Justice Reviews: Johnnie Walker Explorers’ Club: The Spice Road 1L

Good Morning Ladies and Gentleman, Boys and Girls, and all the other ones.  I am the man called Justice and I’d like to talk to you about a particularly unique Scotch I didn’t know existed, as I found it somewhat unexpectedly.  I was recently returning from a trip to the Dominican Republic, and on my way through the airport, I was not to subtly navigated through at least three duty free shops on my way to my gate entirely by the building’s architecture.  On my winding Journey through these magical halls of tax free liquor and suspiciously friendly staff offering me free samples I began noticing a series of Johnnie Walker bottles I didn’t recognize.  Long time readers will know that we have sampled at one time or another all of the standard Johnnie Walker Rainbow (Red, Black, Green, DoubleBlack, Gold, Platinum, and Blue), all of which were, if not excellent, then at least above average (I’m looking at you red).  Based on that past experience the idea of a new Johnnie Walker, and not wanting to get screwed out of money exchanging my Pesos back to USD drove me to decide on picking up this novelty.

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Ardmore Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky 750mL

This scotch has a bird on it…and its pretty good.

I could probably just have ended the review there and told you most of what you wanted to know.  Those of you with a pair of eagle eyes will have noticed that that this is a Highland single malt scotch…those with some even sharper eagle eyes (yes I’m using that phrase because its an eagle on the bottle) will notice the bottle also says ‘peated’.  Now, among the four scotch making regions in Scotland only one is famous for using peat to dry their barley (Islay), and it gives them a distinctly smokey flavor.  Highlands typically are light and fruity and sometimes a bit fruity.  For those new to the world of scotch, let me tell you, this is an almost unheard of combination.  So now that I’ve said my piece, why don’t we let the distillers say theirs:

What they say: “Full & rich, with unique Highland peat-smoked notes.

Founded in 1898 by one of Scotland’s most famous whisky families, Ardmore Single Malt has a long commitment to quality.  William Teacher was a believer in traditional distilling methods and insisted that Ardmore only used the aromatic smoke from natural, Highland peat fires to dry our malted barley.

Sadly, today, the high cost has meant that only one Highland Distillery still routinely fully ‘peats’ its standard malt.  Ardmore is rightly proud to be that distillery.  Our traditional methods extend to maturation.  Ardmore Traditional Cask is double matured, first in the more usual oak barrels, and then in much smaller ‘Quarter Casks’.  These were common in the 19th century, but are too costly for most distillers to use today.

Finally, bottled at 46% ABV, Ardmore is only barrier rather than chill filtered thus preserving the natural flavours.  These methods ensure we maintain the quality of our uniquely complex and rewarding malt whisky.”

Okay, I’m interested.  They do go on a bit, but if you’re the last of a dying breed you’d want to brag a bit too; and while this isn’t among the best scotches I’ve tasted, these people certainly got some things right. As an extra special treat, this week since we got some of the crew together the scores a little less one-sided!

Taste: 6.67 – “Comes on like a fairly standard highland, all light wood and fruit, but with a nice smokiness even in the beginning.”

Aftertaste: 7.0 – “Aftertaste is much more complex, still have the fruit and the wood, but peat and smoke start to mix in a strange and pleasant way”

Burn/Smooth: 4.75 – This is not a very smooth scotch, considering its a highland.  A bit harsh going down, but it does give a pleasant warm feeling at the end”

Aroma: 7.33 – Earth and Wood and Smoke, a bit harsh but not terribly unpleasant.

Honesty: 7.5 – They go on a bit on the outer container, but the bottle itself is simple straight forward and would look good in any liquor cabinet/bar.

Mixability: 6.5

On the Rocks: 6.5 – This is one of those scotches that was made to be put on rocks.  The one or two cubes of ice just remove every bit of unpleasantness from the burn and leave you with a woody, floral Highland flavor, followed closely with a gentle smokey aftertaste; however William and The Buffalo feels it takes too much away from the taste.

Value: 8.0 –  This scotch does give you more for your money than you’d expect especially at around $30

Google Shop Average: $33

Reviewer Scores:

Justice: 6.5

William: 8

Buffalo: 7

Want to compare this spirit against our archives? Visit our statistics page.

Metric Score: 47.75/70 |+| Metric Average: 6.82 |+| Reviewer Average: 7.17

New to Honest Booze Reviews, or just wondering how we score? See our FAQ/Review Policy.

Final Thoughts:

Despite the Google Shop Average, I picked this up for around $31, and after tasting a glass of this I know I got a steal.  (Editor’s Note: The prices vary wildly between 30’s and 40’s) I’m a huge fan of the smokier, peaty scotches and they will always be my favorites. That being said, in the warmer months I prefer to go with the lighter, more fruity and floral scotches native to the Highland and Speyside regions.  This scotch brings those two things together in an unexpected and pleasing way.  Through two cubes of ice in a glass and pour this on top on a cool summer night and you will not be disappointed.

Jura Single Malt Scotch 750mL

I spent most of my time writing this intro trying to think of a clever way to compare Jura and the show ’16 and Pregnant’ with the word ‘disappointment’ as the punchline.  As you can see I didn’t quite make it, though as my first statement might imply, Jura really wasn’t worth me wasting anymore of my time trying to be clever on its behalf.  So here’s Jura: A half decent Single Malt Scotch that things its the shit.

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Johnnie Walker Gold Label 750mL

A more noble beverage I have not yet tasted.

Too formal?  I personally don’t think so.  If nothing else when I first tried this scotch while dressed in a suit vest I was probably a bit under-dressed.  Today on Booze Reviews ladies and gentlemen, I, Justice, will show you the end of a legacy.  That’s right, we’ve finally finished the full spectrum of Johnnie Walker scotches with this very appropriate choice:  Johnnie Walker Gold Label.

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Bushmill’s Black Bush Irish Whiskey 750mL

Hello and welcome to another edition of Booze reviews, I am the man called Justice and in the spirit of the holiday on we just celebrated I’d like to request that for the duration of this article you read it with an Irish accent.

Yes, yet another St. Patrick’s day has come and gone, complete with bits of green hastily thrown into your outfit, strange foods most of us wouldn’t normally eat, and Booze.  Lots and lots of Booze.  This St. Patty’s day William Henri Neve IV and myself sat down with some Irish whiskey and now I’d like to present one of them to you.

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Snow Queen Vodka 750mL

This vodka might be a bit more appropriate if we’d gotten a bit more snow this season.

Excuse me, let’s back up.  Good evening, morning, afternoon, or whatever various time of day you happen to feast your eyes on this in depth (not really) review of this seasonally appropriate vodka.  I am the man called Justice and this week I’ll be presenting for your holiday pleasure Snow Queen.

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Beefeater’s 24 Gin 750mL

So, depending on who you are, when you hear “Beefeaters” you might think “Fuck that I’m vegan or perhaps if you are a person who has ever visited a liquor store (if you haven’t, then this article probably isn’t for you) then you could be thinking “eww” or “woot woot cheap gin”.  Normally my own reaction would be the final one, but that opinion may be changing with the advent of Beefeater’s newest creation “Beefeater 24”.

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Auchentoshan 12yr 750mL

A Journey of Justice: Part 4

Dear Booze Reviewers,

Well everyone, I’m home.  Those of you in the Buffalo Lounge no doubt already know of my safe return to my homeland.  However, despite this I feel that I must recount to you the final days of my expedition.  You will recall that in my previous letter I told of my time in a faraway land with an exotic, yet strangely familiar single malt whisky.  It took me several weeks but eventually I found my way out of that place and back onto a path I felt led me to my destination.  My intuition proved true, as within a day I found myself standing before a treasure trove.

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