Johnnie Walker Red Label is the entry level expression to the JW range and also the world’s best-selling Scotch Whisky.
Blended for mixing, it carries no age statement and is bottled at 40% ABV.
Initially some honey sweetness with a little dried fruit and just a touch of herby smoke. Strange synthetic chemical smell comes in though and end up quite rough.
Quite thin mouthfeel; sugary grain sweetness initially with some of the malty notes following; honey and cereal sweetness.
That synthetic sweetness from the nose comes in transforms it into a cough sweet sensation; not entirely unpleasant, but not great either.
After holding the spirit in your mouth for a short while the sweetness moves aside and is replaced by a dry herby bitter flavours, which leads into a spicy black pepper finish. A little of the sweetness returns in the end, but not much.
Water does not improve things at all; the fragile sweetness is washed away and the whole thing ends up quite bitter.
Johnnie Walker Red Label is a entry-level mass produced blend which is really targeted at serving with ice and blending in cocktails.
Tasting it neat shows up the shortcomings; mainly a pretty limited flavour profile and very fragile sweetness.
Although this can be excused as a ‘it’s cheap blend’, there are other brands at the same price which will work just as well mixed, but will also stand up well on their own.
So overall, Red Label is not a good whisky and it’s a shame as older versions of it are apparently pretty good however it seems that the current expression has been processed to within an inch of it’s life to maximise profits.