Head to head: Johnny Walker Red Label vs. Johnny Walker Black Label

Maker: Diageo, London, England, UKJohnnie Walker Black LabelJohnnie_Walker_Red_Label_Whisky_1

Distilled/Blended: Various locations in Scotland.

ABV: 80%

1) Red

2) Black


1) NAS

2) 12 y/o

Appearance (coloring likely added)

1) Straw with a light copper tinge.

2) Light copper (i.e. darker)


1) Toasted malt, brown butter, dried wildflowers, passing whiff of peat.

2) Caramel, woodruff, malt, toasted wood, bit of smoke.

On the palate

1) Medium bodied and very sweet. Some alcoholic burn, but mostly sweetness with a bit of a fennel note in the background.

2) Fuller bodied. More sophisticated, but also a bit dull. Drier, some wood and cola sweetness with a bit of cocoa and allspice.


1) Big grainy finish. Rancid butter, alcoholic burn.

2) Some wood, but not overwhelming. Cinnamon, a bit of smoke, and more cola.

Parting words

Why review whiskies like these? Everybody knows what they taste like, right? Whether they do or don’t, it’s important to me to get a grip on products like this as a taster. It’s the same reason I reviewed Jack Daniels and Jim Beam White label. I need a baseline or a benchmark or something like that. It’s hard to judge a blend without knowing what the world tastes when it orders a blended Scotch.

Neither have a whole lot going on, frankly. The Red Label is not particularly good neat, but mixes nicely. It does well in a Rob Roy, Rusty Nail and in a highball. I didn’t mix the Black Label, since at 12 y/o it should be able to be sipped. It was fine, but dull as I said before. The Red Label is mildly recommended for mixing and the Black Label is recommended.

One thought on “Head to head: Johnny Walker Red Label vs. Johnny Walker Black Label

  1. That’s a great point about getting a base line. It can be a great way to do a whiskey tasting; have a pour of Booker’s side-by-side with Jim Beam White Label just to taste the difference in a more tangible way. Good review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s