John Walker & Sons XR 21 pays tribute to Sir Alexander Walker II


Diageo has unveiled to the Singapore market the limited-edition John Walker & Sons XR 21, part of its John Walker & Sons series of premium whiskies.

Those familiar with Diageo’s Johnnie Walker range of whiskies are likely to have come across its more illustrious ancillary range that is its John Walker & Sons series. While the diverse blended Scotch whiskies that form the Johnnie Walker range cater to whisky drinkers of pretty much every stripe, John Walker & Sons is the brand’s exclusive series of whiskies created to commemorate achievements and milestones in the company’s extensive history i.e. it’s more story-driven than market-driven.

You may, for example, remember the John Walker & Sons Private Collection 2017 Edition: Mastery of Oak; the expression showcased the brand’s house style using rare and experimental whiskies, and in that case combined three different whiskies each displaying different oak characteristics. Then there was the John Walker – better known as the Founder’s Blend, it was created to immortalise founder John Walker using a blend of 9 different rare whiskies including that of closed distilleries Glen Albyn and Cambus. Also in the range is the John Walker & Sons King George V, which commemorates Johnnie Walker being granted a Royal Warrant to supply whisky to the royal family back in 1934.

The latest release in the series, the John Walker & Sons XR 21 was created to honour Alexander Walker II, John Walker’s grandson. A master blender likes his father and grandfather before him, Alexander Walker II even received a knighthood in 1920 from King George V for his “services to the nation”.

The whisky itself was inspired by Sir Alexander’s own handwritten notes, and put together from an exclusive reserve of rare whiskies, all of which have been matured for at least 21 years. The whiskies include those from Diageo’s Speyside distilleries of Mortlach and Cardhu (Cardhu being the heart of Johnnie Walker, after all), as well as single grain whisky from the now-shuttered Port Dundas distillery.

Diageo shares that the John Walker & Sons XR 21 was made in a “rare three-stage blending” technique, although we’re not quite sure how exactly rare that is. The XR 21 supposedly starts with the 21YO Port Dundas grain whisky that is first “blended and married with layers of selected reserves of single malt and grain whiskies matured in American and European oak, before a final round of aged single malts are added to add complexity to its flavour”.

Sounds to us like the art of blending, really.

The John Walkers & Sons XR 21 is available at 1855 The Bottle Shop outlets and on their e-commerce store at the price of S$199. A special promotion of two bottles for S$398 with a gift with purchase is also available for a limited time only.


Official Whisky Maker’s Notes: John Walker & Sons XR 21

At first breath, the golden liquor gives off an aroma of rich vanilla and toffee with notes of icing sugar, tempered spices and caramel, which eventually gives way to fresh satsumas, baked apple, plump raisins, creamy chocolate and delicate smoke.

With smooth dimensions of rich fruits and a long warming finish, the XR 21 dances on the palate in a subtle tapestry of peatiness and is best enjoyed neat at ambient temperature paired with a highball glass of freshly siphoned soda water.

Spirited Singapore Tasting Notes: John Walker & Sons XR 21

colour Burnished bronze.
nose Poached peaches and apricots drizzled with a spiced syrup and served with French vanilla ice cream.
palate Tastes nothing like what it noses like; this is more big wood spice notes in cinnamon and cassia, and rounded off with some black treacle. Expect some meatiness and a miniscule touch of sulphur – probably courtesy of the Mortlach – and creaminess from the grain whisky. There’s peat?
finish A medium finish that dries out slightly with a bitter, spicy, and woody edge.
verdict This is one of the more affordable expressions in the John Walkers & Sons range. It’s worth buying if you’re completing a collection, or if you really enjoy heavy, spicy flavours in your whisky.