Whisky-ed Away: Johnnie Walker takes guests on a flavour-filled journey

Arturo Savage, Johnnie Walker Reserve Brand Ambassador, leading guests through a verbal history of the Johnnie Walker brand and whisky etiquette.
Arturo Savage, Johnnie Walker Reserve Brand Ambassador, leading guests through a verbal history of the Johnnie Walker brand and whisky etiquette.

Ahead of the Jamaica Food & Drink Festival 2019, Johnnie Walker held an exclusive tasting event on Monday, October 14, at The Porch, St Andrew, to preview what they will be offering at the week-long festival.

The night featured a delectable menu of finger foods served up by the venue’s chef, paired with Johnnie Walker’s finest whiskies under the guidance of Arturo Savage, Johnnie Walker Reserve Brand Ambassador. The event, titled Johnnie Walker Presents: A Journey to Scotland, had Savage verbally walk guests through the history of the brand, and whisky drinking and tasting etiquette.

History of the brand

“The very first whisky launched by Johnnie Walker was in 1867, and the name of that whisky was Walker Old Highland Scotch Whisky, then they hired a marketer who said let it be Black Label, so began Johnnie Walker Black Label,” Savage explained.

The alcoholic headliners of Johnnie Walker Presents: A Journey to Scotland - Black Label, Gold Reserve, and 18 Year Old.
The alcoholic headliners of Johnnie Walker Presents: A Journey to Scotland – Black Label, Gold Reserve, and 18 Year Old.

He went on to concentrate on the three whiskies the brand would be highlighting over the length of the Jamaica Food & Drink Festival – Johnnie Walker Black Label, Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve and Johnnie Walker 18 Year Old. According to Savage, Black Label is the flagship because it reveals the character of the brand, depth of flavour, complexity, richness and smokiness.

Smokiness

“Many people ask where does this richness and smokiness come from? Basically, it’s about the malts used in the blends. In Johnnie Walker, we have malts from the region of the islands in Scotland. They tend to be smoky, very powerful. Then we have single malts aged in European oak casks,” he said.

Malts in oak casks deliver sweetness, richness and a more rounded flavour to the whisky blend that is Black Label. Gold Reserve was designed specifically for whisky drinkers who do not want the traditional smoky flavour of the other Johnnie Walker blends.

The Porch’s Brittney Lawrence handing out special mixes featuring Johnnie Walker whisky.
The Porch’s Brittney Lawrence handing out special mixes featuring Johnnie Walker whisky.

“They’re looking for more lightness and more friendly flavours. Gold Reserve isn’t a light whisky. I’m just saying that this is very delicate and a masterpiece of blending sweet flavours. It’s a flavour profile of the 21st century at the house of Johnnie Walker,” Savage said.

Masterpiece

Johnnie Walker 18 Year Old is one of the most successful whiskies for the brand.

“It’s really a masterpiece of the art of blending. It’s about blending whiskies, all of them aged in American oak casks,” he said.

This gives Johnnie Walker 18 Year Old a more coconut and almond flavour, making it a rounded and creamy tasting whisky with no hint of the smokiness of the other two.

Along with sampling each whisky by itself, guests could indulge in mixes featuring the three.

The Jamaica Food & Drink Festival starts on October 26 and ends on November 3.

Written by Nichola Beckford