By Richard Thomas
Whisky Bible author and noted expert Jim Murray named a Canadian whisky as the world’s best in the 2016 edition of his book. In awarding Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye a score of 97.5 and the 2016 World Whisky of the Year crown, he not only gave the title to a Canadian whisky for the first time, but he also gave it to a whisky that received more mixed reviews in other venues and costs a mere $30 a bottle.
Some agree with Murray’s stellar opinion of the Crown Royal rye whisky, as it won a Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. However, many reviewers thought the whisky merely good, not great. Drinkhacker awarded it a B, The Whiskey Jug an 86, and this publication gave it a B-. Murray’s choice of what many view as a three-star whisky as the year’s best has already proven far more controversial than choosing a Canadian whisky for the first time.
Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye winning World Whisky of the Year is not the first time Murray has made contentious calls in his rankings, and recent years in particular have been full of them. After handing the #1 and #2 slots to a pair of Buffalo Trace bourbons in 2013, Murray went further by declaring that bourbon had become superior to Scotch. Last year he went struck Scotch even harder by naming a Japanese whisky as the world’s best for the first time, and excluding Scotch from his top five slots altogether.
The top five in Whisky Bible 2016 once again does not include a single Scotch whisky, but instead includes two ryes (one American and one Canadian), an Irish, a bourbon and a Japanese whisky:
- Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye
- Pikesville Straight Rye (also named American Rye of the Year)
- Midleton Dair Ghaelach (also named both Irish Whiskey and Irish Pot Still of the Year)
- William Larue Weller Bourbon (2014) (also named Bourbon of the Year)
- Yamazaki Mizunara (2014) (also named Japanese Whisky of the Year)
Other title-winners in the 2016 edition included:
Scotch Whisky of the Year: Glenfarclas 1957 Family Casks #2110
U.S. Micro Whiskey of the Year: Notch 12 Whisky (from Triple Eight Distillery)