The John Walker & Sons Collection represents Johnnie Walker‘s most exclusive series of whiskies, often commemorating milestones in the company’s storied history. The cream of the crop, these blended whiskies are crafted using exceptionally rare casks resulting in unparalleled flavour experiences full of depth and complexity. To truly appreciate the John Walker & Sons XR21 Legacy Collection, it is of foremost importance to know its origin.
The story began in 1820 when young John Walker sold his late father’s farm and opened a grocery shop in Kilmarnock, stocked with whiskies from the four corners of Scotland. As ports in Glasgow and Greenock opened the doors to trade with the New World, the exciting and exotic world of teas and spices captured John’s heart. He began to hone his blending skills by experimenting with tea, perfecting balance to develop nuanced flavours.
In time, John applied his newly harnessed skills to create whisky blends. He wedded sweetness and smoke to produce deep, characterful blends whose consistent flavour contrasted sharply against the raw, inconsistent tastes of individual whiskies themselves. This chapter heralded the beginning of the Walker family’s quest to create the finest whiskies with layers of piquancy.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Alexander Walker inherited a talent for blending. His 1867 Old Highland Whisky combined rare crafting and flavour that defined whisky excellence. By 1879, Walker’s whiskies were commanding worldwide recognition, winning awards at exhibitions in Sydney, Jamaica, Paris, London, Brisbane, and Brussels.
A new era followed in 1888 when Alexander’s youngest son Alexander II joined the family business. Like his grandfather, Alexander II was a master blender and clever entrepreneur who understood that people would enjoy whisky in different ways globally. With pride, Alexander II created a blend dubbed Scotch whisky that would retain its vibrancy even when mixed with water. His Special Old Highland Whisky had a resonance that remains a hallmark of its modern-day successor, Johnnie Walker Red Label.
A hundred years after John Walker started his business, Walker’s whiskies were selling in over 120 countries. Today, it remains the most widely distributed brand of blended Scotch whisky and a part of global culture. “We sailed wherever ships could sail,” the company surmises in 1920 on the strapline of their Around the World travel guide in recognition of the monumental achievement.
That same year, Alexander II was granted a knighthood from King George V for his services to the country following the WWI armistice. On 1 January 1934, King George V also bestowed a Royal Warrant of Appointment to the Johnnie Walker company. The company retains the prestigious honour to this day, signalling the continued favour and patronage of British Monarchs.
The John Walker & Sons XR21 commemorates the knighthood of Alexander II while celebrating a long-standing heritage of brilliance. The whisky takes inspiration from Sir Alexander’s handwritten blending notes.
The luxurious XR21 comes to life through a rare three-stage blending method. It is a process reserved for only the most exclusive Johnnie Walker Scotch whiskies due to its complex and time-intensive nature. It calls for a selection of rare whiskies, all of which have matured for at least 21 years.
The technique employs a creamy core of Port Dundas grain whisky, a rare commodity as the Port Dundas distillery closed its doors in 2010 after more than 100 years of distilling history. The whisky is married with layers of selected reserves from the legendary “Mortlach” and “Cardhu” distilleries of Speyside single malts and grain whiskies which mature in American and European oak, nurturing the luscious heart of the blend. The last step in the rigorous process is to add a round of aged single malts, enhancing the depth and complexity of flavours.
The blended whisky has a sweet, full-bodied aroma of vanilla, toffee and notes of icing sugar. It calls to mind delicate smoke, warming spices and caramel with fresh satsumas, baked apples, and raisins alongside creamy milk chocolate.
On the palate, it is a balance of golden honey, vanilla, and sweet fruits. The mature Highland whiskies define the smooth quality as the rich vanilla comes from the American oak and sweet fruits from lighter Speyside malts. The taste lingers warmly with layers of finely aged oak, echoing the carefully selected casks selected for their enduring influence on the finish.
The JW XR21 Legacy Collection launched in October 2020 exclusively for the Malaysian market. It celebrates the rich Heritage and Culture of Malaysian Chinese communities. Stunning bottles and packaging sleeves showcase the cultures and traditions of Cantonese, Hakka and Hokkien people. The Legacy Collection has since expanded, featuring designs that celebrate the Foochow, Hainan, and Teochew people through beautiful illustrations by local creative duo Loka Made.
Drawing from over 200 years of experience, John Walker & Sons continues to keep walking forward with an inventive spirit full of purpose, passion, and devotion towards crafting exceptional whiskies. Available on e-commerce platforms including Shopee Malaysia, Staythirsty and Boozeat alongside Jaya Grocer and Village Grocer, this scintillatingly smooth whisky is most certainly an experience worth sharing with treasured companions on any occasion.
This story first in Prestige Malaysia.