I love travelling. I especially love travelling to far destinations at the other end of the world that completely flip my sleeping pattern. These travels always include stops at large international airport hubs where you will find a variety of ultra high end luxury duty free stores where you can buy anything from a $2 grape (yes, a single grape that I purchased at Narita enclosed in a shell of green tea jelly) to $1,000 pair of slippers. At these very same airports you can find the rarest and often times most expensive spirits, some of which are only sold at these airports and nowhere else. Therefore, one of my goals on my latest trip was to purchase a more expensive bottle of a spirit that was only available at larger airports and this is exactly what I did on one of my last layovers – I bought a bottle of the airport exclusive Johnnie Walker Explorer’s Club Collection – The Gold Route.
The Explorer’s Club Collection
I am not always up to date on spirits so when I stumbled across a large display of Johnnie Walker’s Explorer’s Club Collection, I had to light reading to do in order to make a selection. The Explorer’s Club Collection, as I learned from the display, is a new range of whiskies the first release of which was inspired by the major trade routes undertaken by the Walker’s family. Thus the name – The Trade Route Series. This first release under the new range is based on the 3 major trade routes – The Spice Road, The Gold Route and The Royal Route. Each is influenced by the spices, trees and fruits found along the routes and according to the release description, each one is completely unique.
The Gold Route
The prices for each essentially doubled. The Spice Road was the cheapest at $41 for a 1L bottle, the Gold Route was $77 for a 1L bottle and the Royal Route was $133 for a 1L bottle. The different price levels were also affected by the boxes the bottles came in. The cheapest one came in a regular box with a flip top. The mid-range one came in a sturdy 2-piece thick cardboard box with a detailed relief on the front. The expensive one came in a hinged heavy box with a metal plated front which made the box feel very solid and the overall package very heavy.
I decided to go with the middle as I am not a huge fan of spices and I didn’t really want the extra weight of the metal plated box. Sure I could have asked for the box to be thrown out before the bottle was sealed in the duty free bag, but I also needed the box to protect the bottle (learned that from another journey where a Black Label bottle was cracked by security personnel and emptied itself). Some airports do have special bubble wrap lined cylindrical containers for the bottles, but not the one I got this from.
The scotch has a copperish primary color with amber hues. A swirl makes it stick to the walls forming thick and slow moving tears. On the nose notes of honey, vanilla, leather, tropical fruits and spice are present. A few drops of water really open this scotch up accentuating each of the notes.
Like in the glass, the scotch feels oily and on the heavy end on the tongue. Sweet vanilla, burnt sugar, pears and spice make up the bulk of the flavor with a mixture of more subtle notes like papaya coming in and out with each sip. The finish is heavy, warm, smokey and evolving. Leather and hints of butter and tobacco appear at stages making this scotch very enjoyable and layered. I recommend it but I do have to caution you that this is on the heavier and smokier end so if you are not into it, please spend your money on something else.