Johnnie Walker Double Black Review

Man, it’s like I forgot there was a blog around here. I guess there’s something about a newborn baby that distracts a man from writing.

Some time ago, I received a package from Johnnie Walker, sent to me for review purposes. Inside was a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black, two rocks glasses, coasters, and a bottle of the walking man’s newest offering, Johnnie Walker Double Black. Released last year into the duty-free market, Double Black makes its U.S. debut in time for holiday entertaining and gift giving.

I’ve grown very fond of ol’ John over the last few years, so I was eager to try this. At first, I wasn’t impressed. You see, the idea behind Double Black is to bring more of the smoky smoothness of an Islay malt to the Walker mix, while still retaining the sweet but complex maltiness that makes Johnnie Johnnie. I have to admit, on my first sip, I thought the idea was better in theory than in execution. I love a smoky scotch and would go miles out of my way for Laphroaig or Compass Box’s Peat Monster.

And maybe that’s where I set up myself, and Double Black, to fail. At first I felt that John’s new dram was schizophrenic, smoothly sweet and smoky but in a way that failed to highlight the best aspects of both. But as I tried it again (and again), I came to a different conclusion. As I taste the new blend now, it reminds me on first sip of vanilla and toffee with light heather notes. The smoke now seems more integrated and–forgive me for using this word, but it’s accurate–holistic. Some whiskies just need some attention before you can appreciate them.

Ads of the Week: Paul Jones’s Busty Booze Ads

Don’t get too excited. We’re not talking about the Swedish Bikini Team here.

So, Paul Jones is proud of his giant bust:

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After many such ads throughout 1936 and 1937, the bust has reduction surgery:

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And then is almost easy to miss entirely:

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The bust disappears altogether at the end of 1937:

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To make a triumphant return in early 1938:

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Before disappearing again for the remainder of the year:

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A Note to My Unborn Son

Dear Son:

One of the things you’ll learn pretty early is that Daddy likes his whiskey. (Mommy’s a fan, too, but while you’re still incubating, she’s abstaining.) One of Daddy’s favorite families of whiskey is the group of bourbons and ryes made by the Wild Turkey group (although please steer clear of the 80º, k thx bye). Aside from that, I like everything else they make, so it’s safe to say, when you’re finally of age to buy booze, you won’t go wrong buying me some Wild Turkey for Father’s Day.

If you were around this year, and not simply still a wee fetus floating in an amniotic sac, you could do the world a favor and not just your old man.

Wild Turkey has an older brother called Russell’s Reserve, a small-batched, ten-year-old bourbon distilled by father-son team Jimmy and Eddie Russell. Russell’s Reserve is a damn good bourbon, but that’s not what does the world a favor.

Well, actually, it’s part of what does the world a favor, because the world needs all the damn good bourbon it can get. But there’s something more important that Jimmy and Eddie Russell are doing. During the month of June, for every bottle of Russell’s Reserve sold, they’ll make a donation to a nonprofit group called Operation Once in a Lifetime, to help provide flights home for members of our Armed Forces.

Now that, you little monster, is a damn good reason to buy anyone’s Daddy (or Mommy) a bottle of Russell’s Reserve. Well, that and the fact that it’s damn good bourbon.

Dad

Disclaimer: I received a sample bottle of Russell’s Reserve, but don’t let that bug you. I’ll be buying a bottle or two of my own this June to help the cause. (I also plan to rerun this post, or a similar version without the cutesy baby stuff, later in June to remind people.)

Bacardi Ad: The Outsider

Number 4 in Bacardi’s series of short films/long ads has hit YouTube this morning. In the interest of disclosure, Think Espionage, the agency that produced these films, invited me to attend the premiere at Tales of the Cocktail on Thursday afternoon, while munching on tasty treats and sipping a Cuba Libre mixed by Bacardi Global Ambassador David Cordoba. Disclaimer aside, I enjoy the hell out of this ad. Filmed at a real bar in London (though the speakeasy front is a fiction), the film differs from the previous three in that it stars an actual bartender, Nicolas Saint-Jean.

[Click through to watch large, in HD.]

I expect this one to spark some comments and maybe a little snark. Bring it on.

Bacardi ad: The Apothecary

Finally, the third in a series of short films (or long ads) by Bacardi. In this installment, our intrepid traveler enters a bar in what’s probably London. As with The Samurai and The Hummingbird videos, this film highlights bartending technique and skill. Take a look.

[As before, click through to watch large, in HD.]

Again, I want to point out some of the tools I covet. The handled jigger is awesome, but what I really love is the metal straw.

The firm that put these together, Think Espionage, is running a contest for the most original spin on a Mojito. The prizes are sweet: a first edition copy of the Savoy Cocktail Book (signed by Harry Craddock), a Yarai mixing glass, and a Japanese barspoon. To enter, though, you’ll need to be on Facebook. Go to the True Originals fan page and enter by posting your recipe on the wall. (If you’re not on Facebook, you can leave the recipe in the comments on this post. I’ll make sure it gets to Liana at Think Espionage.

Think Espionage is working right now on a fourth video, and I’ll have more details on that soon.

[In the interest of full disclosure: Shortly after the first video appeared here, Liana sent me a bottle of Bacardi’s limited edition release of its original 44.5% ABV formula rum, which I quite enjoyed, especially in a classic daiquiri.]

Bacardi ad: The Hummingbird

Back in mid-November, I linked out to the first in a series of “mini-movies” showcasing bartenders and Bacardi rum. “The Samurai” featured a Japanese bartender making a daiquiri cocktail for a mysterious gentleman. I mentioned that two more such videos had been produced and promised to link out to them when they were available.

The second video, the Hummingbird, is now up on YouTube, and it’s worth watching.

[As before, click through to YouTube to watch it in large HD.]

Again, I don’t think it’s practical to crack open a coconut in a busy nightclub, but it sure looks cool, doesn’t it?

I can’t tell for certain, but it sounds like the voice actor might have been recast. The actor who plays the bartender (who, if I may, is dead-sexy) was trained by Bacardi Global Ambassador David Cordoba. Her technique is great to watch, and I covet her barspoon.