Whiskey’s Top Halloween Horrors
By Richard Thomas
As a rule whiskey experts avoid, to quote H.P. Lovecraft, “ye liveliest awfulness” in their writings. The tendency to put the most spotlight on the best stuff is natural enough, but at The Whiskey Reviewer we take pride in spending time in telling readers what they should not drink as well as what they should.
In other words, every once in a while we write up some lively awfulness and tell people to steer clear. Imbued with the Halloween spirit, we now explore some of the scariest whiskeys in the world. These aren’t horror shows from Thailand or Africa, where counterfeit whiskeys abound. These terrible tipples (listed in alphabetical order) all come from major whiskey countries, and might be lurking on a liquor store shelf near you.
1. Bell’s: Of all the major blended whisky brands, this one is the worst. One of the reader comments on our own review described it as “vagrant’s ballsack dipped in paint thinner,” and while that is hardly scientific proof of this Scotch’s terribleness, it is certainly too pithy to not repeat. How this wretched whisky manages to ship well above two million cases a year at any price is beyond me.
2. Clarke’s: One rarely expects much from supermarket generics, but this Aldi brand fails to deliver on even those low expectations. Billed as a bourbon, it’s as insubstantial as a ghost and offers less than nothing taken neat. In fact, Clarke’s is so bad enough that it can’t be endorsed even as a mixer, since liquor this cheap often brings on hangovers even in moderate consumption.
3. Kentucky Gentleman: This whiskey is such a horror that all right-thinking Kentuckians should make their way to Bardstown and demonstrate outside the Barton Distillery until they agree to rename it to “Kentucky Scoundrel” or somesuch thing. Like Bell’s, it’s hard to imagine how this rotgut sells at any price. Why would anyone spend $10 for a liter of this ichor when a fifth of Evan Williams or Jim Beam is just a couple of bucks more?
4. Loch Dhu 10 Year Old: Widely regarded as the worst single malt ever made, it was released in the mid-1990s and has been infamous ever since as “the black whisky.” True, it is wretched enough to earn such a name on taste alone, but the color of the whisky is actually coffee black! The stuff is as bitter as a bad cup of coffee too, and a true Halloween horror. Yet ironically, and in a sure indicator of the madness of the Scotch whisky collector’s market, it is now a collectors item that routinely commands at least a few hundred bucks on the secondary market.
5. Seagram’s VO: This terror gives justice to the saying that “Canadian whisky is just colored vodka.” Although this blended whisky inexplicably has its fan following, it tastes like fake maple syrup stirred into a bottle of alcohol-laden shoe polish, and cheap shoe polish at that.