Not a Blend, not a Single Malt but (according to current official terminology) a Blended Malt. Confused? So you should be. Of a style formerly known as Vatted Malt, Green Label contains only Single Malt whiskies. I.E. no grain whisky, just 100% Single Malts. Personally, I think Vatted Malt is a much better description and as such it is the one I will continue to use. The original JW Green Label became somewhat of a collectors item and still sells for ridiculous sums of money on that basis. In 2011 supplies of the original Green dried up, except in Asia where JW continued to market it. The lucky Taiwanese even got a couple of higher proof versions. I have not tried the original Green Label for some time, so will not attempt a direct comparison here. I do, however, recall it being quite a decent whisky. It did lose a bit of it's shine towards the end of its run but was, nevertheless, a solid Vatted Malt.
So, having parted with the princely sum of $70AU I was hoping the new Green 15 could maintain its predecessors place as the finest whisky in the range. A vatting of Talisker, Caol Ila, Linkwood and Cragganmore, (all at least 15 years old) and bottled at 43% ABV; this unusually useful information may be found on the box. I think though, it's a bit of a stretch for JW to call Caol Ila "Islay's best kept secret". That title clearly belongs to the Laphroaig goat shaving fiasco. Green Label is sold in a solid rectangular bottle housed in a simple cardboard box. A good, simple presentation that will appeal to those who would rather pay for their whisky than its marketing.
Colour: Deep gold. While Johnnie Walker have not gone overboard with E150 caramel colour, no E150 at all would be better and probably more appealing to the Green Label market. Nose: A faint hint of peat, fresh cut hay, vanilla, black tea, citrus and sea spray. Put simply; sweet, spicy and a little salt. Talisker and Caol Ila make their presence known upfront. A really interesting (rather than outstanding) nose that one should take one's time to appreciate. Fruity Linkwood uncloaks itself on the palate backed by the Cragganmore. It is actually really interesting to experience the multiple personalities of this whisky jostling for prominence; a tussle Linkwood and Cragganmore are doomed to lose and yet they still play their parts. Mouthfeel is perhaps the least impressive aspect here so let's move on to the good stuff, of which there is much. A lovely floral arrival. Honey and vanilla, toffee apple and white pepper. The Linkwood and Cragganmore remind us they are there before giving way to a decent Islay brine finish. Fruit, spice, salt and a touch of smoke; a delightful, if lightweight, whisky. 85/100