Sunday, 22 May 2011

Johnnie Walker’s New Canary Wharf Terrace

By Cat McGovern.

Canary Wharf is an odd place. I found this out during a two week internship at The Independent on Sunday many moons ago. To enter the grounds by car, there are guards ushering the way and once inside, it feels like you are in a different city altogether. The tall buildings looming over you and busy suits scurrying along the road are daunting and unsettling. So I thought I would be better equipped this time, as I am nearing 30 and have gained confidence with age (ahem).

Whipping out the iPhone, I navigate the streets with an air of confusion. I am standing on Canada Square, but there is no sign of Plateau restaurant or its new Johnnie Walker Blue Label Terrace. Fortunately, there are prevalent maps in this strange city, which indicate that the Johnnie Walker Blue Label Terrace has been in front of me the whole time. Doh! Next mission: to get upstairs. I fail even in this task. There are two lifts in the building: one up to Plateau restaurant & Johnnie Walker Blue Label Terrace; the other stands there mocking me. So which one do I choose? Massive fail.

Eventually, I’m in and saunter over to the terrace and am drawn to the champagne cocktail. At first it feels like I’m in a greenhouse, a greenhouse that looks over Canada Square and is filled with plush blue carpets, leather chairs and a bar. The blue colour theme is the same shade as the Johnnie Walker Blue Label bottle and it is rather soothing and fetching. They’ve obviously gone to a lot of trouble to get the space to look exactly right. Even the tables have the famous Johnnie Walker insignia on it. The plants and greenery to the side make it feel more like I’m outside in a picturesque garden. It’s very swish and I am relieved that I changed into a dress at lunchtime, as jeans and a tee just wouldn’t cut it.

Intrigued by the whisky cocktail, I reach for one. It’s called Walk the Line and, no surprises, has a touch of Johnnie Walker (Black Label, though) in it. The soft yellow hue from the glass looks like a delicate sunset and what I would imagine one would taste like. For my liking it is a little light on the whisky, but for people who don’t normally like it, it’s a great compromise.

A whisky tasting was mentioned when I arrived, and indeed it’s to sample the Blue Label. I have come into contact with Blue Label before when my Dad had it. My brother had bought him one from the States and one from China and as my Dad was once in the print industry, he was convinced the Chinese version was a fake due to the different printing on the label. He was adamant that he was right, so the only way he would know was to sample both simultaneously. This resulted in a drunk father and boyfriend as they had to keep testing the theory. I had a teeny tiny sip as, at this time, whisky was not my friend and I pushed it back at them with a pouting face. Now, I love the stuff, so I was looking forward to the tasting.

Blue Label is undeniably the smoothest whisky around and if that’s what you look for in a whisky, then this is the one to have. It is hard to distinguish flavours as with each taste, the whisky takes a journey on all the senses, leaving the drinker curious and in need of another dram. However, to enjoy this tipple, it isn’t cheap as in the shops it’s pushing £150.

I politely ask for another sample and the whisky expert is keen to provide as not many people here are actually trying the whisky, which is a bit of a shame. Oh well, more for me then.

I can see that the terrace will do well during the warmer months as the views from up here are fantastic. Also Blue Label is the ultimate status drink, so expect the suits to be doing their best to impress colleagues by ordering a bottle and sipping it slowly with big grins on their faces. For those who find whisky a bit much, the fruit based cocktails will definitely go down a treat as they certainly did with me.

Looking for further whisky related inspiration? Check out the Top 10 whisky bars in London

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