Spirit, Sydney

Johnnie Walker Blue. New.

This year Diageo has decided to tell a new story with Johnnie Walker Blue.

Jonathan Driver, the stately and superb ambassador for the brand will travel the world to introduce a new bottle, take the opportunity to tell the story of the brand once again to their most valued audiences and perhaps most importantly, meet out a few drams of frankly excellent whisky.

My good friend has scooped me to much of the news on this one, and you should really read his post to get the skinny.

The bottle has changed, and that certainly makes me value my old botttle more, but there is good reason for a break with tradtion.

The world is different now, mere products have evolved to brands and the perhaps the best now, as experiences. Johnnie Walker wanted to improve on the experience of owning a bottle of Blue Label. Holding it in your hands, pouring it to enjoy and sharing a whisky, and the story with others. The design has always been full of meaning, it now speaks with perhaps a firmer voice.

The blue tint, still present but much lighter than the traditional bottle. It has colour enough to be visually distinct from the rest of the Walker family, while allowing the golden hue of the necatrous liquid inside a much grander chance of shining through and standing out.

The bottle too, has kept four corners. The solid base of blue tinted glass sets your eyes more sharply, some lessons learned from the Gold Label bottle are trotted out again. The Walker family is all topped off in bottles with four corners. A nod to a rather poetic historical intent, first exercised in much rougher terms and language, in Old Highland; the first attempt at a saleable blend that bought the best of Scottish whisky tradition, manifest in glorious flavour nestled down together.

Spiritually, the blend changes in every batching. Whiskies from various distilleries are selected for extremely specific anomilies, but always with the same intent; to bring together the best of four corners of Scotland to your glass. There was made mention of Talisker barrels lucky enough to exhibit a peppery character, approximately one in every ten thousand.

Little surprise then that this not an experience that comes cheaply. Many would comment on your ability to get a great single malt for the same price point, and they’re right.

However, those game enough to lift a dram to their lips will not go unrewarded. It is quite simply sensational liqour; Citrus through stonefruit to toffees and buttery caramel, it delivers a textural finish with the smoke of Western coast subtle but deliciously present.

You might be able to dismiss this as mere marketing hype. The claims that are made, these stories told, this history professed; they are all warranted by the whisky inside the bottle.

It is delicious.

Dan Murphy’s has it for $169.

Cocktail, MixMarch

MixMarch #16: Blood & Sands

I was first introduced to this cocktail in Shanghai. Prosaically described as the first choice for ladies who lunch, this small but well proportioned cocktail got it’s name far back in the twenties from a silent movie about a man who rises from peasant to matador. The drink represents the blood of the bull spilled and mixed with the sand of the arena.

It is another in a growing line of scotch cocktails that really work, it adds a meaty undertone to the drink that would fall off the deep end into sweetness were it not there.

The measures mentioned in the Savoy book ask for equal measures, and while I’d love to have another brother for the Negroni and Corpse Reviver, I’m sad to say it doesn’t really do it for me. The Cheery Heering sweetens the mix way too much. The orange juice has to be fresh. Of this I am quite certain.

Blood & Sands

30mls J&B Scotch, 30mls Orange Juice, 15mls Martini Rosso 15mls Cheery Heering. Shake and strain up. Drink with a waspish sense of place and purpose.

You can read about a more considered approach to the drink, and see where I purloined this picture from, over here.


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.

Cocktail, In Memoriam

Friday Fix for a quick thrill

92025769_oOk, so I know it seems like everyone on earth must be writing a Michael Jackson post right now, and it’s my second in memoriam post in as many weeks, but I know Gregor was in favour of intoxication and by the looks of Michael’s autopsy, the King of Pop wasn’t shy when it came to mixing it up.

The legal ramifications of championing OxyContin and Demerol use in Australia seem a little dicey at best, so let’s go home tonight, mix up a Thriller and settle back on the couch to watch the prisoners in Cebu, Philippines perform their very special tribute.

Thriller Cocktail.

45mls Laphroaig Scotch Whisky, 30 mls Stone’s Green Ginger Wine, 30 mls Orange Juice. 

Combine the ingredients in a Boston glass, top with ice, slap on the tin and shake vigorously with a sparkly white gloved hand.

Strain into a martini glass, collapse on the couch and marvel at the life of a man who may have touched kids, and not in a good way but who inspired the likes of this: 

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