Anyway - in my efforts to stay on the cutting
edge of web technology I may have gotten
a little carried away, because it lead to...
The first ‘foreign correspondents’ started to
contribute to Malt Madness in the late 1990s.
By the early noughties there was a thriving
online whisky community on the web.
By 2002, Malt Madness had involved into the
1.2 version at the right, split into five parts.
Most names have changed, but MM is still
divided into 5 sections on Scotch whisky;
Whenever I want to underline my wisdom and experience
in a “subtle” way, I casually try point out to people that I
actually discovered single malt whisky before I discovered
the internet. I like to think that it works sometimes - and it
definitely works for minimising the time I could have wasted
on talking to assholes. (Those are the ones pointing out
that American politician Al Gore discovered the internet.)
After a shaky start at Geocities in 1995, Malt Madness
became a proper website in 1996 and at the left you can
see how it looked until 1999. Many people still viewed the
world 800x600 pixels at a time, so I could still get away
with a design like that. Or at least I thought I did... ;-)
Beauty is in the eyes of beholders (and drunks).
For the younsters out there: in those primitive times mobile phones hadn’t achieved artificial intelligende yet, so
even though a Palm Pilot of Blackberry made you look cool in some eyes, you couldn’t browse websites yet.
(Incidentally, people who thought Palm Pilots or Blackberries were cool were often wankers too... )
Around the year 2000 I was still struggling
towards my 1000th tasting note, but when
the group of whisky fanatics around the MM
website had grown to a dozen members we
actively started swapping samples through
the post. This helped my ‘malt mileage’ grow
much faster than before. .
At the end of 2007 the maniacs got their own site.
The old mission statement that dealt with the guiding
principles of the Malt Madness website had evolved
into the Malt Maniacs Manifesto and some of our
‘community projects’ like the the MM Monitor and the
Malt Maniacs Awards went into overdrive.
By 2007, hundreds of e-mails were flying back and
forth on a daily basis and the group of malt maniacs
dipped their toes in the murky waters of social media.
We felt that this latest crash was as good a time as
any to launch a second, separate Malt Maniacs site as
a platform for all ‘malt whisky maniacs’ world-wide.
At the same time, Serge Valentin added his fantastic
Whiskyfun website to Malt Madness and Malt Maniacs
and our online whisky trilogy was born.
For a few years things moved along swimmingly and our membership gradually
grew towards three dozen members. However, as the group of whisky fanatics
grew larger, our whisky collective somehow started to feel less ‘collective’.
Just like Malt Madness, Malt Maniacs started as an independent initiative.
When a few team members started to develop their own ‘commercial’ whisky
projects, others became less inclined to spend a lot of their free time on MM.
The number of whisky articles that were submitted for public consumption
started to dwindle. As a result, my own motivation began to dwindle as well.
By the end of 2011, I had been ‘managing’ the MM collective for 15 years.
That felt like a good moment to retire - all the more so because I experienced
some health issues. Those issues may not have been caused directly by the
debauchery I’ve committed in the decades before, but it didn’t help either.
So, I decided to spend a little less time behind my PC and some more time
walking and cycling. Progress on Malt Madness was slow while I got rid of
more than 20 kilograms of excess body weight. However, but by the end of
2014 I felt revitalised and boldly picked up the Malt Madness site again.
Of course, this tempted fate in all the right places, so Malt Madness experienced...
When Malt Madness crashed for the third time in 2015 it actually wasn’t too traumatising.
This time a major reconstruction of the website was in order anyway. Since 1995, technology
has advanced to a point where people wanted to read Malt Madness on their mobile phones.
Well, SOME people at least... But the old MM site isn’t really tailored for consumption on tiny
screens, so I should really start another website with another structure for mobile users.
The ongoing reconstruction of this old website is sponsored by WhiskyFun but so far
I haven’t been able to find a sponsor for a special MM website for smartphone users.
Until I do, I’ll spend my sparse free time on the reconstruction of this old “static” website.
Because I have to use ancient technology, this takes much more time than with modern
tools like WordPress, so the entire process will take me years rather than months.
Follow me on Twitter for updates on the process - or check out the sitemap for a full
overview of the pages that are (almost) finished.
Don’t let a few broken links break you!
The information on the refurbished pages
is fresh, but if you’re looking for a specific
article or blog post the Wayback Machine
is probably the easiest way to find stuff
in an older version of the site. You can
pick a specific year to jump back in time.
Or you could just try to be patient...
After this lengthy introduction, you know how we got where we are today. So, now what?
You can find a complete overview on the sitemap of Malt Madness, but here are just a few suggestions:
A selective selection from the Scotch whisky news over the past few months.
An overview of the Scotch whisky industry, divided by ownership of distilleries.
A list of the major Scotch whisky bottlers - independent and industry-owned.
There are far more malt whisky brands than there are malt whisky distilleries.
A shortlist with some of the whisky words that novices might struggle with.
Scotch whisky needs at least 3 years in a cask - and sometimes decades.
Shopping for whisky can be a treacherous business with some pitfalls.
I’ve started a page with some tips on how to read a whisky label.
An overview of all active and recently closed distilleries in Scotland.
There is an argument about the number of Scotch whisky regions - 3 or 5?
Most of our interactions were digital
though - via e-mail, but via MM features
like the Matrix (a spreadsheet with our
scores for hundreds of whiskies) and
our very own Malt Maniacs Awards.
Perhaps the first crash of MM wasn’t so bad after all, because it forced me
to stop with the web gadgets and focus on expanding the content instead.
So, when I was finished with the construction of Malt Madness 1.5 it did
contain many more pages - with much more madness. Meanwhile, the old
‘web’ section started to evolve into the Malt Maniacs whisky community,
In those primitive times, ‘dynamic HTML’ seemed to promise a brave new
world of interactivity. The 1.2 version of the site offered a few nifty tricks, but
getting everything to work on all browsers and platforms was a chore.
By 2005 I had bravely re-designed
this old website and our ‘Malt Maniacs’
group had grown to almost two dozen
maniacal members. We made several
trips to Scotland and other European
countries, sharing our ‘malt mania’.
At the same time, the brief ‘E-Reports’
from the 1990s evolved into far heftier
E-pistles that covered many topics.
Unfortunately, MM was still a ‘static’ website.
In the summer of 2007 my crappy old ‘Windows ME’ PC crashed - and so did the Malt Madness website. It was...
But I digress... The good news is that Malt Madness is now (as far as I know)
one of the oldest surviving whisky websites on the web. As for the bad news...
And as it turned out, there were! But it was also a more
primitive time. Stuff like social media hadn’t been invented
yet - and your mobile phone was waaaaaay too big to hide
under your swimsuit. If you HAD a mobile phone, that is.
(I mean different whiskies, mind you - not just Lagavulin.)
That first ‘dram’ lured me into the wonderful world of whisky with its character and complexity.
It wasn’t long before I started sampling more and more malt whiskies.
Or a swimsuit for that matter...
MM was kept together by virtual spit and elbow grease for over 2 decades,
but when 2015 was just around the corner the steady progress of technology
finally caught up with me. A crash of my PC caused the site to crash as well.
(This is an introduction to MM - visit www.johannesvandenheuvel.net for more about your’s truly.)
And then I became aware of the world wide web in 1995.
Nobody I knew (at the time) was as crazy about malt whisky
as I was (at the time). So, to find out if there were any other
people that were mad about malts, I launched this website.
As I’m writing this introduction, I’m not sure yet
how long the latest MM reconstruction will take.
So, I suggest you check out the sitemap if you
want to know about the most recent status.
Malt Madness crashed like it had never crashed before...
By that time the old ‘static’ site had well over a thousand pages,
many of them dozens of ‘scrolls’ deep. So, I SHOULD really be
building a completely new ‘mobile’ and responsive website with
a database and other modern bells and whistles. I decided to
try and finish one last ‘rebuild’ before going mobile instead.
Meanwhile, I’ll use the rest of this introduction for a little trip down memory lane, looking at the history of MM.
My own ‘malt madness’ began in 1991, after I tasted my first glass of Lagavulin 16 years old.
It was well past midnight in a small café in Amsterdam, and I was slightly intoxicated. Nevertheless,
I immediately realised that this thing called ‘malt whisky’ was very different from a blended whisky.