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In the early 1820s, John Walker began selling whisky from his grocery store on High Street in Kilmarnock, Scotland. At the time the law prohibited the blending of single malts with grain whisky. But that did not stop him from vatting (blending) single malts to meet his customer’s specific requirements.

John died in 1857, and his son Alexander Walker took over the business.
The Spirits Act of 1860 legalized the blending of grain whiskies with malt whiskies and ushered in the modern era of blended Scotch whisky. Blended Scotch whisky, lighter and sweeter in character, was more accessible, and more marketable to a wider audience. The Walkers excelled at this and soon captured a significant percentage of the market and by 1862 sales reached 100,000 gallons per year.

In 1865, Alec Walker, John’s grandson, created Johnnie Walker’s first commercial blend and called it Old Highland Whisky. In 1909 the brand line was extended to three blends, Old Highland at 5 years old, Special Old Highland at 9 years old, and Extra Special Old Highland at 12 years old. Each brand bore the same label but was distinctly colored, white, red and black, respectively. Consequently, the buying public began referring to their whisky Johnnie Walker White, Red, or Black.

That same year the company introduced a new mascot, an image that would become one of the most successful marketing icons of all time, the Striding Man.

In 1932 they introduced a new brand, Swing. Supplied in a distinctive bottle whose irregular bottom allowed it to rock back and forth. This type of bottle design was originally used aboard sailing ships. It would be another 60 years before they introduced a new brand.

In 1992, Johnnie Walker Blue was introduced expanding their line to four brands. (During WWII, the company dropped Johnnie Walker White.) Blue became their premium blend and was intended to recreate the character and taste of some of the earliest whisky blends created in the 19th century. It is considered one of the most expensive blended Scotch whiskies on the market, with prices in the range of US $174.00–450.00 a bottle.

Currently, there are eight blends marketed under the Johnnie Walker name. These include Red, Black, Double Black, Swing, Green, Gold Label Reserve, Platinum (18yr) and Blue label.

Come join us on Sunday, October 20th when we sample five of these blends. (Red, Black, Green, Gold and Blue labels)

We’ll also provide appetizers and a traditional Scottish dessert. Plus, we’ll have a brief presentation on the evolution of the Striding Man right up to the introduction of Jane Walker introduced in 2018.