Scotch Whisky connoisseur and Johnnie Walker Global Brand Ambassador, Jonathan
Driver, sat with OCEAN Style to refute some popular myths about the age old libation.
OS: Johnnie Walker invented Scotch whisky.
The first record of Scotch Whisky being made is by a priest in 1494.
Johnnie Walker were one of the first great blending families; using blending to make great whisky, consistently and of great quality, and then ship it around the world. This recipe for success has led to Johnnie Walker being the best selling and most popular Scotch Whisky around the world, and that’s down to the generations of master blenders who have continuously made whisky for people to enjoy and savour.
It would be an exaggeration to say that Johnnie invented Scotch Whisky, but they were certainly one of the most important contributors to its global appeal.
OS: Dark Whisky is Better than Pale
No doubt that colour affect perception, but there are many influences on what makes one whisky darker than another which have no bearing on whether a darker whisky is better than a lighter one, or vice versa.
Light whiskies can be really powerful in flavour; dark whiskies do tend to be heavier, perhaps even sweeter, but it’s impossible to be 100% certain without tasting.
OS: Single Malt is better than Blended.
The truth is that they are both different from each other. Single malt whisky predates blended Scotch Whisky. However these early malt whiskies were inconsistent and variable in quality. It is only when the great blending houses set to blending malt whiskies with grain whiskies in the mid-nineteenth century that a quality and consistency was achieved.
They each have loyal followers but are quite different.
OS: Glassware Doesn’t Matter
Glassware matters a lot. Great whisky needs great crystal. You can’t make an average whisky better simply with a good glass, but if you get the right crystal for the right whisky at the right time in the right place then that’s going to be a great experience.
OS: The Best comes from Scotland
Only Scotch can come from Scotland. Scotch Whisky is unique amongst whiskies since it has an enormous diversity of flavor; more so than any other category of whisky.
That said, there are other fine whiskies around the world, but Scotch has the edge in terms of choice and heritage. Johnnie Walker will be 200 years old in 2020, and that’s a lot of whisky sold to a lot of places and people over many, many years. That’s a hard provenance to beat.
OS: Age + Price = Quality
Many people believe that older whiskies are better than younger whiskies. But, and this is the problem, there are some older whiskies that haven’t taken age well and lose their vitality and gain too much character from the wood.
Age is only one factor that affects the quality of a whisky. The original distillery character is important both for single malt whiskies and for the blends that they combine to make. Then again the wood, the cask the whisky is kept in, is critical. So is how long the whisky ages; it has to be just right for the style of single malt or the role of an individual Scotch Whisky in a blend.
A blend like Johnnie Walker Blue Label has older whiskies from the West Coast (that need longer to mature properly) combined with some relatively younger whiskies from the East, to give both maturity and vitality to the blend.
OS: Whisky is the Ultimate Man’s Man Drink
Historically that has been the case and the business has suffered as a result.
In talking about aroma, taste and flavour, the idea of enjoying great Scotch Whisky is for everyone and not some old fashioned idea about it being just for men. Since the millennium many brands have set out a broader platform to enjoy Scotch Whisky with no real barrier to gender.
OS: Real Men Drink Whisky Neat
Real men make their own rules and find out how they like to have their whisky. Nothing is wrong with neat, but there are many other ways to enjoy whisky, and it’s a bit sad if someone (man or woman) is missing out on their preferred way because of a misguided idea that you can only have it that way. Splash a little iced water, put in an ice cube. Enjoy.
OS: Whisky is Best if Drunk Neat.
Many folk like their Scotch Whisky neat. Some insist there is no other way to really appreciate a fine Scotch. In reality there are no rules except to find the way of drinking Scotch that you like.
Adding a little water can make a big difference. In many whiskies a whole spectrum of new flavours becomes apparent when you add a tiny drop of water. So, experiment away, don’t over dilute, just find the level that you like best. And if neat works for you then stick with that but we’re all different, and that’s the great thing about Scotch Whisky: there are a lot of ways to find the flavour you like.
Read in OCEAN Style Magazine.