Murray gives Crown Royal top spot in BibleBy Amy Hopkins
Whisky expert Jim Murray has named Diageo’s Canadian whisky Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye as latest World Whisky of the Year, once again omitting to include a single Scotch brand in his top five.
Murray revealed the top ranking whiskies in his Whisky Bible 2016, published today. The selection of Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye edition as the World Whisky of the Year marks the first time a Canadian whisky brand has scooped the top title.
In the thirteenth edition of the book, Murray scores the whisky a “record-qualifying” 97.5 out of 100 points. It is created at the Gimli Distillery, which sits on the shores of Lake Winnipeg in central Canada.
Another rye expression, Pikesville 100 proof Straight Rye from the Heaven Hill Distillery in Kentucky, was awarded second spot in Murray list of the best whiskies in the world.
Irish Distillers’ Midleton Dair Ghaelach came in third, while Buffalo Trace’s William Larue Weller Bourbon and Japanese whisky Yamazaki Mizunara came in fourth and fifth respectively.
Murray admits that he was surprised by the quality of Northern Harvest Rye.
“To be honest, I had been considering actually demoting Canadian whisky from having its own chapter in the Bible,” he said. “The quality of Canadian has been disappointing me for some time with too many non-whisky products, like fruit juice or wine, being added to give a softer flavour.
“Then Crown Royal Northern Harvest pops up out of nowhere and changes the game. I think other distillers out there have to have a close look at this and see if they can at least have a go at reaching where this new bar has been set. Otherwise the name of Canadian whisky will continue to decline against the high standards being set in other countries.”
Murray named Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013 as the World Whisky of the Year in his Whisky Bible 2015, where Scotch brands missed out on a top five placement.
“Last year people were shocked when I gave Yamazaki the award – until they tasted it. Then they saw it was not the affront to Scotch they first thought and something truly extraordinary,” said Murray.
“This year, doubtless there will be many more eyebrows raised because rarely is Canada mentioned when it come to the world’s top whiskies. But, again, I have no doubt people finding the bottling I tasted will be blown away with this whisky’s uncompromising and unique beauty. It certainly puts the rye into Canadian rye.”