FROM WHITE TO BLUE
Johnnie Walker is a brand of Scotch whisky now owned by Diageo that originated from the Scottish town of Kilmarnock, a large burgh in East Ayrshire, where the brand's creator, John Walker began making and distilling the whisky in his grocery, wine and spirits shop located in the town centre. It is the most widely distributed brand of blended Scotch whisky in the world, sold in almost every country, with annual sales of the equivalent of over 223.7 million 700 ml bottles in 2016 (156.6 million litres). With the advancement of technology and the ability to monitor operations in real time on a global basis, the brand's owners, Diageo, found that a restructuring programme was required across Scotland with a view to upgrade and expand bottling capacity in anticipation of future growth in demand for its brands, including an evergrowing portfolio of Johnnie Walker blends. Analyses showed that production in the brand's original home in Kilmarnock would need to be moved to Diageo plants in Leven, Fife and Shieldhall, Glasgow. On 1 July 2009, Diageo announced that it intended to cease production at the plant in Kilmarnock. Protests at every level notwithstanding, the Johnnie Walker plant situated in Hill Street in Kilmarnock closed its doors in March 2012. (See Closure in Kilmarnock, Scotland below)
When John Walker, born on 25 July 1805, lost his farmer father in 1819, the family sold the farm and their trustees invested the proceeds, £417, in an Italian warehouse, grocery, and wine and spirits shop on the High Street in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland. John managed the grocery, wine and spirits segment as a teenager in 1820. The Excise Act of 1823 relaxed unduly strict laws on distillation of whisky and reduced, by a considerable amount, the extremely heavy taxes on the distillation and sale of whisky. By 1825, young John Walker, a teetotaller, was selling spirits, including rum, brandy, gin and Islay whisky.
Originally known as Walker's Kilmarnock Whisky, the Johnnie Walker brand is a legacy left by John "Johnnie" Walker after he started to sell whisky in his grocer's shop in Kilmarnock. The brand became popular, but after Walker's death it was his son Alexander ‘Alec’ Walker and grandson Alexander Walker II who were largely responsible for establishing the whisky as a favoured brand. Under British Prime Minister Henry J Temple, Chancellor of the Exchequer William E Gladstone ’s Spirits Act of 1860 legalised the blending of grain whiskies with malt whiskies and ushered in the modern era of what is known as blended Scotch whisky. Surprisingly, the Johnnie Walker brands of whisky did not use the term Scotch till as late as 1939, whereas Matthew Gloag III, of The Famous Grouse fame, did use the term decades earlier, in 1896-97. Andrew Usher, a brewer and distiller of Edinburgh, Scotland, was the first in the industry to capitalise on blending malt and grain whiskies starting officially in 1860, producing a more accessible whisky that was lighter and sweeter in character, making it much more marketable to a wider audience, followed by the Walkers officially in 1863.
|24 degree slant|
Alexander Walker had introduced the brand's signature square bottle in 1860. This meant more bottles fitting the same space and fewer broken bottles. The other identifying characteristic of the Johnnie Walker bottle was- and still is- the label, which, since that year, is applied at an angle of 24 degrees upwards left to right and allows text to be made larger and more visible. There were no advertisements-as presently understood- at the time, other than by word of mouth and pages pasted on billboards at the town centre and it was essential that the whisky's growing following could identify it at a distance. One major factor in his favour was the arrival of the railway in Kilmarnock, carrying goods to ships plying regularly to the four corners of the world. Thanks to Alec's business acumen, sales of Walker's Kilmarnock hit 100,000 gallons (450,000 Litres) per year by 1862.
|Cardhu Distillery in 1893|
From 1906 to 1909, John's grandsons George and Alexander II expanded the line and had three blended whiskies in the market, The Old Highland 5 Year Old (YO) ; the Special Old Highland 9YO and the Extra Special Old Highland 12 YO. These three brands had the standard Johnnie Walker labels, the only difference being their colour, White, Red and Black respectively. They were already being referred to in public by the colour of their labels.
In 1896, they purchased Annandale, but the now renowned whisky group had grander ideas up its sleeve. Come 1919 the company decided to abandon Annandale to concent
|The 1st Striding Man R>L|
Soon thereafter, the re-branding was finalised and kept simple, in that the public-identified names were retained.
White Label, now a 6 YO; the Special Old Highland 9YO became the Johnnie Walker Red Label 10 YO and the Extra Special Old Highland was renamed Johnnie Walker Black Label 12 YO.
|The 1999 Striding Man L>R|
Closure in Kilmarnock, Scotland
Double Black Label Limited Edition – Featuring 12 black and white photographs selected from across the world that represent a vast range of emotion and humanity pasted on the bottle / printed on its cover. Contents remain unchanged.
Bottles of some Johnnie Walker Scotch whisky looked a little different from March 1, 2018, with the brand’s famous striding man was replaced in the US by a woman, Jane Walker. The Johnnie Walker Black Label Jane Walker Edition bottles are available there, with Diageo donating $1 from each sold to organisations championing women’s causes. Jane Walker is a toast the many achievements of women and everyone on the journey towards progress in gender equality.
GAME OF THRONES SERIES
The Johnnie Walker House Art Collection – Mumbai Edition is exclusively available at Johnnie Walker House Mumbai. This very special bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label celebrates the opening of Johnnie Walker’s first retail showcase at Mumbai Airport. It shows a unique ‘willow pattern’ interpretation of the whisky’s original journey from Scotland to India in 1883.
201. Johnnie Walker Game of Thrones Series: ttps://www.johnniewalker.com/en/our-whisky/limited-edition-whiskies/white-walker-johnnie-walker/