Tiredness really is a surreal condition, I thought, as I pulled the cork and poured a generous dose into a low glass. Two-twelve in the morning. The last couple and a half hours have slipped by me totally unnoticed. And now, frozen at the exact moment that the first drop fell from the mouth of the bottle, I reflected on how I had arrived at that moment.
I have a few flashes of recent memory. After going to bed at two and waking up at five the day before, I decided that a morning jog would be a good idea. I came back, showered, made a bathtub worth of coffee, and slipped through three consecutive meetings, which ended up in something that could be considered dinner – a chicken curiously raw on one side and charred on the other.
Then my body – which had clearly already been abandoned by my mind – decided it would be a good idea to start a post for this blog. Nine-thirty at night, give or take. I went catatonic, staring at the blank screen for an hour and a half, before I finally gave up, turned off the computer and went to bed. And then, the most curious thing happened.
I passed in front of my whisky cabinet and, sideways, noticed a curious bottle. John Walker & Sons Celebratory Blend. An item just added to my timid liquid library and released in December 2020 in our country. Still fully sealed, waiting for the perfect moment to try this blog. The perfect moment like, for example, just that.
Fade out, fade in. Sitting at the breakfast room table, tumbler in hand, my neurons took a last breath. So. Tired. Ok, just a wee dram – fifteen minutes and then bed – I silently promised as the whiskey went down. I felt the first aromas. Sweet, cinnamon, brown sugar, vanilla. Very aromatic, and somewhat reminiscent of the late Gold Label 18. I remember reading that Jim Beveridge, the master blender behind the creation, once stated that “the Celebratory Blend is inspired by flavours found in the stocktaking books from Walker’s store, which were housed in Diageo’s archive. We wanted to use only whiskies that would have been available to the family in the 1860s and to create a sense of the aromas and flavours of the shop.”
Before taking the first sip, I gazed at the bottle with interest. The Johnnie Walker Celebratory Blend package is inspired by the Old Highland Whiskey, originally released in the 1960s of the nineteenth century. It was the first Johnnie Walker whisky to be created for export, and the first to feature the iconic square bottle with a diagonal label. The case also pays homage to that whisky, and contains the only known photo of the Walkers emporium in Kilmarnock.
I took my first sip. Sweet at the beginning, but winey and fruity at the end. Dried fruits, raisins, plums. The finish reminds of discreet smoke, dry pepper and ginger. Very good, just what I needed, I mumbled to myself as I felt a strange heaviness over my eyebrows. It was like my forehead was going to collapse over my eyes. I took a deep breath, took another sip and noticed an incredible detail. 51% alcoholic strength! That’s bold.
I remembered that the Johnnie Walker Celebratory Blend is part of a trio of Diageo releases to commemorate 200 years of Johnnie Walker. In addition to this, two luxury blended scotch whiskeys were also produced, the John Walker & Sons Bicentenary Blend and the Johnnie Walker Blue Label Legendary Eight. Both, with the participation of silent stills belonging to the constellation of Diageo distilleries. One more sip, that’s it.
As soon as I finished the dram, I went back to the room and turned on the computer again. And I turned off myself. I must have spent a good half hour – or more – like this. Napping, in peace, in front of the machine. Opening my eyes, I looked at the text I had just produced. Or not. I looked at the bottle again in front of me. Not this time, my dear Johnnie Walker Celebratory Blend. Time to go to bed. Goodnight.
JOHNNIE WALKER CELEBRATORY BLEND
Type: Blended Whiskey with no defined age (NAS)
Brand: Johnnie Walker
Aroma: Sweet, cinnamon, brown sugar, vanilla
Flavor: Sweet at the beginning, but winey and fruity at the end. Dried fruits, raisins, plums. A discreet smoke that ends and a dry pepper of ginger.