The limited release of 8,888 individually numbered bottles will be available from January 2015, with a recommended retail price of £550.
John Walker Private Collection 2015 Edition (46.8% ABV) is packaged in a deep red glass decanter, with an angled cut to reflect the slanted label on the distinctive Johnnie Walker square bottle. It comes in a cream box with the story of the ‘Rare Fruit Character’ of this blend.
This 'Rare Fruit' character blend by Walker master blender Jim Beveridge is the second annual release in the series that flows the previous Directors’ Blends which were made for Diageo directors to hand out to key Johnnie Walker clients.
These elite ranges are meant to showcase the expertise and craft of the blenders behind all Johnnie Walker’s blended scotch whiskies, the world’s leading scotch whisky brand
The Private Collection launched with the 2014 Edition, which is described as “an exploration of the John & Walker & Sons signature smoky character from three Scottish regions. The 2015 Edition continues the exploration Walker house style with a small batch blend of 29 bespoke and experimental casks that reveals the fruit distillery character that unfolds in the top notes of its blended scotches”.
Beveridge and his team are said to have had access to the greatest breadth and depth of fruit character in Diageo’s vast reserves. Within these stocks are special casks laid down to develop sophisticated, precise expressions of fruit styles from different regions.
Beveridge said: “The 2015 Edition is a unique blend of mature expressions of fruit character from the heart of Scotland. The wonderful lightness of fresh and exotic Speyside fruits deepens into the warm, autumnal fruits of Highland malts, finishing with a lift from the spicy, West Highland fruit character.”
Diageo says that early in Beveridge’s career, he began work on a study of the nature of wood effects on maturing whisky, using planned combinations of oak casks with handpicked whiskies to create a richness and harmony of flavours over time. He has selected a few of these experimental casks to both complement and contribute to the fruit character of the 2015 Edition, and balance the blend with a touch of astringency and sweetness.
Beveridge said: “The reaction to the 2014 Edition blend has been extremely rewarding and created much anticipation for the 2015 edition release. We have discovered more gems of casks along the way, and it is with great excitement that we begin work in earnest for 2016.”
The initial aromas are full of freshness and vibrancy – grassy notes, crisp green apples and pineapples from the Speyside malts.
These evolve into the heady Highland aromas with the autumnal richness of stewed apples, and then the spicy dried West Highland fruits emerge with orange peel and dried apricots.
These are balanced by sweet fudge notes provided to the blend from American oak casks.
With a few drops of water, the blend develops floral notes reminiscent of the sun-baked Highland heather moor, then into estery pear drops.
The mouthfeel is smooth and velvety.
Here the Speyside fruit character is present as orange citrus and passion fruit. The Highland whiskies appear as sweet and succulent ripe melons, and there is a West Highland dusky peach skin sweetness. Hints of honey are rounded off by a delicate sweetness from the grain whiskies.
Long years of maturation of the experimental cask whiskies deliver underlying notes of vanilla and a touch of rich fruits. As these flavours begin to fade, a very subtle hint of the John Walker & Sons signature smoke arrives, leading to a sweet, slightly warming finish.