PR invite / All thoughts and opinions are, of course, my own.
This whisky experience centre has now been open for I believe one year and two months and when they opened last year Johnnie Walker Princes Street installed maturing casks in their Whisky Makers Cellar where the whisky was left to continue its maturation. Those casks have now been sampled and chosen for this special bottling that was just announced today. So let me take you along to the press event and our tasting of the first expression – the Limited Edition Princes Street Blend – in the Johnnie Walker Princes Street Collective.
Lunch at the 1820 Bar
The day started out with lunch at the 1820 Bar, which features some of the best views in Edinburgh. I’ve previously only seen the view during nighttime so it was such a treat to see it in its full sunny glory.
To start we got to try the non-alcoholic Blueberry x Green Peppercorn highball which is my new favourite tipple. So refreshing and subtly festive with lovely flavours. I’ll come back for this drink alone!
But on to the main event. As we sat down at our table we go the first look of the Johnnie Walker x Harris Tweed collaboration which features a designed bottle of the Johnnie Walker Limited Edition Princes Street Blend, presented in a bespoke Harris Tweed bag. It was fascinating to get to hear more about Harris Tweed and their approach to unique collaborations, their values and as a sewist myself I’m of course intrigued by the fabric making process. We didn’t get to try the whisky just yet, but as a little preview we enjoyed a sit on a Tommy’s Margarita, created with the whisky in question. It was a lovely mix of sour meets a touch of sweetness, which is my preferred flavour category for cocktails, so definitely a good way to start the lunch.
I chose beef tartare to start, pine and ricotta tagliatelle with courgette for mains and mango parfait for dessert which made up such a lovely lunch. If you are visiting Johnnie Walker Princes Street, I’d highly recommend the beef tartare, even as just a little snack. This beef tartare, along with the Blueberry highball I mentioned will most likely be my go-to order next time I’m here. Just slightly obsessed.
Journey of Flavour Tour
Before the tasting we got to do the tour. I did the Journey of Flavour tour properly only a few weeks ago when by brother was visiting so decided to opt for another flavour profile this time as I have a tendency to be Fruity or Tropical when taking the flavour quiz. So this time I got the green band which is the profile Fresh.
I know I’m such a sentimental sop, but every time I watch the actors perform the more cinematic experience at the start of the tour I can’t help but feel a little bit emotional. And a tear definitely escaped my eyes, I’m not gonna lie… I just think it’s a really well-designed opening to the tour, which honours the life of John and Alexander Walker and puts the timeline in perspective. What really affects me is how what they started back in 1820 in Kilmarnock still lives on through such a strong brand identity today. The tour makes it feel as if John and Alexander appears in front of you, if only for a little moment, so that the the current Johnnie Walker drinkers can raise a glass to the pioneers who started it all. And yes, I’m actually crying just a little bit just writing this, that’s just the kind of emotional being I am!
I won’t write too much about the tour as I’ve previously done a blog post just focusing on it – and I also don’t want to spoil anything as I’d really recommend experiencing it in person. But I can say that there’s so many little details that I’ve missed on previous visits that I discovered this time around, and I’m sure there will be even more next time. Just things like how the staircases are designed in the same shape and angle as the labels. So if you think they look familiar, that’s why…
The Whisky Makers Cellar Tasting
To finish the day we had the privilege to have a private tasting in the slightly chilly Whisky Makers Cellar, where the casks have been maturing underneath the building for just over a year. It was the new Johnnie Walker master blender Emma Walker (no relation to John himself), George Harper – the Johnnie Walker Whisky Specialist who created this new whisky – and Mark Hogarth – the Creative Director of Harris Tweed – who led the tasing. To my surprise the whisky had more weight and waxy texture than I had anticipated. But to be fair, I didn’t know what to expect from it. Considering the whisky has been finished underneath a heated building, one might expect the maturations to perhaps extract flavour in a similar manner to maturation in warmer climates where you usually get a lot of flavour in a short amount of time, comparatively to colder climates.
On the nose I got peaches, honey, butterscotch and a hint of cold brew coffee and the whole feel of the whisky was weighty.
The palate gave soft wood spice but was fairly sweet and gave a waxy finish with a light touch of smoke.
If you are someone who enjoys quite a waxy whisky, perhaps like a Clynelish, this might be an interesting one for you.
The idea behind working with Harris Tweed, was the start of the new series that will bring Johnnie Walker together with some of Scotland’s greatest creative forces, who share similar values to create unique whiskies. I think the Harris Tweed looks wonderful and hearing all about how they chose the colours and had to mix a variety of reds in the yarn just to get the right nuance is fascinating to for me it’s brilliant to see a collaboration like this.
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