexander Walker who thought it would help his bottles stand out on the shelf.

In 2009 the advertising agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty created a new short film, starring Robert Carlyle and called The Man Who Walked Around the World, which outlined the history of the Johnnie Walker brand.

Sponsorships
Johnnie Walker sponsors:
The Johnnie Walker Classic, an Asia-Pacific golf tournament
The Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, a golf tournament in Scotland
The McLaren-Mercedes F1 team.
The Ashes, a cricket series between Australia and England
The New York Yankees baseball team

In popular culture   
A number of singers and songwriters have referenced Johnnie Walker in their works, including Elliot Smith, George Thorogood, Hard Kaur, Brand New, Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine, Lady Gaga, Leonard Cohen, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Lee Ann Womack, Sticky Fingaz, NOFX, Rory Gallagher, Asleep at the Wheel, Inspectah Deck, George Jones, Amanda Marshall, Jimmy Buffett, Elliott Smith, Ben Folds, Trent Willmon, Clutch, The Band, Van Morrison, Mashina, Covenant, Marius Müller-Westernhagen, The Streets, King Tee, Vampire Weekend, Prodigy of Mobb Deep, Placebo, Joel Plaskett, and ZZ Top. Journalist and author Christopher Hitchens has frequently stated that Johnnie Walker Black is his favourite blend.

Johnnie Walker whisky appears in fiction often, and Blue label is often used as an example of high-end scotch. The most notable example—in which the whisky was an unusually notable part of the story—is Haruki Murakami's novel Kafka on the Shore where a character appears named Johnnie Walker, his attire based on the red jacket, boots, cane, bow-tie and hat worn by the character in the product's logo. Johnnie Walker is extremely popular in Japan. This character is also a reference to real-life Joni Waka, the director of A.R.T. (Artist Residency Tokyo). Indian actor Johny Walker took it as a screen name, after performing in the role of a drunk man.

Heavy Metal band Black Label Society was named after Johnnie Walker Black Label whisky, due to Zakk Wylde's fondness of the drink.

Johnnie Walker appears in the Fictional Movie "The Man From Earth" where the characters sit around and toast to a bottle of Johnnie Walker Green Label.

In the episode "Zip Zip Zip" of the American television series "How I Met Your Mother" Robin orders a Johnnie Walker Blue, neat at the cigar bar with Barney.

In an episode of "Seinfeld" titled "The Bizarro Jerry," Kramer pulls a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black out of Jerry's cupboard and drinks it on the rocks after a long day at work, provoking a characteristically sudden reaction. [3]

In an episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," Jeff receives a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue from Larry and proceeds to crash his car after drinking it.

In the HBO show "Entourage" in the episode "The All Out Fall Out" Johnny steals a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label and drinks it for the rest of the night.

In the episode "Chuck Versus the Nacho Sampler" of the NBC television series "Chuck", Casey tells Chuck the only way to deal with burning an asset is with Black Label Johnnie Walker.

In the 1995 Oliver Stone film, "Nixon", actor Anthony Hopkins, who portrays former U.S. president Richard Nixon, can be clearly seen drinking Johnnie Walker Black Label, with the bottle visible in the background in several scenes.

In the NBC series 30 Rock, GE Vice President of Television and Microwave Programming Jack Donaghy (played by Alec Baldwin) can be seen drinking Johnnie Walker Blue Label on several occasions.

In the NBC series The West Wing, John Spencer's character, Leo McGarry - a recovering alcoholic - mentions the Johnny Walker Blue Label as being 60 year old Scotch. This is during a scene from episode 9 of season 3, "Bartlet For America".

In the episode "Bad Blood" of the USA Network television series "Burn Notice" Michael Westen, undercover as a money launderer, mentions Johnnie Walker Blue.

In the 2009 movie "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past", a desperate Matthew McConaughey tells the bartender to make him a (Johnnie Walker) Blue Label and to "give it wings, brother."

TV/Radio personality Tony Kornheiser often mentions his fondness for Johnnie Walker Blue.

The anti-hero, Rick Deckard, played by Harrison Ford, in Ridley Scott's classic cult sci-fi movie Blade Runner from 1982 is notable for the presence of Johnnie Walker Black Label. Deckard's cluttered and messy apartment is littered with "futuristic" Johnnie Walker bottles which he is seen drinking regularly. The bottle has become an icon for many hardcore Blade Runner fans but no-one was ever able to identify the manufacturer of the bottle. In 2007 a limited number of reproduction "Johnnie Walker- Blade Runner" bottles became available (less than 200 worldwide) they became instant collectors items commanding five to six times their original cost within months of them becoming available.

In the 2010 movie Hot Tub Time Machine, Rob Corddry's character drinks large amounts of Johnnie Walker.

It is the drink Dustin Hoffman requests from the barman during the airport bar scene in 'Last Chance Harvey' (2008).

Official website

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Re: Johnnie Walker Blue Label

I tried this one tonight, was lucky enough to get a taste from my fathers bottle. It have a powerful taste and it's quite ok but I would definitely not pay 200$ for it. To me it tasted like a very ok whisky in the 50-70$ price range... I tried Johnnie Walker Gold Label after this and definitely preferred the Gold Label.

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