The award-winning Johnnie Walker Blue Label might be regarded as one of the finest blended Scotch whiskies there ever was, and has earned a reputation for being gloriously smooth on the palate when savoured neat. Yet few have explored its potential as a cocktail base, much less one with a concoction of Asian flavours. 

However, despite being created from the rarest whiskies across the four corners of Scotland, the Johnnie Walker Blue Label actually pairs perfectly well with Asian and oriental flavours, at least according to Nick Wu, founder of Bar Mood in Taipei, Taiwan, and a 2016 Diageo World Class Finalist.

nick wu - Johnnie Walker Blue Label cocktails
Nick Wu, founder of Bar Mood in Taipei, Taiwan.

With more than a decade of experience, Wu is well-versed in the art of creating a good cocktail, and he’s highly regarded as one of the pioneers in the bartending scene in Taiwan. In creating an Asian-inspired Johnnie Walker Blue Label cocktail, Wu had to first understand the complexity that defines the Scotch. 

“The rich fruity flavours and perfectly balanced smoke of Johnnie Walker Blue Label create a wonderful, velvety smooth Scotch. I personally feel that Johnnie Walker Blue Label brings rolling waves of flavour with fruity notes, smoke and citrus; delivering dried fruit notes, spice and a vanilla sweetness leaving a velvety chocolate, rounded smokiness like no other,” he explained. 

“I believe plums and nuts are a great match for Johnnie Walker Blue Label in cocktails, enhancing the dried fruit notes, spice and a vanilla sweetness of the Scotch and contributing to a delicious lingering finish. Robust tea ingredients also work well for a well-rounded cocktail.”

“The remarkable depth of character in Johnnie Walker Blue Label goes beautifully with rich, deeply-layered Asian ingredients, like tea or plum.”

Out of all the native Asian ingredients, Wu was quick to point out that plums — a popular Taiwanese export — are his personal favourite to use in Johnnie Walker Blue Label cocktails. 

“We have various preserved plums, for example, a dried salty plum which has been air-dried with liquorice powder, or a refreshing green pickled plum or Taiwanese smoked plum. These plums all work magically with Johnnie Walker Blue Label by exploring the layers of effervescent flavour in this exceptional Scotch,” he says.

To demonstrate the versatility of oriental ingredients with the prestigious Scotch blend, Wu shared three Asian-inspired Johnnie Walker Blue Label cocktail recipes which were surprisingly easy to recreate at home.

1
Red Fortune 

50ml Johnnie Walker Blue Label

  • 10ml Homemade Smoke Black Plum Sweet Vermouth
  • 5ml Punt e Mes
  • 5ml Campari

Directions: Combine all ingredients, then stir. 

Bartender Notes: Including smoked plum helps enhance and increase the smoky flavours. The plum aroma sets off the fruity aspect, while the Punt e Mes and Campari gives a herbal, sweet and bitter element for a better balance.

2
Royal Manhattan 

50ml Johnnie Walker Blue Label

  • 5ml Kyoho Liqueur
  • 4 Dashes Green Plum Bitters 

Directions: Combine all ingredients, then stir. 

Bartender Notes: By using refreshing plum ingredients we create a ‘nature forest’ atmosphere. The Kyoho Liqueur brings a strong fruity flavour to this cocktail.

3
The Local

50ml Johnnie Walker Blue Label

  • 5ml homemade Taiwanese Black Tea Syrup
  • 10ml homemade Roasted Tea Bitter
  • 5ml Shaohsing Rice Wine
  • Smoking Tea Leaves

Directions: Combine all ingredients, then stir.

Bartender Notes: I used Shaohsing rice wine because it has a similar to heavy flavour to sherry wine. It also brings in the sweetness of rice and charcoal roasting aroma. Moreover, it creates a different smoky flavour from regular smoky wood.

 

Shatricia Nair
Senior Writer
Shatricia Nair is a motoring, watches, and wellness writer who is perpetually knee-deep in the world of V8s, tourbillons, and the latest fitness trends. She is fuelled by peanut butter and three cups of coffee a day.