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20151203_163522I have here before me Jim Murray’s “Whisky of the Year” selection for 2016 – the Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye.

Allow me a moment to ruminate.

Have you ever used a single-occupancy public bathroom? If not, most likely you at least know what I am talking about. Essentially, they are equipped with a sink, toilet, an overflowing can of garbage, and a locking mechanism on the door.

The lock is very important. Some bathroom locks are latches. Some are switches. Some are push-buttons. Some are unseen, that is, they require a push and slight twist of the whole doorknob to bar prowlers. There are lots of locks. All are designed differently. However, the purposes of the various locks are the same. Not only do bathroom locks serve to prevent unwanted intruders during one of the most sacred moments of your daily routine, but their very presence helps to preserve peace of mind. They establish a rampart of trust and bring a measure of tranquility even while the task is in mid-throe.

But have you ever tested the lock before getting down to business? I’m sure you engage the lock, but do you check to see if it actually works reliably? I do. It doesn’t matter if the restroom is commercial or residential, with the door open, I always engage the lock and test it from the outside to make sure that the knob is immovable and sturdy. Then I close the door, engage the lock again and pull on the door to make sure that all of the necessary door components are aligned accordingly.

This may sound somewhat obsessive, but it only took one lock failure to breach my trust.

In a way, Mr. Murray is a lock. Many trust him. Many rely upon him to preserve them from unwanted trespassers to the sanctity of their whisky cabinets. Many heed his sturdy experience and give uninhibited credence to his long-secure recommendations. Many will run right out and purchase the Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye and come to the shocking realization that the lock malfunctioned.

There is nothing deeply wonderful about this whisky. At all. There is nothing to suggest that it deserves the prestigious enthronement as 2016’s “Whisky of the Year.” And to see that it bears such a prized circlet, quite frankly, has me baffled.

There is no complexity in the nosing. It is a wafting of red licorice and what seems to be something like cheap gin. To wit, it’s piney, and admittedly in a delightful Bombay Sapphire kind of way rather than a bottom shelf Gordon’s. Still, the nipping alcohol is most definitely a noticeable part of the bouquet and it dodders near the level of bothersome.

The Palate is going to surprise you. Well no, actually, it won’t. It’s red licorice again. But at least the gin is more or less gone. Unfortunately, it is replaced by too little of the rye you were hoping for and too much of what seemed like a stranger mint. Very weird and not all that composed or stable.

The finish is medium, gradually departing by way of the sensation that you’ve been chewing a piece of original flavored Bazooka Joe bubble gum barely dotted with a drop of pure alcohol.

For the sake of all those innocent folks who didn’t know that their trusty lock was failing and they ran right out to boost Diageo’s profits, I’m glad you can get this edition for about $35.

But honestly, you’d be better served by something like Cutty Sark. Or in other words, at least put the overflowing garbage can against the door so that you can prop your foot against something to help hold the door in place. It’s not the best, but it works. And it’s better than suffering the embarrassing consequences of trusting in a faulty lock.