Throughout the world, Johnnie Walker is the most distributed brand of Scotch whisky. Yearly sales of the Scotch whiskey account for over 120 million bottles.
The Johnnie Walker brand was initially called Walker's Kilmarnock Whiskey, however began as a brand left by John 'Johnnie' Walker when he began selling whiskey in Ayshire, Scotland from his grocer's shop. The Johnnie Walker brand quickly became popular, however in 1857 Walker died and his grandson Alexander Walker II and son Alexander Walker were the primary reasons for the Scotch whiskeys enormous popularity. With John Walker running the company, whiskey sales accounted for 8% of the company's revenue, however when Alexander was preparing to hand the company to his own sons to run, sales of the Scotch whiskey accounted for 90-95 percent of the revenue.
Before 1860, it was prohibited to sell blended whisky (blended whisky being malt and grain mixed together). Throughout that time, John Walker sold several different types of whiskeys including his Walker's Kilmarnock. John's son Alexander, in 1865, produced their first blended whisky and called it Walker's Old Highland.
The iconic Johnnie Walker bottle was first introduced in 1870. The label, which is applied at an angle of 24 degrees is also another highly identifiable characteristic.
Throughout 1906-1909, John's grandsons including George and Alexander II broadened the line of Scotch whiskey and implemented the color names. In the year 1908, while serving as Manging Director, James Stevenson, performed some re-branding. The whiskey was given a new name from Walker's Kilmarnock Whiskies to Johnnie Walker Whisky. During this time period, the slogan was also adopted as "Born 1820 - Still going Strong!" Additionally, the Striding Man figure was first used.
The Johnnie Walker White line of Scotch whiskey was discontinued during World War I and the Johnnie Walker Swing line was added by Alexander II.
Currently, Johnnie Walker Scotch Whisky continues to be blended in Kilmarnock. The company owns a large plant north of the town's railway station. On Strand Street and John Finnie Street, the historic warehouses and company offices are still present.
Throughout most of the Johnnie Walker history, the company has only offered a relatively small number of blends. However in recent years, the company has grown the number of special and or limited bottlings.
Johnnie Walker Red Label — a blend of around 35 grain and malt Scotch whiskies. This was the favorite Scotch of Sir. Winston Churchill. 80 proof. 40% ABV.
Johnnie Walker Black Label —a blend of as many as 40 distinct whiskies, each whisky aged at least 12 years. 80 proof. 40% ABV.
Johnnie Walker Swing — named for the distinctive bottle the whisky uses. The bottle has an irregular bottom that allows it to somewhat rock back and forth. It was grandson Alexander II’s last blend: the whiskey features a high proportion of Speyside malts, significantly complemented by malts from throughout the northern Highlands and Islay, and is consistently reviewed as "almost as sweet as a bourbon."
Johnnie Walker Green Label — a vatted malt Scotch whiskyconsisting of a blend of about 15 individual single malts, the signature malts being Cragganmore, Talisker, Linkwood, and Caol Ila – This whiskey is aged 15 years. 86 proof and was previously sold under the name 'Pure Malt'.
Johnnie Walker Gold Label — a very rare blend of over 15 single malts, including the special and rare Clynelish malt. It was derived from grandson Alexander II's blending notes for a whisky to celebrate Johnnie Walker's centenary. Walker's original efforts were terminated by a shortage of these type malts following World War I. Gold Label is frequently bottled at 15 or 18 years. 80 proof. 40% ABV
Johnnie Walker Blue Label — Johnnie Walker's ultimate and superior blend. Every blue label bottle is serial numbered and sold in a silk-lined box, with a certificate of authenticity. Although no age of the Scotch whiskey is declared, Blue Label has additionally been sold under the name "Johnnie Walker Oldest". People believe that these whiskeys are aged for over 25 years. 86 proof.
Johnnie Walker Red & Cola – premixed Red Label Scotch whiskey and cola. This beverage is sold in cans and beer-bottle like bottles. This liquor has also been marketed and sold under the names "Premix" and "One".
Johnnie Walker blends, by years of production, and from least expensive to most expensive. Age 1865–1905 1906–1908 1909–1911 1912–1931 1932–1991 1992–1996 1997— Present
(blended) Old Highland Johnnie Walker
White Label Johnnie Walker
Premix / One
Old Highland Johnnie Walker
Old Highland Extra Special
Old Highland Johnnie Walker
(blended) Johnnie Walker
(vatted) Johnnie Walker
(blended) Johnnie Walker
(blended) Johnnie Walker
Johnnie Walker Millennium Edition – special collectors edition of 12 year old Black Label Scotch whiskey was released in limited amounts throughout the year 2000.
Johnnie Walker Deco – a very limited number of these 350ml bottles were produced and sold in beautiful Art Deco-designed bottles, hence the unique name of this blend.
Johnnie Walker Premier – a blend of Scotch whiskey specifically sold in the Japanese market.
Johnnie Walker Swing Superior – a limited edition Scotch whiskey based on the Swing blend. This blend was marked by its distinctive golden label. 86.8 proof.
Johnnie Walker 21 year old – a rare and highly aged variation of Gold Label.
Johnnie Walker Quest – a very special blend which is even rarer than Blue Label. (~$500)
Johnnie Walker Honour – one of the rarest and most expensive blends.
Johnnie Walker Excelsior –Distilled in 1947, as a very rare double matured Scotch whisky, bottled in 1997. (~$700)
Johnnie Walker Old Harmony – a rare and superior blend marketed and sold in the Japanese market. Very expensive. (~$850)
Johnnie Walker 15 year old Kilmarnock 400 Whisky – an extremely rare Gold Label whisky blend bottled and sold to mark the 400th anniversary of the giving of burgh status to Kilmarnock. This brand was released in 1992 in very limited amounts. (~$850)
Johnnie Walker 150 years Anniversary 1820–1970 – Another rare blend and the second most expensive of the types. (~$2,000)
Johnnie Walker Blue Label 200th Anniversary –This blend was bottled in limited quantity in 2005. This special release was a cask strength Blue Label in a decorative square Baccarat crystal decanter. This bottle sold for $3,000 and is the most expensive Johnnie Walker product ever.
Johnnie Walker Blue Label King George V Edition - In order to recreate the unique Johnnie Walker blending style from throughout the King George the V era, this bottle was created in 2007. Oak casks from the last century were utilized to age this Scotch whiskey. These casks were specifically from the distilleries in operation during the reign of King George V. For $550 this bottle can be purchased and comes with a crystal decanter and a certificate of authenticity.
* the Johnnie Walker Classic, an Asia-Pacific golf tournament
* the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, a golf tournament in Scotland
* the McLaren-Mercedes F1 team.
* the Ashes, a cricket series between Australia and England
* Many songwriters and signers reference Johnnie Walker Scotch Whisky in their works of music including Lynyrd Skynrd, Elliot Smith, Sticky Fingaz, Rory Gallagher, NOFX, Inspectah Deck, George Thorogood, George Jones, Amanda Amanda Marshall, Jimmy Buffett, Leonard Cohen, Clutch, Trent Willmon, ZZ Top and The Band.
* In Kafka, Haruki Murakami's novel, a character appears on the Shore named Johnnie Walker. Walker's attire consists of the same boots, red jacket, cane, hat and bow tie showcased by the Johnnie Walker logo. Johnnie Walker is enormously popular in Japan.
* The French Poet, Leon Gontran Damas of the Negritude literary movement, named one of his collections of poetry "Black Label" based on one of his poems depicting mild alcoholism and his sleen.
* The heavy metal band fronted by Zakk Wylde is named the Black Label Society. The name was derived specifically after Johnnie Walker Black Label.
* On the West Wing, in episode 3.09, Leo McGarry, John Spencer's character is a recovering alcoholic who falls off the wagon after drinking a glass of Johnnie Walker Scotch Whisky Blue label. Describing his relapse, he says "Good scotch sits in a charcoal barrel for 12 years. Very good scotch gets smoked for 29 years. Johnnie Walker Blue...is 60-year-old scotch."
Type Scotch whisky
Country of origin Scotland
Introduced 1820: Grocery store
1865: Scotch blending
Discontinued White Label
Variants Red Label, Black Label, Swing, Green Label, Gold Label, Blue Label
Related products Ballantine's, Chivas Regal, Cutty Sark, Dewar's, Vat 69