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


  1. Good review Jason,
    JW have put out a few 'experiments' of late... While I haven't tried any... Locally, none have have had any glowing reviews... There is even an espresso version... It's just me ...but I can't bring myself to buy any of them.
    AL (from OZ)

    1. Espresso? Yuck! I think Diageo wants Johnnie Walker to appear to be innovative, but espresso is just gross.

      For an innovative whisky company, check out Compass Box. Spice Tree is a really nice NAS bottled at 46% and no chill filtration.

  2. Those Glenmorangie and Bruichladdich expressions sound intriguing and like better executions of the wine cask theme than this JW.

    1. Yes, they are worth seeking out for sure.

  3. "Espresso? Yuck! I think Diageo wants Johnnie Walker to appear to be innovative, but espresso is just gross."

    Don't be so quick to judge without sampling the JW Espresso Roast Blender's Batch, boys.
    I picked up a couple of bottles here in Sydney and I must say that it is rather delightful!
    Bottled at 43.2% from heavily roasted barley. The effect is more Lindt dark chocolate with a hint of mocha. The 500ml bottle is presented with a cork rather than metal screw cap.
    Add a couple of drops of water and the vanilla and cinnamon appears.
    I found this quite reminiscent of the Glenmorangie Signet.
    Try it if you can find it!

  4. Compass Box stuff is Bloody Hard to get down here damnit !