Long seen as the epitome of luxury, Johnnie Walker Blue Label has been taken to giddier heights by Diageo, which has announced a series of special releases made with whiskies from silent distilleries.
With such cult big hitters as Port Ellen and Brora in Diageo’s ghosted portfolio, the intrigue around these new blends will certainly be high.
Coming out under the name Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost and Rare, the first release in the series sees Brora at the heart of the blend, with liquid from another two silent distilleries (Cambus and Pittyvaich) and the five existing distilleries of Royal Lochnagar, Clynelish, Glenkinchie, Glenlossie and Cameronbridge.
Built in 1819 and mothballed in 1983, Brora was originally called Clynelish but was replaced with a larger distillery (which was initially called Clynelish 2) in 1967. The distillery that came to be known as Brora ran alongside its replacement until 1983.
The bottlings of Brora we now see released are often star inclusions in the annual Diageo Special Releases series, retailing for vast sums, so to see it being used in a blend is both unusual and hints at a potential drive by Diageo to boost consumers’ perceptions of blended whisky as a premium product.
‘Over the years of crafting fine Scotch whiskies, I’ve had the remarkable privilege of working with some of the rarest spirits ever to come out of Scotland. I’m lucky that we have stocks from more than 30 distilleries from every region of Scotland from which to choose the perfect casks to craft each blend. It gives us a richness of character, flavour and age that no other scotch can match,’ said Johnnie Walker’s master blender Jim Beveridge.
‘Whiskies from these ghost distilleries are becoming increasingly rare. From our library of irreplaceable casks that we keep exclusively for Johnnie Walker Blue Label, I’ve chosen a few uniquely full-bodied expressions of these precious malts and grains to let people explore, in a new way, the extraordinary richness found in our pinnacle whisky.’
As if that wasn’t enough news about cult whiskies for one season, Diageo also recently announced that it is planning on reopening both Port Ellen and Brora.
46% abv, £220/70c. Diageo, 020 8978 6000