In April 2010, as part of an April Fools’ campaign, KFC announced the Double Down sandwich in America. The idea was simple: KFC do chicken “well”; people wanted a chicken sandwich; so why not leave the bread out and use the chicken to sandwich bacon and cheese? Although it started as an April Fools’ joke, demand was so high that, less than two weeks later, they released the Double Down to a test audience. Response was overwhelming; in four months, they sold 10 million of these “tasty” beasts. They are now sold internationally. They took what they did “well” and decided to do it “better”.
Johnnie Walker are currently the most widely available and successful (depending slightly on your definition of success) brand of whisky, blended or otherwise in the world. Until very recently, they had five core blends in their range – the immediately recognisable Red, Black, Green, Gold and Blue. The Red and Black have been around since 1909, with the three more premium blends added in the 90’s. Their most recent addition to the range is the Double Black; essentially they took the Black and added some West Coast. Along with these peated whiskies, they also used a selection of whiskies aged in heavily charred oak casks. The result is simply a smokier Black Label.
Colour: dark amber
Nose: dark roasted coffee, dark chocolate, orange, spices, pipe smoke and leather
Body: thick and creamy
Palate: creamy smoke, vanilla and nutmeg, chocolate and coffee.
Finish: long and warm, floating notes of smoke, left with a dry nutty finish.
Compared to the original Black, the smoked character is a worthwhile addition; it adds a strength of flavour that is quite a change from the normally subtle JW. The West Coast additions don’t dominate (this is not trying to be a massively peated blend like Peat Monster or Big Peat) but rather balance with the usual flavours. I don’t think it will replace Black label as the international whisky of choice but it is a fascinating addition to the range, most assuredly worth a try if you haven’t already had some.