Sunday, November 22, 2015

Whisky review: Johnnie Walker Explorers' Club Collection "The Adventurer"

In my last post, I uploaded a reader's email, in which he lamented that it is very difficult to find the "Honda Accord" of Scotches, meaning something affordable, yet of great quality.

Normally, 'affordable' and 'whisky' are two words that do not work well in the same sentence.  Generally speaking, affordable Scotch whisky means you are looking at blended Scotch, and in the past there were a few gems.  Today, the same brands are still with us, but the great drams they were, at very reasonable prices, have disappeared.

Teacher's, Black Bottle, Monkey Shoulder and others that at one time delivered great quality at a great price are now serving up noticeably lesser quality at a reasonable price.  Now, you get what you pay for, whereas ten years ago, you glanced nervously over your shoulder, as you exited the liquor store fearing the manager would bolt out the doors demanding you return, as there was an error in price.

Nevertheless, I am still in search of that Accord, thinking it is just around the corner, on a lonely shelf, just waiting for me to discover it.  So, in the spirit of Japanese efficiency and value having an equivalent in the blended Soctch category, a friend picked me a up a bottle of Johnnie Walker Explorers' Club Collection "The Adventurer" at Duty Free.

Duty Free only

1 litre



Nose (undiluted)
Red licorice, easy peat, wisps of smoke, rose hip, strawberries.

Palate (undiluted)
Spicy/sweet entry of sugared strawberries, raspberries, pickled beets, peat, some malt notes and lots of sweet grain whiskies bulking it out.

Finish (undiluted)
Montreal steak spice, ginger, simple black pepper, and a tannic cola note.

General Impressions
"The Adventurer" appears to be the standard Johnnie Walker Red Label with an extra boost of smoke, spices.  It is a little smoother than Red Label with a little less bite too but hardly by much.  I really struggle to distinguish much difference in taste between this and Red Label.  A Scotch whisky blogger in Brazil holds the same opinion.

That being said, for $29.99, you are getting a lot of decent mix quality blended Scotch whisky.  I really think this blend is best enjoyed as mix, and at the price it is offered for, you won't feel guilty using it as such.  In a tumbler, add 2/3 ginger ale, 1/3 The Adventurer, ice, slice of orange, a dash of Angostura Bitters, and you are in business!  Much more enjoyable than neat.

So, I guess I will heed Johnnie Walker's advice and keep on walkin.'  Maybe a trip down the Spice Road will lead to my ultimate destination: an Accord!


Jason Debly


  1. Just confirms... For me the only JW is the Black.

    Got a blend...Not sure if I've mentioned it already... The Six Isles. It's a blend of various malts from the likes of Islay, Sky, Orkney etc..... And for the price here in Aus I like it a lot. It's 43%. No colouring and Non chill Filtered as well. A nice little smoky. Heard of it Jason ?
    AL (from OZ)

    1. Yup, Johnnie Black is the only one now for me too in the Johhnie Walker product line.

      I have not tried the Six Isles. Not available where I live unfortunately. Ever try Islay Mist? Nice economy blend with excellent Islay notes.

  2. Six Isles is a blended malt. So yeah, it's probably good (the Pomerol-finished one I had a few years ago was excellent), and it's probably priced in most places like an entry-level age-stated single malt.

    Te Bheag would be my Accord if I could find it around me. Binny's recently started stocking it, though. $35 on sale, $40 normally.

    1. Te Bheagh is just priced a little to high to be an Accord.

      I suppose Islay Mist 8 yrs is an Accord, come to think of it. There are a few out there but not Johnnie Walker the Adventurer.

  3. Jason, Ugh. We tried this bar-side. I can't tell a difference from JW Red, except by price. It's too painful to drink straight. Each falls well short of minimally palatable (short of a Honda Civic, let alone an Accord) as a Scotch whisky to me. Put it in ginger ale, sure, it's OK. But as the Honda Accord of Scotch, Good Lord, it's not even close. Maybe it's me as a lover of cars, but the Accord actually is a damned good value and good car, no question. It satisfies far more ways and at higher levels in its class too. Perhaps the Ardbeg Ten or Macallan 12y or Aberfeldy 12y (each for just $43) is the equivalent perennial class leader from the three famous regions which don't compromise in my glass as deeply as do the Civic and JWR. Cheers ! JK

  4. Aberfeldy 12 at its low price is an Accord for sure. I may have to revisit that malt. Hope all is well with you!

  5. Just bought the Aberfeldy 12 for $39. Very good price for any single malt in my area. Old Pultney 12 year old is my Accord. Good quality and priced at $38. I bought both today.

  6. I enjoyed a bottle of spice road I picked up at the duty free shop in Miami. The free tastes being handed out on the concourse was a nice bonus to boot.