The rest of the Malt Madness site focuses on one very specific type of
whisky: Scotch single malt whisky. But single malt whiskies only make
up a tiny fraction of all the whisky that is produced in Scotland - not to
mention countries like Ireland, the USA, Canada, Japan, India, etc.
Gin & Jenever
There are many other types of whisky as well; blended whiskies (like
Johnnie Walker, Bell's and 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. To add to the confusion, some whisky
producers use their own classifications, like 'pure malt' or 'pot still malt'.
While whisky was 'invented' in Ireland or Scotland (see Beginner's Guide
for details), I've sampled whiskies from over a dozen other countries
over the years. I can now confirm that they also make decent whisky in:
And those were just the countries where I was able to confirm the rumours about whisky
production by actually tasting at least one whisky from that country myself. In some cases
(Japan, India and Tasmania for example) the quality of the end result rivalled that of Scotch
whisky - and in all other cases I felt that it showed potential and could at least be classified
as 'whisky'. Or 'whiskey' - the preferred spelling in the USA and Ireland at the moment...
I also tasted 'world whiskies' from Latvia & Poland that shouldn't be called whisky at all.
Australia (a new generation of distillers is doing good work there)
Canada (Canadian whisky is a separate category in its own right)
France (although most French spirits are made from grapes & fruit)
Germany (including the 'OK' Slyrs and the 'not so OK' Blaue Maus)
Holland (the first genuine Dutch whisky is called 'Frysk Hynder')
India (the whisky from Amrut is much better than 'IMFL')
Ireland (many brands are produced by just 3 distilleries)
Japan (the birthplace of many really fantastic whiskies)
New Zealand (but only 'Southern' and 'Wilson', a.f.a.i.k.)
Sweden (the 'Mackmyra' has taken the world by storm)
Taiwan (a new star in the whisky heavens, perhaps?)
Tasmania (whisky made at the far side of the world)
Turkey (Ankara whisky is more exotic than it sounds)
USA (they actually produce more than just 'bourbon')
Wales (and, yes, they even make whisky in Wales...)
WHAT CURED MY MALT MADNESS?
When I discovered single malt whisky in 1991,
I felt that this drink was in a class of its own.
Single malts were a far more 'authentic' product
than the other spirits that were available (and
affordable) in Holland at the time; jenever,
blended whisky, bourbon, cognac, rum, etc.
Partly thanks to a crisis in the whisky world
in the 1980's, there were large stocks of malt
Scotch whisky in the 1990's. At the same time,
there was relatively little public interest. In
the middle of the 1990's, sales of malt whisky
only made up 2 percent of the total sales of
Scotch whisky world wide. As a result, prices
for most expressions were quite attractive.
Sadly, that's not the case anymore.
The market share of the single malt category
is now over 10% of the entire whisky market.
That means that single malt whisky has now
become a category that is subject to the same
market forces that spoiled blended whisky and
other spirits for me (a bit) two decades earlier.
In recent years, many distilleries have tried to
find ways to make more whiskies in less time,
and have the whisky mature faster. That's why
there's much less variety in style these days,
especially among the younger and affordable
releases. So, if you really want to appreciate
the quality and range of the malt whisky world,
you have to bring a big wallet these days...
Fortunately, I've managed to build up a modest
malt whisky collection during 'the good years'
that will keep me properly lubricated for years
to come. So, I don't HAVE to buy any more
malt whisky unless I feel it's a really great deal.
And I'm afraid that these days it often isn't...
Because I also have a few useful skills and a
fairly minimalist approach to life (I don't own
luxury items like a car or a wife, for example),
I don't need a lot of means to live within. This
effectively means that I don't have to work full
time and I can still splash out on the occasional
'deviant dram' or insensible purchase. From now
on I'll try to share some of these experiences via
my personal site & this 'Deviant Drams' section.
is generally considered a negative
personality trait, but I'd like to think that I've managed
to develop it to such an extent that it's actually more
like a superpower. As a result, I'm relatively impervious
to the 'opinions' of others - especially advertisers.
When I'm drinking a whisky (or other beverage), my
enjoyment is mostly determined by the effect that it
has on my nose, tongue and wallet - and not so much
by how my drinking a particular brand might affect the
way other people might think about me...
Unfortunately, this is not the case for many people
who have discovered alcohol fairly recently. Especially
young people are very vulnerable to advertising that
suggests they will become more popular if they just
buy this or that brand. (That's why a lot of alcohol and
tobacco advertising is aimed at these young people.)
So, that covered the 'whisky' part of the Deviant Drams.
But I didn't discover whisky until the middle of the 1980's
and I've never been very picky about where to get my
'buzz' from - if you get my drift. So, I've enjoyed many
other alcoholic drinks and beverages over the years.
Or at least I've tried my very best to enjoy them... ;-)
Of course, my 'frame of reference' with many of these
drinks is relatively limited. Since my amazing discovery of
single malts in 1991, I've sampled almost 4,000 different
whiskies. During the same period, I've only tried a few
dozen rums and only a handful of armagnacs. So, if you
are looking for deeper insights in any of the other drinks
and beverages mentioned here, you should probably try
to find a more qualified source on the web.
However, if your tastes in whisky are similar to mine
you might find some of my 'deviant' experiences useful.
Let me be the first to admit that this selection of alcoholic beverages and spirits
fairly arbitrary. I've only included the drinks that I have had some personal experience
with. Alcohol is produced all around the world in thousands of different varieties, but
I haven't done much travelling outside Europe and many local products from exotic
locations are simply not (yet) available in Holland. Although the list probably covers
most drinks that are sold in large numbers in many markets, there are many others.
Other alcoholic drinks include (but are not limited to) absinthe, arak, baijiu, bilibili,
burukutu, Cachaça, chicha, choujiu, cider, eau-de-vie, gaoliang, horilka, huangjiu,
kumis, kvass, maotai, mead, mezcal, pálinka, pinga, pisco, poiré, poitín (poteen),
pulque, raki, rakia, sake, shōchū, slivovitz, tepache, tesguino, tongba & vermouth.
As you can see, many different peoples and cultures have used their creativity
to turn foodstuff into funstuff - and they have been doing so for many centuries.
Exploring the results of their creativity should keep me entertained for years...
A grape distillate from France; comparable to cognac but distilled only once.
A very early alcoholic beverage, first brewed in Mesopotamia and Egypt.
The word derives from the Dutch word 'brandewijn' - meaning 'burnt wine'.
A form of brandy; distilled from apples and produced in Normandy (France).
Double distilled wine brandy, named after the town of 'Cognac' in France.
A specific type of sparkling wine, produced in the French Champagne region.
Spirit flavoured with juniper berries, derived from 'genièvre' or 'jenever'.
Usually a mixture of water, alcohol, sugar and flavourings like fruits or herbs.
A specific type of fortified wine, produced in the North of Portugal.
Sugarcane distillate, traditionally produced in the Caribbean & Latin America.
A mixture of beer and lemonade or cider; the first alcohol I ever bought myself.
Range of fortified wines; produced around Jerez de la Frontera in Spain.
Distillate made from the blue agave plant - produced in Jalisco, Mexico.
Made of (usually) grain or potatoes, originally from Northern / Eastern Europe.
An acient alcoholic beverage made from fermented grapes (or other fruits).
Due to the economical laws
of supply and demand, prices of popular products tend to go up.
And prices will continue to rise as long as enough people are willing to pay them - and as long as
the product isn't so toxic that it kills off the customers before they have spent a lot of money on it.
A few years ago, prices of most Scotch malt whiskies had moved outside my financial comfort zone,
so I decided that it was about time that I started investigating some alcoholic alternatives again;
Update: After building this part of Malt Madness, I found a bunch of tasting notes for whiskies from other countries.
The 'world whiskies' page has now been expanded with (a little) information and notes on fairly exotic whiskies and whiskeys from
Belgium, Czechoslowakia, Latvia, Pakistan, Poland, South-Africa and Switzerland. Additional notes will be added if & when I find them.
This 'Deviant Drams' section is a mere diversion from the main focus of the Malt Madness website: single malt (Scotch) whisky.
My knowledge of and experience with world whiskies and other alcoholic beverages is relatively limited, but I have plenty to say
about single malt Scotch whisky. For example, there's a Beginner's Guide to Single Malts with 10 pages filled with lots of useful
information for (relative) beginners and the 'Distillery Data' section has profiles for over a hundred malt whisky distilleries.
Clicking on one of the links below will take you directly to the distillery profile of that particular whisky distillery 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