Disclaimer: The views expressed below are my own, I’m in no way qualified to say what makes a good whisky or a bad whisky, I’m just going by my own tastes here, I urge everyone to try things for themselves and make their own mind up!
I was in two minds about writing this post, it was originally going to be just another tasting note / review post of a whisky I tasted the other night, but in my head I’d already written my final verdict which was “this has to be the worst whisky I’ve ever tasted” and I thought a discussion around bad reviews and bad whisky is more interesting than a single bad review.
There’s a lot of rather generous reviews out there as reviewers and bloggers often rely on freebies for their reviews which I have nothing against as long as they give them fair and honest reviews, but an honest, but critical review could risk cutting off that supply so it seems that there’s not a great deal of negative reviews out there. Oliver Kilmek of Dramming.com done an excellent post on the ethics of whisky blogging which touches on this and it’s stuck with me.
Everyone has different tastes, whisky bloggers generally love whisky so most of their posts will be positive, but still our tastes are different, the example I’ve got to mention is Jura, I’ve yet to find a Jura I actually like, I’ve sat down and clinically tasted a few of them and I simply don’t like them, but that’s not to say the whisky doesn’t have its own qualities and given the opportunity I’m more than willing to give them another shot and hopefully find one I like. My friend Tom ( @ifotou ) of Toms Whisky Reviews is probably the biggest Jura fan I’ve ever come across, but really doesn’t like anything that’s been anywhere near a wine cask, so I sent him a sample of Longrow matured in a Shiraz cask for him to try and he was pleasantly surprised, so even if you know what you like and dislike it doesn’t hurt to try something outside your comfort zone once and a while which is why I’m unlikely to ever completely dismiss any distillery or style.
Jack Daniels is often mistaken for a bourbon, but is actually a Tennessee sour mash whiskey and is also the reason that I insisted I didn’t like whisky for many years – I simply can’t touch the stuff, it’s horrible, but I wouldn’t say it’s actually bad, it’s just really not to my tastes.
Your average bottle of Scotch whisky is a cheap generic blend, bottled at 40%, made up mainly of grain, full of E150 and selling for a few quid (1 GBP) over a tenner, they may be bland, designed as mixers and simply have a generic whisky taste, but they don’t have enough character to be classed as bad and certainly don’t deserve the glory of being The Worst.
So what do I see as “The Worst”, for a start I’ve got to dislike it, but more than that, it has to have no recognisable qualities beyond maybe degreasing engines or stripping paint and for it to go from being bad to being the worst I think it needs to actively be bad, so a bland supermarkets “value” band that tastes of vodka with whisky flavouring is never going to win this title, it needs a bit more depth and character. So what is this monstrosity I speak of?
Wambrechies – French Single Malt – 8 Year Old – 40% ABV
Nose: Vinegar mixed with caramel and acetone, slightly rotten fruit, haylage, emulsion paint, vegetable matter, varnish and celery – a compost heap of yuck!
Palate: Chocolate with over ripe pears, polish, oranges, nectarines, a really weird, almost sickeningly sweet fruitiness.
Finish: Very sweet, overripe bruised apples.
I tasted this one with Glasgow’s Whisky Club, only one person in the room actually
liked tolerated it and I’m not sure if anyone other than him finished their dram, certainly no one at my table did which is an extremely rare occurrence. As France is one of the biggest export markets for Scotch Whisky I really expected more from this, but to my tastes it was truly terrible and dubbed “Warm Breeches“ by faster thinking club members than myself.
I’d say try this if you get the chance so you can either tell me I’m right or wrong, just don’t part with any cash for it!
So what’s the worst whisky you’ve ever tasted?