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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Before I get into talking about the Whisky, I will take a moment to bitch about the construction of the bottle: There is a very strange device fitted to the top of the bottle, which I believe is intended to prevent it from being refilled and sold off after its initial sale.  A device which I am embarrassed to say nearly defeated me.  After turning the bottle and only getting the smallest dribble of whisky from the top, I resorted to some measures which I will not go into full detail on (involving a hammer and a small throwing knife), I finally figured out that if you were to replace the cap, completely upend the bottle give one firm shake and then turn the bottle upright and remove the cap again, the whiskey would flow more freely (fucking DRM).

Editor’s Note: We too have had a scourge of these spouts to contend with.

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Having now spent the second paragraph of this review passing on the somewhat ritualistic method required to actually get the whisky out of this bottle, lets talk about what eventually came out of it, but first a word from the distiller:

 

What They Say: Johnnie Walker has become a symbol for those who have traveled.

Since 1820 the Walker family and their agents have traveled the four corners of the world, navigating their way down the Spice Road of Europe and Asia, the Royal Route from Europe to Persia, the Gold Route of the Americas and the Caribbean in pursuit of adventures bringing both new business and rich experiences which they would share on their return. Influenced by the tales of the travelers, the Master Blenders began creating different styles of whisky to reflect these exotic stories.

Today this tradition continues to pay homage to the travelers past and present we introduce and exclusive range of whiskies from the Johnnie walker Explorers’ club collection: The Johnnie Walker trade routes series — The Spice Road, The Gold Route and the Royal Route.

“A Complex whisky with rich flavour and exceptional smoothness. Matured in old oak casks for an intense finish inspired by the spice markets of Asia yet true to the Johnnie Walker signature.”

 

Taste: 4.5 – To be honest I was a bit surprised when I first tipped the glass with this one.  The initial taste is very faint, in fact were I having this scotch with some kind of food item I probably would not have tasted anything.  What is there is pleasant however, a nice light floral taste (something I’d expect in a highland scotch, such as Glenmorangie classic).  Based on that, my giving it an almost dead average score might seem generous, but in this case I feel it must be scored with full awareness of what comes next…

Aftertaste: 9.0 – I was not prepared.  After being so underwhelmed by the initial taste, I was staggered by the complexity of the aftertaste.  Let this scotch sit on your tongue for a few seconds and you’ll be bowled over with very complex mouthful of spice.  It changed over the course of a few seconds, moving through multiple phases, starting of peppery, then growing mildly sweet and finishing with some nice dark wood…I wanted to describe that without sounding like a ponce, but I don’t think that’s possible.

Burn/Smooth: 9.5 – I don’t want to be trigger happy throwing out a score like this, but damn did that go down nice.  The aftertaste was amazing, but damn that burn…warmed my chest right up, but wasn’t harsh at all.

Aroma: 8.5 (Ferris) – I absolutely loved this smell…its almost everything I want to smell when I lift a glass of scotch to my nose with a pleasant twist: A nice dark woody smell with hint of peat, plus a pleasant dash of spice.

Manliness: 7.5 – This falls firmly in the ‘Gentlemanly’ corner of this category.  The bottle and box are gorgeous, and the description on the back manages to evoke images of the age of European exploration without sounding too self indulgent or wanky, and the whisky itself follows through.  That being said it loses some points from having that malfunctioning child safety lock style contraption on the mouth of the bottle.

Mixability: 7.5

w/ Rocks: 7.5 –  I seriously struggled with this one.  Putting this scotch on the rocks dramatically changes the way this scotch hits your taste buds.  Whereas when drunk plainly, the taste was so soft it was barely there and the aftertaste was an over the top adventure in flavours vying for attention, when drunk on the rocks the two merge seamlessly into one very powerful, and very delicious taste.  The light flavors are still there, but they’re more pronounced and the spices are there with them, all at once; not in a late night dockside pubfight kind of way, but more in a “we’re all in this together now, chaps” kind of way…if it helps understanding that metaphor, in my head all of the flavours in the first part were wearing flat caps and all of the flavours in the second part were wearing smoking jackets and sitting around library lit by gas lamps.  No?  Well I tried.

Value: 6.5 – *MAJOR CAVEAT HERE* This scotch is not currently available on Google shopping, only at international duty free shops, so keep in mind the score I’m giving it here is entirely based on how much I paid for it at these shops (see below).  That being said for a Johnnie walker with such a unique flavour, and for a bottle of it slightly larger that what I’d normally expect to find in the states (1.0 L vs 750 mL ), this is a good buy.

Google Shop Average: N/A  **I picked this up in the Dominican Republic for 1726 pesos, or roughly $40 USD.  I also poked around and saw some places in the UK selling it for around 29 pounds, so everywhere I looked seem to have it for roughly the same cost**

Website: http://www.johnniewalker.com/global/home/

 

Reviewer Scores:

Justice: 7.5

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

Metric Score: 53.00/70 |+| Metric Average: 7.57 |+| Reviewer Average: 7.5

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

 

Final Thoughts:  Despite its aggravating rarity I very much enjoyed this Scotch, and I would highly recommend that if you enjoy Scotch, or nice whisky in general and you find yourself in an international airport or somewhere else that sells this, buy it.  Don’t think about it, just do it, you will not regret that decision.  It has its flaws but I feel that it makes up for them in spades and is well worth your money (especially if you find it for around the price I did, which was very reasonable).

Editor’s Note: Eagle-eyed readers of Honest Booze Reviews will note we have actually had this before. The most notable changes seem to be a switch of where the spice comes in for taste/aftertaste. Justice is also a little less harsh on the scores (which has actually been true for most scotches in our past). Also I may be a lot more biased against the god awful child-proof spouts, but overall despite finding out this had already been done – I felt it honest to show the review scores of one of our old contributors.

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