The worlds worst whiskies

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Pacific Historian
Jun 4, 2005
Orange County, CA
The Dark Side to a whisky passion

Alex Kraaijeveld

This is a coming-out. Some of you reading this already know, but I now publicly confess to having a dark side to my whisky passion: an urge to try and get my hands on whiskies from completely non-traditional whisky countries; and the worse they taste, the better.
I could of course claim that I'm doing this because I "like to keep an open mind". After all, just because a whisky isn't distilled in Scotland/Ireland/US/Canada doesn't necessarily mean it can't be a good whisky. I quite enjoy Lammerlaw from New Zealand and Japan's heavily peated Yoichi 12 y.o. is among my favourites. Or I could say that tasting an awful whisky from I don't know where makes me appreciate a really good whisky even more. There is some truth in those two reasons, but the bottom line is that trying to get whiskies from the most unusual corners of the world is simply fun, a sport, and a quest to find 'The Worst Whisky in the World'.

Over the years, the bottom shelf of my whisky cabinet has become occupied by a range of exotic whiskies from several continents. South America is represented by whiskies from Argentina, Brazil and Surinam; most of these are hybrid Scotches: Scottish malt whisky blended with local grain spirit (no prices for guessing the malt content of these hybrids). Continental European whiskies come from Finland, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, the Czech Republic and Hungary. A whisky from South Africa (again a hybrid Scotch) is my sole African whisky at the moment and my Asian whiskies range from Turkey to India to Thailand and Malaysia. The Thai whiskies are wholly or partly rice-based and, strange though it may sound, have a history reaching much further back than Celtic whiskies: there are 10th century records of Siamese spirits distilled from rice being matured in casks that were treated on the inside with the smoke of burning sandalwood.

Most of the bottles I simply get because friends and colleagues go abroad for fun or work and know of my 'dark side'. Christine Müller, Thomas Berendonk and Donald Quicke are, between them, responsible for more than half my collection of 'exotic whiskies'. Some of the bottles, though, have a bit more of a story connected to them .....

Just before Donald left for a field trip to Turkey he asked me jokingly whether Turkey made any whisky. "Yes", I said to his surprise, "and it's even a single malt!" After arriving in Turkey, Donald told his host there that he was looking for a bottle of 'Ankara Malt Viski' for a colleague. She immediately arranged for a bottle to be tracked down and was adamant about not wanting any reimbursement. The idea of receiving payment for simply being a good host was almost offensive to her! Selma, nochmals vielen Dank!

My bottle of 'Flat Country' Hungarian whisky probably made one of the most tortuous journeys in bottledom. Travelling with colleagues driving back from a field trip in Hungary, the bottle should have reached me in Ascot, just west of London, without any problems. But the car broke down, someone forgot to get the bottle out, it ended up in Edinburgh and I lost track of how many people were involved handing each other the bottle as it slowly made its way south, first to Oxford and finally to Ascot. Thanks to you all, you know who you are!

But my best story is how I got my bottle of 'McDowell's', a single malt from Goa, India. Things were set in motion by an e-mail I sent to United Breweries, the company who owns the Goa distillery, asking where in the UK I could buy a bottle of their single malt. I didn't really expect to hear anything back, but e-mails are cheap, so nothing to lose. I had almost forgotten about the e-mail when, more than a month later, I suddenly received a fax from Vijay Rekhi, the president of UB. He had received my e-mail and regretted to tell me that 'McDowell's' was not marketed anywhere in the UK, but he had a business meeting in the UK in a few weeks and would take a bottle along for me. "Someone will get hold of you" the fax said. Sure enough, two weeks later, a very nice lady called me at work. She had some Indian whisky for me and called to find the easiest way to get the whisky from her to me. It turned out one of her colleagues would be in my area for business soon and she gave me an address close to my work where I could pick up the whisky in a few days' time. I asked her what the cost of the bottle was. "Nothing, of course, this is courtesy of United Breweries", she said surprised. A few days later not one but two bottles of 'McDowell's' single malt, neatly packaged, were there for me to pick up on my way home.

Of the people helping me indulge my dark whisky vice, Donald is most keen to have a taste as well. Shortly after he brought back some Malaysian whisky for me, he came down for a dinner party. After dinner, I was about to offer him a dram from the top shelf of my whisky cabinet (where my Scottish single malts live), but he asked for a taste of the Malaysian stuff he'd brought me earlier. As a good host, you give your guest what he asks for, right? The stuff was pretty awful, and I set the pattern for the rest of the evening by saying "I have something worse than this!" To make a long story short, we never got to the top shelf and several times when Donald was sure it couldn't get worse, I managed to get another bottle from my bottom shelf and make him exclaim "Oh yes, this is really bad!!" I never thought tasting some of the most awful whiskies in the world could be so much fun!

So what really is the Worst Whisky in the World, or at least the worst one in my collection? Well, to be honest, some of the exotics aren't too bad. Turkey's single malt, 'Ankara', is a light, smooth, slightly sweetish malt which many people (including myself) would probably fail to pick out as non-Scottish/Irish in a blind tasting. The Spanish 'DYC' and the Czech 'King Barley' are Scotch-style blends and quite drinkable and the Finnish 'Alko' is a very light 10 y.o. rye-like whisky. But there are absolutely awful ones! Malaysian whisky is pretty bad, as I said, but at the moment, 'Piraten Whisky' from Germany and 'Lord Parham' from Surinam are neck-and-neck for the title. But I have to admit I'm not putting a lot of tasting effort in deciding between the two .....

Celtic Malts
I can only speak of Rye whiskey and surprisingly the best is an american rye by Gibsons. It makes CC taste like backwash and is far smoother then Crown Royal
Old Suntory made in Japan. i would say the taste is like stewed geisha socks mixed with wood Alcohol, Not good. I preferred a malt whisky glenficdich or a whisky liquor like Drambuie
Say pb, the only Gibson stuff I managed to find tonight was a Canadian blend from Ontario called Gibson's Finest. I must say, I rather like it too. It wouldn't be the same stuff, by chance? I couldn't find an American whiskey by the name of Gibson's or Gibsons. Could be the local liquor store just didn't have it in stock. Dunno.
I thought it was canadian the first time i tried it but when i searched it on google came up with an american rye hence my surprise
Some French filth called "Gold River" has been banned from calling itself whisky - that HAS to top the lot!


A toast to victory

The Scotch Whisky Association (Approximation of laws) [1998] EUECJ C-136/96 (16 July 1998)

All very legal, but it does prove the point - this may be why the French are so upset with the Aussies about Champagne!

One of my students once gave me a plastic cup full of Gold River at a party... He was trying to be nice...
I enjoy Irish and Scotch whiskeys. I have a rather nice assortment of Bottles at home. My favorites that I have are:

50 Year Old Johnnie Walker Blue Label (The Best in my opinion, but rather expensive, cost me 100 Dollars for my bottle)
21 Year Old Bushmills
Middleton Rare
Tullamore Dew

I rather enjoy drinking Whiskey when I am at home. It is not a drink that I get drunk off of though, but rather sip it and enjoy. My favorite is the Johnnie Walker Blue Label.

Johnnie Walker Blue Label — Johnnie Walker's ultimate blend. Every bottle is serial numbered and sold in a silk-lined box, accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. Although no age is declared, it is believed many of the whiskies blended are aged for 50 to 60 years.
When you buy the bottle it tells you about the process what blends are in it. Mine actually has a blend from 1898 in it. The rest of the blends were aprox. 50 years old.

It really is a great whiskey to drink though. Very smooth with a nice smoked hint to it. Very very fine whiskey. I rarely open it, and when I do it is for special occasions.
When I was in London back in March, I bought a bottle of "Balblair" 16 yo single malt scotch whiskey.

Now that was great!!!! Excellent taste and "kick".

Ive also noticed in the liquor store, that theres a few brands of Kentucky or Tennesse whiskey that is distilled according to the old "frontier" recipies (moonshine?).

I need to buy a bottle of that and see what that tastes like.

Deradler, your whiskey list is impressive.
Deradler, your whiskey list is impressive.


I really enjoy whiskey. To me it is for enjoyment though and not for getting drunk. I would never use a fine whiskey to get drunk off of. I enjoy sitting on my porch with a nice Blue Label or Bushmills and smoke a cigar and just watch the sunset kind of think you know.

I am not a big fan of Jack Daniels though. I dont mind it with coke but it is not an enjoyable drink for me. I also dont like Jim Beam. I prefer Irish or Scotch whiskey.

With my expensive bottles like my Johnnie Walker Blue Label I have to keep good discipline with it because it really is a great fine whiskey and I dont want to waste it, but rather savor it.
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