Drinks With – Jonathan Driver

This Drinks With was done in association with John Walker & Sons Diamond Jubilee – It featured in the May issue of Australian Bartender

Jonathan Driver made a short trip to Australia recently and this time there were a few new products just added to the Johnnie Walker whisky portfolio. We took some time to chat to him about one of their most special creations, the Diamond Jubilee.

Diamond Jubilee is an exclusive release from John Walker & Sons, the founding company name behind Johnnie Walker. Can you tell us a little bit about it? Why did John Walker & Sons decide to create it?

John Walker & Sons wanted to mark Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee with a fine example of craftsmanship and celebrate her remarkable six decades on the throne by creating a lasting legacy for British craftsmanship for generations to come.


John Walker & Sons, Scotch Whisky Distillers By Appointment to Her Majesty The Queen, created for sale 60 limited edition crystal decanters of Diamond Jubilee by John Walker & Sons Blended Scotch Whisky. The blend has been crafted from 60 year old whiskies that were distilled in and have been maturing since 1952, the year The Queen acceded to the throne. The whiskies were then finished in marrying casks made of English oak provided by kind permission of The Queen from her private Sandringham Estate, her Norfolk retreat.

These editions are being offered for individual sale at £100,000 each. John Walker & Sons will donate its profits from the sales, with a guarantee of at least £1million, to the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST), the charitable arm of the Royal Warrant Holders Association, in support of its Diamond Jubilee Appeal, through which it aims to grow its scholarship base and build a mentoring programme to enable traditional British craftsmanship to flourish.

Diamond Jubilee by John Walker & Sons is presented in a Baccarat crystal decanter, decorated with Britannia silver adornments by Scottish silversmiths Hamilton & Inches, including the Royal Arms and John Walker & Sons monogram, a numbered seal and a collar that features a half-carat diamond. This is accompanied by a pair of hand engraved lead crystal glasses and a leather-bound, personalised, hand-embellished artefact book, all housed in a bespoke cabinet incorporating wood from The Queen’s Sandringham and Balmoral Estates.

How many bottles have been made and who can purchase them?

John Walker & Sons has created 60 editions for sale worldwide and they are available for purchase by invitation only.  We have experienced an extremely positive reaction from potential buyers and are pleased with the sales to date.

The select few who purchase Diamond Jubilee will first receive a symbolic Britannia silver key. The key symbolises the purchase until an individual receives their personal edition.

Is the inclusion of Australia in the Diamond Jubilee project an indicator of the strength of our market for whisky?

With only 60 bottles available as part of the highly cherished project, we feel very privileged that Australia has been identified as a market of whisky connoisseurs with a passion for high end quality and craftsmanship. The Australian super deluxe whisky business has been in double digit growth over the past 18 months and demand for rare and unique whiskies continues to grow. A project like Diamond Jubilee by John Walker & Sons is a once in a lifetime endeavour and presents the ultimate masterpiece in celebration of British craftsmanship with one bottle available for purchase in Australia.

Who was the team behind the creation of Diamond Jubilee and why were they chosen?

The hands of more than 60 specialist craftspeople have been involved in the creation of Diamond Jubilee, and, in the spirit of the project, the team of artisans assembled includes both master craftspeople and their skilled apprentices. We have worked closely with QEST to identify and approach the best in their field, mostly connected through their Royal Warrant or QEST Scholarship.

What whiskies have been included in the blend and who was responsible for choosing them?

Diamond Jubilee has been made from a range of exceptional malt and grain Scotch whiskies, and as mentioned before, all whiskies were distilled in and have been maturing since 1952, the year of The Queen’s accession to the throne. John Walker & Sons never reveals the exact composition of any of its blended Scotch whiskies. In this case, what we can tell you is that we have an Edinburgh Grain Whisky, a Speyside Single Malt, and a vatting of North Country Malt Whiskies.

The whiskies were chosen by the John Walker & Sons Master Blender, Jim Beveridge and his apprentice Matthew Crow. Jim and Matthew expertly sourced, selected and scrutinised whiskies of the right age and calibre for this blend.

What was the process behind the creation of Diamond Jubilee?

The rarity of the whiskies, skill of the blenders, and marrying in Sandringham oak all contribute to the exclusivity of this blend. The whiskies chosen still showed a balance between their original distillery character and the effect of maturation – mainly because they had been filled into casks that were only moderately active. The blenders were delighted to discover whiskies with characteristics that were perfect for this special blend.

Diamond Jubilee was blended and put into the marrying casks made from oak from The Queen’s Sandringham Estate in October 2011 prior to bottling on 6 February 2012, marking 60 years to the day since The Queen acceded to the throne. Finishing a blend in a marrying cask is the final traditional step in crafting a whisky. It simply means to bring together the malt and grain whiskies in a cask and leaving them to rest for a period of time to let the flavour combine or ‘marry’ together.

The Diamond Jubilee by John Walker & Sons blend stayed in the marrying casks for just the length of time it took for the flavours to combine and for the casks to add a little further complexity to the blend. The whisky was monitored at very frequent intervals until the blenders determined that we had the character we were looking for. By December 2011 the blenders considered that this had been achieved and so, satisfied that the marrying period was complete, the decision was made to remove the blend from the casks. Following the completion of the marrying period, the blend was held in glass until bottling. It was bottled at its cask strength of 42.5%.

What is the significance of the design of the various elements?

The various elements that are included in the collection are designed to showcase radiance and are based on the number six (to reflect six decades of The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee reign). The decanter itself is an ascendant, multi-faceted diamond shape

Do you expect people to actually drink this whisky?

We hope people will drink and enjoy the Diamond Jubilee by John Walker & Sons Blended Scotch Whisky. It is exceptional and worthy of the event it has been created to celebrate. Of course the splendid decanter, glasses and cabinet can also be retained as a very special record of the unique event.

For the lucky person who purchases the only bottle in Australia, how should Diamond Jubilee be served?

Sip it neat from its bespoke crystal glass, with a glass of chilled water on the side.

To register your interest in purchasing  this bottle please email: diamondjubilee@johnniewalkerandsons.com

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