Five Things You Did Not Know About Johnnie Walker

Johnnie Walker is the number one selling Scotch whisky in the world

If you’re old enough to remember, you should be quite familiar with the label’s “Keep Walking” advertising campaign that was launched in 1999 – it was Johnnie Walker’s first global campaign. The campaign has run in more that 120 countries, with TV ads, print ads, radio ads, websites, and even a charity. The advertising campaign phenomenally contributed to sales and brand popularity. Johnnie Walker shifts an estimated 16.2 million cases worldwide, in just one year. One of our favourite Johnnie Walker ads (above) is “The Man Who Walked Around the World” with Robert Carlyle.

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It was originally called Walker’s Kilmarnock Whisky


John Walker first started out as a young farmer. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately for us) he had to sell the family farm after his father’s passing; after which he opened his first grocery in Kilmarnock, Scotland. In the 1820s, it was common to find most whiskies in general groceries. You could head out to buy some sugar and sewing needles, and come back home with a bottle of Scotch too. It was the same story for Johnnie Walker. It was originally called Walker’s Kilmarnock Whisky and was first sold out of John Walker’s grocery store.

The Johnnie Walker label is slanted on purpose


Alexander Walker took over operations of the grocery store and the whisky business, after his father John’s death. And in 1870 one of the first things he did to help his family’s Scotch brand stand out from all the others, was to slant the label at precisely 24 degrees. The brand's iconic square bottle was also introduced by Alexander Walker in 1870. During John Walker’s stewardship, whisky sales represented 8% of the store’s income. When Alexander Walker decided to hand over the business to his sons, the figure had increased to between 90-95%.

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The coloured labels were only introduced by John Walker’s grandsons


Johnnie Walker bottles were not differentiated or labeled by colour until Alexander Walker handed over the family business to his sons. Eventually they started identifying the different blends this way. Up until recently Johnnie Walker Blue was the blend that most whisky lovers agreed was the “good stuff”. Now there are also Gold and Platinum labels. The Red is a blend that was originally created to be mixed with soda. The Black is peatier than the Blue but not as smooth. The Double Black has a smokier palate and is an effort to recreate peat-heavy single malts. The prized Blue label is rich, smooth and alluringly complex.

There is a US$22,577.44 bottle of Johnnie Walker


The US$22,577.44 Johnnie Walker bottle contains a blend of 45 to 70-year-old whiskies. It is apparently a celebration of the company’s legacy, and here’s the best part…it isn’t for sale!

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