I can be critical (while fair) of the LCBO for a lot of their practices, but I do have to give them kudos for the tasting bars they’ve opened at some locations. Not only is it a great way to taste bottles before committing to a full purchase, it’s a great way to sample, for a very reasonable price, bottles of whisky that would otherwise be far beyond my budget.
Case in point: Johnnie Walker blue Ghost & Rare
Blended using whisky from the (currently still) closed distillery Brora, this blend combines grain and scotch whisky from Cambus, Pittyvaich, Clynelish, Royal Lochnagar, Glenkinchie, Glenlossie and Cameronbridge.
Brora has been a distillery that I’ve never had an opportunity to try. As storied as its remaining bottles have become, they’re are far too expensive for me to ever hope to acquire. This release of Johnnie Walker, bottled at 46% ABV, retails in Ontario for $550 (ouch), which, while expensive, is still so cheap relative to remaining Brora single malt bottles that it makes one wonder how much Brora is actually contained in the blend.
Anyway, whatever the blending ratios of this release, there was no way I was going to pass up an opportunity to try this release on the cheap. So… what was it like?
Nose: Subtly sweet honey and caramel with only the faintest whiff of gentle smoke. There’s a mustiness that’s reminiscent of old leather, but underneath that and the honey notes there’s a sense of gentle apple and pear with a light cereal nuttiness.
Taste: Very nice, hefty, creamy feel on the palate. Not nearly as sweet as the nose would indicate. Instead the deeper, richer flavours come through. The leathery, tobacco notes get joined by a light chocolate note, with a subtle peppery spiciness developing. The caramel, apple, and something slightly tropical make a final appearance as the danker, mustier (in a good way) notes give way to the finish.
Finish: Pleasantly smoky with hints of light spice and dark chocolate.
Final Thoughts: It’s good… In fact, it’s very good. If anything it makes me yearn to try a Brora single malt release all the more. You can sense the depth and complexity to the scotch that forms part of this blend, but that depth is mellowed and evened out with the sweet, grain whisky that’s also in it. A nice intro to a storied distillery, but it leaves me wanting more.
I only had time for a single, small dram of this, so I’m not going to bother with a score. It wouldn’t be fair. Suffice it to say, I’m very happy to have tried Johnnie Walker Blue Ghost & Rare, and I’d love to have another dram in the future. That said, I can’t imagine spending anywhere close to $550 for a bottle of it, regardless of the distilleries that produced the spirit.