Monday, January 7, 2019

Review - John Walker & Sons Midnight Blend 28 years old

John Walker & Sons, the super premium branch of the popular Johnnie Walker Scotch whisky brand, has announced the fifth and final part of their limited edition Private Collection - the 28 years old Midnight Blend. The collection, which was first launched in 2014 and has been released annually since, is designed to champion the some of the oldest and rarest single malt and grain whiskies in Diageo's portfolio. They have been created by Johnnie Walker's Master Blender Jim Beveridge and his team.

The previous four editions each focused on a different element of a John Walker whisky's character - A Unique Smoky Blend (2014 edition), Rare Fruit Character (2015), Fine Honeyed Notes (2016) and Mastery of Oak (2017). The Midnight Blend combines all of these.

The Midnight Blend features whiskies from the Highlands, Speyside and the west coast of Scotland, each with a minimum age of 28 years. There are just 3,888 bottles in this final release and each is presented in a handblown glass decanter that is blue at the top and becomes clear at the base. It is bottled at 42.8% ABV and is available via selected specialist retailers at a cost of £575 ($750 US).

"Whiskies aged for 28 years or longer are rare. Our search to find those for Midnight Blend, saw us have access to some of the most mature reserves drawn from the four corners of Scotland. Each individual malt and grain used adds layers of flavour to this final addition to the Private Collection."
Jim Beveridge.

Our tasting notes 
The colour is deep golden yellow and the nose has a luscious and luxurious feel to it. There are a mix of sweet aromas (think of golden syrup, ripe peach, sultanas, vanilla and toffee apples) and more bittersweet, savoury ones (especially malted cereals, all-spice, cloves and a delicate whiff of earthy peat smoke and tobacco leaf).

On the palate this whisky delivers the lusciousness that the nose suggested. The robust malted cereals rise first as does the earthy peat smoke, which is more prominent and with a sweeter edge than on the nose. Thes elements are complimented by a delicious and multi-faceted sweetness - think of golden syrup, toffee, candied orange, vanilla sugar, dried mango, sultanas and tinned peaches. Savouriness comes in the form of dried lime zest, cigar wrapper leaf and a pinch of cocoa, along with powdered ginger and clove. These notes add warmth, depth and complexity. the combination of sweet and savoury is excellent and always evolving.

The finish is warming and long lasting. The robustness of the savoury, spicy and earthy characteristics dominate, especially as the sweet, fruity and confected notes begin to fade. A lovely hint of gingerbread comes through and the lasting impression is of sweet and delicate peat smoke. Stunning.

What's the verdict?
This final part of the Private Collection is a superb whisky. The previous four bottlings have all been very good but were sent in deliberate direction. With the Midnight Blend these elements have been combined to exquisite effect. The balance and depth of flavour and aroma is excellent, and really shows that Jim Beveridge and his team are at the top of their game. Fantastic stuff.


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