Johnnie Walker master blender Dr Emma Walker (no relation to Johnnie) took on the role earlier this year and has unveiled what may very well be her first masterpiece. The fifth release in an ongoing series, Blue Label Ghost & Rare Port Dundas culls from a world-famous grain whisky distillery, the now-defunct Port Dundas in Glasgow. Emma handpicked the most distinctive expressions from Johnnie Walker‘s reserves when bringing this rich and complex spirit to life. It tells four unique stories with every sip: that of a historic distillery, of a special edition series, of a new master blender, and of a sensational flavour journey.
Before shuttering in 2010, the Port Dundas Distillery was an enduring icon of Scotland’s whisky industry. Constructed in 1811 on the banks of the Forth and Clyde Canal at the height of Glasgow’s commercial history, they shipped their output to ports around the world for nearly 200 years. Regarded as one of the finest grain whiskies, their spirit took on additional depth and complexity by way of double-cask maturation in second-fill American oak and first-fill highly charred American oak, respectively. The result was a uniquely sweet and delicate grain character, with a creamy texture and fragrant notes of spice, vanilla, and oak.
When crafting the new Blue Label Ghost & Rare Port Dundas, Emma and her team were tasked with doing what they do best and blending an absolute beast. To counterbalance the creamy, woody and spicy profile of Port Dundas, they hand-selected two other ‘ghost’ whiskies from the distilleries of Cambus and Brora, thus bringing in layers of vanilla and soft smoke. They further incorporated ultra-rare Scotch from the iconic distilleries of Cameronbridge, Glenkinchie, Clynelish, Dailuaine, and Auchroisk, so as to impart the flavours and aromas of spiced fruits, amongst other things.
To quote Emma herself, “These rare whiskies highlight how the distillery character of Port Dundas blossoms over a mellow maturation, perfectly showcasing the wonderful depth of flavour that this distinctively sweet and delicate grain whisky brings to Johnnie Walker Blue Label. Its incredible character inspired us to create something truly extraordinary that pays proper tribute to the whisky makers of this storied Glasgow distillery.”
The new Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost & Rare Port Dundas carries on a tradition of limited edition releases, each one crafted using irreplaceable “ghost” whiskies and other fine expressions from the blender’s rarest reserves. Previous examples include last year’s Blue Label Ghost and Rare Pittyvaich and 2018’s Blue Label Ghost and Rare Port Ellen, to name just a few. Each release gives drinkers a special opportunity to sample the dwindling stocks of a once famous but no longer active distillery.
Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost and Rare Port Dundas also represents an exciting new chapter in the brand’s own legacy. Master blender Dr Emma Walker spent years working alongside her iconic predecessor—Dr Jim Beveridge—before assuming the prestigious role. This limited edition spirit puts her experience front and centre and offers a taste of great things to come. It’s bottled at an ABV of 43.8% and available in select independent and national bottle stores at a suggested retail price of $549.99. Score it before it’s gone like a ghost.