The Private Walker

I have a couple of friends who complain about visiting Perth and finding a fruit accompaniment on the side of every serve, admittedly they’re from Melbourne and tend to think anything that can’t be reached on a tram can’t be up to much. It did however raise a smile when I noticed that the Perth entrant  came with a bright orange fruit accoutrement.

The drink sounds as though in would work well, and I’m a sucker for a PX rinse these days, perhaps the subliminal use on Masterchef masterclasses is making an impact.

The Private Walker

45ml Apricot Infused Johnnie Walker Platinum Label
10ml Bertrand Nougat Liqueur
5ml Maple Syrup
Dash of Walnut bitters
Dash of Peychauds bitters
Pedro Ximinez (Alvear) rinse
Apricot soda and nougat on the side

This drink was created as part of the launch of Johnnie Walker Platinum Label in Australia. Eight bars, across the country, were selected to receive the liquid ahead of general trade and had the chance to come up with a signature serve to make the most of the spirits versatility and showcase their bars style and service.


Johnnie Walker Platinum Label

The Johnnie Walker family has a new member and it comes in a pretty attractive bottle.

Platinum Label sandwiches in between the Gold Reserve and Blue Label. You’ll know this because the heights of the bottles tell the story, should you be lucky enough to have a set on your shelf.

It has been developed to connect with the emerging palates of Asia and give them a new option, and probably take a tilt at the Chivas led legacy in many of those Eastern locales. They’ve used the heritage of the Johnnie Walker Private Blends, a practice of small batch blends for special customers and venues as a jumping off point as well, and you can see the presence on the neck and badge, and taste it in the blend as well.

You’ll get plenty of citrus, in a liquid that lends itself to experimentation and cocktails. It’s pretty heavy on Speyside in the blend, so if you’ve felt some love there before this one is probably worth checking out.

The profile can come off a little flat as it nestles in a glass on its own. Add a splash of water and you’ll be rewarded with a more open whiskey and somewhat surprisingly, a lift in the presence of the trademark Walker smoke and a pleasant salted caramel.

It’s well worth picking up if you’re looking for an easy drinking, exceptionally crafted whisky that you can roll into any time of the day or night.

While it might be a few more days that you’ll have to wait to find a bottle in the wild. $85 will get you one in SYD duty free, should you be lucky enough to be departing this fair isle. RRP outside of duty free will be around $129



Johnnie Walker Double Black

It’s taken almost a year since the global launch, but Johnnie Walker Double Black has finally tipped over to general availability on these shores. Blended whisky mavens will have spotted bottle in travel retail (duty free) for a few months now, but 7500 facebook fans now have bottle adorning their desks and lining their stomachs.

While the blended whisky market has seen Black Bushmills and Black Grouse already adding a hint more smoke, the innovation seems to have remained poorly comunicated here, and it seems that the momentum they’re building towards the consumer launch on Wednesday means Johnnie will get the lion’s share of the credit in bringing a bit more west coast mouthfeel into play.

Any existinfg fan of the single lighthouses of the wild west, like Talisker, Port Ellen, Lagavulin, Ardberg or Caol Ila will probably be a little disappointed with the amount of smoke that comes to the palate. This is possibly because the smoke not only comes from the heavy peated malt whiskies in the blend, but also from a heavy charring of the finishing casks. Essentially, you light a fire in the barrel and char the insides before filling it with liquid.

It’s a good entry point to the land of salt and smoke, it will work well in a cocktail too. The signature serve is on a sphere of ice, and it performs well in a highball. If you want to mix a cocktail, try it out in a dried out Bobbie Burns, 60mls Double Black, 10mls Italian Vermouth, 1 barspoon Benedictine. Stir it down over ice and strain it up

Expect to part with $65 if you’re looking to add a bottle to your liquor cabinet, and it’s a quality blend with some good smoke at that price.


Spirit, Training

Johnnie Walker Tasting Sessions – Coming to a bar near you.

Let's work our way through this, shall we?

It’s not often I feel compelled to write about an event that I haven’t actually attended, but the Johnnie Walker tasting sessions are an exception. I hope that this type of consumer education will become a firm fixture that might replace the standard flashy parties or point of sale brochureware that are often the extent of a brands outreach in this market.

I wish University learning had set ups like this and involved as much whiskey

If you’re lucky enough to secure a seat, you’ll arrive to a Johnnie Walker red label cocktail and an introduction to your host for the night, an ambassador from Diageo who lives and breathes this iconic Scottish brand. I spoke with Sven Almenning, who hosted the session I had missed and is also the proprietor of my favourite watering hole in town, Eau de Vie. He had obviously enjoyed getting back in front of a consumer audience and the interaction it provides. The ambassadors spend much of their time training bar teams across the country, improving service and knowledge behind the bar, so it seems fitting to get them making a contribution to those who sit in front of it.

A few sensory prompts to bring the language of tasting to life

You’ll get a chance to experience whiskies from around the world, covering Canada, the States and Ireland. As well as some instruction on the different experiences you’ll have with Singles and Blends. A sensory kit should give you a few different elements to try and discern for yourself. You’ll learn about the regions of Scotch production and get a crack at the Red, Black and Green label variants of the Johnnie Walker brand. Capping the tasting is a chance to learn a few more international takes on the Johnnie Walker brand; the Rob Roy from New York, the Blazer from London (or Sydney’s Victoria Room) and a carved sphere of ice from Tokyo, Japan.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the long pour. A healthy dram too, by the looks.

For once at least, this is not a program limited to the Metro’s on the East coast. Whichever state you live in, there is an option for you.

· The Loft – King Street Wharf, Sydney
· Eau de Vie – Darlinghurst
· The Union Hotel – North Sydney
· The Mean Fiddler – Rouse Hill
· Macquarie Hotel – Surry Hills
· Verandah Bar – Sydney CBD

· Long Room – Melbourne
· Galley Room – Melbourne
· Exchange – Port Melbourne
· Imperial Hotel – South Yarra
· Baden Powell Tavern – Collingwood
· Baranows – Hawthorn

· Port Office Hotel – Brisbane
· Fox Hotel – Brisbane
· Ice Works – Paddington
· Melbourne Hotel – West End
· Cellar (Cloudlands) – Fortitude Valley
· Story Bridge Hotel – Kangaroo Point

· General Havelock – Adelaide
· Lakes Resort – West Lakes
· Maid and Magpie – Stepney

· Tiger Lils – Perth
· Burswood International Resort – Burswood
· The Flying Scotsman Bar (Defectors) – Mount Lawley

Head to the Johnnie Walker Australian website to see this list, with the added bonus feature of being able to book yourself a session as well. Signing up to the site will also give you the chance to win some pretty amazing stuff related to the sponsorship properties Johnnie currently maintains, F1 or the Ashes anyone?


All Black

Johnnie Walker Black Label 100 year centenary.Being a kiwi, I’m sorely tempted to launch into a celebration of the All Blacks and their victory over the Australians in the Bledisloe Cup match last weekend. Living in Australia, I know that by and large, no-one cares.

The All Black that this post refers to is the Johnnie Walker centenary edition of their Black Label blended scotch. I’m a big fan of special edition bottles and frankly it’s nice to see a good story coming out of the Diageo owned brand, what with their closure of the Kilmarnock Distillery.

The bottle goes on sale in September and is sure to be a hit in Japan, the opaque black finish mirroring the packaging of the highest quality beef and foodstuffs the land of the rising sun produces.

Harking back to 1909, the bottle should be used to produce Stengahs. A whisky concoction made with half a measure topped long with soda. Popular throughout the British Asian empire, the drink replaces fluid in hot climates without the accompanying dizziness of a drunken spell in the Singapore sun. Start drinking them at eleven in the morning on a hot day and you’ll see what I mean.