The Truth About The Figure Behind The Johnnie Walker Label

Johnnie Walker scotch whisky is the highest selling scotch in the entire world (via The Spirits Business). The brand is found everywhere from dive bars to the British royal palace, making its square bottles, slanted label, and iconic Striding Man logo some of the most well recognized branding on the planet. Even if you can't tell the difference between a bourbon and a scotch whisky, you could probably pick their bottle and logo out of a lineup. Yet, who exactly is the Striding Man at the center of it all?

According to Home Wet Bar, Johnnie Walker whisky was first sold by the man himself shortly after opening a grocery store in his hometown of Kilmarnock, Scotland in 1820. Walker was still a teenager at the time, but quickly became known as a purveyor of fine wines and spirits, and even crafted his own blend to make a more consistent spirit than his competitors. According to Medium, It was known as Walker's Kilmarnock Whisky at the time.

The whisky wouldn't take off and adopt its iconic label until well after Walker's death in 1857 however. His son Alexander would be the first to start shipping the whisky globally, and adopted the square bottles that were less prone to breakage. His two sons would later move the company forward again by adopting the famous 'Red Label' and 'Black Label' branding as well as creating the original Striding Man logo.

Who is that iconic figure?

The Striding Man was drawn by illustrator Tom Browne in 1909. The accompanying slogan at the time was "Born 1820: Still Going Strong" (via 1000 LOGOS). While the original illustration is far more detailed than the one we see in bars today, it's unclear if this is meant to represent Johnnie Walker himself or simply his enterprising spirit. As it's stated on the brand's website: "At a stroke, John Walker the Victorian grocer became Johnnie Walker, the Edwardian dandy."

According to Home Wet Bar, the brand continued to grow from there with the iconic silhouette of its founder gracing each and every bottle. They would add more offerings to their whisky line as well. This includes their gold, platinum, and silver labels, along with top of the line Blue Label which will run you $180 to add to your home bar.

Over the years the logo would change as well. It slowly shifted with each redesign into the minimalist figure that most drinkers are familiar with today. Their slogan would also be pared-down to the incredibly simple, "Keep Walking". 

Whether you like your Johnnie Walker on the rocks, paired with your favorite soda, or adding a smokey sweetness to your favorite cocktail, each sip carries on a 200 year old legacy of fine whisky.