John Walker & Sons Private Collection 2016 Edition is a showcase of Johnnie Walker’s innovative craftsmanship in whisky blends. By Rachel Ang
John Walker & Sons Private Collection 2016 Edition showcases innovative whisky making
For someone who’s still in the midst of developing a more discerning palate, sitting in the company of connoisseurs sampling whisky can be extremely terrifying. Everybody else seems to be able to accurately dissect the aroma and flavour into specific fruits, flowers, leather, varnish, and everything in between, while you sit there mutely swirling the golden liquid in your glass, trying to look as if you understand what’s going on. But appreciating whisky doesn’t necessarily have to be such a complicated affair, and that’s exactly what Johnnie Walker proves with the John Walker & Sons Private Collection.
As part of the build- up to the brand’s 200th anniversary in the year 2020, this six- instalment series features different key flavours that are characteristic of Scotch whisky. Following up from the last two years’ studies in smokiness and rare Scottish fruits, the 2016 Edition, limited to 8,888 bottles, focuses on the sweet element of fine honeyed notes that goes into Johnnie Walker blends.
“It’s quite a simple concept,” explains Tom Jones, the global brand ambassador for Johnnie Walker. “Rather than us giving a convoluted description of which cask it’s from and of what age, you can describe it for yourself. But one thing it will be, no matter who you are or how much you do or do not know, when you taste the final 2016 blend, it will tasted honeyed. And I think that’s a powerful thing.”
However, one would be remiss to assume that this also means that the end result lacks the layered complexity that makes up so much of the whisky- imbibing experience. The 2016 Edition shows off the brand’s craftsmanship and innovation, with its master blender Jim Beveridge balancing the subtleties offered by whiskies from over 100 casks.
This sophisticated blend consists of three vattings, two of which feature mature single grain whiskies from five Johnnie Walker distilleries: Cameronbridge, Caledonian, Cambus, Carsebridge, and Port Dundas, four of which are now silent, rendering their stocks finite and irreplaceable. They contribute two styles of honeyed sweetness, one a light vanilla with wood and fudge notes, while the other is a deeper, richer flavour of caramel and toffee. Meanwhile, the third malt vatting brings spice and a rich, refined soft fruitiness reminiscent of poached pears, from a Highland single malt whisky matured in American oak. These three culminate in a beautifully soft and creamy golden blend that is the most complex edition of the series yet.
Guy Escolme, global brand director for Johnnie Walker, says, “John Walker & Sons Private Collection 2016 Edition epitomises what our blenders can achieve through access to the greatest reserves of whiskies, incredible skill, and attention to detail in the making. The fine honey notes highlight a precision and lightness of touch to integrate beautifully the many facets of flavour – a worthy addition to this acclaimed series.”