Of course, you can also use the search box below or contact me directly with any questions you might have.
At least... With hundreds of messages in my inbox almost every day, I don't always have the time to properly respond to all of them.
Please check out the Frequently Asked Questions page first, because I might not even bother to reply to questions that are answered in
quite some detail already on the HELP page, accessible from each page via the question mark at the top left. Sorry, but that's just the kind
of insensitive bastard I am sometimes (depending on my mood, the circumstances and the fickle Dutch weather)...
So - how's that for a lot of boring information you didn't really need, eh?
I suppose that we have been properly introduced now - maybe it's time to explore Malt Madness a little further?
The sitemap offers a complete overview of everything that this site has to offer, so that would be your next logical
step, I guess. Well, unless you're a novice in the world of whisky - in which case the Beginner's Guide is as good a
place to start as any to start your explorations. It features ten chapters, filled with all the information you'll need.
And what about my work? Well, that's an entirely different story. I've worked as a marketeer and editor for the Dutch Yellow Pages for a decade before somebody invented the internet. I liked what I saw, so I started dabbling with websites in my spare time. Things gradually evolved into my own little NerdQuake web agency. If you're interested in the 'work' aspect of my life (which often blends into my personal life) I suggest you check out the NerdQuake website. Apart from the internet projects I'm working on together with a few of my nerdy friends, I also dabble in screenwriting for television and I write columns and articles for magazines. And after writing about whisky on the web for over a decade, I finally assembled the courage to start writing a book about whisky. And then another one...
The advantage of books
(as opposed to many movies) is the way they stimulate the brain
and imagination to do some actual work. My favorite authors in this part of the world are
German author Herman Hesse and Dutch writers W.F. Hermans and Harry Mulish. As far as
English literature is concerned, Edgar Allan Poe, Philip K. Dick and Jack Vance are particular
favorites. Occasionally I even like to engage in heavier material by Nietzsche, Kant or Jung.
Not too often, though... I wouldn't want to overexert my brain - it might just explode...
I'm a big fan of British comedy as well - Blackadder, Brass Eye, Alan Partridge and Coupling
are a few television series that spring to mind. I enjoy some off-beat American comedy
shows too; 'Get A Life', 'Newsradio', 'Ren and Stimpy', 'The Colbert Report' and 'South Park'.
Basically, like many Dutchmen I just like dry, surreal and slightly black humour, I guess.
The picture at the right from the British show 'Brass Eye' (UK, 1997) is a case in point.
Just a little 'thought experiment' about what our archeologists might have missed so far,
buried beneath the ancient pyramids in Egypt, but stuff like that cracks me up every time.
Oh - and I almost forgot: I love movies. Good movies, that is. In fact, in the 1990's I also launched a 'Movie Maniacs' website along the lines of the Malt Maniacs site - but I didn't have the time to keep all those sites in the air. Dutch 'homegrown' cinema usually sucks big time, but fortunately most major international releases are available here in Holland as well. Some of my personal favorites are Brazil, Blade Runner, Le Cité des Enfants Perdu, Dark City, Apocalypse Now, Reflecting Skin, Memento, Pi, The Usual Suspects, Reservoir Dogs and Barton Fink - anything by Quentin Tarantino or the Coen brothers, really. Some other favorite directors are Alfred Hitchcock & Stanley Kubrick.
And I guess chess
is a sport too, isn't it?
It may not be a 'high impact' sport like rugby (or, if you
screw up, parapente ;-) but losing a game can be just
as devastating. The fact that it's one of the few sports
that allows the players to enjoy a glass of single malt
whisky during the game makes it one of my favourite
pastimes. Just try having a nice glass of whisky while
playing soccer or basketball - it just isn't the same.
A few single malts (just a few, mind you) work wonders
on the chessboard. Well, probably not if you're playing to win,
actually - but it makes waiting for your opponent's move more fun...
Ah, yes - and then there's parapente
- a bit like parasailing, but instead of hanging behind a speedboat you jump off mountains and make actual flights. I made my first flights in the year 2000 and I've been addicted to the sensation of freedom ever since. Everybody should give this a try, trust me - if only just once in their life! The picture at the left shows the first flight of '
the amazing flying Johannes' above Mieussy, France.
See log entry #51 for more details on my experiences.
Every once and again, I indulge in a game of squash - or walking or cycling around Amsterdam whenever our crappy weather permits it.
Another favorite outdoors activity is skiing. My style is very crude but effective. It's a good thing that I travel to the slopes only once a year,
though, because my body wouldn't survive the punishment much longer. The older I get, the longer I need to recuperate from those trips.
And I do like sports. Or, I should say "I DID like sports"
- when I was younger, leaner and meaner...
I've never seen the point in planting my fat ass on a couch on front of a television set or on a seat in a
stadium to watch other people play. So, I used to plough through the mud of a rugby field in the role of
'hooker' - but those days are behind me now. (Before you're trying to picture me offering professional
sexual services on the field or anything like that: the 'hooker' position is in the mid-front of the scrum.)
Unfortunately, ever since I've discovered the world wide web in 1995, it's very hard to find the time.
I try to live my life by 'the pleasure principle', so I love a good meal. The fact that I'm a 'hit-and-run'
shopper forces me to experiment a lot in the kitchen. The results are usually mixed at best, but through
sheer luck (or was it divine inspiration?) I managed to compose some gastronomically groundbreaking
appetizers and late night snacks. I've published a few of them in my 'Liquid Log' so you can try them.
Music is very important to me. I love classical music in general & opera
Some of my favourite composers are Arvo Pärt, Thomas Tallis, Edward Elgar, Ernest Bloch,
Gabriel Fauré, Richard Wagner, Gustav Mahler, Guillaume Du Fay, Josquin Desprez, John
Rutter, Johann Sebastian Bach, Giovanni Pergolesi & Erik Satie to name just a handful.
There's a lot of contemporary music that I enjoy as well - from a wide variety of styles.
Some of that music was made by Dutch artists (Blřf, De Dijk, Drs. P, Boudewijn de Groot,
Room Eleven, etc.), but most of it came from the USA, Britain & France. So, a lot of the
drams that I enjoy, I enjoy even more thanks to the velvety notes of artists like JJ Cale,
Chet Baker, Mills Brothers, Ink Spots, Jacques Brel, Simply Red, Steely Dan or Edith Piaf.
My own attempts at composing haven't been very successful, but in my youth I have
been the backup singer in the amazingly crap band 'Dr. Decibel & The Explosions'. It's
not that they really needed another singer (or that I had any singing talent whatsoever),
but I was the only one who knew how to operate all the sound equipment - whilst being
unable to play any instrument, unfortunately. We played during the aftermath of the punk
era and I guess we sounded 'punk' sometimes. Unfortunately, that wasn't our intention ;-)
We actually knew we stank; we were just in it for the free drinks and female attention...
Well, that would be me, 'living my life to the max' here in Amsterdam, Holland. I was born in the magical year 1966 on 'De Veluwe', only of the few remaining forest area's in the Netherlands. I realised fairly early on in life that my personality is not built to withstand relationships, so I've been happily single for almost three decades now - and the chances of any unknown offspring running around are comfortably close to zero %. I work for a boss for 26 hours a week as a web marketing manager and spend the rest of the time working on free lance projects or my own web sites.
Next to sipping and sniffing single malt whisky, I do
enjoy reading, writing, websurfing, music, movies. I'm
also blessed with a brother & quite a few friends who
enjoy meaningless philosophical & political debate
as much as I do. And I love to just sit and think about
the meaning of life and other trivialities - preferably
with a glass of single malt whisky in my hands. My
favourite thinking chair faces my single malts bar, so
I have a very inspiring view whenever I'm dramming.
If you really want to, you can read all about that embarrassing night in my very first Liquid Log entry.
I'll skip to the end of the evening here, which was when the bartender pulled a dusty bottle of Lagavulin 16 years old single malt whisky from behind the counter. The rest is, as they say, history. This whisky did not taste like ANYTHING that I had ever sampled before, but with the wisdom of hindsight I now know that if found peat, smoke, brine and leather in that whisky.
This chance encounter ignited my quest to find the perfect malt whisky. It took me a decade and more than 1,000 different whiskies to discover that such a 'perfect malt whisky' does not exist - but by that time I was 'hooked by the hunt' and I just kept sampling away. After yet another decade, my 'malt mileage' had grown to 3,500 different single malt whiskies and I finally felt that I should perhaps slow down a bit. But wait, once again I'm getting ahead of myself - let's take a step back...
Is this your first visit
to the Malt Madness website? Well, that calls for a proper introduction, doesn't it?
On this page, I'll try to tell you a little bit more about myself, as well as the malt mania that has plagued me since 1991.
If you're not too keen on reading the entire MM background story at the moment, I'd like to suggest that you proceed
to the sitemap, the Beginner's Guide to Scotch Whisky, the Distillery Data section, the mAlmanac or my Liquid Log.
There have been people before who were crazy about malt whisky
(particularly in Scotland, Italy and
Japan), but until the early 1990's the single malt whisky world used to be a relatively small niche market.
I stumbled into that world on a hot summer night in August 1991. I was invited to the 'wake' of an old
café in Amsterdam that was forced to close down, because the building (an old spice warehouse) would
be demolished. It was on that very same night that I fell madly in love with Scotch single malt whisky.
During the early 1990's, more & more whisky bottles appeared on
my shelves, but it still seemed innocent enough at first. By 1995,
single malt whiskies had taken over my shelves almost completely.
What's more, at some point I started to feel an irresistible urge to
find out how I could use a brand new novelty called "the internet"
to reach out to fellow victims of 'malt whisky madness'.
Not to worry, though. As these 'before' and 'after' pictures clearly demonstrate, malt
madness can be a relatively benign affliction that sometimes even has a few fairly
positive side effects as well. I may have lost most of the once luscious hair on my
head in the process, but I did get over some of the antisocial tendencies from my
childhood as well. Not all of them, mind you; I still have my 'off days'...
This introduction focuses on the MM site and yours truly, Johannes van den Heuvel.
As I said, the Malt Madness Scotch whisky website was founded in 1995. Since then,
it has grown to hundreds of pages filled with fact and fiction about "the water of life".
The virtual whisky universe was soon expanded with two sister sites; Malt Maniacs
(our international online whisky community) and Serge Valentin's WhiskyFun site.
For fifteen years, I've avoided using advertising on
the Malt Madness site altogether. However, as you
can see from the Google advertisements on the left,
I have mellowed out a bit in that respect. So, you
may encounter a few advertisements here & there.
Those help pay for the (fairly modest) costs that
come with running a "wobby" site (work/hobby)
like Malt Madness. So, I managed to designed a
virtual ecosystem that is sort of self-supporting.
Well, at least as long as I don't take the many
thousands of hours that I spent on building and
maintaining it into account... ;-) But there were
other rewards too - like the feedback from other
whisky lovers and free-lance web assignments.
The Malt Madness site is divided in five sections, as
indicated on the sitemap. There's a page with some
answers to frequently asked questions and if you
want to stay informed about my recent adventures
there's Twitter, Facebook and my new Liquid Blog.
So, I started the MM website...
In retrospect, that might not have
been the best way to alleviate
the symptoms of my malt mania,
but at least I've had the chance
to share my "pain" with others. ;-)
So - is your head suitably stuffed with information
already? Well, I'm afraid that this was only the
introduction to the introduction... You're heartily
invited to keep on reading this page, but I feel it's
only fair that I should warn you that I'll be talking
mostly about myself. So, if you are interested in
single malt whisky, I'd like to urge you once again
to check out the sitemap, the Beginner's Guide,
the Distillery Data section or the mAlmanac.