Certain brands of whisky require an acquire palate, but if you love Scotch, you know about Johnnie Walker. This favorite spirit has long enjoyed superiority in the industry, and there’s seemingly little limit to what Scotch enthusiasts will pay for a single pour.
A Fine Blend
Since Scottish grocer John Walker first blended his whisky nearly 200 years ago, it has exploded in popularity. Now, Johnnie Walker Scotch is available in more than 180 countries—that’s significantly more countries than have a McDonald’s, asserting the nearly universal popularity of quality alcohol.
Today, Johnnie Walker makes 7 versions of their whisky, each labeled with a color, and cult followings itch for the higher quality labels when they are in short supply. The blue label version, rare as it may be, is the most expensive scotch in the world.
Though John Walker likely first blended whisky in the privacy of his own home or grocery store, it was his son who released it to the public after his death. The patented square bottle quickly came to symbolize excellence, and the system of naming blends by colors was adopted in the early 1900s.
By 1920, Johnnie Walker had moved into 120 foreign markets. Even Coca cola had not experienced that sort of global success yet.
Finally in 1999, all of the Johnnie Walker management was brought together centrally to create one cohesive brand and message. Today, Johnnie Walker is largely regarded as the best premium spirit in the world, and it is certainly one of the most costly.
Not Entirely Alone at The Top
There’s no denying that Johnnie Walker outsells every other brand of Scotch by a long shot, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some other names that deserve a second thought from Johnnie Walker.
Though Johnnie Walker’s closest competitor, Ballantine’s, sold less than half of what Johnnie Walker did in 2017, they still saw a 3.8% bump in sales compared to Johnnie Walker’s 2%. The number three Scotch, Grant’s, jumped by 1.1% to sell less than a third of Johnnie Walker’s 18.1 million cases.
A New Era
Johnnie Walker long relied on its tag “keep walking” to inspire consumers to purchase its Scotch, but eventually began supplementing that phrase with more visually engaging ads. In 2014, Johnnie Walker embraced a campaign that aimed to give visual life to the flavor of each of their labels.
This campaign came hot on the heels of a brand-sponsored online film starring Jude Law and Giancarlo Giannini.
Struggling for Common Ground
Despite being immensely popular with men, Johnnie Walker has had little success appealing to women. That’s why, in 2018, the brand released a limited edition version of the whisky called Jane Walker that was geared specifically toward women.
Though the expressed intention was to make Scotch feel more accessible to women, the reaction was decidedly negative, since the act was viewed as pandering. Johnnie Walker executives explained their rationale, but the release was viewed largely as an error in judgment.
Toast to Success
Johnnie Walker is the best selling brand of Scotch in the world, and was even ranked as the 97th best global brand in 2018. The brand is worth billions, and has seen a steady rise in that valuation since 2016. Johnnie Walker’s commitment, authenticity, and consistency were cited as contributing factors to its rank.
Scotch may not be everyone’s flavor, but the brand’s success proves that everyone who enjoys Scotch is certain to love Johnnie Walker.