Johnnie Walker Green Label has been discontinued (click here).
|Photo credit: Lukadlo|
How could the multinational alcohol beverage company Diageo (the owners of the Johnnie Walker brand) make this decision? Green Label is a great scotch whisky. A blend of single malts. No grain whisky.
Some of the landmark malts making up this scotch whisky include: Talisker, Cragganmore, Linkwood, Caol Ila and several other lesser known ones.
It's a stunner that I have written about a couple of times. In one post I declared it was a blended malt that beat many single malts. In another post, I describe it as one of the best whiskies of 2011. In other words, my excitement about this whisky has not faded since my original review.
|Photo Credit: zombie slam|
Here's my tasting note:
Distinctly floral, coupled with malt and cookie dough, faint wisps of anise, peat and pipe tobacco.
Initially a honeyed dram, surely due to the core malt of Cragganmore. Honey gently expands across the palate followed by vanilla, moving to a drying sea spray (I realize this is an oxymoron) and pepper corns across the palate. I recognize this taste to be unmistakably Talisker.
Dry cinammon, restrained fresh ground black pepper and sea salt linger. A very long peppery/honey finish. Great length.
. . .
What may not be obvious in the tasting note is the complexity of this whisky. Wow! You take a sip and you will be impressed. The interplay between Cragganmore and Talisker is great. The individual flavors dance on the palate.
I often recommend Green Label to people who want to cross that bridge between blended scotch and single malts. In the middle is Green Label.
. . .
So why did Diageo decide to discontinue this great scotch?
No one knows. No explanation has been given. But, in a way, we all know. It's about money. A for-profit enterprise has that intrinsic right to make decisions about what wares its sells, and I certainly do not think 'profit' is a dirty word. However, I have a theory as to why the economics worked against this gem.
Unfortunate Price Point
You see, Green Label was priced in the vicinity of many introductory single malts. The average consumer faced with the prospect of shelling out the same amount of money for a blended malt (Johnnie Walker Green) when they could buy a single malt for the same price, a little more or less, invariably opted for one of the introductory malts (Glenfiddich 12, Glenlivet 12, etc.). So, this phenomenon may have weakened sales. Diageo cannot be blamed for market behaviour unless they could have reduced the price to eliminate this phenomenon.
|Photo credit: copyright 2011 Matthew Lowery|
I bet there are plenty of regular readers of this blog who were not even aware of Green Label. They may have assumed the Johnnie Walker product line was Red, Black, Gold and Blue. Actually many people are not even aware there is a Gold label.
My point is that everyone has heard of Red, Black and Blue labels. Especially Blue Label. Why? Advertising! I see Blue Label advertisements in magazines. Same with Black Label. Go overseas and the advertising for Johnnie Walker Red, Black and Gold goes into over drive. Ever been to the Middle East? I have. In Lebanon, the national drink should be Black Label. I mean, everyone drinks Black Label. Everyone. Have you been to Dubai? Blue Label rules. Israel probably has its share of scotch fans too, judging by all the visitors to this blog. And then there is the Pacific Rim. Ever heard of the Johnnie Walker Classic? A golf tournament played each year in the Asia Pacific region. In particular, the tournament was held several times in Thailand and Singapore, two juggernaut markets for Johnnie Walker. Everyone knows Red and Black Labels there.
Maybe if Diageo had spent a few more dollars promoting Green Label it would have had better sales.
In any case, let the hoarding begin! If you see it in your local store, pick up a bottle because it may be the last one you see!
Copyright © Jason Debly, 2009-2012. All rights reserved except for photos appearing in this post. Copyright is held by the photographers and appear here in this post with their permission, No reproduction is permitted without the permission of the relevant photographer. By the way, the last photo by Matthew Lowery is excellent in my opinion. Check out more of his great work at: http://www.matthewlowery.com and http://www.matthewlowery.com/
Jason, how do you know? I couldn't find anything official on the web (just a rumor on another blog).ReplyDelete
Well, we'll have to make our own JB Green now! A good start is to take a dash of Talisker, a dash of Caol Ila, a hefty dose of something floral -- Glenlivet 12 will do, and then something good-bodied, such as Glen Garioch, Dalwhinnie, Glenrothes or Clynelish -- and you're in business!
You can launch on your blog the challenge for the best JW Green clone!
...Or, we'll all switch to Compass Box...
Florin, if you search "Johnnie Walker Green Label discontinued" on Google, you will find a number of hits:Delete
The doing your own blends would be a nerve racking adventure for me.
I noticed that you changed the introduction to the post...I think the first version was better, but that is a subjective opinion (much like reviewing whisky!). Anyway, if you check out Ralfy's video review of JWGL, he does some impromptu blending of his own using different ratios of Talisker and Caol Ila. Interesting approach, to say the least.
Oh I think my previous intro was little over-the-top!Delete
Yeah, I will check out Mr. Raplfy's video. Always informative and entertaining.
Just posted my own thoughts on this (http://dan-the-tax-man.livejournal.com/). Not sure I agree on the price point issue, as there appears there was room to fiddle with prices and make Green Label more competitive, but the lack of marketing effort is likely a contributing factor.Delete
Apparently JW Green Label is back, as its on the shelf in my local LCB, priced at $61.Delete
Great post Jason...ReplyDelete
Thats the problem with big corporations. Its just about the money, not about the consumer. I bet if they made a XXX load of money selling RED and almost none from the others, they would only sell that.ReplyDelete
I am willing to bet, that the people who make corporate decisions in a big firm (any for that matter) dont even respect the product they make (dont even appreciate whiskey in this case). So such a decision could even be considered "normal".
I believe that passion is a big part of what you do. Specially in a product as refined as good scotch. And it is very hard to find passion among all involved, when you need a big corporate machine to sell a lot of product.
Sad news indeed. Will pick up a bottle.
This just irks me. And little do the folks faced with the decision to shell out for the Glelivet or Glenfiddich 12's versus a blended malt such as Green Label know, that the lattermost is far better than the familiar "entry" malts everyone sees in the liquor isle. I was blown away by my experience with Green label, and only moderately pleased and amused with the mentioned malts. In interesting "wow factor" (I can't believe I finally succumbed to using that phrase) and complexity, it has those two and some other malts beat bloody. Sigh!ReplyDelete
Very well written! Sorry to have been the bearer of bad news. Hopefully there will be enough of a supply of GL to keep us all well stocked for a while.
Sad day it seems for some although I've never had the pleasure of this bottle. We shouldn't be too surprised though as Diageo has closed Rosebank, Brora and more recently Port Dundas.ReplyDelete
They faced criticism for closing the Johnnie Walker plant in Kilmarnock. I suppose closing Port Dundas has prompted a rethink of the Johnnie Walker brands as this distillery was a major contributor to it.
Raith, if you have the chance, I would appreciate you trying a bottle of Green and posting your opinion sometime. This is very good scotch that in a blind tasting would be easily identified as a single malt due to its impressive complexity.Delete
I've usually enjoyed the JW Green 15, though I suspect its quality in recent versions aren't quite what we saw in the earliest releases. The Taliker compenent has been reduced in the blend mix dramatically. At $45 locally in SoCal, it competes with a lot of single malts for everything it is. I assume the method in the madness for Diageo at this point is cost-based or stocks based. JWG may have been designed as a bridge product to sell stocks of the 15Y components, perhaps forseen over a five year window only. It's hard to imagine that OB versions of Cragg 15, Caol Ila 15, and Talisker 15 wouldn't be plenty lucrative enough to sell on their own, if available.ReplyDelete
When I was toiling in the corporate world, I was fond of quoting George Smiley: "A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world." Sounds like some folks at Diageo need to get out from behind those desks.ReplyDelete
I'm down to about half a bottle so I'll probably grab another in the next day or two. Fortunately, there is no shortage of good scotch to drink. While Green will be missed, I'll find something to fill the void.
Thanks for the heads up, Jason.
Thanks for the heads up, Jason. Green Label has been near the top of my wish list for some time now. This post just moved it to the top.ReplyDelete
Time to get a bottle as production has ceased and as you can see from the comment below, inventory across the US will probably run low by the Fall.Delete
One of our tasting group members is the local rep for Diageo (the JW line, and much much more). He indicates that production bottling has indeed ceased for JW-G, but there is probably enough product in the USA distribution pipeline already to ensure its availablity to interested retailers through October 2012. Get yours before Fall or take your chancesReplyDelete
Thanks for the timeline as to availability. I am sure other readers will appreciate your input too.Delete
Yeah, sad news. I think it was too expensive for the lower end Red & Black buyers and too cheap for the snobby Blue Brigade. So it fell in the middle of nowhere and had to compete with the stigma that Single Malts are always better than Blends which of course is not true. Another reason could be that it was a Blend of Single Malts whereas all other JW blends contain (cheaper) Grain whiskies including the two new expressions Gold Reserve and Platinum. So it's cutting down costs. I wouldn't be surprised if they would stop producing the Gold and Swing as well in the coming months
I wonder if with the increased supplies that Black label or possibly the rest will see somewhat of a recipe adjustment. I think it would be great if they discontinued the gimmicky "double black" and brought the smokier, peatier elements in B.L a bit further into the foreground (whilst still having Cardu and the other speysides balancing and providing those nice caramel and subtle molten chocolate flavors). What do you think?ReplyDelete
I think I have no clue what the minds of Diageo will do.Delete
From what I understand, Double Black has had very good sales from an initial debut in duty free shops of Dubai, Beirut, and JFK Airport. It is now much more widely available. Matter of fact, I have a bottle that will appear for the purposes of a review in upcoming weeks.
I think "Double Black" is trying to capitalize on the tremendous landmark of blended scotch that Black Label occupies. Is it an improvement, I will reserve judgement till I can get the two in a ring to duke it out!
So disappointed by this that as soon as I read it I went on a buying frenzy and now have five bottles stashed away and might even buy a few more to enjoy for the next several years. JW Green was the first scotch that I tried based on your review of it and I am glad that I did. I loved it from the moment that I drank my first dram and made sure to always have it in the house. I will buy other scotches in between to make my supply last even longer but will partake of my supply from time to time and wonder why I could not enjoy this fine blend for the rest of my life.ReplyDelete
Jason, Our tasting group member (a local Diageo rep) related that he was informed yesterday that the last shipments of JW-Green 15 have been made to most California distributors. He indicates that there may be subsequent containers here and there made available to specific buyers, but those will be rare and small events. He suggested to make favorite customers aware that the result will be seen in retail supply reliability very quickly, at least on the West coast. I have no idea how one might gauge just much has been stocked up by stores and chains. JKReplyDelete
I saw a few bottles in New Hampshire about a month ago, but it has totally disappeared in other places like Ontario, Canada.Delete
We just have to scoop it up when we see it. I just finished another bottle of it and it is damn good from start to finish. It doesnt seem to be susceptible to oxidation like other whiskies. The flavor profile remains great even a few months after opening the bottle.
Jason, I agree about bottle stability once opened. It contains two well-peated malts, each fairly known to degrade in open bottles well within a half year or so of opening. Still, the Green somehow reflects the strong hold that the sherry-influenced malt portions have in either holding rein on the peat oxidation rate itself, or at least disguising it. There's a PHD thesis lurking out there for a candidate studying fermentation science and chemistry. JKReplyDelete
Jason, I have two local whisky shops and both had about a dozen boxes of Green Label here in the Cleveland, OH area priced at $64-. I bought a couple but it doesn't appear the supply is fully out of the system yet. So I am going to wait before creating a true stock of it in my basement. Thought you would appreciate an update!ReplyDelete
Thanks Luke for the update. Good to hear, but don't wait too long to start hoarding . . . Hell I may have to come to Cleveland and do some myself!Delete
The US, Orlando, FL warehouse I order from has 1,564 bottles available @ $64.00 plus shipping. I hope to enjoy a few more before they run out. Thanks for the recommendation.ReplyDelete
You have an excellent blog here and I appreciate your candid, honest, and thoughtful reviews. Just recently started getting into Scotch starting with JW Black Label based on a recommendation. Turned out to be a great starting point, moving on to green label is even more amazing. An amazing complexity of flavors with a finish that tops every other drink I've ever had. Wanna try Gold Label 18 next, but I'm curious about single malts and other brands, got any good starting points? Plenty of stock of Green & Gold down here in Florida. Keep up the good work.
I am glad you find the blog useful in your journey into all things whisky.Delete
With respect to Johnnie Walker Gold Label, you have to be careful to buy the ones that have an age statement on the label of 18yrs. Those Gold Labels are no longer being bottled and are excellent in my opinion. Honeyed, with heather, butterscotch and caramel. The nose is heavenly too.
Now, I caution you that Diageo (corporate owner of the Johnnie Walker brand) is now bottling a different version of Gold Label that has no age statement. You want to avoid that new edition of Gold Label. It is a real disappointment. You can get the same flavor profile at a fraction of the cost from say Cardhu.
Glad to hear there is plenty of Green Label still available in Florida.
Thanks for taking the time to comment!
Hi Jason, just found your blog. JW Green is my favorite scotch. If one loves green, what would you recommend that might be comparable?ReplyDelete
Cheers - Dave M.
One of the key malts making up Green Label is "Cragganmore."Delete
"Cragganmore 12 years" is a great single malt that has many of the features of Green Label. Highly recommended! Here is a link to my review of that malt:
Another core malt of Green Label is "Linkwood." This distillery does not typically (at least to my knowledge) put out bottlings. Instead, independent bottlers like "Gordon and MacPhail" buy up Linkwood from the distillery, do their own aging in their own selected casks and at the end of the day deliver a great product. Harder to find but if you can, seek out Gordon & MacPhail Linkwood.
Anyhow, the good news is: Long as you can find Cragganmore, you have a good replacement for the magical Green Label.