1) - A Beginner's Guide to Single Malt Scotch Whisky
The Beginner's Guide was one of the first additions to this web site in the 1990's.
Over the years it has grown into a modest Scotch whisky encyclopaedia with 10
pages with useful information for (relative) beginners that are taking their first
shaky steps into the confusing malt whisky world. The first chapter deals with
the malt whisky fundamentals (what is single malt Scotch whisky exactly and
why is it special?) while the second chapter looks at the whisky vocabulary
(terminology and pronunciation). Chapter 3 about the geography of Scotland
deals with the various Scottish malt whisky regions, the 4th chapter focuses
on the distillation process of whisky while chapter 5 looks at the maturation
that changes the fresh spirit needs to evolve into real whisky is time - lots of it.
That's quite enough theory, so the 2nd half of this guide has a more practical focus.
The topic of the 6th chapter about
the bottling of whisky may seem mundane - but unless you prefer to buy your whiskies by the cask, you should appreciate this logistical innovation. The chapters about shopping for whisky (how to spend your hard earned cash wisely on whisky), enjoyment (on glassware, adding water, temperature
and many other little details) and practice (now it's finally time to actually pour yourself a glass or two of whisky,
preferably a single malt. I've tried to share a few final words of whisky wisdom in the conclusion - as well as a
review for an e-book that inspired me to start work on ... (drumroll) ... an "Advanced Beginner's Guide".
2) - Scotch Whisky Distillery Data & Malt Whisky Map
During the early 1990's, the only country that seemed to be producing
single malt whisky was Scotland. I later learned that people have been
producing excellent malt whiskies in Japan for at least a few decades
now. In fact, they also distil malt whisky in exotic countries like India,
Brazil and Australia these days. However, when I launched the site
in 1995, I had only sampled malt whiskies from Scotland. So, that's
also the focus of the Scotch whisky distillery data section, which
contains profiles for over 100 different malt whisky distilleries.
The whisky distillery profiles take the readers on an alphabetical
journey from Aberfeldy to Tullibardine and contain statistics like
region, neighbours, the foundation year, capacity, water source,
number of stills, etc. Each profile also provides an overview of
the distilleries' history and contains tasting notes and ratings.
Apart from the profiles themselves, the DD section also contains an
malt whisky brands (you won't find the Port Charlotte or
Stronachie distillery anywhere in Scotland for example), an overview
of independent bottlers of Scotch whisky and pages for the different
whisky regions of Scotland. You can use the regional pages to locate
all distilleries in a particular region - which could be useful if you still
consider the 'terroir'
aspect of Scottish whisky production relevant.
I must admit that I personally feel that modern distillation practices
and the economies of scale that determine today's whisky business
have made the concept of whisky regions pretty much obsolete.
Nevertheless, there's a Mega Malt Map of Scotch malt whisky distilleries.
My brother Franc (smarter than he looks) and I (probably not quite as smart as I'd like to think I am, because my psychologist told me an IQ of 100,000
people planning a trip through Scotland. If you think about visiting a handful of distilleries, the map will show you where they are, so you can set out a route. What's more, the whisky map provides an
alternative interface to browse through the more than hundred distillery profiles in the Distillery Data section.
At the moment, the 'Distillery Data' section contains profiles for these malt whisky distilleries in Scotland;
Aberfeldy - Aberlour - Ailsa Bay - Allt A' Bhainne - Ardbeg - Ardmore - Arran - Auchentoshan
Auchroisk - Aultmore - Balblair - Balmenach - Balvenie - Banff - Ben Nevis - Benriach - Benrinnes
Benromach - Ben Wyvis - Bladnoch - Blair Athol - Bowmore - Brackla - Braeval - Brora - Bruichladdich
Bunnahabhain - Caol Ila - Caperdonich - Cardhu - Clynelish - Coleburn - Convalmore - Cragganmore
Craigellachie - Daftmill - Dailuaine - Dallas Dhu - Dalmore - Dalwhinnie - Deanston - Dufftown
Edradour - Fettercairn - Glen Albyn - Glenallachie - Glenburgie - Glencadam - Glencraig
Glen Deveron - Glendronach - Glendullan - Glen Elgin - Glenfarclas - Glenfiddich - Glen Flagler
Glen Garioch - Glenglassaugh - Glengoyne - Glen Grant - Glengyle - Glen Keith - Glenkinchie
Glenlivet - Glenlochy - Glenlossie - Glen Mhor - Glenmorangie - Glen Moray - Glen Ord - Glenrothes
Glen Scotia - Glen Spey - Glentauchers - Glenturret - Glenugie - Glenury Royal - Highland Park
Imperial - Inchgower - Inverleven - Isle of Jura - Kilchoman - Killyloch - Kinclaith - Kininvie
Knockando - Knockdhu - Ladyburn - Lagavulin - Laphroaig - Ledaig - Linkwood - Linlithgow
Littlemill - Loch Lomond - Lochnagar - Lochside - Longmorn - Macallan - MacDuff - Mannochmore
Millburn - Miltonduff - Mortlach - Mosstowie - North Port / Brechin - Oban - Old Pulteney - Pittyvaich
Port Ellen - Pulteney - Rosebank - Royal Brackla - Royal Lochnagar - Saint Magdalene - Scapa
Speyburn - Speyside - Springbank - Strathisla - Strathmill - Talisker - Tamdhu - Tamnavulin
Teaninich - Tobermory - Tomatin - Tomintoul - Tormore - Tullibardine
3) - Scotch Malt Whisky mAlmanac
The name mAlmanac is short for 'malt almanac'
- a pocket-sized guide to malt Scotch whisky.
It started out as a failry simplified shopping guide with an overview of some recommendable and
especially affordable whiskies, but over time a few other pages were added to the mix as well;
1) The Hot List - the
most interesting new malt whiskies that were released (fairly) recently.
2) The Hit List - my all-time favourite malt whiskies
which I would recommend to anybody.
3) The Shit List - my least favourite malt whiskies and whiskeys which I would not recommend.
4) The Bang-For-Your-Buck List - a small selection of malt whiskies that offer the best value.
The Reading List - a overview of the 10 most recommendable whisky books that I know.
6) The Whisky Industry List - a matrix of
all Scotch malt whisky distilleries and their owners.
Last but not least, I've managed to reconstruct a few of the most ancient parts of the site that
seemed lost after the big crash of this web site in 2006. So far, my Little Black Book (tasting
notes on the first 500 Scotch single malt whiskies that I seriously sampled), the Stock List (the
contents of my liquor cabinet around the year 2005) and the Track Record (my scores for the first
2000 Scotch malt whiskies I've tried) have been restored to part of their former glory.
4) - A Liquid Log about Scottish whiskies
Writing a whisky (b)log is great fun, because it gives you an excuse to
drink whisky while you 'work'. So, for a many years the dramming and
writing for my Liquid Log has been a great source of entertainment for
me. I've managed to keep up a fairly steady dramming pace between
1997 and 2009, but I've slowed down considerably in recent years.
The main reason was a talk with my doctor that convinced me that I
should spend less time dramming behind the keyboard and more time
engaging in healthier activities like walking and cycling. So, in 2012 I
decided to give blogging a break. Fortunately there are many other
whisky blogs out there - check out the Liquid Links for some of them.
That means that Liquid Log entry #400 from the Spring of 2012 will be
my last liquid log entry for a while. I may pick up the blogging again at
some point, but in the foreseeable future most updates will occur on
various distillery profiles in the Distillery Data section of this site. The
navigation structure of my liquid log is chaotic, but if you really want to
read about my whisky experiences and adventures from 1997 to 2012
you can read the previous 399 log entries via the Liquid Log section.
(And a few on the Defunct Google Blog from 2010 and 2011.)
THIS JUST IN: On February 13, 2014 the SWA (the Scotch Whisky Association
- the lobby organisation for the large whisky corporations) claimed that "Higher duty on alcohol could drive people to fraud". Interestingly enough, the constantly growing PRICES
we've seen over the past decade didn't cause similar concerns with the SWA. Does the SWA think that these last few pennies will be the ones that will drive hitherto law-abiding whisky lovers
over the edge? This inspired me to revive my Liquid Blog - but getting things running again will take a while.
Meanwhile, the Malt Maniacs Archives have been finished for 1997-2000 and 2007-2011.
5) - Deviant Drams, a.k.a. "other drinks that get you drunk"
The rest of this website is all about single malt Scotch whisky. The 'Deviant Drams' section is reserved
for all other drinks. For example, there are many other types of whisky as well; blended whiskies (like
Johnnie Walker & Cutty Sark), grain whiskies (like Blackbarrel and Invergordon), so-called 'bastard' malts
(like Stronachie & Finlaggan) and vatted malt whiskies (a.k.a. blended malt whiskies) like Blairmhor,
Monkey Shoulders and Sheep Dip.
And Scotland isn't the only place where they make whisk(e)y. Admittedly, using the label 'world whiskies'
all whiskies that are not from Scotland is a simplification, but the focus of this site is on Scotch after all.
So, I've added pages with information and tasting notes for countries producing world whiskies, including
Australia (Lark, Sullivan's Cove), Canada (Forty Creek, Glen Breton, Lot No. 40), France (Glan Ar Mor, Eddu),
Germany (Slyrs, Blaue Maus), India (Amrut, McDowells), Ireland (Bushmills, Jameson), Japan (Nikka, Suntory)
and the USA (George Dickel, Jack Daniels). Each of these countries has its own page, while many more are
listed on the world whiskies page. And I always keep my eyes open for other 'exotic' whiskies.
Just follow me on Twitter for if you want to stay updated on the progress...
*) - Malt Maniacs
For fifteen years (between 1997 and 2011) I've also spent quite a bit of time and effort on maintaining another (fairly massive) whisky web site; Malt Maniacs. It started out as a section of this Malt Madness site in 1997 and
eventually evolved into a separate site by itself: an international whisky community with an independent 'amateur' spirit and whisky enthusiasts from over a dozen countries participating. After we launched Malt
Maniacs in 1997, our site and activities kept evolving and in 2006 Serge Valentin added his Whiskyfun website to
the Malt Madness and Malt Maniacs website to form an on-line whisky trinity. Since the collective emerged in the 1990's, we've accomplished a few feats
to be proud of. We've written around a 1,000 E-pistles on whisky, we launched the MMMonitor whisky database (with data on more than 15,000 different malt whiskies), the annual
Malt Maniacs Awards whisky competition and the Malt Maniacs & Friends Facebook Group.
However, after 15 years I felt it was time to step back and retire as editor of Malt Maniacs.
One of the reasons was that a serious talk with my doctor convinced me that I had to take it a little easier with
the (almost) daily drinking malt whisky - and get off my fat lazy ass some more. So, that's what I did; by using the
time I used to spend behind the keyboard for cycling and walking I've already managed to lose 15 kilo's of excess
body weight and I feel a lot better than I did a few years ago. However, my health wasn't the only reason I decided to retire from our little malt whisky collective. Changes in the whisky world over the past two decades
have somewhat reduced the enjoyment I get from the average glass of whisky. If you want to know some of the other reasons for my decision, please check out
Liquid Log entry #400 where I vented my spleen...
So, thatīs the story of Malt Madness and Malt Maniacs in a nutshell - I hope you enjoy some of the overload of
whisky information that we've collected on these pages over the past fifteen years.
Johannes van den Heuvel
Founder Malt Madness / Malt Maniacs