The Johnnie Walker brand was built on the foundation of the Red Label and Black Label, and they became the standard for Scotch whiskey throughout the 20th century. The brand was thriving, but the Striding Man still looks ahead. According to Punch, Guinness UDV, then owner of Johnnie Walker, saw a niche in the market filled by a status symbol spirit in the late 1980s. Elite businessmen began investing in wines high-end California and when Johnnie Walker representatives saw the opportunity for the spirits world to follow their lead, they seized it.
Focus groups were held in the form of whiskey dinners where marketers collected first-hand data from members of this high-end demographic, Punch said. Johnnie Walker’s flagship bottles, Red Label and Black Label, were not the attendees’ favourites, as the bottles’ supposed lack of echelon was not deemed to suit their palates. Instead, a spirit that evoked rarity, exclusivity and luxury was in demand – Blue Label was exactly what they were looking for. Not only was it by far the most expensive spirit on the market, but the blend of whiskeys inside the bottle was also a marvel. Containing whiskey only aged 28+, Blue Label was unlike anything else on the market. It became an instant status symbol, mentioned by whiskey salesman and author Robert Robinson for Punch as “the most perfectly crafted whiskey ever created”.