Life in lockdown and home-sheltering has brought the focus back on the good things in life– good food, good alcohol, and great conversation. Tom Jones, Diageo Global Scotch Whisky Ambassador, with his unwavering passion for fine spirits has delved into the world of whisky with relentless detail, exploring craftsmanship, flavor, and heritage with precision, a commitment that is recognized in his status as a 'keeper of the quaich'. Jones who has 30 years of experience, gives a peek into the essence of good alcohol over the even better conversation. With the launch of new limited-edition expressions – Johnnie Walker Black Label Speyside Origin and Johnnie Walker Black Label Lowlands Origins, Jones gives us an expert view on the gentleman's drink.
Read Excerpts: Japanese brands cannot compete with the legacy of blended scotch in Scotland. Do you agree? Jones: With a legacy that spans over multiple centuries, Scotch was born in Scotland around 1494 and is made with the same traditional methods even today.
This liquid sells more in terms of both value and volume as compared to any other international whisky. Its footprint stretches from the romantic west coast through the whisky heartland of Speyside, to the vibrant urban central belt. What's unique to scotch whisky is that it is tightly regulated and hence most trusted. One such regulation that makes scotch special is that the liquid must be matured in oak casks in Scotland for a minimum of three years. The timelessness and well-matured scotch in over 100 distilleries, scattered all over Scotland, makes it the most loved dram in the world. Blended Scotch can potentially contain over 100 different Scotch whiskies giving the consumers a wider range of tastes, textures, and flavors than any other spirit produced in the world. <strong>What is the importance of the region's impact on ingredients and the resultant product?
Jones: Scotch whisky is exported from the region to millions of bars everywhere. Scotland has five legally recognized whisky-producing regions and they were defined by the style they make their whisky. In Speyside, they would lean towards fruity flavors. In the Lowlands, it can be lighter and lean towards sweet notes. In the Highlands, whiskys can have rich characteristics and on the Island of Islay, they tend to be smokier and more full-bodied.
These days many factors may affect the final flavor and character of the liquid – the type of grains and yeast used, to the shape of the still, to the cask, and the duration of maturation. One such example which adds a differentiator is the type of cask it has been matured in. The two main species of oak used to make casks are the American Oak, which tends to give vanilla and caramel sweetness, and European Oak, which tends to give richer fruity notes. Millennials have taken to scotch like fish to water, why the resurgence and does it have anything to do with the evolution of tasting notes?
Jones: The generation-Y seem to have made a move by trading their chilled beers for a dram. It is a progressive move, but can you really call it a sudden change? If you ask me, it does not come as a surprise that whisky has finally captured the millennial's fancy. The spirit has mainly piqued their interest as it offers varied flavors that range from a sweeter taste to a very smoky taste at the base of it. Millennials today favor the liquid because there is no set way or rules to savor a scotch whisky.
It gives the consumer freedom to enjoy the spirit the way they like it – whether neat, on the rocks or in a cocktail. A refreshing Johnnie Walker Highball can lean into more tropical, fruity, spicy, or smoky flavors depending on which label of Johnnie Walker you choose. This coupled with the freedom to choose a multitude of mixers makes scotch a more flavorsome choice. <strong>The new normal means more entertaining at home, which is why the focus on a well-stocked bar and a cellar is imperative; do you agree?
Jones: I do agree, as people now more than ever are interested in setting up a bar like an experience at home. From collecting the right glassware to making their own syrups and shrubs, consumers have started to better their mixology skills. They have also started paying attention to the right mix of spirits they would want to feature in their well-curated home bars. If one stocks up on basic additives such as ice, mixers, fruits, bitters and syrup/ sweetener, they can try their hand at a variety of easy cocktails like a tall Highball or the Old Fashioned.
Tell us a little bout the two new limited-edition expressions – Johnnie Walker Black Label Speyside Origin and Johnnie Walker Black Label Lowlands Origins Jones: Johnnie Walker Black Label Speyside Origin and Johnnie Walker Black Label Lowlands Origins are the two limited edition expressions under the Johnnie Walker Black Label Origin Series. The series is born out of a sense of exploration and a thirst to discover the best flavors that Scotland has to offer. It gave us the opportunity to take people on a guided tour of the whisky-producing regions that give the signature notes of Johnnie Walker Black Label.
These two great-tasting scotch whiskys give consumers the opportunity to taste not only wonderful blended malt scotch whisky in the Speyside edition, but also get a glimpse into the world of flavor our whisky masters work in every day. Both of these whiskeys show the flavors we can collect from the two regions and how they can come together to form Johnnie Walker Black Label, possibly the most Iconic bottle of Whisky in the world.
The Speyside edition is a light and fruity whisky with hints of cut green apples and orchard fruit. It is made exclusively from quality single malts from the Speyside region of Scotland, with Cardhu whisky and Glendullan whisky at its heart. Enjoy Speyside origin as part of a Lowball Jones: The fresh fruity notes of Johnnie Walker Speyside Origins are perfectly complimented with light and vibrant elderflower or apple cordial and brought to life with a splash of soda.
The lowland Edition has a sweet, creamy vanilla character and notes of toffee. It is made from a variety of exceptional single malt and grain whiskys from the Lowlands, including Cameronbridge whisky and Glenkinchie whisky. Enjoy lowlands origin as part of a honey old fashioned Floral honey harmoniously combines with the vanilla and caramel flavors of Johnnie Walker Lowlands Origins in this silky-smooth old-fashioned twist.