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The Johnnie Walker range tends to be a bit hit-and-miss, but I’ve always been a fan of their loyalty to quality in spite of (or because of) the fact that they’re such a huge brand. Some, of course, are better than others, but I’m always willing to give a new or different Walker a shot. This is a retail exclusive from the “Explorers’ Club Collection” named “The Spice Road,” which is referencing a historical trade route between Europe and Asia which introduced a series of exotic spices to the European market. Ok, sure. That sounds very historical and intrepid and distinguished. Now let’s taste this, shall we?
Nose: Toffee, sultanas, citrus, and gentle smoke, followed by nutmeg and cinnamon and some oak. This is very pleasant, albeit a bit expected.
Palate: Reasonably thick mouthfeel. Initially fruity, with sultanas and apricots and some gentle, sweet sherry notes. The flavours aren’t particularly crisp; rather they are blanketed by a big sweeping caramel note.
Finish: There are indeed some spices in here. Nutmeg is a big player, and there’s also a bit of cinnamon, chili, and allspice. There’s a sweet, gentle oakiness as well as some wisps of smoke and peat. Again, the caramel tends to blanket the other flavours and prevents them from really taking shape.
This is very smooth and drinkable with a very typical profile for a top-shelf blend. There’s sherry and peat and caramel as the usual suspects, and a seamless integration of grain. But I can’t help but feel this should have more… character. This isn’t particularly spicy, and the spices here are not exotic, nor do they characterize the whisky. Not only that; where I live this costs more than both the Green and the Swing (Superior), which are both vastly better whiskies in my opinion.
Ultimately this is a delicious and coherent blend, but it’s also a bit standard and forgettable. Furthermore, it can’t compete with its cheaper, better brothers from the same brand. But if you’re a fan of Walker or of easy-sippers in general, this will definitely do the trick.