When Chef Kei and I set out to capture the essence of umami, we knew we were taking a step into the unknown by embarking on an exciting journey of flavour exploration. Together, we wanted to push the boundaries of what Scotch could be and bring a truly innovative offering to the world of whisky and flavour,” Johnnie Walker Master Blender Emma Walker explains.
Johnnie Walker Blue Label Elusive Umami is a limited edition release crafted by Emma Walker and renowned Japanese Chef Kei Kobayashi, who joined forces to create a Scotch whisky that encapsulates the enigmatic taste of umami. A Japanese word used to identify the ‘fifth taste’, umami is an enigmatic flavour that possesses mysterious qualities.
Emma Walker continues: “For Johnnie Walker Blue Label Elusive Umami, only one in 25,000 casks in our unparalleled reserves of more than 10 million maturing casks made the cut when we painstakingly searched our reserves for that elusive flavour profile – each expression of Scotch whisky was hand-picked to create an umami profile, just like ingredients for a recipe, allowing us to bring the unique character of this innovative whisky to life.”
In an exercise to decode one of the world’s most enigmatic flavours, these two masters of flavour channelled their years of experience into combining the unrivalled taste of Johnnie Walker Blue Label with the essence of umami.
Chef Kei Kobayashi, known for his flavour pairings and culinary combinations, has also expertly created a series of dishes that perfectly complement both the sweet and savoury notes of Johnnie Walker Blue Label Elusive Umami.
Chef Kei Kobayashi, whose restaurant Kei, located in Paris, maintained its three Michelin stars in the 2023 release of the Micheline Guide, says: “I remember waking up at 5am every morning and walking amongst the stunning mountains in Nagano where the air was pure, and the scent of the trees lingered in the air. Umami possesses a mysterious quality that ignites our senses, revealing sumptuous taste, complexity and depth – and I believe we have captured this essence in Johnnie Walker Blue Label Elusive Umami. The final liquid is a multi-faceted expression of what I interpret umami to be.”
João Matos, Global Marketing & Innovation Director of Johnnie Walker, says: “At Johnnie Walker, we want to push the boundaries of what’s possible in whisky. Johnnie Walker Blue Label Elusive Umami does just that – opening the door to an expression of taste that’s rarely seen in the world of whisky. The pioneering journey undertaken by Master Blender Emma Walker and renowned Chef Kei Kobayashi has resulted in a liquid that will inspire a new generation of whisky lovers.
“Driving intrigue and excitement, we’re enhancing a traditional drinking moment to create an immersive experience that elevates all of the senses.” Johnnie Walker Blue Label Elusive Umami is a beautifully balanced Blended Scotch whisky of sweet and savoury flavours, with notes of blood oranges and red berries with sweet wood spice, a touch of smoked meat, a hint of salt and pepper with a long, sweet fruit finish.
Johnnie Walker Blue Label Elusive Umami is available exclusively at Johnnie Walker Princes Street in Edinburgh from September 18, 2023, and available to buy locally at the end of October.