Johnnie Walker Honored as Wine Enthusiast’s 2005 Distiller of the Year!!!
That is GREAT news! My favorite distillery in the entire world is the little-known Johnnie Walker Distillery. Since you may not be familiar with it, the distillery is nestled in a beautiful, pristine valley on Tiree, one of the most lovely Hebridean Islands you’ll ever visit.
The distillery has been owned and run by the same family for over 15 generations. Johnnie Walker (the 12th) is the Master Distiller for this wonderful non-peated Islay-inspired, Lowlandish, Speysider. He grows all of his own barley on his one-acre farm, which he malts, mashes and ferments by himself in a very large machine of his own design. He uses only Evian water, imported from France, for the production process and dilution.
He only produces one cask at a time, and ages each of these precious containers individually for 10 years by perching atop the cask like a mother hen. His wife of 43 years, Marybeth, fills and hand labels each bottle (she also runs the small visitor center).
The bottles are then gently swaddled in rare Cambodian silk, and then lovingly placed in a custom-made gold-hinged box constructed of petrified wood. His aged grandfather "Chuck" Walker then swims to the mainland and walks to Edinburgh where he hand-delivers each bottle to Royal Mile Whiskies – the sole purveyor of the line.
Said Johnnie Walker when informed of the distillery’s award as "Distiller of the Year":
I am absolutely ecstatic that someone has finally recognized this small family-owned distillery.
We are even more excited that it is that well-known whisky-oriented periodical "Wine Enthusiast."
For some unknown reason, the rest of the world believes that Johnnie Walker is a blended product. Which is simply NOT true.
Our line of Single Malts – which we refer to as "Red", "Black", "Gold" & our brand new, "Blue" (for the budget conscious), are all produced here at the distillery by me, my wife, and our man-servant, Hamish.
We also recently introduced a raspberry-infused cream bourbon, the first legally produced outside of the US, which we call "Green" because of it’s chartreuse color.
I’d like to thank our public relations agency, the small London-based boutique firm Diageo which is helping us more firmly establish ourselves as an up and comer in the Single Malt world.
Their unending dedication to the simple idea that confusion in the Scotch whisky industry is the single biggest blight on the planet – their never-ending fight to make sure consumers are not confused between what is a Single Malt Scotch and what is a blend.
It is through their work alone that the world now knows that we are, in fact a distiller, and not a producer of something so pedestrian as a "blend."
Of course, the article above is a work of sarcasm. Nothing in the story is true EXCEPT that Wine Enthusiast DID in fact, name Johnnie Walker the "Distiller of the Year." Here are some facts to reduce potential confusion:
- A blended whisky is created when the single malt whisky of a distillery (and usually multiple distilleries) is mixed with grain whisky.
- Johnnie Walker is the brand name of a line of blended Scotches owned by Diageo.
- Johnnie Walker Red purportedly includes 35 different single malts, while Johnnie Walker Black contains 40 different single malts.
- Unlike Red, Black, Gold & Blue, Johnnie Walker Green is a vatted (or blended) malt and contains no grain whisky. In my estimation, it is a pretty good dram.
- 150 million bottles of Johnnie Walker Blended Scotch whiskies are sold each year.
- Johnnie Walker does NOT have a distillery. And if they did it would likely NOT be on Tiree.
- Diageo is NOT a small London-based Public Relations firm, but is the largest producer of alcoholic beverages in the world with a market capitalization of $44.4 billion and revenues of $12 billion which generates $3.25 billion in profit per year.
Boos and hisses to:
Wine Enthusiast – for either doing zero research, or allowing advertising dollars to sway their votes.
Had they named Johnnie Walker BRAND of the year, or marketer of the year, I’d have had no issues with the award. Had they named Johnnie Walker (any of the labels) the best tasting blend, I may have had issues with their sense of taste.
F. Paul Pacult – who is the Spirits Tasting Director at Wine Enthusiast, and should know better – however I’m starting to wonder if he isn’t also an employee of Diageo. He wrote the original article selecting Johnnie Walker as "Distiller of the Year." He has a long history of writing what I consider to be Diageo "fluff" pieces. (One example of this is discussed in Integrity)
Diageo – Instead of CLARIFYING Wine Enthusiast’s misinformed (easily-swayed?) award granters, and simply turning down this "award" to avoid confusion, Diageo accepts the award and issues a Press Release to tout it. Not only do the attempts to confuse Scotch drinkers continue, now they want to confuse wine drinkers.
Shame on you all.
Read the press release here: Johnnie Walker Honored as Wine Enthusiast’s 2005 Distiller of the Year
Read the Wine Enthusiast article here: Distiller of the Year – Johnnie Walker Dieageo (sic) Ltd.
Here is a snippet from that article:
Innovative marketing successes and institutional pedigree duly noted, the editors of Wine Enthusiast Magazine have named Johnnie Walker Distiller of the Year primarily because of the continued, unwavering quality of the Johnnie Walker portfolio of blended Scotch whiskies. This is true, in particular, with the company’s two “core” offerings, Johnnie Walker Red Label and Johnnie Walker Black Label 12-Year-Old. These two sibling whiskies represent remarkable value, while embodying quality and sophistication. They epitomize why blended Scotch whisky is the world’s most popular kind of whisky.
The company’s triumphant foray into the superpremium and ultrapremium blended Scotch whisky categories, with Johnnie Walker Gold Label 18 Year Old and Johnnie Walker Blue Label (the latter priced at $190), has bolstered its ranking as the world’s foremost blended Scotch whisky source. The Gold Label has been lauded as one of the top blended Scotch whiskies in the world, while the Blue Label enjoys a reputation of mythic proportions among connoisseurs.
PLEASE NOTE: I want to point out QUITE CLEARLY that I include many of Diageo’s products among my absolute favorites. It’s the Marketing department and their duplicitous tactics which I clearly have issues with.
I’m imploring Diageo to use their leadership position to help clarify, and not confuse the general public about Scotch. I also hereby offer myself to act as their "marketing conscience."
I will only charge them a case of each of the Classic Malts and 2 cases of Guinness per calendar year. Oh, and profit sharing.
I wanted to remind you all of Whisky 101. The base is growing slowly but surely – Registered users include Misako Udo, Author of The Scottish Whisky Distilleries; Ulf Buxrud, a Keeper of the Quaich & Malt Maniac; The Liquor Snob; and we’ve even had a Mark Reynier siting.
Stop by and share your wisdom.
Still looking for moderators, Resident Experts, and of course, people who just want to have a friendly place to discuss Scotch (and maybe even some other adult beverages).