The History Of Johnnie Walker

Today in #CocktailCulture  the history of Johnnie Walker.
Originally known as Walker’s Kilmarnock Whisky, the Johnnie Walker brand is a legacy left by John Walker after he started to sell whisky in his grocery store in Ayrshire, Scotland. The brand became popular, but after Walker’s death in 1857 it was his son Alexander 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.
In Britain prior to 1860, it was illegal to sell blended whisky. During that time John Walker sold a number of single malt whiskies—notably his own Walker’s Kilmarnock. In 1867, he launched Johnnie Walker’s first commercial blend and called it Old Highland Whisky. He then made the astute move of engaging ships’ captains as his agents to carry his whisky wherever ships could sail. Before long, his unique blend was available around the globe.

Alexander Walker introduced the iconic square bottle in 1860. 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, the re-branding was finalised and in 1909, Special Old Highland Whisky was renamed Johnnie Walker Red Label while the Extra Special Old Highland Whisky was renamed Johnnie Walker Black Label. 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, 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 “Keep Walking”.

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