Johnnie Walker

    Johnnie Walker history, profile and history video

     “Further reading

     John ‘Johnnie’ Walker began managing a grocery store in Kilmarnock in 1819. John started trading teas and spices from the New World – rich, exciting flavours that required craft and skill to harness and balance. He was good at it and in time began to apply his newly acquired skills to the creation of whisky blends. Seeing the popularity of his whiskies among locals, John launched his own whisky brand, Walker’s Kilmarnock Whisky. Bustling ports in Glasgow and Greenock opened the doors for a thriving import and export trade, which kick-started the Johnnie Walker whisky business. In 1860, John’s son, Alexander unveiled the iconic square bottle, so that it could be shipped more easily, with less breakages. In 1870, its label was slanted, allowing more text to be included. The design, as well as the whisky, was innovative, iconic and desirable.

    Alexander’s son, Alexander II, developed the Red Label blend by marrying light whiskies with dark, peaty expressions. The brand earned its first royal warrant in 1934, and today the range comprises different expressions of the Johnnie Walker vision, with Johnnie Walker Red Label being added to by Johnnie Walker Black Label, Johnnie Walker Double Black Label, Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve, Johnnie Walker Platinum Label and Johnnie Walker Blue Label. The delicious, rounded character of these great whiskies can be enjoyed on their own, savoured with ice or with a splash of water. Each Johnnie Walker whisky is a blend of extraordinary depths and big, bold flavours. Explore the expert blends from this great whisky house.

    “Johnnie Walker History

    Underground to Wood Lane to anywhere: International Advertising Exhibition at White City, 29 November to 4 December 1920. Advertising poster by Frederick Charles Herrick for London Underground transportation to an exhibition at White City, showing an assemblage of characters representing various advertising trademarks and emblems, including Bibendum, the Michelin Man; Johnnie Walker; and theKodak Girl, in an Underground station displaying advertising posters.

    Originally known as Walker’s Kilmarnock Whisky, the Johnnie Walker brand is a legacy left by John “Johnnie” Walker after he started to sell whisky in his grocer’s shop in Ayrshire, Scotland. The brand became popular, but after Walker’s death in 1857 it was his sonAlexander Walker and grandson Alexander Walker II who were largely responsible for establishing the whisky as a popular brand. Under John Walker, whisky sales represented eight percent of the firm’s income; by the time Alexander was ready to pass on the company to his own sons, that figure had increased to between 90 and 95 percent.

    Prior to 1860, it was illegal to sell blended whisky. During that time John Walker sold a number of whiskies—notably his ownWalker’s Kilmarnock. In 1865, John’s son Alexander produced their first blend, Walker’s Old Highland.

    Alexander Walker introduced the iconic square bottle in 1870. This meant more bottles fitting the same space and resulted in fewer broken bottles. The other identifying characteristic of the Johnnie Walker bottle is the label, which is applied at an angle of 24 degrees and allows text to be made larger and more visible.

    From 1906 to 1909, John’s grandsons George and Alexander II expanded the line and introduced the colour names. In 1908, whenJames Stevenson was the Managing Director, there was a re-branding of sorts. The whisky was renamed from Walker’s Kilmarnock Whiskies to Johnnie Walker Whisky. In addition, the slogan, “Born 1820—Still going Strong!” was created, along with the Striding Man logo, a figure used in their advertisements to this day, created by illustrator Tom Browne, in honour of the founder, and given the same name.

    Johnnie Walker White was dropped during World War I. In 1932, Alexander II added Johnnie Walker Swing to the line, the name originating from the unusual shape of the bottle, which allowed it to rock back and forth.

    The company joined Distillers Company in 1925. Distillers was acquired by Guinness in 1986, and Guinness merged with Grand Metropolitan to form Diageo in 1997.

    Johnnie Walker is no longer blended in Kilmarnock, and has not been for many years. The bonded warehouses and company offices (now local authority) can still be seen in Strand Street and John Finnie Street.

    On 1 July 2009, Bryan Donaghey, Diageo Managing Director for Global Supply Scotland, announced that Diageo intended to cease production at the plant in Kilmarnock. Under a restructuring programme across Scotland, production would be moved from the brand’s original home to Diageo plants in Leven, Fife, and Shieldhall, Glasgow.

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    News of the planned closure had widespread media attention and condemnation. Following the decision, a public campaign was waged to try to persuade Diageo to reverse this decision. However on 9 September 2009 Diageo stated that they intended to press ahead with the move away from Kilmarnock and that the matter was “closed”.

    The Johnnie Walker plant, the largest employer in the town of Kilmarnock, closed its doors in March 2012.”

    *Information from and

    **Video published on YouTube by “Best Commercials



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