Cocktails with Johnnie Walker

Cocktails with Johnnie Walker
Last Friday, DBS donned his finest three-piece and grey fedora, and I, my favourite, flowery frock and we set off for our very first trip to the Goodwood Revival. Despite my having seen various advertisements and heard discussions on this event by friends in the vintage community, I certainly wasn’t prepared for the sheer scale of this event. There were literally people everywhere and a vast majority were dressed in honour of the Golden Age, including children; at one point we spotted a school party, all dressed in grey and crimson vintage uniforms and caps. All in all, it was quite a sight, even for someone used to seeing people dressed in vintage, and so I was immensely grateful to be grounded by the focus of our day: Johnnie Walker whisky.

We found the Johnnie Walker Racing Bar by walking through a vintage style Tesco store, through the subway beneath the racing track, and past a vast array of beautiful and exceptionally well-cared for vintage cars. The bar was set up within a wooden shed that had been meticulously decorated to look like one that might have been used by Rob Walker, with racing car, tools, desk, books and a tea mug, complete with dregs.

The Rob Walker Workshop - Click to enlarge

The Rob Walker Workshop – (Click to enlarge)

On the opposite side of the garage was a bar, serving Johnnie Walker Red and Black Label whiskies, plus a selection of cocktails created especially for the occasions. Given my fondness for scotch, I was delighted to be able to try the Johnnie Walker selection with the wonderful Colin Dunn (who we met at the recent Talisker event at Cowes Week, which you can read about here), but today, I thought I would run through the cocktails to hopefully inspire some experimentation before our British summer disappears completely! I will write about the whiskies on their own shortly, in a separate post.

Red Rose

Red RoseIngredients:

25mls Johnnie Walker Red Label
Fentimans Rose Lemonade
2 strawberries
1 lemon wedge
Fill a tall glass with ice and pour in the Red Label. Top with the lemonade, drop in a strawberry and stir. Garnish with a pinch of chopped strawberry and a lemon wedge.

 This was, frankly, delicious. Delicate, but flavourful, the scotch hits your tongue first, with its sweeter, fruity notes highlighted, followed by a gradual increase in flavour that transformed into a strong, rose flavour, just like Turkish Delight. The finish was fruity and fresh, with the strawberries coming through and the lemon just rounding off the sweetness of everything else. Having recently tried Fentiman’s Rose Lemonade alongside some of its Floral Soda counterparts and knowing that it has a delicate flavour, I was amazed at how much of the rose came through in this drink. Lovely!
 Johnnie Walker Buck

Johnnie Walker BuckIngredients:
25mls Johnnie Walker Red Label
Top with ginger ale
2 lime wedges
Fill a tall glass with ice and pour in the Red Label. Top with ginger ale and a squeeze of lime, using the lime wedges as a garnish.

In contrast to the Red Rose, the J.W. Buck was incredibly savoury. I found the nose to be ever so slightly salty – reminding me of the Tequila Fruit Cup that DBS made – which was supported by the freshness and acidity of the lime. When I tasted it, I got the sense that this drink worked very well with the whisky, allowing the spicy, woody notes to come through without any sweetness to mask them. The savouriness of this drink made it easy to drink, but this is unlikely to be the favourite of someone who prefers sweeter cocktails.


Stirling Collins

Stirling CollinsIngredients:
25mls Johnnie Walker Black Label
25mls lemon juice
10mls gomme
25mls rhubarb and apple juice
1 lemon wedge
1 sprig of mint
Shake the Black Label, lemon juice and gomme with the rhubarb and apple juice and pour into a tall glass. Top with soda and garnish with a lemon wedge and mint sprig.

This was an interesting one. I had two during the day they tasted slightly different, although both had a spicy nose, followed by the distinctive smell of the rhubarb and a slight, lemony bitterness. On the tongue, I thought that it was well-rounded, despite evolving a lot in the mouth. The first one that I had tasted a lot more of rhubarb, whereas the second was surprisingly savoury – as with the Buck, bordering on salty – and refreshing, especially given the amount of fruit juice in it. The rhubarb flavour became stronger in both drinks, with a tartness that reminded me of old-fashioned rhubarb boiled sweets, followed by a decidedly savoury finish.

Cream of the Crop

Cream of the CropIngredients:
25mls Johnnie Walker Black Label
Cream soda
Fill a tall glass with ice and pour in the Black Label. Top with cream soda and garnish with an orange wedge. (Apple works too!)

Incredibly different to the last two! The cream soda is immediately evident as a very appropriate choice of mixer, given our vintage setting; the nose was strong, creamy and sweet, like milk bottle sweets. The taste was similarly sweet, with a smooth, creamy texture; the milky creaminess stayed at the top of my mouth. The Black Label came through afterwards, but it was faint and mainly served to add some weight with a slightly heavier, spicy, dark-toffee-like sweetness, highlighted by the orange. This would be good for those with a sweet tooth who don’t think that they could like a whisky cocktail.

.Stirling Collins and Johnny Walker Buck


In Conclusion…

Although I obviously liked some of these cocktails a lot more than the others, I thought that the selection overall was superb for that very reason: I have no doubt that most people would find a firm favourite amongst the list.

For those who like their whisky cocktails to taste predominantly of whisky, there was the Johnnie Walker Buck; for those who like heavier whisky notes, but something else going on as well, there’s the Red Rose; the Stirling Collins will satisfy those that like a more fruity expression of their whisky; and, finally, for those who would prefer less heavy whisky notes, want to try something new, or just have a sweet tooth, there’s the Cream of the Crop.

My personal favourite was the Red Rose, followed by the Johnnie Walker Buck, but I could happily drink any of these lovely concoctions, especially on such a glorious summer day as we had last Friday. I will be writing on the whiskies themselves shortly, no doubt by which point the autumn chill will definitely be in the air.

– Mrs. B.

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