View Full Version : Blown away
This afternoon, I was browsing tha scotch section at the ABC store. I had heard and believed that Johnny Walker Blue Label was expensive. But, $225? Good Lord!
I asked the clerk if they sold a lot of it and he replied, "Surprisingly, yes".
I'm blown away. I had no idea.
$225 or no, it's still a blend, which puts it AT BEST on the level with a mediocre single-malt.
People that have shelled out the money for JW Blue have told me it's big-time overrated.
I had the Blue once as part of a mini 4 pack of Johnnie Walker I got at the LCBO in Toronto (Gold, Blue, Red and Black Labels). The Blue as you say is a blend, like the other Labels. Indeed, the grain whisky edge that most blends have is evident in the Blue Label, but there is also a complex combination of single malts in Blue Label that gives it its unique flavor. To me the flavor is mild and subtle. There are aged whiskies in there (some said to be 60 years old). There is a light smokiness and an aged quality in the taste, yes. I would not compare it to a single malt because you are paying for the specific blending of fine malt and other whiskies and it produces a very specific taste profile. You get, as Michael Jackson says, the orchestra not the soloist. In terms of value, as I said earlier, I believe the Gold Label, at about (U.S.) 60 dollars a bottle, is more interesting. It has a heavier, more malty (yet still aged) taste. While containing some grain whiskies it is soft and rich, hardly seeming to be a blend in fact. My sense is the Blue is made for the luxury market that does not want an assertive whisky taste. Whereas I think the Gold is made for the whisky fan who wants all the qualities associated by devotees with fine malt and other whiskies. The Black Label is very good too, and so is the Red (younger, more "vibrant"). Like the Gold these are well-priced for the quality they offer. The British have an expression, "it's horses for courses", which applies perfectly to this range of blended scotch: something for everyone is offered. For the true whisky fan, I believe the Gold Label offers the best combination of value and quality. JW also make a vatted malt but somehow the Gold is better in my view - maybe the blenders are right that you need some grain whisky in a combination of whiskies to "display" the malts.
I have never tried the Blue or the Gold. But when I drank scotch, Red and Black were always my favorite blends. In single malts, I never got beyond Glenlivit and Glenfiddich.
I haven't had a taste of scotch in at least 6 or 8 years.
I tasted this once and was not impressed at all. For $225, there's lots of other good bourbons, and Single Malts that I would much rather buy.
Very good post. I also prefer JW Gold to Blue, but I always keep the blue on hand. It has an elegant subtlety that exceeds all other Scotches IMHO. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/bowdown.gif When I have guest who don't think they like Scotch, JW Blue often coverts them. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif BTW, I make sure I pay under $140 for it.
The best price I've seen locally is $170; at Sam's it's $180; at Binny's $190.
If you don't mind sharing the information, where do you find it for under $140?
I bought a bottle at the big liquor store in Minneapolis for approximately $140 about 8 years ago. I have also seen it in duty free for a bit less than that (can't remember which ones). Last year, I picked up some of the 4 packs of the JW collection (Red, Black, Gold & Blue, 200ml bottles ea.). Usually the price is about $100; they were on sale at Costco for $29.95! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif
I saw them on sale recently at an Army Base in Brooklyn recently for $145. I think they were regularly $165 though. I got the 4 pack that John spoke of last year during a trip to Canada but it had the Black, Gold, Blue and some weird Green label that I 'think' is a pure malt one that is not offered here in the states. If I remember correctly, after the exchange rate, it still cost me about $60. That was some awesome deal you got at Costco! My Costco here doesn't sell booze! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/hot.gif
I saw the JW Blue in Bermuda for US$90 a bottle about 2 years ago and this price was confirmed by a friend last year. I have heard that many other islands have great prices, but limited choices, in Duty Free, especially Jamaica. I would guess that JW Blue would be stocked most anywhere.
I did not pick any JW Blue up as they also had lots of the UDV Rare Malts series for US$30-40(usually $90-150).
I just opened my bottle of JW blue this weekend. I'm horrible at describing flavors, so I wont even try, but I do know what I like. At first I was a little disappointed in it, as the flavor seemed to mild. As I worked my way through the glass though, I realized that to me, the flavor is exquisite, but not strong enough to call it a favorite. Usually I want a scotch (or bourbon) that won't let me forget what it is. Lagavulin, Booker's, etc. will grab your attention and not let go. The JW Blue is perfect for those times when I want something different. I'll probably try to keep a bottle on hand if I can, but I dont think I'd pay more than $150 or so for it. I realize there's plenty out there for less money that I would prefer 95% of the time, but that last 5%, the Blue gives me exactly what I'm looking for.
I agree that the Blue has it's place as long as you don't compare it head-to-head with a single malt whisky. On its own it is quite nice but it will never measure up to the intensity of many single malts.
There is another blend called Campbeltown Loch 25 that is very good and can be found for US$50-60 if you want to try something different. Just be sure to avoid the cheaper Campbeltown Loch that does not have an age statement.
I also find JW Black to be a nice change of pace especially when out and I can't see paying too much for a tiny pour of, lets say Lagavulin, when I have a whole bottle at home.
Just be sure to avoid the cheaper Campbeltown Loch that does not have an age statement.
Care to elaborate? I recently picked up a bottle of this at Sam's. Any additional information appreciated.
There is nothing wrong with the version of Campbeltown Loch that does not have an age statement, but it is very different from the 25yo. I did not want to confuse anyone who might look for the 25yo and think they had found a bargin when in fact they had the younger version(it is a 5yo blend). The 25yo is simply a more complex whisky than the 5yo, and has a much different flavor profile (better in my opinion). I find the nose is reminiscent of older Springbank expressions like the 25yo that are no longer available, and the taste is richer. Since I happen to love Springbank, the Campbeltown Loch 25 suits my tastes much more than it's younger sibling(of which I enjoyed a bottle of as well).
Thanks for the info, David.
I generally like my whisky on the young side, but Springbank is one where I make an exception. If I see the older expression of Loch, I'll give it a turn.
I should clear up my reference to both NAS(no age statement) and a 5yo blend. There is not an age statement on the bottle that I am aware of, but Springbank mentions on its website that it is a 5yo blend.
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