Johnnie Walker Green Label Discontinued

Johnnie Walker GreenIt looks like Johnnie Walker Green Label will be discontinued.

I emailed Johnnie Walker and received this response from a representative named Eliza –

“We value loyal consumers such as yourself and we appreciate your enthusiasm. Unfortunately, Johnnie Walker Green Label has been discontinued and currently there are no plans to offer this product again in the future. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you, and appreciate that you took the time to express your support for this product. However, we are glad to hear that you enjoyed Johnnie Walker Double Black Label and we encourage you to try Johnnie Walker Platinum Label or Johnnie Walker Gold Reserve in hopes that you may find a new favorite.”

Update February 2015: JW Green may be available in North America again – more details here.

I suspect the move has to do with sales. Johnny Walker Black and Red are quite affordable at $26 and $20 a bottle respective. Johnnie Walker Blue lives in that “luxury” realm of scotch at $160 a bottle.

Then you have Johnnie Walker Gold at $70.

And Johnnie Walker Green at around $50 a bottle.

To the novice scotch drinker or gift giver, you can either go inexpensive with Red and Black or you go up the luxury spectrum and consider Gold at $70 or Blue at twice the price. The $50 price point gets lost.

I’ve tried each of the five, most recently I tried the Green, Gold and Blue in one sitting. I can’t honestly say that the Green stood out above the others in any meaningful way and at $50 I don’t know if it’s particularly memorable, I’m sad to say. While I’m always sad to see anything be discontinued, I’d be lying if I said I’d miss it but you can always try to make your own!

It contains Talisker, Caol Ila, Cragganmore, and Linkwood with each being at least 15 years old.

What is a Vatted Malt?

Johnnie Walker Family of Whiskey

Photo: reutc

Now that you’re familiar with the differences between blended and single malt scotches, let me introduce a “third” type – vatted malt (or pure malt).

Despite my calling it a third type (see the quotes?), vatted malt is really a blended whiskey without the grain whiskey component.

Vatted malts, like blends, mix a variety of single malts together in an attempt to get a totally new flavor. With blends, grain whiskey can be used to thin out the flavors a little in order to achieve some balance, though many enthusiasts consider it to be cheapening the flavors.

Since no one publishes a list of what’s in a blend, it’s really tempting to put in cheap grain whiskey because… it’s cheap.

As for vatted malt, it’s somewhat confusing too.

Malt refers to the the mixture that will be fermented and vatted just means put into a big pot or container. Vatted malt would lead you to believe that malt from a variety of sources is put into a container and fermented together, but that’s not the case.

While much of the flavor is determined by the malt itself, there are flavors, mouthfeel, and other characteristics that develop in the cask while it matures in the warehouse. If you mix the malts and mature in the same warehouse, you lose a lot of that.

In reality, the vat refers to the blending process after the individual whiskeys have matured and would otherwise be consumed.

The Scotch Whisky Association recently renamed this category from vatted malts to “Blended Malt Scotch Whisky.”

Johnnie Walker Green Label, Eleuthera by Compass Box (vatted from Caol Ila and Clynelish), and Famous Grouse 10 yr. are among the few well-known vatted malts.