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Personalised John Walker & Sons XR 21

Personalised John Walker & Sons XR 21 is the perfect gift for a whisky drinker who appreciates the finer things in life, without the need to sail out into the deep turbulent waters of single malt Scotch in extremis. That is to say, die-hard fans who require complex and rare bottlings will not swoon upon tasting this whisky, no matter how much money was spent to acquire it, or how beautiful the packaging might be.


XR is the oldest Walker available worldwide. It comes in a fancy decanter-style bottle with a gold colored (plastic) stopper. On top of that, the whole works is packaged in a metallic gold box, which features a striking cut-out that reminds me of a hybridized Maltese cross and a Celtic cross.


Within the rather substantial bottle, you will find a whisky with a golden appearance that takes on a deep vermilion hue depending on the lighting (thanks, in part, to artificial coloring). Frankly, it’s worth mentioning that the whisky in my glass appears quite a bit more gold when compared with advertisements online that remind me of burnished copper.


The scent gives off a mysterious waft of fruits. Vanilla and lotus flower mingle with a pleasantly noncommittal type of fruitiness, along with some woodiness from 21 years or more in quite a few different casks.


At forty percent alcohol, the mouth feel is luscious and smooth with absolutely no need for water. Stone fruits like peaches and nectarines emerge to swirl around a ring of pineapple. Coconut makes an entrance, but this time, it reminds me of baker’s shredded coconut. Waffle cone asserts itself. And, finally, some tartness from wood tannins helps to balance all of the sweetness.

In the finish, a bit of caramel comes to the fore. Surprisingly, it rises to the roof of the mouth: a slight bitter note rears its serpentine head, only to sink back into a wave of vanilla extract. Yes, first-fill casks become noticeable, if at the death. Very nice and reassuring. I would characterize the XR’s finish as “medium” in length.

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