Review: Johnnie Walker Black Label Sherry Edition tones down the smoke for a smooth finish

Johnnie Walker Black Label has been re-imagined with the iconic whisky’s latest iteration, a limited edition expression which benefits from part of the blend being matured in former Sherry casks. Officially titled the Black Label Sherry Edition, the whisky was recently launched in the Australian market and has since become one of the more buzzed about new releases of 2018.

Blender Chris Clark led the charge in crafting this one, making use of Sherry casks to give the whisky a richer fruitiness along with malts including Blair Athol, Cardhu and Strathmill.

“Johnnie Walker Black Label Sherry Edition explores the fresh fruit and rich fruit character already found in the original Black Label”, explained National Whisky Ambassador for Diageo Simon McGoram. “The blenders at Johnnie Walker have managed to dial up these attractive elements through the use of sherry casks maturation creating a deliciously rich and fruity expression of the world’s favourite Scotch whisky”.

On our taste the blend is not substantially differentiated from the original Black Label until the very end. It’s still got all those familiar notes of creamy toffee and caramel on the palate with that addictive undercurrent of spice. However, the addition is definitely noticeable from the mid-palate, where those stronger notes of dried fruit and figs are lifted and carried further into the back, with a much gentler sherry touch that quells the signature smokiness for something smoother. And perhaps that’s the biggest difference here, whereas the original billowed out in a puff of smoke, the Sherry Edition is much softer, hence the lingering finish is much more flavoursome and rich; there is still smoke, it’s just much more gentle. It has a nice consistency throughout the palate that should satisfy those who find the original Black Label a bit too harsh on the finish, and that’s more than enough of a change to make this well worth having on the shelf.

The limited-edition Johnnie Walker Black Label Sherry Edition (ABV 40%) is available now from all good liquor stores nationally, RRP $60 for a 700ml bottle.