Johnnie Walker has been known for its premium blended whiskey, an all-time favorite. In fact, the brand released different products named with colors like the Red Label, Blue Label, and Black Label.
Among these, the most popular among their Scotch whiskies are the Johnnie Walker Black Label and the Double Black. However, what sets the two apart, despite the latter being based on the former, lies in the following aspects: taste, price, and flavor.
The original Black Label tends to have a much lighter and sweeter taste than the Double Black, making it ideal for those who prefer something smoother. In contrast, the Double Black has a much richer and intense taste, which can be overwhelming for some but ideal for those who want a whiskey taste that builds over time.
In terms of their flavors, the original Black Label contains notes of vanilla, toffee, and citrus fruits that allow for easy drinking. In contrast, Double Black whiskies have notes of honey, spices, and wood that offer a much more complex taste than the original.
In addition, although the Double Black Label was only established in 2011, it usually costs more than the original, with a price range of about $41.99 to $44.99. This is slightly higher than the original’s $29.99 to $32.99 price range.
Nevertheless, how different is one from the other? If we put the two against each other, who would win?
Johnnie Walker Black Label vs. Double Black Label – Understanding the Differences
Both products of the infamous Johnnie Walker Label by John Walker started off as a grocery store in 1820 until the business ventured whiskey blending in 1865. With over a century of experience, it has produced variously aged and no-age-statement whiskeys to match consumer preference.
The Black label served as the blueprint for the production of Double Black and has been around for about a century, whereas Double Black was only published in 2011.
Distilled and Blend
In terms of the blend, both have similar characteristics. Both Black Label and Double Black blended are blended with different whiskies from the corners of Scotland, malt whiskies of the West Coast, and the smoky touch of whiskies from the East Coast.
However, unlike Black Label, Double Black is characterized by complex and intense qualities from Islay whiskies and is thus a lot stronger.
The original Johnnie Walker Black Label has an age statement of 12 years long, while the Johnnie Walker Double Label was made to have no age statement.
Alcohol Strength and Color
Both Black Label and Double Black have an alcohol percentage of 43% ABV or 80 US Proof. The Black Label has the color of polished amber and is of a lighter shade, while the Double Black is quite similar but with touches of red and copper.
Taste and Flavor
Black Label is spicier than Double Black and is best for easy drinking. It has the sweetness of toffee with bites of spice and cereal. The sweetness is released with water, but it is not necessary. On the other hand, Double Black has a much more complicated taste that builds up slowly over time.
Its sweetness is of honey, butter creamy with bites of ash. It also has a malt, pepper, and citrus finish. If you add water, it loses a bit of its complexity and releases a bitter taste which is why it is best as it is.
Johnnie Walker Black Label is less expensive than Double Black. For 750ml bottles, it runs from $29.99 to $32.99 each, while the latter runs from $41.99 to $44.99.
Which is Better: Johnnie Walker Black vs. Double Black
Johnnie Walker Black Label would be better than those who like aged and less intense whiskies with a smooth taste and distinct flavor and spice. However, for more adventurous types who value smoke, complexity, and rich flavor that slowly builds up, then the Double Black is the better bet. This one is bolder, more luxurious, vibrant, and is like a mature version of the Black Label and is best for celebratory events.
Here is a comparison table for the two to summarize everything:
Johnnie Walker Black Label
Johnnie Walker Double Black
40 whiskies around Scotland, Highland malts, smoky islands and Speyside
The same but with higher proportion on Scottish West Coast whiskies
Aged at least 12 years
Alcohol and ABV
Less smoky, characterized by a fruity scent of red berries, pudding, vanilla, toffee and spice
Smokey, rich and complex with hints of citrus, nuts, vanilla and malt
Smooth, and sweet like creamy toffee with hints of cereal and spice
Starts off with spice then overflows with smoke. It is rich with hints of ash and honey sweetness.
$29.99 to $32.99
$41.99 to $44.99
Orange zest and vanilla
Honey, fruits, vanilla, spices and charred wood
The question of which is superior is subjective. However, based on both of their qualities, we can easily decipher which of the two suits certain preferences. Johnnie Walker Black Label is best for those looking for something simple, smoother, and lighter. It is slightly spicier but more affordable. On the other hand, Double Black is the better choice for added luxury and kick with its complex and bold blend.