A few weeks ago, En Route was privileged to be invited to a little afternoon session of appreciating a somewhat under-appreciated label of the Johnnie Walker brand.
Whisky drinking? Middle of the day? Middle of the week? Sure. Seemed very much up our alley.
Being perceived as the entry-level whisky due to its price, Johnnie Walker Red Label was not really much sought after as there is still a whisky perception that needs to be broken.
Growing up, it was the Johnnie Walker Black Label that was normally present, where fathers would gather around and share some merry moments when the occasion calls for it. It was the standard where all whiskies of the world are now measured, after all. Drank normally with a few ice cubes, and never leaving the table until the bottle is all finished up.
Red Label, as discovered, is approached differently:
An afternoon with Johnnie Walker’s Ambassador Tom Jones (No, not the singer. He gets that a lot, too.) has given insight on the characters of Red Label. This is, in contrary to what most of the Philippine market knows, is the best selling Johnnie Walker in the world. Nearly half of Johnnie Walkers sold everywhere are Red Label, and everyone has used this as a liquor base to some of the ingredients native to their region. So you can find this mixed along splashes of fizz and strawberry as much as it is a base for coconut and cream.
And while people prefer the smoother labels, the key characteristic that makes Red Label sought after is that trademark smokiness in Johnnie Walker Blends. In the Red Label, this is actually more pronounced and you can immediately smell it with a slight swirl of the glass upon pouring it neat.
And speaking of pouring….
Johnnie Walker Special Old Highland Whisky (As what Red Label used to be called) is encouraged to be a great mixing liquor. And while you can make more complex cocktails, you can still make the most out of it with the basic sodas and limes available in the market.
To balance the smoky appeal, garnishing is very important. Lemon for dark sodas and orange for lime sodas or ginger ales. A slightn citrus zest, fizz and sweetness from cola, and the smoky Johnnie Walker.
And what better way to rekindle it than by doing it at home?
Johnnie Red Soda:
- One Part Johnnie Walker Red Label
- Two Parts Dak Soda
- Wedge of Lemon
TIP: make a small incision on that lemon wedge, stick it at the rim of the glass, and run it round the rim. This gives the tongue that hit of citrus zest first before the Johnnie Red takes over.
Portioning is very important. It is never all about putting a lot of alcohol just to get drunk off any liquor. Cocktails are made to be enjoyed at the right balance of all flavors.
More recipes using the Red Label soon!
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