Johnnie Walker Red Label Blended Scotch Review & Tasting Notes


Usually, I go into a grandiose introduction, and I give a history of the brand and background on the type of whisky. I’ll include some information, but today I’m exploring the best-selling Scotch whisky in the world: Johnnie Walker Red Label.


I want to skip the typical introduction because Red Label is the standard-bearer for bad Scotch if you listen to folks in social media groups. But, at the same time, it is the best-selling Scotch in the world. While everyone’s palate is different, this is one of those things that you can’t have both ways. Either it is a terrible whisky, or it is drinkable. I would expect some back-peddling from the naysayers who will then suggest, Well, it is a mixer.


I’ll take that comment at face value because even Johnnie Walker’s website says, Made for Mixing. However, if you’ve followed me for some time, you’ll remember that I don’t do the mixer game. Whisky has to stand on its own – good, bad, or ugly to rate on the Bottle, Bar, or Bust scale. And, for the record, there are perfectly drinkable made-for-mixing whiskies that require no accompaniments.


Let’s talk about Red Label. It is the entry-level Scotch under the Johnnie Walker brand and has been in production since 1909. It is a blend of 35 malt and grain whiskies sourced from various distilleries around Scotland. It carries no age statement, and you can expect to pay about $22.99 for a 750ml package. You can find this at pretty much every liquor, grocery, and convenience store – at least in the United States.


I’ve never had Red Label before. I snagged a 50ml for about $2.99 at some random liquor store for the express purpose of a review. So, let’s #DrinkCurious and learn the truth about it.


Appearance: Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Red Label was presented as golden, forming a medium-thin rim. Fat, slow tears fell back into the pool.


Nose: I smelled lemon zest, lime, and floral notes. The aroma was straightforward. When I drew the air into my mouth, there was no flavor I could identify, but it was decidedly dry. I’ll say that’s something I’ve never experienced with a whisky.


Palate:  I didn’t expect the creamy texture; I figured it would be thin. There’s a lesson for you – expect nothing and keep an open mind. Red Label had one of the most unusual palates I’ve experienced. The front was spicy and bold with freshly-cracked black pepper and cinnamon. Mid-palate offered flavors of pear, vanilla, and barley. The back featured raisin, citrus, and mild oak.


Finish:  You might expect the finish to remain fruity. Instead, the spice from the front of the palate carried into the finish. Moreover, it was slightly smoky. There was some citrus, but that was overwhelmed amongst the other flavors. The whole thing was long and lingering.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Johnnie Walker Red Label is drinkable neat. Frankly, there’s nothing wrong with it. It is a simple whisky that could work well in a cocktail with its spicy front and finish, and I’m not talking “and Coke.” Would I buy a 750ml for my whiskey library? No. For me, it lacks the depth and character I crave. Would I refuse a pour from a friend? Also, no. Red Label earns a Bar rating; it is something that would work well for the Scotch curious but would likely bore the connoisseur. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.



  1. My very first scotch. To me it was a very good introduction to the world of scotch.


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