Johnnie Walker, the most popular Scotch whisky name in the world, has returned to triumphant growth. Boasting an already successful year in the whisky industry, Johnnie Walker has become the talk of the town for whisky lovers. It doesn’t necessarily take a connoisseur to dissect its distinct tasting notes and the brand has gained popularity for being one of the most progressive whisky brands with unique serving options.
It is impossible to narrow down the brand’s success to just one but the brand prides itself in selecting the most talented whisky producers and distillers when it comes to producing their products. They preside over millions of casks, maturing all across Scotland, and it is their expertise that brings expressions such as Black Label, Blue Label, the experimental Blenders’ Batch releases and even the luxurious Odyssey to life.
On the 7th of November, Thursday afternoon Johnnie Walker hosted industry experts and media guests to join in on a Whisky Cocktail Masterclass ahead of the Whisky and Spirits Live Festival. After sharing bespoke tasting notes of various Johnnie Walker variants such as Green Label, Gold Label Reserve and Song of Fire and Ice, Ewan hosted a competition for the best whisky cocktail and along with the media in attendance chose a winner that walked away with the new limited-edition Johnnie Walker Blue Label Heritage Pack.
Off the bat of a very successful week of whisky we catch up with Diageo Global Brand Ambassador and Whisky Master, Ewan Gunn, one of the mastermind’s behind Johnnie Walker to find out how he keeps his eye on so many expressions at once, what went down at the Whisky Live Festival, and make him pick just one Johnnie Walker variant he loves.
Give our readers insight on where your journey started as a whisky master…
My first proper introduction to whisky was on Islay when I had a glass of Lagavulin 16 years old with my father. I immediately fell in love with the smoke and the richness of the flavour and wanted to learn more about it. My first job after university was at Cadenhead’s, which also involved a period of time making whisky in the Springbank distillery – this was a great start in the industry as I was able to build an early appreciation of every element of whisky production. Since then I have worked for several Scotch Whisky companies across a range of roles, and in early 2011 I joined Diageo and now hold the position of Global Whisky Master.
What are your most notable career highlights?
Probably working with David Beckham. Many people in the whisky industry have been keen to share Single Grain Scotch Whisky with the world for a really long time. To work with someone as committed and hardworking as David can really accelerate awareness of the brand and has definitely shifted the perception of Scotch whisky. In addition to that, it has been a huge honour to work with the Johnnie Walker brand on some of the recent innovations such as Ghost and Rare Glenury Royal.
What is your whisky summer love language in a glass?
A Johnnie Walker Black Label Highball – a simple but fantastic drink which is perfect on a warm sunny day. Basically it is Johnnie Walker Black Label served in a tall glass with lots of ice and topped up with soda (or sometimes ginger ale).
Whisky Live Festival… tell us more about it? It seemed incredibly exciting!
This year the Whisky & Spirits Live Festival was very exciting. It is the perfect platform for us share the art of whisky making, from distilling to blending. Every year the festival brings together people from all walks of life who share a common interest in whisky and the various spirits that are being exhibited at the festival, this creates a great platform for conversation and sharing of knowledge of whisky with connoisseurs and newcomers. Being able to engage with consumers is part of what makes my job so enjoyable, it helps me educate people about the whisky and I also get to draw inspiration from them.
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