Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Blue in the Face: Johnnie Walker Blue King George V

Several years ago, I reviewed the standard Johnnie Walker color line: Red, Black, Gold, Blue. My conclusion was that while the Blue was the best of the bunch, it was way overpriced. Well at $170 per bottle, the Blue is downright cheap next to its well heeled brother Johnnie Walker Blue King George V which weighs in at $350.

One of the things often touted along with the King George V is that it includes malt from the closed Port Ellen distillery, but that seems less impressive when you think about the fact that there is still plenty of Port Ellen single malt available for substantially less than the George V costs with its undisclosed amount of Port Ellen.

The fact is though, King George V isn't competing for those of us who might buy Port Ellen. This is status whisky, pure and simple. It's for the broker who had a good year or a piece of swag in the awards basket for the Hollywood star. They don't know from Port Ellen, they know from Johnnie Walker Blue.

But how does it taste? Well, thanks to a sample from my pal at Scotch and Ice Cream, I'm able to tell you.

Johnnie Walker Blue King George V, 43% abv ($350).

The nose on this has sweet malty notes with pineapple, bing cherries and wet grass. On the palate it is malt forward but there are some slightly grainy notes (I first tasted this blind and was pretty sure it was a blend based on these grainy notes) as well as some corn syrup. Despite the Port Ellen, there was no discernible smoke. The finish is very light and short.

This is fine to drink, but it's nothing at all special. It's the type of profile I would probably really like at a higher proof. As is, it's pleasant and drinkable, but at this price, I could probably think of a few hundred whiskies that would be much better. So I implore you, don't buy this stuff, it's not for you anyway (unless you happen to be a Hollywood star, hedge fund manager or someone else who delights in status symbols.


Steffen said...

Keep those good casks away from the blenders :-)


sam k said...

Makes me glad I'll never have a chance to taste this one!