Red Label for simple cocktails.
Double Black for an inexpensive, easy-drinking treat for my whisky-loving kuya.
Blue Label to impress a client.
Indeed, there’s always a Johnnie Walker for every occasion.
The label is so established (and everywhere!) that as a drink writer, it does present its own challenges when it comes to writing about the 200-year-old distillery. What can I talk about that’s different and exciting about Johnnie?
Enter the two brand-new limited-edition Johnnie Walker Black Label Origins Series, which convey a sense of place from different corners of Scotland. Inspired by the iconic Johnnie Walker Black, the series was launched last 7 September 2020 via a YouTube Live event hosted by one of my favourite funny men, Nico Bolzico.
During the event, we were treated to so many awesome things:
A conversation about the intricacies of whisky by OTO’s David Ong, where I brushed up on my whisky knowledge
A guided tasting of a featured whiskies by Diageo Reserve Brand Ambassador Rian Asiddao.
We were treated to the following whiskies (via the cute sample bottles they included in the kit):
- Johnnie Walker Black Label – The number one Scotch Whisky in the world is blended with over 15 whiskies, giving it a consistent balance of apple and pear aromas, plus subtle smokiness.
- Johnnie Walker Cardhu Twelve – Hailing from Speyside, Cardhu – the name of the first distillery Johnnie Walker purchased – is a fruit-forward whisky with intense aromas and flavours of raisins and grapes. The colour is lighter because of the use of American oak and has been chill filtered to add complexity.
- Johnnie Walker Black Label Lowlands Origin – Made from a variety of Lowland whiskies including Cameronbridge whisky and Glenkinchie whisky, the Lowlands Origin has light, floral, sweet, vanilla notes.
- Johnnie Walker Black Label Speyside Origin – Speyside is known for having the greatest number of distilleries nestled in an area abounding in orchards. The Speyside Origin, with its fruit-forward flavours reminiscent of fresh-cut apples and oranges, ended up being my favourite of the bunch.
A couple of music-inspired Johnnie Walker Black Label Origin Series cocktails by OTO’s Head Bartender, David Abalayan
Tita confession: I rarely go to bars anymore, so I never realised that OTO’s concept involves music and cocktails. Abalayan mentioned that the pre-made bottled cocktails were inspired by a couple of songs:
- Good Times Bad Times – I’m not sure if it was a reference to a 1969 Led Zeppelin song or the Edie Brickell light jazz one (the bottle design is very 70s flower child, so I’m thinking the former?)… but the cocktail was dangerously delicious. If I were left to my own devices sans any form of self-discipline, I think I would easily gorge on 3 of those in one sitting. Reminiscent of caramel popcorn, it was made from Johnnie Walker Lowlands Origin, corn tea, ripe mangoes, and palm sugar syrup.
- The Take Over, The Break’s Over – The mind of my inner child of the 90’s got blown with the label, whose name is that of a Fall Out Boy song, and graphics inspired by Green Day’s American Idiot album cover (PS, pleasantly surprised I still know some early 2000s punk rock music). It was a yummy (and strong) cocktail made from Johnnie Walker Black Label Speyside Origin, citric adjusted tepache, sherry port, and pandan syrup.
We were told that the cocktails have a shelf life of 3-5 days, but really… I don’t think it would last a minute with me. They retail at PHP250 a bottle, and part of the proceeds go to bartenders in Pobs who got affected by the pandemic… Good booze for a good cause.