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Johnnie Walker High Rye vs Black Label: Head to Head!

Discover the differences between Johnnie Walker High Rye vs Black Label in this head to head comparison and decide which Whisky is better for You!

Johnnie Walker High Rye

NoseRipe fruit, mint, rye spice
PalateCaramel, honey, apple, spice
FinishMedium, mint, spice
Alcohol content90 proof (45% ABV)
How to drinkRocks, Cocktails
Similar toChivas 13 American Rye Cask

Johnnie Walker has joined the Rye Whiskey business with a whisky made from a mash comprised of 60% rye and aged in bourbon barrels.

It’s bottled at 90 proof (45% ABV) which is higher than the standard release from this brand.

As usual, this whisky is a blend of malts coming from Cardhu, Glenkinchie, and Caol Ila and grain whiskies from Cameronbridge and Teaninich.

There is some alcohol on the nose that rapidly fades into a ripe fruit note, followed by mint and a spicy touch.

On the palate, the higher proof provides a good body with hints of caramel and honey hitting first, followed by apple and moderate rye spice.

The finish has a decent length, with a note of mint, rye spice and just a bit of oak spice.

Not a bad whisky, moderate on the spice with very little heat and a good option for folks outside the United States with limited access to this type of whisky that makes good cocktails.

If you are on this side of the pond there are several good rye whiskeys such as the Wild Turkey Rye, Bulleit Rye and my much beloved Rittenhouse Whiskey that are far better than this.

Johnnie Walker Black Label

NoseVanilla, orange zest, nectarine
PalateSmoke, roasted malt, caramel, vanilla
FinishLong, fruity, peppery, smoke
Alcohol content80 proof (40% ABV)
How to drinkRocks
Similar toRed Label, Double Black, Blue Label

On the nose, there is vanilla off the gate, followed by orange zest, nectarine and a whiff of alcohol.

On the palate, body feels somewhat thin lacking in texture. The Black Label has a mildly sweet taste, with a flavor rich in peat. There are also hints of caramel and vanilla coming coming late to the party.

The finish has some peat, black pepper, salt, caramel and a bit of warmth but is not harsh.

Overall, the Johnnie Black Label is a reliable whisky, striking a good balance of smoke and sweetness, with peat smoke and charred oak barrel smoke.

Quite smooth but with a warm finish that does not overwhelm. Nevertheless, on a lot of ice as it is commonly served it totally hits the spot.

The Black Label serves as an introductory bottle to smoky Scotch Whisky, those with a hint coming from the peats used to dry the malted barley.

If you are curious about Scotch smoky whisky this is a good starting point due to its affordable price before trying the peaty monster from Islay.

Overall, Black Label is one of the best age statement blends in the market in its current price range and a good choice for an “everyday Scotch”.

Discover the Best Substitutes to the Black Label if you want to consider further options.

There are two fact worth knowing about the Black Label:

  • The Black Label is a blend of 40 grain and malt whiskies aged for at least 12 years crafted in several distilleries across Scotland.

Johnnie Walker High Rye vs Black Label: Price comparison

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

High Rye$40
Black Label$40

Johnnie Walker High Rye vs Black Label: Which is better?

The Black Label is a better option

WhiskeyHigh RyeBlack Label
  • The High Rye Whisky is not bad but I can think of no less than 12 rye whiskeys made in the United States that are far better than this.
  • Perhaps a good option if you are overseas with very limited access to this type of whiskey.
  • Black Label is good and somewhat unique as you are unlikely to find a smoky, age statement whisky at this price point that drinks nicely on the rocks.