In 1820 a grocer named John Walker was frustrated by the variation in bottles of single malt he sold. His solution was to blend these whiskies together to produce a more consistent product – bottling and selling this blended whisky under his own name from his grocery store in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, a small town in the lowlands of Scotland.
John’s blended whisky business was a success, but after his death in 1857, it was his son Alexander ‘Alec’ Walker (and later his grandsons), that established Johnnie Walker as a huge name in whisky. Exporting blended whisky to the world on ships leaving the ports in nearby Glasgow— the square bottle the brand is now known for, ensured fewer breakages and more bottles in each shipment.
To ensure a supply of single malts to use in their blends, the Walkers went on a string of acquisitions buying Cardhu Distillery in 1893. In 1915/16 they purchased Coleburn, Clynelish, Talisker and Dailuaine distilleries, and in 1923 they bought Mortlach Distillery. This access to a huge supply of single malts helped Johnnie Walker keep pace with demand— and formed the base of a suite of brands now housed by Diageo.
Johnnie Walker is now the most widely distributed brand of blended Scotch whisky in the world— being sold in almost every country globally. The brand is famous for its colourful range of Red, Black, Green, Gold, and Blue Label whiskies.
As Johnnie Walker is a house of blends, it has no single distillery to visit and tour. Instead, you can visit the brand experience at Johnnie Walker Princes Street in Edinburgh for immersive experiences, unique personalised gifts or mementos and exclusive cocktails and cuisine served with exceptional views of Edinburgh Castle from the rooftop bar.