Johnnie Walker A Song of Ice Scotch Whisky Review & Tasting Notes

Johnnie Walker is one of the most famous and easily recognizable whisky brands worldwide. Even if you're not a whisky enthusiast, you've likely come across the name Johnnie Walker at some point.


We also know that many brands are named to honor fictional people. So, was there a Johnnie Walker, and if so, who was he?


Johnnie Walker, born in 1805, lost his father tragically at the age of 14. Consequently, the family had to sell their farm that same year. In 1820, the money from the sale was used to invest in a grocery store in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, which Johnnie managed despite his young age. Within five years, he started selling a variety of spirits from the store.


Johnnie quickly stopped producing all spirits except for whisky. At the time, combining malt and grain whiskies was against the law, so he focused on creating blends of malt and grain whiskies to meet his customer's specific preferences. He recognized the need for a brand and began selling his blended malts as Walker's Kilmarnock Whisky.


After Johnnie's passing in 1857, his son and grandson inherited the brand. With the passing of The Spirits Act of 1860, the restriction on blending malts and grains was lifted, creating new opportunities for distillers.


In 1893, the Walkers purchased the Cardhu distillery. The Cardhu brand was retired. What was there was sold as a five-year Old Highland, a nine-year Special Old Highland, and a 12-year Extra Special Old Highland. The first had a white label, the second was red, and the third was black. People would order these whiskies by their respective colors. It wasn’t long before the Walkers rebranded their whiskies to reflect customers' preferences.


As I’m sure you are aware, there was an HBO series called Game of Thrones, which is based on the book series by George R.R. Martin. If you’ve never heard of it, it is a fantasy series involving many mind games, dragons, deceit, heroes, and villains. Several Diageo brands hopped on the bandwagon and offered special, limited-edition single malt whiskies to represent each of the Houses in Game of Thrones.


To capitalize on the success of those single malts, Diageo then turned to Johnnie Walker to offer White Walker plus A Song of Ice and A Song of Fire, named for the series book A Song of Ice and Fire.


Today, we’re exploring A Song of Ice. It is meant to pay tribute to the Direwolves of the House of Stark. It comes from a blend of single malts distilled at Clynelish Distillery of Scotland’s Highland region. It is 40.1% ABV (80.2°), and while technically a limited edition from 2019, I still see it at various liquor stores. The suggested retail for a 750ml is $29.99.


A friend handed me a sample of A Song of Ice to review. Let’s #DrinkCurious and learn more.


Appearance: I poured this whisky into my Glencairn glass to sip neat. The liquid inside was golden. It formed a thick rim and husky, crawling legs.


Nose: The sweet aroma included peaches, pears, raisins, honey, and vanilla. When I drew it through my lips, the air produced a puff of vanilla bean.


Palate: I encountered a waxy texture on the first sip, and it increased on the second. The front of my palate found vanilla, pears, and apples. Midway through, I tasted lemon curd, orange peel, and raisins. The back included flavors of oak, white pepper, and malt.


Finish: Medium-to-long in duration, the finish included wood spice, orange and lemon zests, vanilla, white pepper, and a gentle kiss of smoke.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I did enjoy how this Scotch whisky made a u-turn from the middle to back, going from very sweet to suddenly spicy. It was nice that, even at this low proof, the typical Clynelish waxiness remained. A Song of Ice is a very easy-drinking whisky, thanks again to its low ABV. Overall, this is a good-value Scotch and one worthy of your consideration. My Bottle rating is well-earned. 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 to do so responsibly.