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.

Whisky at Heathrow


A few weeks back, we featured World Duty Free in an article and, on a recent trip to the States, we were lucky enough to visit some of their shops at Heathrow Terminal 5. In Terminal 5 there are at least three World Duty Free shops (as well as a smaller one by the C gates), although we found that the best one was in the middle of the lower-ground concourse.

Bombay Sapphire Fruit Cup

Bombay Sapphire Fruit Cup

DBS started off at the Bombay Sapphire stand, where he enjoyed a Bombay Sapphire Summer Cup cocktail: a mix of Bombay Sapphire Gin, red vermouth, triple sec and ginger ale. It was fruity and delicious, with the character of the gin coming through well. Refreshing and easy-to-drink, it was enjoyed by numerous patrons who told DBS that they were not generally fans of gin.

In the whisky area, some friendly World Duty Free staff told us about the whisky travel exclusives. As I have said before, you can get some good value products in duty free*, but it’s those varieties that you can’t buy anywhere else that I find really exciting.

I was impressed that the shop had a wide range of whiskies available to taste and the they weren’t just served in plastic cups, but in Glencairn nosing glasses (like those I use at home). Here are the travel exclusives that I tried.

Auchentoshan Springwood (40%ABV) £35 – 1 Litre
Auchentoshan Springwood is matured in North American bourbon oak casks and bottled at 40%ABV. “Springwood” is the softer portion of the ring of wood produced each year in a tree; as such, this is created to be a subtle, fresh and zesty whisky.

Nose: An intriguing, syrupy note, reminiscent of sticky, chewy biscuits. This is savoury, but sticky. It fades into hints of oatcakes, followed by vanilla, oak, and, finally, syrup. The odd hint of rose also crept in.
Taste: Quite light, with lots of chewy, white wood notes. The taste hangs around in the mouth for quite a while, finishing with the same savoury, chewy oat cookie note as I got from the nose.

Auchentoshan Heartwood  (43%ABV) £42 – 1 Litre
In contrast to springwood, “heartwood” is the harder, non-living core of a tree. Auchentoshan Heartwood is therefore designed to be richer and more intense than Springwood and is matured in toasted Spanish Oloroso sherry casks and deeply charred North American bourbon casks.

Nose: Vanilla and rich golden syrup. Quite sweet and accessible, with a fresh fruitiness towards the end.
Taste: A powerful warmth from the outset, with rich, woody notes softened by hints of vanilla, ensuring that this whisky is accessible, but full of flavour. There aren’t any odd notes to distract you from the wood in this whisky, which develops on the palate to a soft finish of a chewy nuttiness.

~

Bowmore Mariner (43%ABV) £44 – 1 Litre
A 15 Year Old whisky from Bowmore that has been matured (in their warehouse below sea-level) in a combination of Spanish sherry and American bourbon casks.

Nose: Excellent peat – really rich, with a salty tang to it – and sea salt.
Taste: This has a very silky, slightly syrupy texture to it. The peatiness from the nose is strongly evident on the taste and it’s a lovely, rich, organic peatiness. The finish is light and woody – lots of oak and hints of baked apple – with a good warmth, making me think that this would be a top-notch hipflask whisky.

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Balvenie Tun 1401 Batch #4 (50.4%ABV)
Finally, I was offered a taste of a special single malt from Balvenie that they didn’t actually have in stock to buy any more. Three other batches have already been and gone, and this one – the fourth – was produced from ten rare casks (three sherry butts and seven American oak barrels) of The Balvenie that had been specially selected by David Stewart, who had been inspired by the magical atmosphere inside their Warehouse 24.

Nose: A woody, but not heavy smokiness with a honey sweetness.
Taste: Very powerful force of flavour (much better with a drop or two of water), with rich, dark wood notes and lots of dry (not sweet) spice. It has a very lasting warmth and a finish of slightly lighter wood and creamy vanilla.

In Conclusion
If you are flying out on business or for pleasure, be sure to set a little time by to see what World Duty Free has to offer (especially anything you might not be able to get anywhere else!).

My favourite of those that I tried was, without a doubt, the Bowmore Mariner, which I bought a bottle of. I am amazed at how easy it is to drink this whisky, and yet, at the same time, how interesting it is – the extent to which it develops over time. The nose also captures my imagination, like most of the Bowmore whiskies, with its wonderful hints of the sea.

– Mrs. B.

A postscript…
When sampling at Duty Free or having a drink at one of Terminal 5’s outlets it’s important to remember that you cannot fly whilst intoxicated. On our outward journey, DBS had a cocktail and a sample of the Glenfiddich Millennium, and I had the (small) samples listed above, all of which were had over an hour, after a hearty breakfast and plenty of water. Duty Free is a great opportunity, but it’s important not to misuse it or risk being turned away from your flight.

* An example of some of the bargains available: 70cl of Stolichnaya Elit (RRP ) was a rather bargainous £29.99. On board our flight, litres of Smirnoff Blue (50%ABV), Gordon’s Export Strength (47.3%ABV), and Tanqueray No.10 (47.3%ABV) could be bought for £10, £10 and £22, respectively.

Whisky Fest ’12

I’m sure most of us who have travelled through an airport are familiar with the quandary of whether to purchase a bottle of something from duty free; if you’re anything like me, it’ll be more a question of what than if!

World Duty Free run many of the duty free shops at UK airports and are currently celebrating ‘Whisky Fest 12’, which ends on 22nd May. This annual celebration of whiskies from around the world is the home of many a promotion (savings of up to 35% on normal retail prices), making it much easier to treat yourself to an old favourite or to try something new.

There are a number of benefits to buying whisky from World Duty Free: firstly, it’s cheaper (even outside of Whisky Fest, you save around 25%); secondly, the staff are knowledgeable, friendly and very willing to help you find the perfect bottle and, during Whisky Fest, there even are more whiskies available to sample, so you can try before you buy.

My favourite reason, however, is the presence of travel retail exclusives; things you can’t buy on the high street back home, so there’s a chance to pick up something new and a bit special. Here are some examples of some of the exclusives that I’ve been lucky enough to try:

Johnnie Walker Double Black
Nose: Fresh, hints of flapjack and a charred smokiness. Reminds me of the outdoors.
Taste: Brilliantly silky texture. A rich, woody sweetness to start, followed by a delicious smokiness that really lasts, gradually fading into a dry peatiness. Excellent, but subtly building warmth after the finish.

Jack Daniel’s Silver Select
Nose: Sweet, with lots of caramel and light woody notes.
Taste: Initially soft and sweet, almost syrupy. A second or so later and there’s an intense, fresh bourbon flavour that really packs a punch: pine, vanilla, oak and a very faint hint of banana.

Isle of Jura Superstition
Nose: Rich and heavy, with peat, wood and spice, and a hint of rice cakes.
Taste: With a medium-level of peatiness and a dry finish, this had good balance. The peaty notes appear all the way through and I was intrigued at how it had the mouthfeel of a liqueur, but a distinctly savoury flavour.

If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in a UK airport over the next few days, make sure to celebrate with them at Whisky Fest 12 and take the opportunity to try at least one whisky that you wouldn’t normally go for.

Whisky Fest ’12, Alpha Airport ShoppingWorld Duty Free, Biza

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