Johnnie’s New Groove

With Johnnie Walker’s first release since launching its top-of-the-line Blue Label King George V edition in 2007, the blended-Scotch-whisky maker is taking new strides. The Johnnie Walker Double Black arrived Stateside in October and delivers intense yet smooth characteristics that may surprise the brand’s devotees. For this bold new whisky, Johnnie Walker used its Black Label as a starting point and added to it a selection of more heavily peated malts, as well as some aged in charred oak casks. These whiskies of various ages (the Double Black is without age statement) contribute smokier notes than those found in the standard Black Label. But this punch is not without pleasure: the Double Black also exhibits hints of creamy vanilla and dried fruit, with a smooth but spicy finish. Ardent drinkers of Johnnie Walker will quickly recognize that, for the nearly 200-year-old brand, this release is a step in a new direction—if only a side step. The Double Black, which retails for $40, is limited in production, with stocks expected to run out by year’s end. (www.johnniewalker.com)

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