Review: Johnnie Walker Select Casks – Rye Cask Finish 10 Years Old

Review: Johnnie Walker Select Casks – Rye Cask Finish 10 Years Old

johnnie-walker-rye-cask-finishThe venerable house of Johnnie Walker is always good for something different once in a while. This year we see the launch of the new Select Casks limited release series which will run for the next few years and showcase different woods used as finishing barrels.

First out of the gate is Rye Cask Finish. This blend starts with Cardhu malt plus a variety of grain whiskies which are aged for 10 years in first-fill ex-bourbon barrels. It is then finished in ex-rye whiskey casks for one month before bottling.

I compared Rye Cask to Black Label, the closest analogue in the Walker stable, though it’s a bit older at 12 years of age. It’s a quite a different spirit, so clear your expectations before you dive in.

The nose is big with burnt marshmallow, dark caramel, toasted grains, and some medicinal, iodine-laden, kippered fish notes coming along in time. The seaside elements are mild, though, as the more woody/spicy/grainy character takes center stage. On the palate, it’s got heavy toasted notes, almost coming across as burnt bread at times, and ample barrel char. Again, light smoke comes across more as wood fire than peat smoke, but a gentle sweetness driven by raisins, cinnamon bread, and molasses notes more than compensates.

This whisky is bold and a little brutish, and it tends to be all over the place from start to finish. It’s initially a bit off-putting, but you’ll find it’s got quite a number of charms, provided you stick with it and give it a chance to breathe.

92 proof.


Johnnie Walker Select Casks - Rye Cask Finish 10 Years Old




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.


  1. Brien on November 2, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    I’ve graduated to exploring single malts but since JW was my intro into this passion, I’ve held a favorable bias towards it. I enjoy Double Black (keeping a bottle handy) and the now discontinued Gold (still have a bottle to open) was wondering how it compared to the Double Black because it seems to be closer to that in taste than the Gold?

  2. Whiskey Nut on April 25, 2017 at 2:09 pm

    ‘Bold and brutish’?
    Man, you ain’t had a decent rye!
    Soft and sweet more like.
    I admire JW for their experimentation & this is a decent dram but the rye content is toned down.
    Sagamore Spirit Rye is bold and brutish – and all the better for it!

    • Christopher Null on April 25, 2017 at 2:20 pm

      This isn’t a rye. It is finished in rye whiskey barrels, that’s it.

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