Monday, October 22, 2018
Review - White Walker by Johnnie Walker
The White Walker is a new expression of its best selling Johnnie Walker blended Scotch, which has been developed in collaboration with HBO and Game of Thrones. The whisky is inspired by the popular TV series and has numerous points of reference to its storylines including the evil white walkers, the frozen North and the phrase 'Winter Is Coming'. The whisky is a special limited edition version of Johnnie Walker created by Diageo's team of blenders, which was led by George Harper.
White Walker contains, amongst other things, single malts from two of Diageo's most northernly distilleries - Cardhu and Clynelish - and is presented in a bottled designed using temperature-sensitive ink technology. This reveals more details when placed in the freezer. White Walker by Johnnie Walker is bottled at 41.7% ABV and will be available globally, initially in the USA and then travel retail, for a price of $36 USD per bottle.
The whisky is part of a wider partnership between HBO and Diageo which will see the release of eight single malts in early 2019 (pictured, below). A Diageo distillery has been paired with each of the seven iconic Houses of Westeros in Game of Thrones, plus the Night's Watch. Further announcements of these bottlings are expected in time.
Our tasting notes
The colour is pale gold and the nose has an immediate fresh vibrancy to it. Crisp green apple aromas rise first and are quickly joined by sweeter aromas of honey, toffee and butterscotch. These are backed up by vanilla and malty cereals, along with a whiff of cocoa powder and cinnamon.
On the palate this whisky maintains its refreshing nature. The distinct green apple note from the nose is joined by one of confected pears that is most reminiscent of hard peardrop sweets. Underneath is an increasingly influential note of malted cereals and this ultimately stops the whisky becoming too sweet. There is plenty of sweetness in the form of honey, toffee, butterscotch and vanilla notes, and these are joined by later hints of white chocolate and golden syrup. Everything is complimented by background characteristics of dried fruit (sultanas especially), a pinch of warming baking spice (cinnamon especially) and the tiniest hint of earthy peat smoke.
As the packaging changes in the freezer, we decided to try it straight afterwards. The whisky is extremely clean and fresh served cold with the green fruit and sweetness (partcularly the honey and golden syrup elements) to the fore. The cold seemed to know the barley, spice and earthy notes back. Either way, the finish is quite short.
What's the verdict?
Diageo have done very well with White Walker. The specially created version of Johnnie Walker was always going to be popular due to its link with one of the biggest TV shows of all time. Fans of Game of Thrones and whisky drinkers alike will seek it out and it is a clever collaboration that reinforces the brand's position as the best selling Scotch whisky in the world.
But Johnnie Walker do not do things by half and have produced a delicious product at a very accessible price (- we write this having just seen it for £31 in Glasgow airport). There has already been a mad rush for this in the USA and similar is sure to follow when it is released elsewhere, especially as the final series of GOT approaches. Grab one before it is too late.