Whispers of Whisk(e)y returns… Johnnie Walker The Adventurer

Today’s review, which comes after far too long a break, takes a look at another whisky: one from the Johnnie Walker Explorers’ Club Collection, a series inspired by the journeys of those who took Johnnie Walker across the world. Available via travel retail, you might have spotted these as you explored the whisky sections of Duty Free shops.

DTS and I first encountered The Adventurer before a trip to America a couple of years ago and we were a little confused at its store placement: very much apart from the other Explorers’ Club whiskies and with little information available on it. Intrigued, we bought a bottle. That was a few years (and bottles) ago.

johnnie-walker-adventurer-final

On its own

Nose: A saline, almost briney smokiness to start, with notes of tobacco, dry wood chips, and echoes of pineapple. Lovely spiced notes build up over time.

Taste: Very soft on the tongue, but with more force of flavour on the palate afterwards. There is a pleasant smokiness, before lasting notes of dry, not tart pineapple, light wood, and chilli, then sweeter spice with more smoke on the finish. A lovely dram that, personally, I think is perfectly halfway between the Red and Black Labels.

Rob Roy

Pleasantly dry, but the Rosso comes through well. Wisps of smoke are followed by lots of complex herbal notes. The finish remains lovely and dry, with notes of dark liquorice and a hint of berries. Finally, there is a clean, light, and woody smokiness.

Old Fashioned

The Adventurer makes an unusually sharp, almost bitter Old Fashioned that makes a wonderful aperitif. Subdued honey notes are followed by the smoke and spice. Like the Rob Roy, its finish is very dry, but full of smoky flavours, along with a little lime and vanilla.

Whisky Soda

Exceptionally dry, this is a refreshing, grown up drink. The soda water lengthens the whisky well, without masking any of its flavours. To start, there is dry vanilla, before a flash of sweeter smoke, then more charred notes that linger on a refreshing, woody finish.

Whisky Ginger

Again, this works well, but produces a much sweeter drink than the others. It is creamy, too, with lots of vanilla and just a dash of smokiness – more than you’d get with the Red Label, but not as much as with the Black Label. The finish is long, with solid notes from both the ginger and the whisky’s oak notes.

 

It is worth noting that the Explorers’ Club Collection covers a broad price range, but The Adventurer is the cheapest, at around £32 for a litre in Duty Free. It can be found for around £40-45 in the UK. Given the combination of price point and the international theme of the collection, we decided to try a few additional, unusual long drinks alongside our normal line-up.

with Coconut Water

This is an unexpectedly brilliant, refreshing drink. The coconut water adds the extra sweetness and creaminess that The Adventurer holds back on, resulting in smooth notes of pineapple and light coconut that fade into smoke, dry apple, and oak on the finish. Exceptionally easy to drink, especially in warmer weather.

with Ting

These flavours, again, go surprisingly well together – there is bright, vibrant, citrus (lemon and grapefruit) that flows seamlessly into the light smokiness of the whisky. The finish has notes of vanilla and pineapple, and a continued stream of smokiness.

with Fentiman’s Curiosity Cola

Intrigued at how well some of these combinations were turning out, we decided to try The Adventurer up against one of my favourite (and most flavourful) soft drinks: Fentiman’s Curiosity Cola. The result? A tasty drink with great structure and body. Not too sweet, there’s a dry woodiness to start, that is quickly swept up in the complex, herbal flavours from the cola. The Adventurer’s smokiness appears on the finish – soft to start, but gradually increasing – and works very well with the more medicinal notes of the mixer.

In Conclusion

The Adventurer is a great addition to the Johnnie Walker line-up. With its light texture, but combination of distinct smokiness, dry pineapple, and spiced notes, it makes for a whisky that is both easy to sip – sitting midway between the Red and Black Labels in taste – and works exceptionally well in mixed drinks. A firm favourite in our household.

— Mrs. B.

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Ginger Grouse – the new alcoholic ginger beer – with Famous Grouse Scotch!

I’m trying something a little different today; indeed, a beverage usually enjoyed more readily by DTS: ginger beer. There is a reason why I’m writing about it, though, and that’s because it’s got a dash or two of The Famous Grouse whisky in it. This is Ginger Grouse – a 500ml bottle of alcoholic ginger beer that’s bottled at 4%ABV.

On its own (chilled)
Nose: What I’d expect from any good ginger beer: mostly warm ginger, with hints of sweet butter.
Taste: Whilst not overly or forcibly bubbly, lots of small bubbles do rush over your tongue initially. The flavour is then light and refreshing, with notes of citrus – both lemon and lime, and both buttery and creamy, reminding me of lemon tart and key lime pie. The whisky is subtle, but present from the outset, adding a very light woodiness that reminds me of a Whisky & Ginger; the main difference being the stronger, more fiery notes of ginger on the finish that gradually build up as you drink more. All in all, this is tasty, refreshing, and very easy to drink.

Over ice
The lower temperature seems to highlight the more buttery notes (reminiscent of some other, cool ginger beers), along with the lemon and lime notes. Unfortunately, it generally seemed a less balanced, with these flavours being stronger and the finish being weaker and a little watery. I’d definitely just keep this chilled.

Over ice with a slice of lime (the bottle’s serving suggestion)
The lime is prominent and makes this a more fruity drink, but there’s also more of a contrast between the savoury acidity of the fruit and the butter notes of the ginger beer. This battle of flavours hides all traces of the whisky, so this is easily my least favourite way of serving Ginger Grouse.

In Conclusion
I like the range and variety of the Famous Grouse product line, even if I don’t like all of the products themselves*, but – fortunately – I do like this one. Whilst it didn’t bowl me over, it’s light and refreshing, with a hint of whisky and a medium level of fiery ginger on the finish, making it better for quenching your thirst, in my opinion, than many other alcoholic ginger beers. Just make sure not to dilute it too much with ice or mask the flavours with any citrus – it’s perfectly fine on its own.

– Mrs. B.

Ginger Grouse is available from Tesco for around £2 for 500ml.

* We’ve written about a few: The Famous Grouse Spice, The Famous Jubilee, and a range of their more readily-available whiskies.

** Ingredients – Carbonated water, Sugar, Alcohol (spirit-based 70%, blended Scotch Whisky 30%), Natural flavourings, citric Acid E330, Caramel E150, Preservatives (sodium benzoate E211, potassium sorbate E202)

Cocktails with… Black Rory Blended Scotch

Black Rory is inspired by the whisky produced in the Coquet Valley in Northumberland in the 18th Century. Both the bottle and the website provide atmospheric pictures reflecting the area where spirit of its type was said to arrive, ready to be smuggled, tax free, onto inns and taverns. This inspiration reminded me strongly of ‘Captain Clegg’, a 1962 film that DBS & I have watched recently, starring Peter Cushing and containing many an 18th Century smuggler and pirate.

Prior to its production, the master blender of Black Rory visited the Coquet Valley to discover the nature of the water and peat of the area. He then returned to Scotland to search for a blend a range of whiskies in line with this inspiration. This blend is the result.

On its own
Nose: Rich, sweet and heavy, this was rather liqueur-like, with a distinctive fruitiness, reminiscent of dry raisins or cherries.
Taste: Wow – this tasted strong! Although there wasn’t any burn, it was both very warming and full of flavour. The main body of flavour was complex wood, highlighted with vanilla, oak, light peat and orange. The end of the finish was slightly bitter, neatly counteracting the initial sweetness.

The Rob Roy
This was a magnificent copper/auburn colour. The nose was also quite remarkable, being mainly savoury, but with hints of sweet paprika and a distinctive chilli/pepper edge. To taste, it was initially smooth, before revealing a burst of flavour obviously from the bitters. A whole range of notes then played out, including: herbal notes, like basil; and sweet, spicy notes, like paprika and cherry. This then faded to a lighter, and relatively clean, citrus finish. An impressive, flavourful cocktail.

Rob Roy with Black Rory and Spanish Bitters

Rob Roy with Black Rory and Spanish Bitters

Old Fashioned
The nose to this one was similar to the first, but with a higher proportion of sweet spiciness, which faded into a woodiness. It tasted sweeter to start, but the flavour then kept “seesawing” between the sweet, spicy, wood notes and a dryer, more herbal flavour.

Negroni
A rich, vibrant red, this had both the same spicy, chilli notes on the nose, along with some strong herbal notes from the bitters. Unlike DBS, I very rarely drink a Negroni, so my initial response to this was some shock regarding its bitterness; it was exceptionally bitter to start, gradually fading to a longer, less severe flavour. I caught smoke on the finish, along with a woody dryness.

Whisky & Soda
This was lighter on both the nose and the palette. There were fresh, lively herbal notes, liquorice, light peat and straw, and a dryness. To start, it tasted of straw and malt, which faded quickly into the familiar bitterness of soda water. The finish was very clean and, after a few minutes, with a bit of ice melt, this transformed into a light, refreshing long drink.

Glasgow
A different nose this time, focusing more on the herbal, basil-like edge of the whisky, anise and honey. A slight hint of plastic appeared towards the end. It tasted very bitter at the front of the mouth, before gradually building into a strong maltiness, like beer. Not my favourite & not recommended for anyone who doesn’t like beer!

The Churchill
Another refreshing, different nose; lots of the whisky came through in this drink, with wood, malt and a touch of sweet orange – like orange fondant. Herbal notes kicked in at the end. The taste developed slowly from sweet orange, to a powerful, lemony sourness that faded into a more general bitterness. Richer, heavier notes akin to red vermouth gave a warm, rounded finish. I really enjoyed this cocktail, which allowed the whisky to come through without being completely dominant.

Hot Toddy
This had a neat nose of wood, malt and lemon. It was a perfectly smooth and balanced combination of wood, malt, light peat and the fresh zing of lemon on the aftertaste. Neither too strong, nor too sweet, this was “just right” on practically every level; delicious.

In Conclusion…
Black Rory is a tasty, savoury whisky that packs a punch, warms you up, and has an unexpected, lightly bitter finish. As a result, it works well in a whole range of cocktails, especially those that might otherwise be too sweet or dull. My favourite, without a doubt, was the Toddy, closely followed by the Churchill and then the Rob Roy. And how could I say no to a no-nonsense tumbler of the Rory straight, when the bottle reminds me so strongly of Peter Cushing and all of his 18th Century smuggling?

– Mrs. B

Black Rory is avaialble from the Spirit of Coquet Website at £36 for 70cl.

Why not follow them on twitter @Haven_Rothbury

Whilst you’re there our twitter is https://twitter.com/#!/summerfruitcup

WOW7 – Compass Box Orangerie

 

For this edition of Whispers of Whisk(e)y, I shall look at something a little different: a drink that is not quite a whisky, and, at the same time, not quite a whisky liqueur. I am talking about the Scotch whisky infusion by Compass Box: Orangerie. Compass Box specialise in making high-quality blended whiskies, often with unusual names such as Peat Monster (a particularly smoky one) and Spice Tree.

 

 

The sample bottle of Orangerie that I had – and I believe that this is the same for all Compass Box miniatures – is in the rather novel shape of a test tube. It certainly stands out and, pleasantly and despite my initial concerns, I found it a little easier to pour from than other miniatures.

Orangerie, as you may imagine, has a very strong note of orange on the nose; a bit like the scent of an orange crème in the midst of dark chocolate. This is accompanied by the warm, woody notes of the whisky; there is nothing harsh there.

When tasting the infusion, it’s immediately obvious that this is not a whisky liqueur: it’s just not sweet enough, despite the sweet nose. The flavours of the whisky seem a little more rounded than I had expected, and the warmth slowly works its way up your throat. I found that, by taking a deep breath following each sip, the movements of the air over my tongue really brought out the taste of oranges, along with an unanticipated, but fine finish of toasted biscuits or oatcakes. Delicious!

This is definitely a unique product and I would like to reassure anyone who may be concerned about overpowering orange flavours: this wasn’t a problem, in my opinion, as most of the citrus came from the nose and, in terms of flavour, the orange is quite subtle and merely seems to highlight a straight-forward, quality whisky. Whilst this may seem like a novelty to some (I, personally, disagree), I certainly consider it to be one worth trying. Will the future bring additional whisky infusions? Who knows, but I’d sure be happy to try them.

Compass Box Orangerie – Orange Scotch Whisky Infusion is available for around £30 (for 70cl) from The Whisky Exchange.

For other Whisk(e)y Liqueur Reviews, click here