Johnnie Walker is the most popular blended scotch in the world, outselling its rivals by millions of cases annually. The core expressions range from the humble Red Label to the premium Blue Label, as well as special editions such as the annual celebration of Chinese New Year and the collection of Special Releases each fall. All of its blends are crafted from whisky produced by beverage giant Diageo’s stable of more than 30 distilleries.
Blue Label Ghost and Rare ($400) is the first in a new series of limited-edition blends created by master blender Jim Beveridge that uses whisky from closed (or “ghost”) distilleries as a key part of their makeup. Most blends are made up of malt and grain whiskies from 20 to 30 different distilleries, but Ghost and Rare comprises just eight. The ghost whiskies included in this release come from Cambus (a Lowlands distillery that is now the site of Diageo’s cooperage), Pittyvaich (a Speyside distillery that was once used in Bell’s), and Brora (a Highlands distillery that will reopen in a few years). Ghost and Rare also includes malt and grain whisky from Clynelish, Royal Lochnagar, Glenkinchie, Glenlossie, and Cameronbridge.
This is a luxurious, well-crafted blend that drinks like a fine single malt. There are deep notes of mango and oak on the nose, with subtle dry spice, vanilla, and marzipan flavors on the palate. The silken whisky has just a hint of smoke lingering on the finish.
About 26,000 bottles have been allocated to the U.S. market, making this release limited but obtainable. Ghost and Rare is a masterful blend that highlights some of the exquisite liquid available in Diageo’s enormous and seemingly limitless whisky archives. This bottle seems like a natural evolution that capitalizes on the popularity of the brand’s annual Special Releases from dormant distilleries.