When John passed away after a full and prosperous life in 1857, he left his son, Alexander, with a very healthy business. In 1867, he launched Johnnie Walker’s first commercial blend and called it ‘Old Highland Whisky’. Soon afterwards, Alexander began using the famous square bottle to reduce breakages and made sure much more of his whisky arrived intact at its destination. He also added the distinctive label, slanted at precisely 20 degrees, to make it stand out even further from the crowd. In 1889, it was Alexander’s turn to pass on the Walker name, leaving the company to his sons, Alexander II and George - the former a master blender and the latter a master businessman. By 1920, Johnnie Walker whisky was in 120 countries.
The year was 1819 and John Walker’s father had just died. Within the year, the family farm had been sold and the money used to set him with his own grocer’s shop in the thriving local town of Kilmarnock. John had a natural gift for business. He also had a genius for whisky. In those days, most grocers stocked a line of single malts, but they were never all that consistent. This wasn’t good enough for John, who started blending them together, so his whisky tasted just as good every time.
Today, Johnnie Walker is the biggest whisky brand in the world and its slogan has been adopted and embraced everywhere, as a rallying cry for progress, as encouragement in adversity, as a joyful expression of optimism and as the best piece of advice you’re ever likely to hear.