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Drink Review: Johnnie Walker Blenders’ Batch Red Rye Finish

A limited edition from Johnnie Walker, part of the popular Blender’s Batch series. To create this edition, a blend of just a few single malts was aged in first-fill bourbon and then finished for up to six months in casks that had previously held rye whiskey. The result is a dram with an intense, honeyed sweetness and lashings of warming vanilla spice.

Johnnie Walker Blenders Batch Review:

Tasting Notes: Sweet, honeyed fruit with a warm, smoky start and surprisingly delicate finish, plus a fine hint of fruit tannins thanks to the rye.

A new, annual limited edition from Johnnie Walker. Like the regular Batch, this whisky was done in a style that we don’t normally see from Johnnie Walker, an aged rye-finished blend. Knowing the high level of quality that the Blenders’ Batch is known for, we expected something exceptionally good, but particularly different.

The Blenders’ Batch is a very limited production for Johnnie Walker, but lovers of the brand know that limited editions are generally among the best. The rye-finished blend entered my palate with intense honeyed notes, with a tropical fruitiness in the midst of it all. Taken from a single cask? It seems unlikely, but the result is something truly unique.

Our first sip was a fruity-smoky combination, with flavors of coffee beans and coconut. The faceoff with the rye note was strange at first, but interesting in a good way: This combo of sweetness and smoke plus the rye flavor, which was surprisingly powerful, was very different, and I found myself enjoying this unusual dram.

That smokiness was something I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but I eventually came to the conclusion that it was the combination of things that are a little hard to put your finger on that are the best elements of a whisky. Just like the desert landscapes in a good Terroir series, they give the nose, the palate and the finish a complexity that makes you smile.

Johnnie Walker Blenders Batch Review 1:

For the Johnnie Walker Blenders Batch, more of the same blend was aged in first-fill bourbon barrels that previously held rye whiskey. No age statement on the bottle, but it seems to be at least seven years old, as evidenced by the warm, lactic and spicy finish. The sweet, honeyed fruit combined with the rumlike vanilla was slightly breezy and added to the enjoyment of this blend.

With a long-standing combination factor of 80 percent malt and 20 cent ibu, this is a classic blend that is great anytime. I don’t drink it maybe once or twice a year but I find the smooth, mellow flavors and tremendous length of the finish to be quite interesting. It has just the right amount of spice and bodied fruit that’s not cloying.

Johnnie Walker Blenders Batch Review 2:

Light Gold, Amber Gold, Dark Gold. These are the three versions of Johnnie Walker Blenders Batch that you can find in different vintages. I have recently had a lot of different Blenders Batch, and all of them are very good, so I think I have found the version that is best. In this case, I think it is from 2003. It is one of the bottles I found in my local discount liquor store, which must be why I bought it. I don’t think Johnnie Walker Blenders Batch is so good that you can find big discounts on them; maybe they’re just marketed cheaper, but I promise you: You can’t beat the price of Johnnie Walker Blenders Batch. It’s called a limited edition, but it is a very regular blend of a blend.

Light Gold – The blend was infused for two weeks in Spanish Pedro Ximénez sherry casks, then matured in new fifth-fill bourbon barrels. The nose is medium-sweet, oily, and fruity, providing flavors of plum, rubber, and passion fruit. The mouthfeel is medium-bodied, and the finish is fruity, oily, and slightly rummy.

Amber Gold – The blend was infused for two weeks in French Ebro sherry casks, and then matured in new fifth-fill bourbon barrels. The nose is both woody and very fruity, having flavors mashed into the intense and spicy sherry, with notes of bubblegum, notes of brown sugar, and flavors of creamy raisins. The mouthfeel is medium-bodied.

Dark Gold -The blend was infused for two weeks in French Ebro sherry casks, then matured in new fifth-fill bourbon barrels. The nose is medium-sweet and oily, with aromas of caramel, pepper, and nutmeg, flavored with notes of candied fruit salad, wood spice, and notes of toffee and malt. The mouthfeel is medium-bodied, and the finish is pretty good.

I found this particular Dewar’s blend to be the most enjoyable out of the lot. The palate was creamy, slightly oily, rich and fruity. I especially liked the dark gold, which was smooth, wondrously sweet. The amber was a bit too sweet for me, while the light gold was appealing enough, but I just was in love.

Highly recommended!

Written by Mark Adams

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