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Johnnie Walker Whisky Story

Johnnie Walker Whisky is known worldwide the Red Label and Black Label, however there are actually 8 different Labels plus a further 8 specials, (4 limited editions and 4 exclusive blends).

John Walker founder of Johnnie Walker Whisky

John Walker was born in 1805 on a Todrigg’s Farm in the west of Scotland. After his father’s death the farm was sold 1819, and John purchased his first shop the next year in Kilmarnock Scotland. From historic records he was selling Rum, Brandy, Gin and Islay whisky.


1837 John has a son Alexander, who was to take over the business on his father’s death in 1857.


1853 the mixing of different ages of whisky from the same distillery was allowed. This was called vatting.


1860 the spirits Act was passed allowing different whiskies to be blended together in bonded warehouses.


1865 Alexander creates a malt whisky which he registers in 1867 under copyright as Old Highland Whisky,

later to become Johnnie Walker Black Label.


The John Walker brand whisky was popular and in 1870 to save shipping costs they changed the shape of the bottle to a square, which allowed bottles to be packed more efficiently.

The quicker they could make the whisky the more they could sell, until 1915 when a law was passed that whisky must spend two years in an oak barrel. 


He then has the traditional label of the Johnnie Walker Whisky designed, which he registers under trademark in 1877. A label at an angle of 24 degrees which is in use today.

West End Edinburgh Binns Clock

 1906 the Walker Whisky Company had three main products, Old Highland White Label 5 year old, Special Old Highland Red Label 9 year old and Extra Special Old Highland Black Label 12 year old.


The company Logo ‘The Striding Man’ was first drawn by Tom Brown in 1908 and their famous one liner

‘Born 1820 -Still going strong’ was introduced. In 1909 rebranding to Johnnie Walker took place, which introduced the famous 10 year old Red and 12 year old Black Label whisky brand.


On to 1970 after many awards and warrants from royalty, the first Johnnie Walker shop was opened where it first began in Kilmarnock. Over the next 42 years Johnnie Walker introduced more brands and specials and today is one of the most well-known names in Scottish Whisky worldwide.


Johnnie Walker is now owned by a whisky conglomerate Diageo who has opened the Johnnie Walker Visitor Centre on Princes Street Edinburgh Scotland. One of the largest Whisky Visitor Experience centres in the World.

Look for the 4 corners of Johnnie Walker the closest to Edinburgh is Glenkinchie see more on

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