By Richard Thomas
Passport is a familiar sight on supermarket liquor store shelves, especially in Europe and certain South American countries. Being a cheap blended scotch from Pernod Ricard, I have come to think of it as kind of a sub-Chivas Regal. The blend and brand date back to the 1960s.
When it comes to cheapo whiskeys of this type, the operative question is always how well does the price match what is in the bottle. Whether there is an equilibrium there is key until one hits rock bottom rotgut, because there are always big bargains in the super cheap range, and it’s the place to go for cooking whiskey and raw materials for infusions.
Based on that outlook I would never buy Johnnie Walker Red, which at €14 or $22 is overpriced for any purpose. A whisky like Passport, on the other hand, has its uses.
Passport has a gold-leaning-to-amber appearance in the glass, coming from the added caramel coloring. As a cheap-end, mass market blend, Passport is bottled at 40% abv.
The nose reveals a youngish, but very honest and upfront whisky. Cereal and honey sweetness meet a woody tinge, with a trace of astringency. The flavor follows suit, with just the slightest hint of peat ash note. The finish unwinds sweet, but dry and with moderate, short-lived warmth.
This blended whisky is what it is, simple and nothing more. There is a trace of harshness to it, but one shouldn’t expect that not to be there in a whisky of this class.
Where I live, Passport is frequently available for as little as €10 per 70cl bottle. At that price, the whisky is a good buy for mixing, infusing and cooking. However, I have seen it listed in the UK for as much as £20, a price at which I would not buy if for any purpose.