Johnnie Walker Company History

The Johnnie Walker brand was initially called Walker's Kilmarnock Whiskey, however began as a brand left by John 'Johnnie' Walker when he began selling whiskey in Ayshire, Scotland from his grocer's shop. The Johnnie Walker brand quickly became popular, however in 1857 Walker died and his grandson Alexander Walker II and son Alexander Walker were the primary reasons for the Scotch whiskeys enormous popularity. With John Walker running the company, whiskey sales accounted for 8% of the company's revenue, however when Alexander was preparing to hand the company to his own sons to run, sales of the Scotch whiskey accounted for 90-95 percent of the revenue.

Before 1860, it was prohibited to sell blended whisky (blended whisky being malt and grain mixed together). Throughout that time, John Walker sold several different types of whiskeys including his Walker's Kilmarnock. John's son Alexander, in 1865, produced their first blended whisky and called it Walker's Old Highland.

The iconic Johnnie Walker bottle was first introduced in 1870. The label, which is applied at an angle of 24 degrees is also another highly identifiable characteristic.

Throughout 1906-1909, John's grandsons including George and Alexander II broadened the line of Scotch whiskey and implemented the color names. In the year 1908, while serving as Manging Director, James Stevenson, performed some re-branding. The whiskey was given a new name from Walker's Kilmarnock Whiskies to Johnnie Walker Whisky. During this time period, the slogan was also adopted as "Born 1820 - Still going Strong!" Additionally, the Striding Man figure was first used.

The Johnnie Walker White line of Scotch whiskey was discontinued during World War I and the Johnnie Walker Swing line was added by Alexander II.

Currently, Johnnie Walker Scotch Whisky continues to be blended in Kilmarnock. The company owns a large plant north of the town's railway station. On Strand Street and John Finnie Street, the historic warehouses and company offices are still present.

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