Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Whiskey Wednesday: The Best of the Worst - Scotch

We've all had it happen. You want a Scotch, but you're stuck in an airport, a crappy hotel bar, or worst of all, a wedding or a convention's cash bar. You have to decide between one or two blends that are clearly at the bottom of the barley barrel.

Well, given that I've been in this scenario more times than I can remember, I decided to take one for the team and give you the best of the worst, wherein I will review the plonk you are most likely to find in said situations.

It goes without saying that all of these are blends at 40% alcohol. They are ranked from best of the worst to worst of the worst in this blind tasting.

1. Johnnie Walker Red (Owned by Diageo)

I've never been a fan of JW Red, which I previously reviewed with the other Walkers, but face to face with these low-enders, it towered over the competition. It had nice malt on the nose and an even, unoffensive taste, though it was a bit medicinal, in a bad way, on the finish. It was certainly light, but not as light as the other contenders. It was head and shoulders above the others.

2. Dewar's White Label (Bacardi Ltd.)

The Dewar's had a nice malty nose, maybe the best nose of all of these, but the flavor was quite a bit lighter than the JW. There was some malt there, but it was less discernible. It beat out the Chivas by a nose.

3. Chivas Regal 12 years old (Pernod Ricard)

The Chivas had a weak nose but was fairly decent on taste. It was a bit milky, a bit sweet, and there was a pronounced grain flavor.

4. J&B (Diageo)

J&B was light on the nose with some malt. The flavor was bland and watery. Overall, it was boring and indistinct.

5. Cutty Sark (Edrington Group/Berry Brothers & Rudd)

This is hideous stuff. It has a weird perfume fragrance which stomps out any malt, and an unpleasant sweetness. This was by far the worst of the lot. STAY AWAY!

So, just to give you a sense of how these rankings came down. I tasted them blind. Johnnie Walker was the best by far, then Dewar's and Chivas were a fairly close call for second and third. J&B was discernibly worse than the first three and Cutty Sark was an abomination.

Good luck and give my congratulations to the happy couple.

Next Wednesday: We begin a new series of American whiskey reviews.

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