Back in 1819, John Walker was a recent orphan who arrived in the Scottish village of Kilmarnock with his father's inheritance in his pocket. He soon became a partner and later the owner of a thriving grocery store, which was famous by its teas, wines, imported foods... And whiskeys.
In that time, however, the scotch was an oily and heavy drink, pretty hard to swalow. It was bought from local farms and stored in used wine barrels. John was one of the first men to notice that, depending on the type of barrel and storage time, the whisky became smoother and more pleasant. He also innovated by combining the drinks in a decent way - folks used to exaggerate so much back then that blending distillates was considered a crime! His creation, the Walker’s Kilmarnock Whisky blend, became famous throughout Great Britain.
John's oldest son, Alexander, learned everything about the distillery and convinced his father to leave the old store behind and focus on making and selling whisky at wholesale. John died one year later from a heart attack, but Alexander carried on the family brand. His 40-distillates blend, created in 1867, was the precursor of the Johnnie Walker Black Label. He also innovated in the design field: so that more bottles could fit in a box, he made them square and, so that more information could fit in the label, he made them diagonal. These changes contributed to make the Johnnie Walker brand easy to be recognized anywhere. By 1920, the drink was sold in 120 countries, becoming the first global brand.