Saturday 04 August, 2012

Walking the Line with Johnnie Walker

jwdinner7




  Last month, I attended a special dinner hosted by Master of Whisky Tom Turner and Riviera Las Vegas president Andy Choy, pairing Johnnie Walker’s line of Scotch Whiskies with a special menu by Executive Chef Jason Bradley. And then I wrestled with whether to post it as a spirits event or meal. Ultimately, I […]




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 jwdinner1

Last month, I attended a special dinner hosted by Master of Whisky Tom Turner and Riviera Las Vegas president Andy Choy, pairing Johnnie Walker's line of Scotch Whiskies with a special menu by Executive Chef Jason Bradley. And then I wrestled with whether to post it as a spirits event or meal. Ultimately, I decided the former, because though it was an interesting meal, we were there for the brown stuff.

It isn't every day you get to taste Johnnie Walker's entire line of color-coded spirits in one sitting. In fact for most people, even whisky fans, it isn't any day. So let me try and share the experience and the distinctions between the "labels" as best I can.

First, let's dispell the notion that the differences are simply on a "Good-Better-Best" scale. Price shouldn't be the only indicator of your preference with these spirits. Turner had a refreshingly open-minded attitude about appreciating the spirits.

"Hey, if you want to pour Blue label into some Kool Aid and drink it that way, and you're buying," he cracked, "I'll drink one with you." I don't think that was an official serving suggestion, however.

Intriguingly there isn't much variation in color on these at all--you wouldn't easily identify them visually from each other.

Red is the classic Walker blend of Scotches from throughout many regions, bracing and invigorating, full of sweet caramel, salt and smoke. To many, this is the archetypal Scotch palate.

Black, the best selling deluxe blended whisky in the world, is the Walker family's original high-end blend: smoky and peppery, blended from some 45 odd whiskies

Green is the only JW made exclusively from four single malts (Talisker,  Caol Ila, Cragganmore and Linkwood), all of which have been barrel-matured for at least 15 years: very peppery and quite oily, sea salt and sour cherry dominating.

Gold is a blend principally of Highland Clynelish and Cardhu, Gold has been made since the 1920s but only marketed since the '90s. Sweetest of the JWs with a creamy faintly orgeat mouth and lasting peaty finish

Blue: is made from very rare Scotches (some from distilleries no longer existing!). buttery and smooth as silk. It's said to reflect the style of early 19th century blends (by the way, it was illegal to sell blends prior to 1860.

Alas, we didn't get to try Double Black, of which I'm a fan (there's also a 18 yr old Platinum, available only in Japan), but at the end, Tom decided to add a special pouring for everyone, from the only distillery that has always been in the Walker family, Cardhu. The Cardhu single malt special reserve had a sweet hay and tropical flower nose with a savory pink peppercorn and sweet vanilla, caramel nut mouth.

R Steak & Seafood has a continuing series of pairing dinners, which are quite reasonably priced for their quality. Go HERE for more information or email rsteak@theriviera.com.

Johnnie Walker

Cardhu

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