Ads of the Week: Johnnie Walker in the 1960s

Unless you’ve been asleep this week, you’ve probably noticed that AMC’s Mad Men is returning to TV after a nearly 2-year hiatus. What you might not know is that Newsweek magazine this week has turned retro, reverting to its 1960s-era design and featuring advertisements in a 1960s style. You can browse those ads here, and in general, I think the advertisers mostly did a good job. I especially like the ads for Dunkin’ Donuts, Hush Puppies, John Hancock, Allstate, Lincoln Continental, and BOAC.

But I love the Johnnie Walker ad, and that shouldn’t surprise anyone, since I’ve featured ol’ John’s ads here before. Here it is, in the largest resolution I could get:


How accurate is it? Well, let’s find out. Here’s a real JWR ad from Ebony magazine, circa 1965 (click through to see it full size):

07 Johnnie Walker

I’d say that’s pretty impressive, right? The layout’s the same, much of the copy is the same (or similar), and even the mildly suggestive nature of the photography is the same. I’d perhaps wager the Newsweek version is a reproduction of an actual Walker ad, updated slightly to reflect minor detail changes, except that I can’t find it on Google Books. (At least one change merits mention: JW in 1965 was 86.8 proof; today, it’s 80. Apparently, the proof level changed around 2000.)

UPDATE: I was right. Ad Age confirms that this is an actual JW ad that originally ran in the 1960s.

As a bonus, here’s another 1960s JW ad, this one from Life (again, click through for larger image):

11-04 Johnnie Walker

Hm. Seems a little sexist, but I love the simple, clean design.

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.

Review: Dalmore

For reasons that may become clear soon, it’s been a busy time around here and this site has suffered. But sometimes life just gets in the way of blogging.

Onward to Dalmore.

Back in, oh, December, I received a package with various samples of Jura and Dalmore for review purposes. Dalmore’s a Highland malt, and the house style seems to be a well-balanced whisky, with very little smoke. This style allows other flavors to come to the fore. I think the Dalmore range in general would be a great choice as an introductory scotch, especially for people who really enjoy bourbon. I had several bottlings of Dalmore to review, and although I didn’t find them to range in flavor as widely as the Jura bottlings I tasted earlier, they did show a subtle variance in flavor and aroma from bottling to bottling. Here are the styles I tasted:

  • Dalmore 12
  • Dalmore 15
  • Dalmore 18
  • Dalmore Gran Reserva
  • Dalmore 1263 King Alexander III

Dalmore 12

40% abv.

Color: Amber-gold.

Nose: Malt, toffee, honey, caramel, mild smoke, vanilla, coffee.

Tasting notes: Floral, mildly heathery. Hint of seaweed. Orange and a bit of chocolate. Walnut and pecan on finish.

Dalmore 15

40% abv.

Color: Bronze.

Nose: Very similar to that of the 12.

Tasting notes: Less hot at the front of the palate than the 12. Notes of chocolate, hazelnut biscotti, and white pepper. Orange zest and winter spice. A little winy, probably attributable to the sherry casks it’s aged in.

Dalmore 18

43% abv.

Color: Bronze

Nose: Again, similar to the 12 and 15, but a little woodier.

Tasting notes: Almond, iodine, oak, chocolate, and orange zest. Wine is more pronounced than in 15.

Dalmore Gran Reserva

40% abv.

No age statement, but said to be bottled from whiskies aged 10 – 15 years.

Nose: Honey, flint, pecan, peach, chocolate, coffee. As it opens, it becomes perhaps the most chocolaty of these, at least on the nose.

Color: Bronze.

Tasting notes: Stone fruit, pecans, orange zest, chocolate, subtle peat (very subtle). Creamy.

1263 King Alexander III

40% abv.

No age statement.

Nose: Malt, orange, honey, chocolate.

Color: Bronze. (I’m not sure color adds anything to these reviews.)

Tasting notes: Only mildly winy, which surprises me. This whisky is aged in a bajillion (okay, only six) different types of casks: wine, Madeira, Sherry, Marsala, bourbon, and port. The effect is notable but subtle in ways the 18 isn’t. Winter spice, orange zest, berry, hint of oak.

Review: Jura

Starting off 2011 on a scotch roll, it seems. I received a package just before Christmas containing review samples of Jura and Dalmore scotches. I’ll be reviewing the Jura samples this week, and the Dalmore next.

Jura scotch comes of course from the island of Jura located to the northeast of the island of Islay. Jura’s most famous resident was probably George Orwell, who lived there near the end of his life while writing 1984. The scotch named Jura is the only whisky distilled on the island.

Jura 10-year-old

40% abv.

Color: Gold-amber.

Nose: Earthy.

Tasting notes: Very mildly smoky, very mildly honeyed. Salty. Bit of resin, like pine. Hints of dark chocolate. Salty finish.

Final word: I’m a little biased here. When I want a scotch that’s well-balanced — neither smoky nor floral but a bit of both — Jura 10 is usually one of my choices. It’s one of my favorite sipping malts, and one I like to recommend to people new to scotch.

Jura 16-year-old

43% abv

Color: Golden bronze

Nose: Pine, earth.

Tasting notes: A little peatier than the 10, but still not heavy peat. Less resin than the 10. Honey gives way to dark chocolate and vanilla. Same salty finish.

Final word: Definite step up from the 10, still very tasty and balanced, but smoother. I like the subtle upping of the peat flavor.

Jura Superstition

45% abv. Blend of two or more Jura whiskies–one peaty, one not.

Color: Bronze

Nose: Light peaty smoke, some sherry nuttiness.

Tasting notes: Again, light peaty smoke, heather, hazelnut, nutty cookie, like a Pecan Sandie. Long, mildly salty finish with a bit more smoke.

Final word: Lovely dram, and definitely something I’d seek out for my home bar. Since the smoke is there but mild, this might be a good whisky to introduce to someone who’s never had a peaty example. At roughly US$50, not a bad bargain for the price.

Jura Prophecy

46% abv.

Color: Honey, light bronze.

Nose: Big peat. Subtle fruitiness, but I can’t pin it down exactly. Nutty spices.

Tasting notes: Most complex and nuanced of the lot. Peaty smoke dominates. Something medicinal in there, but pleasantly so. Iodine? Hints of cinnamon and clove, subtle fruit (again, can’t quite pin it down). Medium finish.

Final word: Oh my darling, where the hell have you been all my life? Let’s listen to Tom Waits and get dirty together.