Johnnie Walker Blue Label needs no introduction. For 30 years it has existed as the standard in ultra premium blended scotch. The juice is drawn from some of the finest casks in Diageo’s massive stockpile of malt and grain. Its elegant bottle, with gently sloping shoulders, is immediately recognized along the top shelf of any stylish bar or cocktail lounge. And now that bottle is about to get a special redesign in honor of the upcoming Lunar New Year. Here’s everything you need to know about the seasonal release.
The first thing to note is that the liquid inside the bottle is, in fact, the same liquid that master blender Emma Walker and her team consistently bring to the standard Blue Label offering. In other words, you can expect a plum-like sweetness to the nose and a rich and nutty mouthfeel that promotes vanilla and pepper spice from mid-palate through the finish line. It’s a balanced expression carrying characteristics from all four major regions of scotch production: Highland, Lowland, Speyside and Islay (sorry, Campbeltown, but you’re going to have to sit this one out).
Separating this limited edition from the standard release is its presentation. Both the bottle and its case feature colorful, vivid artistry courtesy of Shanghai-based designer Angel Chen. Across all this art a certain animal assumes center stage. And as 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit, you already know who’s the star of the show.
But there’s a touch more brand symbolism layered on top. The rabbits are depicted prancing about mountainous peaks, which Chen incorporated in order to echo the motto of Johnnie Walker: Keep Walking. And as a happy coincidence, the rabbit also signifies longevity in traditional Asian culture. An apt icon for the blended label which celebrated its 200th anniversary back in 2020.
“There’s a defiant energy to my illustrations which bring to life the vibrant spirit of the rabbit as it leaps across the design,” adds Chen, who studied fashion in the prestigious Central Saint Martin College of Art of London. “It symbolizes how we need to keep moving forward, spreading goodness throughout the year to come.”
Chen goes on to specify that she consulted with Walker when looking for inspiration. Those results are now sitting proudly on shelves nationwide, retailing for $275 a bottle. That gives you plenty of time to be ready for the gift giving traditions of the Chinese New Year, which begins on January 22nd, 2023.
And for those seeking something different inside the bottle, Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost and Rare Port Dundas is a sensible place to start. It’s the fifth installment in the brand’s ongoing series dedicated to shuttered distilleries. This one contains a blend of juices from the eponymous facility—which formerly sat on the banks of the Forth and Clyde Canal—along with treasured liquid from Brora and Cambus. Creamy on the tongue, with a whisper of smoke in the fade, it’s currently selling for $370.