Johnnie Walker Ghost and Rare Port Ellen Whiskies launch

Diageo launched its Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost and Rare Port Ellen with a whisky-matched degustation menu at Sydney Opera House’s Bennelong restaurant.

The Thirsty Travellers joined Sydney’s top whisky bloggers for the evening, which kicked off with Johnnie Walker Blue cocktail. Very fancy, as Johnnie Walker Blue retails for around $450 a bottle. The cocktail was a delicious mix of whisky, lemon myrtle syrup, chardonnay vinegar and soda, given a good shake by Bennelong bartender Sujan.

The bar gave us a prime viewing spot to watch the other guests arriving. As usual at liquor functions, all the other guests were about 20 years younger than us and … Ginger reports … very good looking. She suggested most of them could have modelled in their spare time when they weren’t whisky blogging.

We scored a spot at the head of dinner table beside the Johnnie Walker brand ambassador, Simon McGoram, so we got all the insider details on the rare whiskies we were drinking. Bennelong chef Peter Gilmour also gave a speech about his love for rare vegetables – our entree included something called a lion’s mane mushroom.

The attractive people surrounding us were very nice and down to earth, so we had a great time chatting to them over our three courses – slow braised pork belly with mushrooms, shaved squid and sea cucumber crackling, wagyu steak with roasted onion yorkshire pudding and horseradish emulsion, and creme caramel vs mille feuille.

The courses were matched with Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost & Rare Brora, Johnnie Walker Label Ghost & Rare Port Ellen and Johnnie Walker Blue.

They’re called “ghost” because the whisky comes from distilleries that closed down many years ago, but are now being revived to capitalise on the whisky boom.

Ginger’s favourite was the one being launched, Port Ellen.  As she’s not a whisky person, she can’t explain why she liked it, it just seemed smoother to her. Mind you, after that double nip cocktail, she was pretty zen about everything that was put in front of her.

She also reminisced about a party she attended at Bennelong when she was a reporter for Cosmopolitan magazine.

She and a friend were chatted up by Siimon the advertising guru. Remember him? He’ll be forever known as “Simon with two i’s” because it was regarded as pretty wacky to have messed around with your name like that in the ’90s.  Nowadays no one would blink an eyelid about how many extra vowels you added.

Siimon and his flatmate Bradley invited Ginger and her friend back to their place for a party. They hopped into Siimon’s convertible and zoomed giddily off to their Bondi bachelor pad, only to discover it was a “party” for four … awkward …

“As my mag mate and I were both in relationships, that sort of intimate gathering wasn’t on our agenda – we admired the amazing ocean view for a while, then made our excuses and skedaddled. In our haste, my mate left one of her designer stilettos behind,” Ginger recalled.

“Unlike the fairytale, Prince Siimon didn’t search the kingdom for the owner of the stiletto, which meant lots of embarrassing phone calls the next day to retrieve it.”

Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost and Rare Port Ellen is the second in a series of special releases crafted using irreplaceable “ghost” whiskies and other incredibly rare whiskies from the Johnnie Walker Blue Label reserves.

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