Saturday, October 27, 2018

Whisky Review: Johnnie Walker Blenders' Batch 'Wine Cask Blend'

In my last post, I reviewed the 'Red Rye Finish' from the Blenders' Batch series, an experimental brand extension of Johnnie Walker.  As you know, I was quite impressed with the Red Rye Finish in spite of it being a no-age-statement, blended Scotch.  It was enjoyable neat.  Always nice to stumble on a blend that is affordable and enjoyable on its own.

So, with that in mind, I picked up a bottle of another in the Blenders' Batch line-up:  "Wine Cask Blend"

The concept behind this bottling is to age some spirit in wine casks, in addition to the traditional ex-bourbon and sherry casks.  We do not know what wine casks were selected though.  Diageo is tight-lipped on that point which is unfortunate because depending on the wine, there can be some very distinctive flavour profiles.  For example, on the one hand there is Glenmorangie 12 years Nectar D'Or that has its spirit finished in ex-Sauternes casks (a sweet white wine) and on the other, I can recall a bottle of Bruichladdich whose spirit was matured in ex-Barolo (a powerhouse Italian red).  In both cases, the results were spectacular.

So, not knowing what wine casks were employed in the maturation of this blended Scotch, what do I know?  The malt whiskies in this blend come from Clynelish and Roseilses (opened in 2010 - and is the largest distillery ever built).

Age Statement


Artificial Color?

Chill Filtration?

Twist-off metal cap.


Nose (undiluted)
Oak, apples, a little pine needles and cone, buttery, buttercups and a faint sherry note.

Palate (undiluted)
Apples, a lot of grapefruit, a little caramel sweetness turning slightly bitter by the finish.  Dry wood notes and I note bourbon cask notes like melon, lemons.

Finish (undiluted)
Short finish, the flavours evaporate as quickly as a politician's promises following election night.  The grain whiskies contribute to a grainy, tingling sensation that is slightly astringent.  This is all chased by lemon pith/grapefruit and alcohol bitterness.

General Impressions
While I do not know from any press release or info on the Johnnie Walker website what kind of wine casks were employed in the wood management, my guess would be that the casks previously held white wines of some kind.  In addition, I think ex-bourbon casks also play a big role in this blend.

In terms of malt and grain whisky ratio, I am tasting a lot of young grain whiskies that are not helping matters.  Not enough Clynelish here!

If you visit the Johnnie Walker website that features this blend, they suggest using it as mix and I think that is the correct suggestion.  This is not very enjoyable neat or with the addition of a few drops of water.  This goes best in a tall glass of ice and ginger-ale.

This blend tries to taste like Glenmorangie 10yrs, 12 yrs Nectar D'Or, Glenfiddich 15 Solera, but only ends up tasting like a blended Scotch homage to Alpenweiss or Black Tower.

In conclusion, I recommend buying this as an effective mix.  I did try it with ginger-ale, an iceberg of ice and slice of lime and it worked very well.


Jason Debly

Friday, October 12, 2018

Scotch Review: Johnnie Walker Blenders' Batch Red Rye Finish

Yeah, I know it's been a while since my last post.  What can I say?  Part procrastination, and part I dunno.  Anyhow, I'm back and a big thank you to those readers who reached out to me via email since my last post in May asking if I was alright.  Don't worry, this kid is alright!  Ok, are you ready?  Let's go and check out Johnnie Walker Blenders' Batch Red Rye Finish!

Diageo, owners of the Johnnie Walker brand, are always rolling out brand extensions.  Some are a success, some are not (e.g. Explorers' Club).  Blenders' Batch is another attempt by this multinational, billion dollar plus, publicly traded company to inject some excitement and spontaneity in to their well established brand.  And, how they have done that is by taking blended Scotch spirit, aged exclusively in first-fill bourbon casks, and then 'finishing' (fancy word for transferring to another type of cask) the spirit in of all things ex-rye casks.  I must say I was intrigued.  Scotch whiskies are usually finished in port pipes, Sauternes, and even Barbaresco (a mysterious Italian red).  So, when I heard Diageo had come up with the idea of a finish in red rye casks, I was interested.  Intuitively, I thought rye casks could compliment blended Scotch spirit that had been raised in ex-bourbon casks.

Launch Date


Metal twist off cap

750ml bottle

Age Statement

Production Notes
A blend of three grain whiskies along with malt whiskies from Cardhu and the now defunct Port Dundas.  As I mentioned above, the spirit was aged in first fill bourbon casks before being finished for up to six months in ex-rye casks.

Apples, cinnamon, a floral sweetness and some caramel.

Honey crisp apples, caramel crisp, apple crisp, a citric note of grapefruit and orange is present and of course some spiced rye appears.

Oak, vanilla, spiciness with herbs like mint and tarragon, a wee grainy with some slight smoke.

General Impressions
I was really surprised by this blend.  Frankly, quite impressed.  I particularly like the influence of the rye casks on the spirit.  The rye imparts spiced rhubarb and a dry note.  Really like this for the price.  I would imagine it would perform well in a cocktail too!

Worth a try!  I wouldn't hesitate to buy again when low on funds.

Here's my YouTube video review of this blend:  

Thanks for your patience and I will endeavour to post more regularly!


Jason Debly