Johnnie Walker is a brand of Scotch whisky now owned by Diageo that originated in the Scottish burgh of Kilmarnock in East Ayrshire. The brand was first established by grocer John Walker. It is the most widely distributed brand of blended Scotch whisky in the world, sold in almost every country, with annual sales of the equivalent of over 223.7 million 700 ml bottles in 2016 (156.6 million litres).SAMSUNG WATCHES
John Walker was born on 25 July 1805. His farmer father died in 1819, and the family sold the farm. Their trustees invested the proceeds, £417, in an Italian warehouse, grocery, and wine and spirits shop on the High Street in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland. Walker managed the grocery, wine, and spirits segment as a teenager in 1820. The Excise Act of 1823 relaxed strict laws on distillation of whisky and reduced, by a considerable amount, the extremely heavy taxes on the distillation and sale of whisky. By 1825, Walker, a teetotaller, was selling spirits, including rum, brandy, gin, and whisky.
In short order, he switched to dealing mainly in whisky. Since blending of grain and malt whiskies was still banned, he sold both blended malt whiskies and grain whiskies. They were sold as made-to-order whiskies, blended to meet specific customer requirements, because he did not have any brand of his own. He began using his name on labels years later, selling a blended malt as Walker’s Kilmarnock Whisky. John Walker died in 1857.
The brand became popular, but after Walker’s death it was his son Alexander ‘Alec’ Walker and grandson Alexander Walker II who were largely responsible for establishing the whisky as a favoured brand. The Spirits Act of 1860 legalised the blending of grain whiskies with malt whiskies and ushered in the modern era of blended Scotch whisky. Blended Scotch whisky, lighter and sweeter in character, was more accessible, and much more marketable to a wider audience. Andrew Usher of Edinburgh, was the first to produce a blended whisky, but the Walkers followed in due course.
Alexander Walker had introduced the brand’s signature square bottle in 1860. This meant more bottles fitting the same space and fewer broken bottles. The other identifying characteristic of the Johnnie Walker bottle was – and still is – the label, which, since that year, is applied at an angle of 24 degrees upwards left to right and allows text to be made larger and more visible. This also allowed consumers to identify it at a distance. One major factor in his favour was the arrival of a railway in Kilmarnock, carrying goods to merchant ships travelling the world. Thanks to Alec’s business acumen, sales of Walker’s Kilmarnock reached 100,000 gallons (450,000 litres) per year by 1862.