Old Fettercairn Scotch whisky
Tobermory NAS - bad whisky
The 'old' Edradour - bad whisky

As you can see, there are only a few really 'avoidable' single malt whiskies produced in Scotland.
Better yet, most malts on this list ended up in the 'danger zone' between 50 and 60 points where I still found enough enjoyable elements to balance out the 'faults' and undesirable characteristics. On my purely personal scale, 50 points is the tipping point of the scale between enjoyable and... erm... non-enjoyable. Even though there's a slim chance you might run into some of the bottlings at the very bottom of the list (Loch Dhu comes to mind), it's best to be prepared. You won't be able to say I didn't warn you. If you do encounter one of the malts on the Shit List: don't panic - just walk away...

Obviously these are exceptions; most single malts score in the 70's and 80's.
But there are other types of whisky as well; blends and vatted malts, for instance.
After I published a list of the Worst Whiskies In The World in 1998 I received many
responses by visitors and published them as 'Public Warnings' on a separate page.
Over the years the focus of the site drifted more and more towards single malts,
so I've removed this 'Public Warnings' page (with mostly blends) a while ago.

However, here are a few of the highlights I've rescued from the 'Public Warnings' page;
Mike Avery on Glen Eden - 'If it were a person it would be a red-headed stepchild you'd have to beat...'
Robert Montgomery on House of Stuart - 'The best thing about it is that the plastic bottle is recyclable.'
Brian Palmer on Johnnie Walker Red Label - 'Keep Walking. That's what I'll do the next time I see it in a bar.'
Simon Godfrey on Isle of Jura 10yo - 'I wouldn't even use it to power the lawn mower.'
Bill Buchan on Sheep Dip - 'Sheep Dip by name, sheep dip by nature... Yeuchh..'
Keith Bourgeois on Speyburn 10yo - 'The smell of turpentine and the taste of shoe polish.'
Daniel Bond on Edradour 10yo - 'How did they make this? Burn gummibears and dissolve them in gasoline?'
Henk Daalmeijer on J&B - 'It keeps you smiling all night because it pulls your gums back over your teeth.'
Harry Butler on Old Smuggler - 'Its singular redeeming quality is the finish that vanishes within seconds.'
W. Morgenstern on Loch Dhu 10yo - 'This stuff is like licking an ashtray.'
David Means on Loch Dhu 10yo - 'Needs no water. What it really needs is to be poured down the nearest sink.'
Christos Sigalas on Tullibardine 10yo - 'It's like licking Wembley's Arena green grass. Good only for drunk hooligans.'
W. Ripley on Mekong - 'Never drink anything that only gets a lukewarm recommendation from an Australian infantryman!'
S. Godfrey on Tobermory - 'While Tobermory may be a fine name for a womble, as a whisky it should be avoided at all costs.'

Please bear in mind that only one Scotch single malt I ever tasted (Loch Dhu 10yo) scores below your average bottom shelf blend like Johnnie Walker Red Label or William Lawson's. The other Scotch single malts on the Shit List generally score in the 40's (meaning I'm experiencing mild discomfort) and 50's (meaning I enjoy them - but just barely). Two distilleries that keep popping up in this section of my Hit List are Loch Lomond and the generically named 'Speyside' distillery. I haven't tried anything remotely decent from these distilleries yet. Edradour had a moment of weakness around the turn of the millennium, but they seem to be on the right track again. Some mildly peated 'Ledaig' bottlings have kept me from writing off Tobermory alltogether, but I'm not likely to try a young Tobermory OB again.

If you're really interested in exploring the nether regions of the whisky world, check out the Deviant Drams page.
It contains information on all the 'other' types of whisky (blends, vatted malts, grain whiskies) from Scotland, 'foreign'
whiskies (Ireland, Canada, USA, Australia, Germany, France, India, etc.) and all sorts of other alcoholic beverages. Some of them
reach the same level of character and complexity as a single malt whisky, but sadly enough many of them don't...
Everybody that's NOT a sadomasochist should just consult the Hit List.

The worst Scotsch single malts in the world

...59   Aberfeldy 13yo 1978/1992 (43%, Master of Malt)

Even at this tender age this teenage Aberfeldy seems bored & tired.

...59   Glentromie 12yo (40%, OB, Speyside Distillery)

A small disaster in your glass from the infamous Speyside distillery.

...58   Glen Albyn 25yo 1979/'05 (56%, DT Rarest, C#3958)

Duncan Taylor 'Rarest of the Rare'. Taste it and you'll know why...

...58   Glenesk 1984/1997 (40%, Connoisseur's Choice)

If only this had the bland 'house style' of other Connoisseur's Choices.

...58   Tamnavulin 12yo (40%, OB, Bottled + 1999)

Shallow and all greased up. Light as the wind, gone in 60 seconds.

...57   Deanston 12yo (40%, OB, Bottled + 2000)

Newsflash: Underachiever discovers middle of road.

...57   Kinclaith 20yo (46%, Cadenhead's, Bottled 1990's)

Ever wondered why they closed down Kinclaith?

...57   Tullibardine 1988 (46%, OB, +/- 2004)

In the 'oily' side of the spectrum. Hardly my favourite profile.

...56   Bruichladdich 1989/'02 Valinch (58.5%, OB, Paris)

This is a love-it-or-hate-it whisky. Serge loved it.

...56   Edradour NAS 'Batch #1' (52,6%, Signatory, Tokaji)

August 2006 was a black month for Edradour...

...56   Glen Albyn 15yo 1980/1996 (43%, Signatory)

The casks with the numbers 2950 and 2951 were haunted...

...55   Bowmore NAS 'Darkest' (43%, OB, Bottled + 1999)

FWP Alert!!! Excuse my French...

...55   Knockando 1979/1994 (43%, OB)

Proof that not all 'antiques' are worth hunting down.

...55   Tobermory NAS (40%, OB, Bottled + 1997)

There's that slippery oil problem again; I just don't like this profile.

...54   Tobermory 10yo (40%, OB, Bottled + 2002)

Is this the best they can do after 10 years?

...53   Speyside 10yo (43%, OB, Bottled + 2003)

They failed to meet my low expactations with this one.

...53   Tullibardine 13yo 1989/2003 (59.8%, Cadenhead's)

Even at cask strength I'm not getting excited about this whisky.

...52   Allt-A-Bhainne 18yo '80/'99 (43%, SigV., C#19000)

A small disaster in the cask. What went wrong?

...51   Edradour 21yo 1968/1990 (46%, Signatory)

Casks #1990-1994 were used for this particular bottling.

...51   Famous Grouse 'VMW' 1992/2004 (40%, OB)

I wonder what malt dragged this vatting down so much.

...51   Loch Lomond NAS (40%, OB, Bottled + 1999)

I'm just two points away from actively disliking it.

...50   Cu Dhub (40%, OB, Speyside Dist., Bottled + 2003)

A.k.a. the illegitimate bastard son of Loch Dhu.

...50   Glencraig 1968 (40%, G&M Conn. Ch., Old Map)

Even the best of company can't make this enjoyable.

...49   Bowmore 35yo 1968/'03 (42.05%, Peerless, C#1424)

A whisky tasting of aspirin - not my kind of 'medicine'.

...47   Ardnave 10yo (40%, Malts of Distinction, Gall & Gall)

Were they hoping people would mistake it for Ardbeg?

...47   Bruichladdich 12yo 1991 (46%, Whisky Galore, 5cl)

Dead & gone. Fortunately this was only a 5cl sample.

...47   Famous Grouse 12yo Vatted Malt (40%, OB, +/- 2007)

No threat to real single malts, but a nice alternative for cheap blends.

...45   Dailuaine 1971/1992 (40%, G&M Connoisseurs Ch.)

Dailuaine had some great casks but I'm afraid this wasn't one of them...

...45   Millburn 1974/'98 (40%, G&M Connoisseurs Choice)

Hardly the choice of any self respecting 'connoisseur'.

...44   Drumguish NAS (40%, OB, Bottled + 2001)

Being better than its 90's sibling doesn't mean it's good.

...44   Inchgower 12yo 'De Luxe' (70 Proof, OB, 1980's?)

Other maniacs were 'unimpressed' - I nearly choked.

...44   Old Rhosdhu 5yo (40%, OB, Bottled + 1998)

Loch Lomond by any other name is still Loch Lomond.

...40   Drumguish NAS (40%, OB, Bottled + 1995)

The (cheap) single malt whisky that I loved to hate during the 1990's.

...40   Edradour 10yo (40%, OB, Pernod, Bottled + 2001)

Bottled shortly before Andrew Symington took over.

...35   Edradour 10yo Distillery Edition (43%, OB, + 2001)

Bottled shortly before Andrew Symington took over.

...32   Craiglodge 2001/2005 (45%, OB, Cask #223)

Setting a new standard for sub-standard single malts.

...28   Inchmoan 2001/2005 (45%, OB, Cask #53)

I foolishly decided to give the Loch Lomond distillery one last chance.

...20   Glen Mhor 15yo (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, IG/DGE)

Foul! By far the worst independent bottling I ever tried.

...14   Loch Dhu 10yo (40%, OB, 20cl, Bottled + 1999)

I prefer the 20cl bottle because there's less to hate.

...11   Loch Dhu 10yo (40%, OB, 70cl, Bottled + 2000)

Aqua Crematoria. The only single malt I ever threw down the sink.

Deviant Drams
Loch Dhu - Aque Vitae Crematoria

Just like the the Hit List of my personal favourite whiskies, this 'Shit List' (excuse my French) of highly
avoidable Scotch single malts has changed a lot over the years. This page used to offer little more than
a simple list of single malts I deemed 'avoidable' - those that scored below 60 points on my score card. Fortunately, this Shit List of avoidable malt whiskies is a lot shorter than my Hit List. The average
single malt whisky scores around 75 points in my book, which means 'a very enjoyable experience'.
The higher above 75 points, the more I've enjoyed the whisky I scored - but the list has a bottom too.

I even find some things to enjoy in questionable whiskies that earn a score in the 60's, although I
wouldn't actually recommend those bottles to anyone. When the score of a Scotch single malt whisky
drops below 60 points, I feel it's my obligation to try and actively warn the readers of Malt Madness
about it. Even though I still find enough things to enjoy in whiskies (and other spirits) that earned a
score between 50 and 59 points, for a properly aged Scotch single malt whisky it's just below par.
At the current price levels in most of the world, there are plenty of excellent alternatives.
Besides, those malt whiskies simply don't offer enough 'Bang-For-Your-Buck'.

Below 50 points you'll find the danger zone. With so many good and affordable malts scoring quite
comfortably in the 70's and 80's, there's no good reason to spend your hard earned cash on material
that is not up to the usual standards. Although... Sometimes an encounter with an avoidable whisky
CAN be educational! As long as you don't overdo it, drinking a 'bad' or 'mediocre' whisky once in a
while will significantly increase your enjoyment of every decent whisky that you'll taste after that...

However, there's another category of single malt whiskies deserving attention;
the whiskies that are on 'the slippery slope'. In the Beginner's Guide I've written
about the scary phenomenon of BATCH VARIATION - which can cause certain
familiar 'brands' to change radically within a short period of time. Sometimes this
means that the profile of whiskies like Edradour or Glengoyne suddenly changes.

These were just a handful of Scotch single malt whiskies that didn't perform quite as well as could be expected. All things considered, it could be much worse... Below you'll find an overview of all Scotch single malt whiskies that provoked me into scoring them in the 50's (seriously sub-standard, at least compared to other single malts) or even below 50 points (which means I actively disliked them).
Please note that this list is reserved for Scotch single malt whiskies - so it doesn't include whiskies from exotic countries like Japan or India. The Deviant Drams section deals with all other types of whisky, along with other alcoholic spirits like bourbon, rye whiskey, cognac, armagnac, calvados, grappa, rum and vodka.
However, that site section is still under construction I'm afraid...
I'm a bit of a masochist, so I don't mind punishing my nose and tastebuds every once in a while, especially if I am able to convince myself that torturing myself serves a greater purpose. Well, in a way it does - if my reporting on a substandard malt whiskies prevents even just one person from foolishly picking up a bottle in the store, the greater good was served... So, please let me know about any 'disaster drams' that I may have missed...
The links in the list below lead to tasting notes in my Liquid Log.

However, there are certain limits that one should never exceed. Sampling a few drops of the
infamous Loch Dhu ('Aqua Crematoria') will disable your taste buds for the rest of the evening.
As you can see, the Shit List below is refreshingly short compared to the complete Hit List with
my purely personal favourites. By now there are hundreds of (highly) recommendable and truly
stellar whiskies on the Hit List and only a few dozen on the complete 'Shit List' below.

You'll find the malt whiskies that have seriously disappointed me
if you scroll down, but I'll start with a list of 'slippery slope' malts.
It contains a dozen single malt whiskies that have been reviewed
favourably in the past, but that didn't impress me quite as much
with their most recent releases. In some cases the profile of the
whisky changed radically, while in others (like Glenfarclas '105')
the price of the whisky has almost doubled in just a few years. 

The worst recent Scotch single malt releases

.....76   Ardbeg NAS 'Blasda' (40%, OB, Bottled 2009)
.....71   Bowmore 15yo 'Darkest' (43%, OB, Bottled +/- 2010)
.....71   Bushmills 10yo (40%, OB, Ireland, Bottled +/- 2010)
.....72   Clynelish 12yo (46%, OB, Bottled +/- 2009)
.....75   Cragganmore 12yo (40%, OB, +/- 2009)
....72   Glen Garioch 'Founder's Reserve' (48%, OB, +/- 2010)
.....62   Glen Grant NAS (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2009)
.....64   Glenkinchie 12yo (43%, OB, Bottled +/- 2008)
.....72   Jura 16yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2009)
.....70   Kilbeggan 'Distillery Reserve' (40%, OB, Btl. 2010)
.....72   Macallan 12yo 'Fine Oak' (40%, OB, +/- 2008)
.....74   Old Pulteney 17yo (46%, OB, Bottled +/- 2009)
.....72   Singleton of Dufftown 12yo (40%, OB, +/- 2009)
.....73   Tomatin 12yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2008)
.....76   Tomatin 15yo (43%, OB, Bottled +/- 2009)

I have to admit that this expression is just a tad weak for me.
The batch variation for this Bowmore expression remains staggering.
Just when it seemed that Bushmills had found the way up again...
Some maniacs love Clynelish, but I've never been a big fan.
Never a favourite 'classic malt' of mine, but even blander these days.
Even though the high proof gives it an advantage on my BFYB List.
This used to be a 'better' alternative for blends, but hardly anymore.
This was always my least favourite 'classic malt', but it's grown worse.
I actually prefer the more affordable 10yo expression.
Batch #1 of this Irish whiskey was fairly disappointing.
This is ridiculous. It has been sliding downhill since the introduction.
One would expect a little more from a 'mature' malt after 17 years.
Not too long after the release this one seems to be slipping.
Never a real 'high flyer', but it used to be quite constant & decent.
Granted, not a 'bad' score, but not quite what a 15yo malt should be.


Drumguish - bad whisky

However, these differences occur between consecutive batches of the 'same' whisky.
That's a different phenomenon from a gradually changing profile due to changes in barley varieties,
distillation techniques, wood management, etc. That's a process that takes years and even decades.

With such price gauging, it becomes harder to swallow the PR
stories that portray Glenfarclas as a small family business. But
a business can't stay small for long with prices like these... ;-)

Anyway - I'm getting a bit off course....
The output of the Glenfarclas distillery is generally of
a very high quality. And I should also point out that
I've used the illustrations of bottles of Deanston and
Fettercairn malt whisky simply as 'illustrations' here.

Deanston and Fettercairn may not be 'A-List malt whiskies',
but they are a few classes above the average output (or rather
the 'below-average output' ;-) of distilleries like Loch Lomond and
the generically named Speyside whisky distillery in... eh... the Speyside region.
So, that was quite enough ado for now. Without any further ado I give you;

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