Johnny Walker recently released a fraternal twin to its famed Black Label – the Double Black Label. We thought it would be fun to review both bottles and do a bit of comparing and contrasting, as while, they are brothers from the same mother (so to speak), they are very, very different!
Black Label is, arguably, the face of Johnnie Walker. It’s been around, although, under different names, since approximately the 1860’s. It’s a blend of 40 different single malts from all over Scotland that have been aged for a minimum of 12 years. In 2010, Johnnie Walker launched the Double Black Label at limited airports around the world. Due to popular demand, in 2011, Diageo did a limited release of the Double Black Label (although the cynic in me thinks that if its popular, it will probably become a permanent release). The Double Black Label purportedly uses the Black Label as it’s template. I am assuming this means that they are using single malts from all over Scotland with a heavier emphasis on the peatier Scotch from the west coast of Scotland. Interestingly, we don’t know if part of the template includes 40 single malts or if the single malts are aged for a minimum of 12 years as in the Black Label.
In reviewing the Black Label and Double Black Label, it was clear from the bottles that the Double Black was not your father’s Black Label. The Double Black Label comes in an uber masculine bottle that is not only black but noticeably bigger than the Black Label. The nose confirmed that these were two very different Scotches with the Double Black significantly smokier. The palate then confirmed both the bottle appearance and the nose – these were very different Scotches. The Double Black Label is the beefier, tougher older brother to the more nuanced, complex Black Label.
Johnnie Walker Black Label
Visually, the Black Label was clear with a medium amber color with golden hues. On the nose, the Scotch had a medium plus, developing intensity of raisins, dried figs, orange peel, honey, white flowers, vanilla, white pepper, cloves and oak. On the palate, the Black Label was smooth in the mouth, had a medium body and an complex and intense flavors of raisins, dried figs, orange peel, honey, white flower, vanilla, pepper, cloves, oak, a briny minerality, peat and smoke. Long finish. Good to very good spirit (especially given its reasonable pricing).
Johnnie Walker Double Black Label
Visually, the Double Black was clear with a medium amber color with reddish hues. On the nose, the Scotch had a medium minus to medium, developing intensity of raisins, white flower, pepper, smoke, peat, ash tray, rubber and briny minerality. On the palate, the Double Black Lable was viscous with a medium plus intensity of raisins, pepper, slight cove, smoke, barbeque smoke, ash tray, peat and oak. Medium finish. Good spirit.