Johnnie Walker’s more elite series of blended whiskies, the John Walker & Sons Private Collection, releases its latest edition with the John Walker & Sons Private Collection 2017 Edition: Mastery of Oak that explores three different ways oak impacts the flavour of whisky.
The John Walker & Sons Private Collection 2017 Edition: Mastery of Oak is the fourth expression in the series that first started in 2014 as a spiritual successor to the Johnnie Walker Directors’ Blends, a range that showcases its unique house style yet allows its blenders to push boundaries through these small-batch, once-off blends of rare experimental whiskies. Of course this makes any expression in this series a pricier collectible, and in this case with a global limited release of just 5,588 individually numbered decanters – and only 134 slated for the Singapore market – puts a premium on the Mastery of Oak.
So is the Mastery of Oak worth its sticker price of S$1,200 (including GST)? The folks over at Diageo certainly think so. According to them, master blender Dr. Jim Beveridge worked with fellow blender Aimée Gibson to handpick various exceptional casks of malt and grain whiskies of Highland and Speyside origins to create three vattings from which they constructed the final blend. Each vatting was designed to contribute distinctive flavour profiles based on the various ways oak impacts maturation.
The first profile began with active ex-bourbon American oak that contributed rich, creamy, toffee and spice notes, along with a number of whiskies aged in rejuvenated casks for balance and a touch of clove. The second profile involves refill casks – mostly American oak but some European oak – for the heart of the blend, the longer maturation allowing house distillery character to shine through. The last and final profile leveraged its special stock of American oak casks that was used for experimenting different cask treatments, although what exactly those treatments are Diageo didn’t quite say. These casks are supposed to add an intense vanilla sweetness.
“Oak casks offer us an astonishing number of ways to differentiate these styles further as they mature, broadening our palette of flavours for blending,” says Beveridge. “For Mastery of Oak, we assembled some of our finest casks into three main styles of oak effects. Each vatting, brimming with complexity, was re-casked into blending puncheons for the flavours to combine.”
“We’re delighted to have been able to bring them together to such great effect in the 2017 Edition, a sumptuous blend of oak-rich fruit notes,” he adds.
The 2017 Edition clocks in at 46.8% ABV, and is available through the Johnnie Walker House here in Singapore. Singapore’s allocation includes bottle numbers 1, 88, 1888, 2888, 3888 and 4888. Sorry, China.