More over Grey Goose, Johnnie Walker is trying to make scotch the new mainstay of the night club scene. Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve is meant to be party lube not a library tipple.
Unlike most vodka, scotch is meant to taste like something. It’s consumed by people who actually enjoy the taste of whiskey rather than those who are drinking for the sake of alcohol. The downside to the purpose and price of scotch though is that you don’t get a lot of consumption in active social scenes. No one wants to sit in a corner truly appreciating their drink while everyone else parties the night away.
Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve is trying to be a game changer and finally crack that celebratory market. The best way to make a spirit more approachable to to make it fruity up front. Too many non-scotch drinkers hit that first note and are immediately turned off. Gold Reserve’s easy entry will allow more people to give it a shot and realize it’s a damn fine scotch. The fruit aroma is the first thing that hits and it reassures you that this is a good decision. The first sip confirms what your nose already knew with plenty citrus offset by honey.
The mid-palate adds more honey and smoke, though not much, and a little pepper. Most prominent is the oak, which will be a big draw for guys who spend most of their time drinking American whiskey but are trying to branch out. You know you’re drinking scotch, but there’s something a little more familiar about it. It’s creamier than most American whiskeys too, which helps set it apart.
The finish is medium length and woody. There’s a dick joke in there somewhere but I’m not going to look for it. The smoke slowly dissipates leaving you with citrus and wood. It’s a great way to end a drink that’s not intended to linger forever. The nice thing about Gold Reserve is that it tastes fantastic, but you don’t have to over-think it. It’s not a one-note spirit by any means, but it doesn’t have the deep complexity of the now discontinue Johnnie Walker Gold Label that would be altogether missed by those not sitting in a chair focusing on their drink.
Johnnie Walked Gold Label Reserve can stand on its own, and it certainly will at times. It’s meat to be a social drink though, which is why they say it’s ideally served with soda. It’s not often you hear a brand suggesting you mix an expensive spirit, but it was easily the best scotch and soda I’ve had. It’s just hammers home the idea that they’re trying to work their way in with the bottle service crowd. Time will tell if that works.
The limited edition blinged-out gold bottle has an MSRP of $87, but I’ve seen the basic spirit listed at $73. My guess is that it ends up towards the $73 mark. Johnnie Walker Platinum debuted at $110, and it’s down to $99 now that the initial hype has faded. I’d expect that to be the case for Gold Label Reserve once the shiny gold novelty bottles run out.