Spirit Review: Johnnie Walker Red Label

Johnnie Walker Red Label
Type: Blended Scotch Whiskey
Origin: Scotland
ABV: 40%
Price: $23.99 at our local Randall’s Wine and Spirits

Taking a look at my humidor and this week’s calendar, I quickly realized that time is in short supply for me. Add to that a friend coming into town for a funeral and some sickness at home makes the remaining free time more or less vanish. However, all is not lost this week. After a particularly busy day and early evening, I retired to the basement to have a cigar and drink. While looking at my collection of spirits, I realized the recently gifted bottle of Johnnie Walker Red Label would make for a great review.

The Red Label is the best selling bottle of the Johnnie Walker brand (and according to Johnnie Walker – the world). It was the first of the brand and is also the most inexpensive of the line. This particular bottle, according to my education from a friend and local scotch expert, is perfect either neat (no ice) or mixed. In fact, the Johnnie Walker website has several great drink recipes utilizing the Red Label. For the purpose of the review, I wanted a flavor profile and how it would pair with a cigar.


The Red Label had an amber gold color from the pour of the bottle, nothing out of the ordinary or unique there. The nose gave me a light sweetness, something like a honey, accompanied by what some who don’t drink whiskey to be characterized as a ‘medicine’ smell. When drank, the front of the palette gave me sweet, almost caramel-like notes. The middle of the palette (middle tongue) was the medicinal flavor noted earlier while the aftertaste was a faint smoke. Overall, this is very uncharacteristic of anything I would normally drink. My wife (whiskey drinker) classifies this as “sugar water”, and I would tend to agree. It’s a light blended whiskey that while it doesn’t appeal to my love of Islay (peaty, smoky) scotch, it is still tasty enough to be enjoyed anytime.

The key for the Red Label is its easy drinking and chameleon-like nature. Because of its light flavor profile, it is the perfect candidate for mixing. As for a cigar pairing, you could pretty much smoke nearly anything with this whiskey and it would work. The other night, I smoked a Quesada Oktoberfest 2016 and the Red Label made for a light and smooth counterbalance to the stronger flavors of the cigar. And probably one of the most attractive aspects of the Red Label is the price. This is half the price of Laphroaig and much easier for whiskey novices (or veterans who prefer lighter fare) to get into without denting the bank account.

Final Score: 8.5/10

While it will not be the first whiskey, single malt or blend, that I turn to, I did enjoy the Red Label and have no qualms about keeping a bottle around for friends or for when I am looking to a lighter spirit to enjoy. Special thanks to my good friend Aaron for the gift of the bottle.

As always, thank you very much for reading and I look forward to the next time I can share my thoughts with you.

Jon Siddle

Jon enjoyed his first premium cigar in 2004. Before becoming a founding member of Leaf Enthusiast, he contributed to Cigar Spy before becoming a regular on Tiki Bar Online. You can find him on Instagram at @jonsiddle.

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  • czerbe

    I am a Scotch man.. That being said I started my Scotch days with Bottles of Red and Black Label. Johnnie has always been a dear friend to me and I thank him daily for his kind gifts. Nice review. I like my red with a little water on the Rocks.