Monday, December 29, 2014

The Walking Blend: Assorted Johnnie Walker

It's been a long time since I tried any Johnnie Walker whiskies; the last one I reviewed was the King George V three years ago, so I figure it's about time for some new Walker.  I've always considered JW to be sort of zombie whiskies.  They look and smell like whisky, but they are devoid of any soul.  Let's see if any of these blends survived the zombie apocalypse.

Johnnie Walker Swing, 40% ($75)

JW's Swing comes in a wobbly bottle.  That appears to be the most significant information about it. The nose is nice and malty. The palate is very light with malt notes and just a touch of spice, trailing off with some pepper in the finish.  It is completely inoffensive but not at all interesting, although, did I mention the wobbly bottle?   

Johnnie Walker Platinum, 18 yo., 40% abv ($115)

JW Platinum joined the rainbow in 2013, shortly before the 18 year old JW Gold was discontinued. New color, same age, but double the price.  Sounds Diageolicious!  This has a nice nose with malt, sea air, green grapes and some floral notes.  The palate is malty with some musty notes, like drinking in a damp cellar.  The finish is dry with notes of autumn leaves.  This is decent stuff, but nothing I'd pay three figures for.

The Explorers' Club Series

This is a series of blends released in 2012 for the duty free market.  Last summer, a New York court enjoined Diageo from using the name after the New York Explorers Club filed suit; the parties settled in September so these whiskies will remain available.

All three of the Explorers' club whiskies are no age statement, 40% abv, come in liter bottles and include a stupid story about how they were specially blended to represent the part of the world alluded to in the name...whatever.

The Spice Road ($40)

The nose is soapy and grainy.  The palate is very grain forward, with light grain notes, sort of like an Irish blend. The finish is a bit medicinal.  This one is pretty blah.

The Gold Route ($125)

The nose on this one has more in the way of coastal notes with a slight whiff of peat.  The palate is malty with some seaweed and very slight peat and mineral notes that follow into the finish.  This one is decent and at least has some interesting stuff going on, though so does JW Black and it's a lot cheaper.

The Royal Route ($195)

The final and highest priced member of the Explorers' Club, The Royal Route has some decent peat on the nose along with some wine notes. The palate opens with the peat but then turns malty/soapy and diluted, leaving only a trace of peat on the finish along with a lot of soapiness and a bit of bitterness.

Wow, the Explorers' Club was a big yawn.  The Gold Route was clearly the strongest of the three.  The Royal Route starts strong but then goes steadily downhill.

All of today's JW whiskies are pretty much in line with my opinion of Johnnie Walker products.  None are offensive, some are decent, most are boring and all are overpriced.

All in all, it's still soulless zombie whisky.  If you see a bottle, don't open: dead inside.

Thanks to Tyler Patton for the samples.


Tyler P said...

Sku- glad you "enjoyed" the samples. One of the best parts of Whiskey is sharing it with others. I was fortunate enough to get the Explorer's Club Collection from friends traveling and glad you were able to review them. Even if they are Not A+

I do agree with you- The Gold Route is the best of the three in that collection.

Andrew G. said...

SKU, I have enjoyed the Green Label (no longer available), and the fact that it had no GNS, coupled with its price point/value relative to other JW, flavor, and discontinued status speak volumes about what Diageo is going for. That is, more colorful stories, higher prices, and, well..

Kevin said...

I find it interesting that this line doesn't do any exploration in the name of whisky, nor does it reach it's own goals of reflecting the exotic routes of it's namesakes.

HD said...

The Budweiser of Scotch.

My Annoying Opinions said...

Yeah, Sku is painting with too broad a brush, I think. I liked both the Green Label (though not enough to stock up for the future when news of the falling axe emerged) and I really like the Black Label--as did a bunch of very surprised people I gave it to blind at one of my local group's monthly tastings.

I am a robot.