When I spied the White Walker bottle at a restaurant the other evening, I knew I had to try it, despite all the unenthusiastic reviews out there. Perhaps my expectations were set low, but it wasn’t terrible. In fact, before embarking on whisky nerdom, I probably would have enjoyed it.
Having crossed to the other side, many things about White Walker are objectionable. The marketing propaganda claims it is “best served cold directly from the freezer”, with the walker’s eyes turning blue when frozen and the ominous words “Winter is Here” revealed. Since most of the aromatics (and therefore taste) of whisky is diminished by freezing, the concept was met with a fair amount of derision as “gimmicky”. It’s probably a fair criticism: the only spirit we have in the freezer is a bottle of Grey Goose. Every once in a while, some whisky enters the freezer but only as a temporary stint during fat-washing experiments.
But I digress. Onto the tasting notes.
Johnnie Walker - White Walker Review
- Score 55/10
Nose: Lemon and orange mandarins. Sweet.
Palate: Light chocolate caramel and meyer lemon. Taste is very light with some sweetness and perhaps errs too much on the subtle taste of vodka or gin. Baking spices at end with some young heat of immature whisky. Short finish.
Not terrible but not entirely pleasant either due to a bit of a bite. Not complex. But still, I think it would elicit “OMG that is so smooth” out of most people. To be quite honest, I can think of a good number of friends that would enjoy this.
TLDR: “I’d rather take the black. Johnnie Walker Black that is.” Overview: It’s very light and inoffensive but there’s a bite of young whisky heat at the end.
Bought for: $11/pour at Harborview Restaurant and Bar (San Francisco)
- No age statement.
- ABV 41.7% (the odd ABV is “a nod to the 7 kingdoms and their 1 true throne”)
- SRP for $36/bottle.
- Blend of single malts from Cardhu and Clynelish
About the Game of Thrones Releases:
- Launched in celebration of the final season of Game of Thrones
- 9 GoT releases: 1 blend (White Walker) and 8 single malts. Each single malt corresponds to a “house” (Stark, Tully, Targaryen, etc.) and corresponds to a different distillery under the Diageo portfolio, with the only non-house exception being the Night’s Watch (Oban Bay)
- White Walker was the first of the releases to make it to market
- There are already opportunists trying to sell the complete set for $2k+ (each bottle retails for $40-60ish, with the entire collection costing around $500 to purchase individually). If you’re a prospector, it might be worth picking up the collection. I’m more of a consumer, so I think I’m sitting out this round.