, John Walker
bought a grocery, wine and spirit business in Kilmarnock
. Not in and of itself a grand notable act, but it lead to the creation
of one of the world's finest Scotch
Mr. Walkers son, Alexander, who joined him in 1856, was responsible for laying the foundations of the company success. Old Man Walker distilled a whisky on the side, strictly for family use, a common practice at the time. Alexander, seeing the potential for success, and a quick pound sterling, started selling it to the store's clients, and better yet, to all the salesmen that came to visit him. The Walker store had plenty of visitors. Kilmarnock was a centre for carpets and textiles, so spreading the name of the family's whisky through the salesmen who came to the town for other purposes was quite easy. Nobody turned down a free sample.
Alexander also made use of the merchant venturers system to get the whisky sold abroad. The 'merchant venturer' system entrusted products to the captain of a ship who would sell them on commission at the best price he could get.
The system was favoured by the Johnny Company and by this relatively simple means, Johnnie Walker became known throughout the world.
In fact, its reputation grew so much that in 1880 Alexander opened a store in London to sell the "Walker's Kilmarnock Whisky" all over the British Empire.
The timing couldn't have been better for the dearth of French cognac ensured a ready market for Scotch whisky. Phyloxera had destroyed many French vineyards. As a side-effect, cognac came into short supply because of a wine and winebarrel shortage. Great Britain was ready for some decent home-brew.
In 1890 Alexander Walker opened an office in Sydney, Australia, and in 1897 an office opened in Birmingham, South Africa. Walker Whisky had gone worldwide.
In 1908, nearly 20 years after Alexander's death, the brand name 'Johnnie Walker' began to be used. Tom Browne designed the striding Johnnie Walker figure, and Lord Stevenson coined the phrase ' Johnnie Walker, born 1820-still going strong'. The name "Walker's Kilmarnock Whisky" dropped in favour of the red and black "Johnnie Walker" slanted labels we still see today.
The Johnnie Walker family of whiskies:
Johnnie Walker Red Label is the world's largest selling Scotch Whisky. It is also one of the world's best-known Scotch blends. It is medium-flavoured in style and perfect for sipping straight.
Aroma: smoke, sweet wood, notes of butterscotch and cloves
Body: Robust, round and full
Palette: Rich, honey, oak, spices and seaside
Finish: Smooth, with a gentle bite
Johnnie Walker Black Label is the world's best selling deluxe whisky. It is a 12 Year Old blend.
Aroma: Exotic spices, cloves, vanilla
Body: Complex, silky and well-rounded
Palette: Clean, heather and caramel, wood and spices
Finish: Warm, with rich flavours
Johnnie Walker Gold Label was created in 1920 as a special recipe celebrating the company's 100th anniversary. It is a Blend of 15 different whiskies, each aged at least 18 years.
Aroma: Peat, smoke, caramel, vanilla
Body: Creamy, yet dense and full bodied
Palette: Supremely mellow, smooth and ringing with spice and citrus
Finish: Light, silky and creamy, lingering
Johnnie Walker Blue Label is described by the Johnnie Walker company as "a blend of our very rarest whiskies". Bottled in numbered lots, it is acclaimed as the worlds most exclusive Scotch Whisky in the world. It is a Blend of different whiskies, each aged at least 21 years.
Aroma: Peat, smoke, Rich vanilla
Body: Dense, rich and smooth
Palette: Nutty, creamy, citrus and pepper
Finish: Long and deep, with a rare complexity
credits: http://www.keepwalking.com/4_0_about.asp for specifics on whisky flavors