Johnnie Walker Red Label vs. Johnnie Walker Black Label (Going Red or Black)

Red Label vs Black Label Scotch whisky

From the house of Johnnie Walker, two of the most famously preferred blended Scotch whiskies of the world, the Johnnie Walker Red Label and the Johnnie Walker Black Label are both excellent choices. But how are they different from each other? Is there a better contender among the two? Let’s find out.

The Johnnie Walker brand was established in 1820, as a grocery store before founder, John Walker steered the business into the whisky blending industry. Upon John’s death in 1857, his son, Alexander ‘Alec’ Walker, and grandson, Alexander Walker II augmented the Johnnie Walker brand’s interests in the whisky blending business, developing some of their earliest blended expressions such as the Old Highland, Special Old Highland and the Extra Special Old Highland.

These expressions were commonly referred to by the colour of their labels, which gave birth to the Johnnie Walker tradition of naming their expressions based on different colours. The Special Old Highland became the Johnnie Walker Red Label and the Extra Special Old Highland became the Johnnie Walker Black Label.

Johnnie Walker Red Label, earlier carried an age-statement of 10 years, but was later re-introduced as a no-age-statement blend in 1909. It became the standard Johnnie Walker blend in their inventory, and has been one of their most consistently bestselling expressions ever.

Johnnie Walker Black Label is one of the finest expressions ever introduced by the company. It carries an age-statement of 12 years, and features source whiskies from the four different regions of Scotland, making up for a truly complex drink. It is also one of the most widely sold Johnnie Walker expressions and serves as the blueprint for the Johnnie Walker Double Black expression.

The Johnnie Walker Red Label is a great blended Scotch for mixers, as well as a wonderful choice to drink neat, although it carries a noticeable ‘alcohol’ bite and may not be an exciting prospect for whisky beginners to drink neat.

The Black Label on the other hand is a complex, yet distinctly smooth blended Scotch with an age statement of 12 years. Its tasting notes are underlined by a uniquely peaty flavour, and has been one of the most awarded expressions from the Johnnie Walker stable.

Both the Johnnie Walker Red Label and the Johnnie Walker Black Label belong to the ultra-premium blended Scotch whiskies category although the Black Label is placed slightly above the Red Label in terms of pricing.

Apart from this, the other variants from the House of Johnnie Walker are Johnnie Walker Blue Label, Johnnie Walker Green Label, Johnnie Walker Platinum Label and Johnnie Walker Gold Label.

The Tasting Notes on the Johnnie Walker Red Label are as follows;


Aromatic with notes of spices like cinnamon and pepper, and hints of smokiness.


Mellow with a fruity sweetness, with traces of vanilla.


Long, smoky finish.

The Red Label is a uniquely adaptable drink, and can be taken neat, as well as mixed with a vast array of ingredients and mixers to create some terrific cocktails. It is this quality that has contributed to its voluminous sales worldwide, and makes it one of the most popular blended Scotch whiskies all over the world.

The Tasting Notes carried by the Johnnie Walker Black Label are as follows;


Delicious aromas of spices and raisins with hints of orange zest.


Rich, with a creamy texture and flavours of sweet vanillas, smoky with hints of dry spice and toffees.


Long, fruity finish with the richness of malt and peaty smoke.

The Black Label has been considered a landmark blend from the house of Johnnie Walker, and defines the ultra-premium blended Scotch whisky segment along with heavyweights such as the Chivas Regal XV, and the Ballantine’s 12-year-old.

When it comes to choosing the right option between the Johnnie Walker Red Label and the Johnnie Walker Black Label, it is no surprise that the Black Label emerges as the winner.

Owing to its smoothness, which is a result of the maturation period, coupled with the meticulous blending of diverse whiskies from different regions of Scotland, the Johnnie Walker Black Label is the better choice although the Red Label is the perfect reasonably priced option that carries the excellence of Johnnie Walker.