Whisky tasting notes & scoresEarlier entriesLater entries

Entry #315 - 21/09/2007 - The Big Boost  (I kicked off the season with a few upgrades to the site.)
Entry #316 - 28/09/2007 - The Most Expensive Bowmore Ever?  (A 'PR' topic that kept us occupied.)
Entry #317 - 30/09/2007 - Feast of the Finishes Reprise  (Time for a short & sweet tasting report.)
Entry #318 - 04/10/2007 - World Animal Day  (I'll jump at any excuse to have a little celebration.)
Entry #319 - 09/10/2007 - Malt Minions; The On-line Whisky School  (MM going commercial - sort of...)
Entry #320 - 22/10/2007 - Seven Golden Oldies  (A session where the youngest malts were just 30yo.)
Entry #321 - 11/11/2007 - Autumn Walpurgis Session  (whiskies from Belgium, Sweden & Tasmania.)
Entry #322 - 12/11/2007 - Verboden Vruchten & De ZakTax  (A rare log entry in my mother tongue.)
Entry #323 - 25/11/2007 - The Many Faces of Malt Maniacs  (We've started our own Facebook group.)
Entry #324 - 04/12/2007 - Malt Maniacs Awards Conclave 2007  (We met in Alsace to pick the winners.)
Autumn 2007 Dram Diary - By the end of Autumn there were circa 2350 malts on my Track Record.

The good news is that 'dramming season' has started again - but the bad news is that it left me with little time to work on Malt Madness after a flurry of fresh and refreshed pages in September. Especially the sampling and scoring for the Malt Maniacs Awards 2007 took a lot of time. The bright side of it all is that by the end of the year I felt extra inspired to get started with the refurbishment of the Distillery Data section...
 

Entry #315 - The Big Boost

Be wise!September 21, 2007 - OK - autumn is here, which means it has
now been exactly 1 year since I 'froze' the old Malt Madness site.
Since then, the Malt Maniacs website has been reconstructed (for
the most part anyway) and I expect to publish Malt Maniacs #106
on October 1. Unfortunately, that has left me with precious little
time to start the repairs on Malt Madness. I've launched a brand
new Beginner's Guide a few months ago, but since then all I've
managed to do was publish a few fresh log entries like this one.

Well, that's finally about to change.
As a chronic perfectionist I would have loved to only publish the
new pages once they were completely finished, but at that pace it
would probably take until the year 2010. So, I'm now shooting for
a 'rough & ready' pre-publication of the new site before I start
the final polishing. The first new pages have now been published
in the 'general' section; an introduction to this website and yours
truly, a sitemap with an overview of available pages, an overview
of some frequently asked questions about the Malt Madness site,
a contact page and a collection of my favourite Liquid Links to
some other whisky websites. And that's just the beginning...

I've also published a first rough version of my Liquid Log - which
also includes my Liquid Blog and a new scrapbook - that will be
upgraded before the next big update of the website. Meanwhile,
my beloved Track Record is up again as well. Almost all the old
content has been revived, but I still have to do a lot of polishing.
Please don't hesitate to let me know of any problems that you
might encounter.

Meanwhile, you may remember that we were heavily involved in the 'Hamstergeddon' project last year - trying to get at least six expressions from every active and recently closed distillery in Scotland on our individual 'track records' and the Malt Maniacs Matrix. I'll have to check my 'madministration', but if I'm not mistaken all I need is one sample of Old Fettercairn and one sample of Mosstowie to reach the 'Hamstergeddon' goal: having sampled at least six expression from every active and recently closed distillery in Scotland. As luck would have it, fellow malt maniac Michel van Meersbergen came by a while ago for some sampling & swapping.
Here's a list of the malts we tried...

Fettercairn 13yo 1993/2007 (59%, Cadenhead's, 318 Bts.) - you don't see many IB's of Fettercairn.
Nose: Sharp and sweetish. developing spices. Developing farmy and organics. Interesting.
Taste: Sweet start, smooth centre, fruity finish retreating on the sides of the tongue.
Score: 80 points - despite the rather bourbony finish. Nothing really remarkable...

Bowmore 13yo (80 Proof, Cadenhead's, Bottled 1970's) - a very old bottling with a black label.
Nose: Herbal. Veggy notes. Sweetening out. No trace of peat. Old Bottle Effect. Passion fruit & toothpaste.
Palate: Very smooth on the palate with a hint of antiquity. Lasting herbal finish; eucalyptus.
Score: 81 points - a good whisky, although the profile is very different from most modern OB's.

Highland Park 22yo (80 Proof, Cadenhead's, Black label, 1970's, 5cl) - another oldie...
Nose: Glue! Much sharper than the Bowmore. Strange fruit. Liquorice. Smoke. Tobacco. Passion fruit.
Grapefruit bitters. Most definitely interesting - seems like a candidate for a score in the upper 80's.
Palate: Austere on the palate. Menthol freshness in the finish. A tad herbal. Feels disconnected.
Score: 83 points - just like the Bowmore, the 'distillery character' is hard to find in this one.

Caperdonich 1968 (40%, G&M Connoisseurs Choice, Old Brown Label) - I already tried it...
Nose: Maybe peanut. Growing complexity, but it doesn't really pick a specific direction. Marzipan.
Mocca. Mushroomy. Very pleasant in the nose, but last time I tried it the palate didn't back it up.
Palate: Old and tired on the palate. Sweet, but nothing else. Feels rather weak at 40%.
Score: 78 points - earned almost exclusively by the nose.

Balmenach 1974/1998 (40%, Connoisseurs Choice) - one I missed tasting in the 1990's.
Nose: Heavy tobacco. Combination of bakery and farm aroma's. Sulphur? Maize.
Smells almost like a wine finished whisky. Tea leaves. Definitely NOT 'middle of the road'.
Palate: Sweet and smooth on the palate with a hint of smoke. Flat tannins.
Score: 78 points - making it one of the more interesting CC bottlings of the late 1990's.

Glen Spey 15yo 1985/2001 (43%, Signatory, C#3045, 678 Bts.) - a 'Hamstergeddon' malt.
Nose: Something like citrus, but not actual citrus. Sharp nose. Tea leaves. Continued development.
Palate: A little dull and flat compared to the nose. keeping the overall score out of the 80's.
Score: 77 points - despite the interesting nose I can't really recommend it..

Littlemill 20yo 1984/2004 (46%, Hart Bros.) - I've only ever sampled six other expressions.
Nose: String beans. A little too sharp and 'veggy' for my tastes. Chloride. Vegetal but lively.
Palate: Nothing exceptional, but decent enough. Weak wood in the finish, though.
Score: 76 points - overall just above average. I guess I'm not a Littlemill fan.

Littlemill 12yo (40%, OB, +/- 2005) - Michel had already tried this one, but I hadn't...
Nose: Oily. Not much definition. This seems another 'blender's' malt on the recent gravy train.
Palate: Hint of coffee. That was about the only really remarkable element on the palate.
Score: 72 points - Not a bad whisky at all, but a little too MOTR for my tastes.

Speyside 10yo 1993/2003 (46%, Hart Bros, Sherry cask) - I already scored it, but let's try again.
Nose: A bit like recent 'Deanston' bottlings. Spirity; no apparent wood effect. Weird but interesting.
Farmy tones. Picallily. It's not the 'style' of whisky I usually enjoy, but it's definitely not boring.
Palate: A tough one; sweet rubber? Artificial molasses sweetness. Interesting as well.
Coffee, mocca & the feeling of grape skins in the finish. A good malt to open a session?
Score: 78 points - better than average; a lot of interesting things going on here.

Teaninich 20yo (56.9% JMcA, Pot Still Label) - this James McArthur bottling was bottled around 1997.
Nose: Extremely sharp. Ammonia. Not enjoyable. A 'male' Helen Arthur bottling. Oxidised perhaps?
Palate: harsh and gritty. Major disappointment. Sharp and unpleasant. Coffee syrup.
Score: 64 points - This ended the session for me - it killed my nose completely.

By this time I felt my nose started to doze off, so I left the rest of the samples for later.
I had hoped to figure out my definite 'Hamstergeddon' status, but that will have to wait a while longer...

Sweet drams,

Johannes
 

Entry #316 - The Most Expensive Bowmore Ever?

Expensive Bowmore September 28, 2007 - We've just received another press release at MM HQ.
It seems like half of those press releases are about yet another 'most expensive
whisky bottle ever sold' - or at least for bottles with a very low 'BFYB' (Bang For
Your Buck) or 'QPR' (Quality/Price Ratio). Those lazy PR stories used to be just
boring, but now they're starting to become irritating. Isn't it funny how these
bottles are usually sold to anonymous buyers - often 'stooges' for the brand?
Granted, it makes perfect sense for brands like Bowmore or Dalmore to spread
these press releases; even if they (or a stooge) bought the bottle themselves.
Cheap PR, if you ask me...

The funny thing is that there are some rumours flying around in maniacal circles
about this bottling possibly being a fake. The jury's still out on that one, but we
DO know that the weird cork (see the picture at the left) dropped into the bottle
just one week before the auction and some 'reconstruction' had to take place.

If you've read one of the 'Ask an Anorak' discussions on Malt Maniacs about
oxidation you'll realise that such a little mishap would immediately turn off any
malt maniac mad enough to buy such a bottle. There's no telling if that weird
cork might have failed to properly perform its corking duties many years ago.
In that case it could have aged far beyond the praised 'old bottle effect'.

It seems that in the distant past (I'm talking about the early 19th century)
people actually (and purposefully) didn't use corks to allow the whisky to age
faster. A quote from Elizabeth Grant (daughter of Sir John Grant) tells us how
they looked at maturation in the distant past; "One incident connected with
this time made me very cross. Lord Conyngham, the Chamberlain, was looking
everywhere for pure Glenlivet whisky ; the King drank nothing else. It was not
to be had out of the Highlands. My father sent word to me - I was the cellarer-
to empty my pet bin, where was whisky long in wood, long in uncorked bottles,
mild as milk, and the true contraband goût in it."

I don't think that many modern whisky fans still keep their bottles uncorked ;-)
Anyway - without further ado here's the press release;
 

Bottle of whisky sets new world record selling for £29,400 at auction

A new world record was set today (28 September), with a bottle of whisky selling at auction for a remarkable £29,400. The Bowmore single malt whisky is the oldest bottle of Bowmore known to be in existence and is believed to have been bottled on Islay around 1850 by W & J Mutter.  It was being sold on behalf of a private owner during the fine and rare whisky wine and port auction held at McTears auctioneers in Glasgow.
 
Purchased by an anonymous telephone bidder, lot number 152 was the highlight of the action recommended to reach between £15,000 and 20,000, with the expected crowd bursting into rapturous applause on completion of the sale.
 
The hand blown pale green glass bottle and original cardboard carton in which it has been stored had been in good condition until one week before the sale.  The delicate driven cork had dropped from the neck of the bottle into the whisky itself, leaving this extremely rare bottle requiring some renovation for the lucky purchaser.
 
The bidding went down to a two telephone race against Morrison Bowmore Distillers ltd, owner of Bowmore Distillery.  Bowmore brand director, Glen Moore, who lost out to the final bid, explained:  "We'd known about the sale of the Mutter bottle for some time and had our heart set on bringing it back to its true spiritual home, where it could take pride of place within our new visitor centre.
 
"We bid beyond the value limit we had set ourselves, but unfortunately, the winning bidder went beyond that.  There are some serious whisky collectors around the world, and we know Bowmore is incredibly popular amongst them.  Who knows, perhaps the new owner might want to have it on display at Bowmore with his name against it!"
 
The bottle was presented to William Mutter in 1851 at the time of him giving up his share of the distillery and has remained in the family for generations.  It had been inherited by a family descendent and was accompanied with hand written provenance.
 
Bowmore Distillery is home to the oldest Islay single malt whisky having been founded in 1779.  Twin brothers William and James Mutter operated the distillery from the 1850s until the early1890s when Bowmore Distillery Company Limited was formed.

No further comments...
Well except; here's some interesting bed-time reading about fake wines that Davin pointed me towards;

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/09/03/070903fa_fact_keefe?currentPage=all

Sweet drams,

Johannes
 

Entry #317 - Feast of the Finishes Reprise

September 30, 2007 - Some time ago I hosted a tasting session for a company and (inspired by an E-pistle from Lex Kraaijeveld) I had chosen the theme 'finishes' because many of the attendees were wine lovers. For the session I had chosen bottlings from two distilleries that seem to be awfully fond of finishing; Glenmorangie and Bruichladdich. All of those bottles were finished at the tasting session, but fortunately I still had a few samples on my shelves from other expressions. So, let's start with Bruichladdich and Glenmorangie...

Glenmorangie 15yo (43%, OB, +/-2006) - Sharp and quite grainy in the nose with a hint of apple. Softening up quickly with more fruits emerging. But then the evolution in the nose seems to stop. It starts and stays remarkably smooth on the palate. No sweetness though. In fact, I'd say this has a bitter undercurrent with flashes of wood. Minty fresh finish. More spices in the nose - and then chloride. A well made malt, but not quite expressive enough for my tastes. Nevertheless, I'd recommend it to the tune of 80 points.

Bruichladdich 1991/2002 (46%, Coopers Choice, 3 years in port wood) - There seems to be some peat in the nose compared to the Glenmorangie, but not a lot - and not much else. The nose disintegrates quickly; all that remains is a sharp sting. It's weird that the port indeed comes through on the palate in a big way - bittersweet and sticky like an old tawny port. And now I found it in the nose as well, but far more subtle. The taste really is like an old port - perhaps a bit too much for whisky lovers. When you give the nose time it definitely has interesting moments. I'd say the effect of the finish doesn't show enough in the nose - and perhaps a little too much on the palate; 73 points.

Glenmorangie 1993/2004 Burr Oak (56.3%, OB, 1152 Bts.) - Polished start in the nose, followed by some spicy shenanigans. Clear wood influence present in the nose. Hint of coffee. Burnt caramel? Peanuts? Tea leaves? Very interesting! If I would have found smoke as well in a blind test I might have said Auchentoshan Three Wood. And it keeps evolving; never a dull moment. Far more superficial on the palate - and VERY sweet, evolving into sweet fruit. Quite pleasant, but utterly simple compared to the nose - especially the finish. Still, the complex and exciting nose keeps it comfortably at 84 points . Here's another malt that will probably divide audiences...
Might be interesting to do a chemical analysis to look for caramel, though...

Bruichladdich 25yo 1968/1994 (50%, Cadenhead's) - Much 'cleaner' in the nose that the Cooper's Choice. Hints of glue, sweetening out. Evolving bakery aroma's. Fairly complex; could be pure age, but perhaps they just distilled a 'better' spirit in the 1960's than in the 1970's and 1980's? It's not nearly as complex on the palate - but then again they hardly ever are... The wood has a significant presence and overshadows everything else. Based on the nose I'd put it well in the 80's, but overall it gets a measly 78 points.

Glenmorangie 1993/2005 Truffle Oak (60.5%, OB, 886 Bts.) - Smooth start on the nose, growing sharper. I can't smell anything at full proof, so I just tasted a drop before adding water. Very sweet; one drop warmed my whole body for a moment. Oh, wait... Now I see that I've already sampled this earlier and gave it 83 points. That's not what I'd give it today, but this was an opened sample, so I'll stick with my initial score.

I had actually planned to finish this session at this point, but then I noticed that I've only got 'recommendable' whiskies (scoring between 80 and 84 points) on the Autumn Dram Diary so far - as well as some 'average' material. So, I started rummaging through my stock of samples to see if I saw any candidates for scores in the upper 80's or even the 90's. And I found some; a recent release from The Whisky Exchange.
After a little break to recuperate from the high proof I proceeded with the...

Bunnahabhain 27yo 1979/2007 (46%, The Single Malts of Scotland, Bottled June 2007) - The nose starts of fatty with hints of glue, then gentler floral notes emerge. Slowly expanding complexity. Sweet & nutty overtones. Speaks softly but has a lot to say. Very smooth on the palate; slightly fruity. The smoothness slowly disappears in the fairly gentle finish. Perhaps the faintest hint of liquorice root? Meanwhile, the glue remains present in the nose, but not unpleasantly so. After a promising development for the first few minutes the evolution stopped - but it had arrived at a very pleasant point that warranted a score of no less than 86 points.

Phew, now I have at least one solid 'soilent green' bottle on my dram diary...
That's enough for now. The hunt continues - but for now I'll have to wrap up this entry.

Sweet drams,

Johannes
 

Entry #318 - World Animal Day

FlorisOctober 4, 2007 - Hurray - today is World Animal Day!
To celebrate the important role that our four-legged friends play in our lives,
here's a picture of Floris; my family's dog in the woods. It's a 'Groenendaeler';
something like a black version of the German Shepherd with a nicer character.
Groenendaelers really are great dogs; friendly, playful and relatively intelligent
(well, compared to other dogs that is - not compared to me).
But enough about animals for now...

I've tried to find some suitable single malts on my shelves for a 'theme' session
but failed. I imagine the 'Sheep Dip' would be suitable, for example. However,
that's not on my shelves - and I've heard that the new bottle with that name
(the old brand name was sold not too long ago) isn't very enjoyable. I didn't
have any 'Flora & Fauna' bottlings on my shelves either, so I decided to turn my
attention to the remainders of the samples from Michel's visit a few weeks ago.
My nasal capacities dwindled during that session, so I finished prematurely.

With the samples of the MM Awards on their way from France I'll have little
time for 'freestyle' dramming over the next two months. So, I'd better get to work
to free up some shelf space for the fresh samples. With a Mosstowie on the menu
I may finally finish the 'Hamstergeddon' project tonight - but I won't be certain
until I've rescued all the data that was lost in last year's crash. So, let's go...

Glenburgie 8yo (40%, G&M 'OB', code IC/DAH, Bottled +/- 1993, 70cl)
Nose: Sweet and fresh, surprisingly expressive at 40%. Menthos? Some 'veggy' notes as well.
Over time 'veggy' evolves in the direction of organics; quite lovely! Vegetal notes remain prominent.
Taste: That's too bad - there's little beneath the smoothness at first. Later burnt coffee bitterness.
A hint of soap perhaps? A little uneven, but definitely not boring. More interesting than I expected.
Score: 77 points - not really my style, but a very enjoyable nose. MUCH better than the 1997 bottling.

Longmorn-Glenlivet 1955/1996 (40%, G&M Licensed, 70cl)
Nose: Wow! Soapy, smoky sherry leaning towards FWP. Takes a more polished, fruitier direction soon.
Very enjoyable most of the time, but really 'on the edge' - and sometimes over it. Weird development.
Taste: Bwaaagh! There's the soap again - mixed in with some smoke. And it doesn't go away either.
Score: 00 points - I suspect this sample was polluted or heavily oxidised, so I won't rate this one.
After some breathing the nose was in upper 80's territory most of the time, but the taste was NOT.

Ardmore 12yo 1994/2007 (46%, The Single Malts of Scotland, C#578+598, 745 Bts.)
Nose: Fairly sharp at first, settling down after a minute. I would have guessed overproof here.
Subtle spicy notes pop up from under the grainy and 'veggy' base. Grows fattier; 'Appelflappen'.
Taste: Quite harsh initially, sweetish followed by a trace of peat (?). Vague hints of apple.
A fairly rough mouth feel. Long but nondescript finish. Not a lot of cask influence it seems.
Score: 79 points - interesting but also very subtle. Better than average but not for everybody.

Blair Athol 16yo 1990/2006 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, DL REF 923, Distilled 05/'90, Bottled 12/'06)
Nose: Old book store - a hint of antiquity. Then fruitier notes emerge. And then some more.
A very rich fruit cake. Hint of Menthos sweets. Lovely! It doesn't have a lot of 'staying power' though...
Taste: Not as obviously sweet as the nose at first, but then sweetness emerges in the background.
Score: 82 points - quite subtle in the nose but with lots of development in the first few minutes.

Mosstowie 30yo 1975/2005 (49.4%, Duncan Tailor Rarest of Rare, C#5815, 175 Bts.)
Nose: Coffee and a hint of smoke, then 'lighter' fragrances emerge. Tea leaves. Vaguely metallic.
The nose keeps developing; surprisingly complex. Milk powder. Keeps flaring out in other directions.
Taste: Surprisingly smooth but quite hot. Good, but doesn't quite deliver on the promise of the nose.
Score: 85 points - this one shows its age but doesn't brag about it... Highly recommendable.

So far the proof of the samples hadn't risen above 50% ABV, but now it was time to crank things up...
There were four more 'overproof' malts on my shelves; two of them possible 'Hamstergeddon' malts.
So, without further ado, let's proceed with...

Aultmore-Glenlivet 10yo 1989/2000 (59.5%, Cadenhead's, 228 Bts.)
Nose: Sharp but a bit tired, sweetening out. Not a lot of definition at cask strength. Let's try some water.
A dozen drops brought out more of the fruity character in the nose. A hint of smoke perhaps. Cream?
Taste: Very sweet on the palate, growing smokier in the middle. Fresh & fruity tannins. Good body.
A very well-integrated whisky; nose and taste go together very well. Water ruins the finish though.
Score: 82 points - this whisky has fabulous legs, by the way; even after adding water.

Clynelish 10yo 1996/2007 (59.6%, The Single Malts of Scotland, C#2428, 666 Bottles)
Nose: Sweet & sour; fresh and expressive. First fruits, then farmy notes emerge. Weird development.
I liked it for the first minute but then it took a turn for the worse... Somber vegetal notes take over.
Taste: Heavy. Sweet coffee - almost mocca. Better than average but all-in-all a little bit one-sided.
Score: 77 points - but then again I'm not a big fan of the modern lightly peated Clynelishes.

Fettercairn 1992 (60.5%, James MacArthur, +/- 2003, 5cl)
Nose: Soft and creamy. Bakery aroma's. Seems quite gentle at cask strength. A little sour.
With a few drops of water some citrus emerged. Not much else to excite me though.
Taste: Farmy and metallic at first. The high proof disguises the subtler elements; let's add water.
Hmmmm... Not much change it seems, apart from the fact that it became sweeter & easier to swallow.
Score: 76 points - interesting and better than average, but by no means spectacular.

Glen Esk 13yo 1982/1995 (66.5%, Cadenhead's, D. 04/'82, Btl. 06/'95)
Nose: Starts farmy & organic; not as spirity as you'd expect. Flattens out but makes a comeback.
Peanut & other oily & nutty smells. Dentist? Hint of wood smoke; wet branches rather than dry logs.
Taste: A little sweet & sour at cask strength. Excellent 'sipping' whisky. Burning in big gulps.
Score: 78 points - and it could very well be the highest proof whisky I've ever tried.

And that's where I'll have to wrap up this report - my nose suffered a knock-out from the Glen Esk.

Sweet drams,

Johannes
 

Entry #319 - Malt Minions; The On-line Whisky School

Malt Minions anno 1915 October 9, 2007 - Creativity comes in
many shapes and forms. It's usually most
celebrated if it is expressed in the form of
a painting, a poem or a song - but there
are other expressions of creativity too.
 
Sometimes creativity can take the form
of the combination of two problems into
one single 'solution' to both of them.
Please allow me to demonstrate...
 
I used to pay the costs involved with
keeping the MM site running out of my
own pocket, but this year I had to take
a part time job to 'follow my passion'. I
just didn't have the spare time to keep
two websites running next to a full time
job. As a result, my discretionary income
has dwindled to a virtual 'poverty' level.

At the same time, the e-mail traffic around the sites just keeps on growing and growing.
Apart from the on-line chatter of the certified malt maniacs I usually receive at least a hundred whisky-related messages by e-mails each day. New people discover the wonders of single malt whisky every day - and soon they want to learn more about this great liquid and its appreciation. I try to respond to each message I receive, but I just don't have the time to go into as much detail as I'd really like. And because the Malt Madness site still is 'under reconstruction' it's not easy pointing people towards specific pages for further information. I used to know 'where everything was' on Malt Madness but now I 'get lost' some time - just like the mere mortals browsing these pages. Things are still in flux - and will remain so for a little while longer I'm afraid.

Meanwhile, Malt Madness has been slowly drifting off into 'anorak' territory over the years.
One of the reasons for splitting the old site into Malt Madness and Malt Maniacs was my worry that this site might lose its relevance to relative beginners with all the 'anoraks' stuff going on. Hunting for that 1000th, 2000th or 3000th malt is great fun for a maniac, but stories about it might perhaps not be that interesting to a relative novice. In fact, it might even be a little demotivating if you're just proudly bought your fifth or sixth bottle. And in my regular log entries and E-pistles there is just so much stuff that I forget to mention; after 15 years of dramming I just forget to explain about stuff that I've accepted as self-evident of conventional wisdom - justified or not.

So, I imagined that some sort of online whisky school would be a useful addition to the site.
What's more, if I charged a modest 'tutelage fee' of 25 Euro's a year I could use that to help pay for stuff like hosting costs, software etcetara - so I could keep this web site free of advertising. So, I sent out an invitation to the members of the mailinglist and within a few days the 'class of 2007' had started its lessons. If it's a success, there will be new courses in 2008 - join the Mixed Messages Mailinglist if you want to stay informed.

If you're not quite ready to join 'Malt Minions' next year quite yet, the Beginner's Guide is the next best thing. And because the 'Distillery Data' section is still under reconstruction, I can heartily recommend you spend some of your hard-earned cash on the Malt Whisky Yearbook 2008 from Ingvar Ronde from Sweden. Ingvar doesn't put himself on the foreground as the writer of the book (or 'annual magazine'), but as the editor. Apart from an overload of data on the malt whisky distilleries of Scotland and industry statistics it contains meaty articles and chapters by writers like our very own Charlie MacLean, Gavin D. Smith, Ian Wisniewski and Diageo's Dr. Nick Morgan of Whiskyfun fame. As paper books go, this one is highly recommendable I think...

Cover price is just 12,95 GBP, more information on www.maltwhiskyyearbook.com.

Sweet drams,

Johannes
 

Entry #320 - Seven Golden Oldies

MM Awards 2007 SamplesOctober 22, 2007 - The MM Awards packages are
now arriving at the homes of the dozen judges all
around the world. Our Greek maniac Konstantin was
especially excited (he hasn't served on the jury yet)
and sent us a picture of the freshly unpacked box.
Well, of its contents actually...

Michel and I will pick up our packages in the woods
this week. That will kick off the awards season here
in Holland. As you can see in the picture, the judges
on the jury have a big task ahead of them - we had
limited success in scaling down the competition ;-)

We didn't hit 200 like last year, but we came close. They don't call us malt maniacs for nothing, so we take the blind sampling of the bottles in the competition VERY seriously. Each judge on the jury received approximately 5cl of each whisky (about the same as a miniature) which allows the experienced micro-drammers two or three chances to seriously taste the whisky. And because most of us need at least half an hour to come up with a solid judgment each time, we're looking at an average of at least 200 hours of 'hard labour' (it's hard!) we'll have to squeeze in-between our regular lives. Across the entire jury that's a grand total of some 2500 HOURS !

And that's just the judging... There's also inviting the participants, deciding on the rules, taking care of the logistics, filling and labeling the more than 2,000 sample bottles, dealing with fascist customs rules and officers in the US, Canada and Taiwan, publishing the results, etc. That's another 500 hours at least. If everybody got paid for their time - let's say a modest 10 Euro's an hour - the costs of the competition would be 30,000 Euro's!
Compared to that the international shipping costs are almost negligible; a few thousand Euro's each year.
No wonder most 'professional' competitions charge a fee, take less time and employ less judges ;-)

Anyway, with almost 200 samples waiting for me (and publication of the results coming up on December 1) I'll now need to focus on the awards malts. Since I won't know what I've been sampling until I've submitted my scores to Grand master Serge, it would be of little use to present my notes in my log. So, updates will be scarce over the next few weeks. I hope you enjoy these notes from my latest 'free style' session, because they will probably be the last fresh tasting notes in this log for a few weeks....

Ardbeg 30yo 1963 (40%, G&M Connoisseurs Choice, USA, Bottled +/- 1993)
Nose: Wow! Shoe polish. Carboleum. Very interesting and uncompromising. Very few 'organic' qualities.
Taste: Sweet and peaty; excellent mouth feel. Smoke. Dry and very serious. Perhaps a hint of perfume?
Score: 87 points - this sample from Dave Russo needed a lot of time to reach this score.

Tomatin 30yo 1977/2007 (48.6%, The Whisky Fair, D. 02/'77, Btl. 02/'07, 223 Bts.)
Nose: Floral start with a fresh bite. Slowly subtle spices emerge. Slow but majestic development.
At first it seems like a candidate for the 90's, but it didn't show the 'staying power' of some of the others.
Taste: Not quite as impressive on the palate at first, although the fruity centre feels great. Burnt coffee?
Score: 88 points - highly recommendable, and you don't need to spend an hour for it to reach its prime.

Longmorn 31yo 1974/2006 (49.8%, The Whisky Fair, C#3494, 135 Bts.)
Nose: Ripe grainy notes, well developed. Subtle evolution of sweets, slowly opening up.
I'm not usually a big fan of malts in the middle of the spectrum of extremes, but this is beautiful.
Gradually the sweets evolve into subtle fruits. Really astonishing; a nose worth a score in the 90's.
Taste: Dark fruits and wood; not unlike a cognac. Toasted. Tannic burn towards the finish. Quite alcoholic.
Not perfect on the palate, although it grows more interesting - a war going on between wood & fruit.
Score: 90 points - the nose is astonishing but the palate doesn't warrant a score over 90 points.
Had the nose been less stellar it would have actually dropped below 90 based on the palate.

Glencadam 32yo 1974/2007 (57.3%, The Whisky Fair, sherry wood)
Nose: Relatively light & oily with no obvious sherry character. Cardboard? Straw?
Hint of fruity bubblegum. More subtleties than I expected - and a lot of development.
Taste: Sweet, round and chewy; perfectly drinkable at cask strength. Wood emerges in the finish.
Score: 89 points - this one came very close to the 90's, but in the end it lacked a pinch of integration.

Balblair 40yo 1965 (47.7%, The Single Malts of Scotland, Cask Strength, Bottled June 2007).
Nose: Woehaah! VERY nice. passion fruit, a bit like Bowmores from the late 1960's. Sweet wood.
Over time some 'glue' components pop up. Coconut - or rather the coconut in liquorice all sorts.
Then organics emerge, lifting it back up to 90 points (I dropped it to 89 a few minutes earlier).
Taste: Passion fruits here as well, and a mouth feel that suggests a far bigger strength.
Over time the passion fruit evolves into 'old fruits' with a gentle tangerine bitterness.
Score: 90 points - after a few minutes it seems to lose some steam, but just give it some more time.
Excellent stuff; this is by far the best Balblair I've ever sampled - although it's 'on the edge'.

But wait a minute... those dates must be wrong; if it was distilled in 1965 and bottled in 2007 it must be 41 or 42 years old... Under the mistaken impression that Sukhinder had made a mistake I asked him about it - and he replied mysteriously that it was indeed a 41yo but they bottled it as a 40yo 'for this series'. Hmph?

Anyway, I turned my attention to two 'bastard' bottlings from Glenfarclas next.
The distillery is quite paranoid when it comes to their clients using their name, so the independent bottlings all have fancy fantasy names. Or in some cases not all that fantastic ;-)

Single Speyside Malt 40yo 1966/2007 (52.4%, The Whisky Fair, Oloroso, 150 Bts.)
Nose: A heavy, sweet sherry attack. Classic sherry profile with a touch of smoke. Candy sweets. Tea?
Some spices later on. Definitely my kind of profile - but I can see how it's too extreme for some people.
Taste: Surprisingly smoky on the palate. Loads of wood as well, obviously - almost like an old cognac.
With some more sweetness to balance out the wood this would have been a perfect malt.
Score: 89 points - perhaps a tad too extreme for a score in the 90's. A primal scream.
Although it can't be officially announced, this is most likely a Glenfarclas.

Single Speyside Malt 41yo 1965/2007 (53.5%, The Whisky Fair, sherry)
Nose: Alcoholic pinch, quickly settling down. Opens up to beautiful polished wood notes.
Very much like an old cigar store on the surface with many subtleties in the undercurrent.
A wonderful journey for the nose; furniture polish, old fruits, some organics, some leather. Some OBE?
Taste: Sweet start, followed by wood and then loads of smoke. Leather and fruits later on. Great!
Maybe even a hint of something medicinal in the background. Still, a tad more accessible than the 40yo.
Score: 92 points - making it one of the very best Glenfarclasses (Glenfarcli?) I've tried so far.
This is a true beauty - but perhaps not suitable for relative novices in the malt whisky world...

And that's all for now, I'm afraid. The postman also delivered a package from Tasmania recently with a few bottles of Lark whisky. I'd like to try them as soon as possible, but if I tried them now they would suffer in the 'shadow' of the 'golden oldies' I've just sampled. So, I'll sample those for my next log entry.

Sweet drams,

Johannes
 

Entry #321 - Autumn Walpurgis Session

Lark whisky, Tasmania November 11, 2007 - The 'traditional' time for
my Autumn 'Walpurgis' session has arrived and it
was time to take a little break from the sampling
for the MM Awards 2007 anyway. As luck would
have it I was especially inspired to sample some
weird and international whiskies because of a
message that dropped into my inbox recently.
 
The message was short and sweet and said:
'Your web site www.whiskyfun.com misquotes our
web site. Please remove or update the info you
have lifted from www.kentuckybarrels.com.'

 
Well, I'd like to take credit for WhiskyFun, but
that's all Serge's doing. So, I passed along the
request before curiously delving into the pages
of WhiskyFun to see what all the fuss was about.
And that's when I found some funny stuff I'd like
to share with you. Here's the text, as quoted in
2005 on the pages of WF (May 20, 2005 entry);

'Why settle for imported foreign whisky when you can have the best Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey - Why drink whisky made in used barrels that have been shipped halfway around the world in a container ship. Drink home made whiskey, Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey. (...) If you like Scotch or Irish whisky you have to give thanks to Kentucky Bourbon and our Kentucky crafted American white oak barrels. After the barrels have been used ONCE to make the best whiskey in the world, Kentucky Bourbon, they are bought by a European company (employing illegal immigrants) and shipped overseas where they are reused over and over again to make Scotch and Irish whisky. It's the Kentucky oak barrels that give their whisky it's flavor and color.'

Well, that's funny.... Most of the very same text is actually still on the Kentuckybarrels website - along with the occasional nationalistic rants and raves about 'MADE IN USA!' and 'Helping to support American families'. The only part they seem to have removed is the part about the European company employing illegal immigrants. I'm quite sure Serge didn't make that part up - especially because it seems the xenophobes at Kentuckybarrels recently changed that part of their website. That's one thing - but the next thing they did was accuse Serge (well, me) of 'misquoting' them. So, they're not just dumb - they have no qualms about lying about their mistakes either.
Does that remind you of a certain US administration perhaps?

Anyway, let's proceed with the matter at hand before I start ranting and raving myself...
That matter is: deviant drams - i.e. whiskies not produced in Scotland. At least two times each year I try to look beyond the borders of Scotland to what's happening in other whisky producing countries. Of course, the Irish and Japanese have been making good whisky for quite some time as well. I'm still no fan of bourbon whiskey, but I've tried a few nice rye whiskeys recently - especially a knockout whisky called 'Old Farm' from 1938. And there are other whisk(e)y producing countries as well nowadays - like Germany, Belgium and Australia. So, today we'll start in Tasmania (the island off the south coast of Australia), literally at the other end of the world...

Tasmania was 'discovered' by the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman in 1642 and later settled by the British. It's almost twice the size of Holland, but has a population of less than 500,000 people - that's about 4% of the size of the Dutch population. So, they have plenty of room down under it would seem ;-)  In the year 1992 the first legal distillery since 1839 was established: Lark. The distillery is run by Bill and Lyn Lark and their daughter Kristy. Their whisky is matured in small casks (50 & 100 liters I'm told) and it's always bottled as 'single cask' bottlings.

Lark NAS Distillers Selection (46%, OB, C#LD51, Black bottle, Bottled 2007, 50cl)
Nose: Very strong wood influence on the surface at first, settling down after a few seconds. Straw?
Gentle sweetness; more floral than fruity. Not a lot of definition - or staying power for that matter.
Bakery aroma's. I like the profile, although a spirity harshness keeps popping up from the background.
Not much else seemed to happen for twenty minutes - and then suddenly some organics popped out.
Weird, it seemed to 'take a break' after ten minutes before coming back sweeter, smokier and spicier.
The development goes on after that. Sweet cardboard - if that makes any sense? Vaguely metallic.
Taste: Smooth start. Betrays its gentle age on the palate - but not disturbingly so. Fresh fruitiness.
In fact, it's VERY fruity - almost like Austrian fruit schnapps. Quite some smoke in the finish. Cologne?
Nice, but even at 'just' 46% there's a roughness in the finish that's taken away in most older malts.
Like the nose, that taste takes a long time to reveal all its secrets. Coffee & mocca. Interesting.
Score: 75 points - which is a big step forward from the '2002' bottling that received a score of 64 points.
This one started around 70 points and had a weak spell after fifteen minutes but crawled back into the 70's.
Sure, it has some 'flaws', but the whisky has so much character that you remain entertained throughout.

Lark NAS Cask Strength (58%, OB, C#LD47, Clear bottle, Bottled 2007, 50cl)
Nose: Sweeter than the regular proof expression. Celery. Wonderful deep sweetness. Some citrus.
Episodic development like the other one. Peanuts?  It becomes ridiculously fruity, almost like a liqueur.
Taste: The same youthfulness that I found in cask LD51. Smooth start, easily drinkable at cask strength.
Fruit is dominant here as well, until the wood takes over. Salmiak. Nutmeg. Hint of perfume. Hot finish.
Score: 76 points - like the whisky bottled at 46% there were some rough edges I can forgive.

I guess this also illustrates one of the problems of using smaller casks. Indeed, maturation seems to happen much faster - at least in the sense that the spirit picks up a lot of character quickly. However, other aspects of maturation are the development of more complex fragrances and the integration of the various elements. In this respect, the whisky might have benefited from a few more years in the cask - but then the wood could have taken over completely. The package also contained a Lark liqueur, but I'll keep that until the end of the session.

First, I'll take a look at another malt whisky from Australia; Smith's Angaston whisky from the Yalumba Winery. The winery used to distill brandy in the early 1980s. The pot still was (temporarily) decommissioned a few years later, but they fired it up again in the late 1990s to distill a few small batches of malt whisky. After that the still was decommissioned for good. The very first batch was...

Smith's Angaston 7yo 1997 (40%, OB, Australia) - a sample from Lex Kraaijeveld.
Nose: Very fruity with some organics in the undercurrent. Surprisingly complex! Diesel? Rubber.
Not much further development after the first few minutes, but even as it is, it's very interesting.
Taste: Fruits here as well, subtle sweetness in the centre. Quite an attack, but a good mouth feel.
Score: 82 points - despite a few 'flaws' this made the jump into the 80's after fifteen minutes...
Much better than the average score (75 points) for Scotland, so definitely worth a try if you can find it.
And IF you find it, make sure to spend at least an hour with your glass.

So, it seems great things are starting to happen down under these days.
But now it's time to hop halfway around the world to Belgium, where the Filliers gin distillery started producing 'whisky' as well. I had the opportunity to investigate two of their first expressions;

Goldlys 3yo (40%, OB, Bottled 2007, Belgium)
Nose: Sharp and grainy, cattle feed, rotting grass. Glue. Very much like a gin without the juniper.
Taste: Fairly flat start. A little buttery and oily. Reminds me of grappa or gin again. Not my cup of tea.
Score: 29 points - too many rough edges for me, and not nearly enough character of its own.

Goldlys 10yo (40%, OB, Bottled 2007, Belgium)
Nose: Wet newspapers. cardboard. Rather dull & stuffy, but a lot friendlier than the 3yo.
Taste: Very slick with a touch of smoke. Heavy tannins in the finish. Like blue grape skins.
Score: 62 points - much, much better than the 3yo, but dragged down by Campari bitterness.

The 10yo wasn't too bad actually for a 'Deviant Dram'... But we need to push on. Next stop: Germany...
The Sigel was another sample from Lex Kraaijeveld who wrote a special warning on the label: "Very bad!".
Well, we'll see about that... I would be surprised if it beat the low point of the 3yo Goldlys.

Sigel No. 7 Barley "Good Old Germany" (40%, OB, Germany, Bottled +/- 2003)
Nose: Machine oil & liquorice all sorts, growing veggier, then sweeter. Odd, but interesting.
Taste: Oy!!! Chemical, oily and NOT pleasant. Too bad after the interesting nose. Indeed, quite bad.
Score: 20 points - I've had worse, but it's indeed quite awful on the palate. Menthol finish...
So yeah, I'm afraid it does indeed beat the previous low point of the Goldlys 3yo...

Phew... Quite a tough session so far - with two new candidates for my Shit List.
For a moment I felt ready to call it a day, but there was one Euro-malt left on my desk, from Sweden;

Mackmyra Preludium 04 (53.3%, OB, Btl. 11/04/'07, 9096 Bts., Sweden)
Nose: Light, sweet, fruity and polished; quite pleasant actually. More refined than the Goldlys bottlings.
Or the Larks for that matter... Compared to those, this is definitely ready to play with the Scotch boys.
Like the Larks, it is very fruity - but at the same time this is much lighter and more 'transparent'.
Taste: Oy, quite harsh at first. But then the sweet fruits take over. Grows oily towards the finish.
After an oily episode the finish desintegrates, leaving a rough 'plywood' aftertaste. Coffee?
Score: 77 points - although I was initially inclined to go for 79 or 80 points based on the nose.
Surprisingly good - they just have to smoothen out the harsh, 'spirity' tail end of the finish.

Well, that's enough exotic excitement for me - even though the Mackmyra did quite well...
Let's proceed to a country with a longer whiskey distilling history; Ireland. I've tried many expressions from Cooley, Bushmills and Jameson in the past - but only a few Middletons. Erin Go Bragh is a rare (single malt) bottling from the Middleton Distillery, produced around the year 2000.

Erin Go Bragh 6yo (40%, OB, Ireland, Bottled +/- 2000)
Nose: Soft and subtle; a little stuffy before the fruits emerge - mostly apple. Some organics in the back.
After five minutes spices and faint chemicals emerge - and rhubarb perhaps? Subtle but interesting.
Taste: The palate fits the nose as a glove; soft, sweet and smooth with gentle apple overtones.
Score: 76 points - after enough time the nose almost made it into the 80's, but the finish drags it down.

And those were all the 'exotic' or otherwise 'deviant' whiskies on the menu tonight.
Let's wrap up the 'whisky' part of the night with a new blend that arrived on our shores recently...

Black Grouse NAS (40%, OB, Blend, Bottled +/- 2007)
Nose: Starts off rather flat and introvert. A suggestion of a whiff of peat or smoke. Anthracite? Coffee.
Taste: The influence of the peat is much more obvious here. More skoky than peaty, though. Decent.
Score: 43 points - hardly a peat monster by any standard, but the smoke sets it apart from regular blends.

That's enough whisky for one day - only time for one or two nightcaps.
Let's do something silly and try a cognac that came from France to Holland via Germany... 

Cognac Grande Champagne Cuvée NAS (40%, The Whisky Fair, Bottled 2007)
Nose: Pauses for a second, then subtle wood and lots of fruits. Then some faint 'glue' aroma's appear.
Whiff of tea leaves after ten minutes? Then the chemical smells return - like a car repair shop. Rubber?
Taste: Whoah... VERY woody attack. It took me off guard, but when the sweet fruits join in it's great!
Feels stronger than just 40% on the palate. Wood is the dominant factor without becoming overbearing.
Score: 84 points - very pleasant, but it still lacks some complexity compared to a good single malt.
Perhaps a little too 'thick' in the finish as well for my tastes, although I liked the smoke & liquorice.

I enjoyed the TWF cognac a lot, but the finish stayed with me forever.
So, I didn't mind finishing the evening with a liqueur - another product from the Tasmanian Lark distillery;

Slainte NAS Malt Whisky Liqueur (37%, OB, Lark Distillery, Tasmania, Bottled 2007)
Nose: Lemony and spicy - and something herbal in the background. Very complex for a liqueur.
Grassy? Interesting development over time. Now and then some oriental spices pop up.
Something reminds me of Liqueur 43 (is that 'quarante tres'?) from Spain. Hint of Pernod?
Taste: Smooth start, clearly herbal, but a wonderful sweetness in there as well.
Score: 80 points - but keep in mind that I'm not used to scoring liqueurs. What this score means is that I enjoyed it more than some of my all time favorite liqueurs like Southern Comfort and Cointreau. I love those profiles as well and enjoy them with ice on a hot summer evening - but they don't offer nearly the same complexity.
So - well done, Tasmaniacs!

Actually, I still have more 'exotic' samples on my shelf, but I'll get to those in the near future.
I'll wrap up this report with the news that the mAlmanac has now been reconstructed as well. It contains my new and refreshed Hit List (now focusing more on the 'top of the line' stuff and recent releases), the Shit List with (IMHO) avoidable malt whiskies and the Bang-For-Your-Buck List with malts that offer good value for money. It's a slow and painful reconstruction process, so all these pages are still rough around the edges

Sweet drams,

Johannes
 

Entry #322 - Verboden Vruchten & De ZakTax

Jan Peter Haringhapper November 12, 2007 - To celebrate the fact that I've just
survived another whisky festival in Leiden (and the fact that
the launch of the Dutch & Flemish chapter of Malt Maniacs
may become a reality), here's an exceptional log entry in
Dutch. Well, the log entry isn't so exceptional I imagine,
but the fact that I wrote it in my mother tongue is ;-)
 
No reason to panic for those of you that don't speak Dutch;
you're not missing much. If it had been up to me the whole
country would have switched to English by now, but I'm afraid
that's still a minority position over here. As a result, writing
my very first book was more painful than I imagined. On my
own websites I could write what and how I bloody well liked
and ignore the edicts of the Dutch Language Gestapo - a few
hundred people mostly paid by the government. They want
to hide the superfluousness of their jobs by changing the
official rules of the language every few years. Anyway, now
I'm ranting again. If you're not Dutch feel free to scroll down
to the next (or rather previous) log entry...

Verboden vruchten als alcohol en tabak zijn al eeuwenlang een dankbare inkomstenbron voor de overheden van deze wereld. Stevige accijnzen zijn een vrij effectief middel om het verbruik van schadelijke producten als whisky en sigaretten te ontmoedigen. Een algeheel verbod zou natuurlijk nog een stuk effectiever zijn, maar daarmee zou de overheid zelf haar gans met de gouden eieren slachten.
Bovendien zou er waarchijnlijk een revolutie uitbreken...

De geest is gewillig, maar het vlees is zwak... De aantrekkingskracht van verboden vruchten is zo groot dat velen (vooral mannen) het drinken, roken en/of gokken niet kunnen laten. Een verzamelnaam voor alle belastingen op dergelijk ongewenst mannelijk gedrag zou dan ook de 'ZakTax' kunnen luiden. En onlangs mochten we via de media vernemen dat het Nederlandse marionettenkabinet de ZakTax volgend jaar verder wil verhogen. Mannen mogen zich dus ook in 2008 nog best als zakken blijven gedragen, maar ze voelen dat dan wel extra in hun (broek)zakken – of liever gezegd hun portemonnaie.

Een interessant feit in dit verband is de verlaging van de accijnzen op alchol per 1 januari 2006 na een amendement van CDA, VVD en D66. Dit kwam in de praktijk neer op een verlaging van de consumentenprijs van een fles gedistilleerd met een tot enkele Euro's. Goed nieuws voor whiskyliefhebbers.

Helaas was die vreugde dus van korte duur. Na de laatste verkiezingen wist het CDA zich weer soepel op het pluche te manouvreren om door te regenteren. Ditmaal werd het pluche gedeeld door voldoende andere moraalridders uit andere partijen om de gevolgen van het drankvriendelijke CDA-amendement van twee jaar eerder weer soepel terug te draaien. Het leuke van paalzitters met een middenpositie in de politieke spectrum is dat ze alle kanten op kunt draaien en lekker met alle winden meewaaien...

Toch zou men verwachten dat een overheid met regenteske trekjes alcoholgebruik juist zou willen aanmoedigen. Zoals bekend tast overmatig gebruik van alcohol onder meer het geheugen aan. Daaruit volgt dat collectief alcoholgebruik het collectieve geheugen van het volk aantast, nietwaar? Gezien de strapatsen van recente kabinetten lijkt de Nederlandse overheid gebaat bij een maximale geestelijke verdoving van het volk. Tegen de wens van een meerderheid van de Nederlanders deden we toch mee met de inval in Irak, wordt de Europese grondwet toch via de achterdeur ingevoerd terwijl het referendum tegelijk naar buiten wordt gesmokkeld.

In vroeger tijden zou dat gemakkelijk tot een revolutie hebben kunnen leiden – of op zijn minst een flinke rel.
Het collectieve Nederlandse brein lijkt zich hier echter niet al te druk om te maken. Of mischien is het collectieve geheugen uitsluitend een korte termijn geheugen. Wellicht verdienen we de ZakTax...

Verdiend of onverdiend, deze grappen en grollen zorgen er wel voor dat ik in de toekomst NOG meer voor m'n whisky zal moeten betalen - temeer omdat tegelijkertijd steeds meer Schotten proberen te profiteren van de huidige whisky boom door astronomische prijzen voor hun waren te vragen. Ik wil u in het licht hiervan (en in het licht van het aanstaande geschenkseizoen rond sinterklaas en kerst) dan ook graag wijzen op mijn eerste (bescheiden) boekje over whisky dat zojuist is verschenen: 'Legendarische Whiskyverhalen'.

Het is via de onderstaande link te bekomen voor de bescheiden som van 12,50 Euro.
Toen ik nog klein was kon je daar nog een goeie fles malt whisky voor kopen, maar die tijd is voorbij.
Dan kunt u uw geld net zo goed in wat geestelijk (of in ieder geval geestig) voedsel investeren, nietwaar?

www.vanstockum.nl/product/7842528/Legendarische-whiskyverhalen.html

Tenslotte wil ik nog enkele van de persoonlijke favorieten van het whiskyfestival noemen.
Allereerst had men bij Maxxium een Highland Park 12yo Cask Strength (60%, OB, Single Cask, C#1550?) die een diepe indruk achterliet - stukken interessanter dan de reguliere 12yo OB van tegenwoordig. Ik was ook erg te spreken over een Bowmore 9yo van Dewar Rattray die bij Bresser & Timmer op de stand stond - de details heb ik in het strijdgewoel helaas gemist. De laatste Ben Nevis Single Blend van Adelphi was ook briljant.

Sweet drams,

Johannes
 

Entry #323 - The Many Faces of Malt Maniacs

Exclusive!November 25, 2007 - A few days ago
I completed the blind sampling for the
Malt Maniacs Awards 2007. Five other
jury members were finished around
the same time, so we're having lots
of fun comparing the score results.
And this time the members of the
Mixed Messages Mailinglist got to
join in part of the fun as well. I've
sent around a few recommendations
for liquid Christmas shopping based on
my own, purely personal taste & preferences.

If our experiences in the past are anything to go by,
there would be a run on the winners of the gold and
silver medals as soon as we've published the results
of the Malt Mainiacs Awards 2007 on December 1.
Especially single cask bottlings and limited editions
could be sold out quickly, so we felt the members
of the MMMailinglist deserved a little head start.
 
For a few days it looked like the calculation of the
average scores (and therefor the medals) would be
easy, but then the scores of the 7th judge dropped
in (the 6th column on the small extract of the list at
the right). Guess which jury member didn't have a
lot of experience with scoring whisky at this rate ;-)
Of course, we still need to receive the scores of
five more maniacs before we can see the whole
picture and worry about calculating an average.
And that's just the first hurdle - next we'll need
to decide which whisky deserves which award.
 
So, maybe it's a good thing we'll have a 'conclave'
in Alsace, France in a few days to discuss the awards
results and decide on the final winners of the various
awards. The 'magic formula' to calculate the average
medals may have to be tweaked a little bit for 2007.
 
I'm afraid I won't be able to update Malt Madness or
Malt Maniacs while I'm in France and a few weeks
after that, so the final results (medals & awards)
will be published on WhiskyFun on December 1.
 
And there's more...
 
Serge has now dragged me into the 21st century.
I've been kicking and screaming all the way, but I've finally arrived...
When I started Malt Madness with my Hit List in 1995 it was mostly a solo exercise and the only tools you needed on the world wide web were a HTML-editor and an e-mail program. Around 1997 the group of readers of the site started to evolve into an on-line community, but for a decade web pages and e-mail served our purpose just fine.

However, now the limitations of these tools - and our principles - start to confine us.
I'm only able to work on these pages from home in my spare time. With a couple of very busy weeks ahead and loads of 'data' from the awards to process and communicate, the idea of being 'incommunicado' for such a long time became a stressful foresight. Fortunately, Serge reminded me about FaceBook and that turned out to be the perfect solution. Not only will it allow me to spread my rants and raves when I'm not at home, it's a perfect addition to the Personal Profiles of the certified malt maniacs. I still haven't gotten around to refurbishing those after the ongoing 'big reconstruction' - just like a lot of the stuff in the archives.

The reconstruction has been going on for long enough now. I've decided to spend a little less time on this log and a little more on the reconstruction of the Distillery Data section and the archives of Malt Maniacs. I'll pick up the more regular reporting via this Log once I've made some significant progress with the reconstruction so I can close down the old 'A Decade of Heavy Dramming' pages and focus on some fresh sections.

Still want to know what's going on in the mean time?
Easy... Just become one of our 'friends' on FaceBook and you can join in the chatter...

Sweet drams,

Johannes
 

Entry #324 - Malt Maniacs Awards Conclave 2007

Turckheim, Alsace, FranceDecember 4, 2007 - I've returned
safe and sound from the 'conclave'
in Alsace, France where we decided
on the winners of the MM Awards
for 2007 and enjoyed some fine
wines and whiskies during the
'work' for the whisky competition.
 
I don't travel a lot, so I still haven't
met all certified malt maniacs in real
life yet. However, after this weekend
I could cross Ulf Buxrud, Pit Krause
and Konstantin Grigoriadis from my
list. I had a brilliant time, despite the
fact that I had dropped out of the
dramming race by the time a whisky
from 1917 was opened. Bugger...
 
Well, that was the only blemish on
an otherwise perfect trip. Well, there
is actually one more blemish; I can't
seem to find my notebook, so I am
not sure which whiskies I've tried and
how much or how little I liked them. I
hope it turns up when I unpack my
suitcase so I can report on them.
 
The conclave itself was a relatively
chaotic event. In hindsight, some of
the jurors should have turned their
dramming down a notch before the
final votes were cast. But it's hard to
focus on 'community work' when you
are surrounded by Highland Parks
from five or six different decades in
Olivier Humbrecht's tasting cellar ;-)
Remember this is also our hobby...

Even though the selection procedure for 2007 was more 'fluid' than in the past, the medals were as solid as ever. They are simply the average of the individual scores of the 12 judges on the jury. Over the next few days we'll probably discuss some of the winners of the medals & awards in more detail on the Malt Maniacs & Friends group on facebook, but for my log I'd like to quickly point at some personal highlights. I've already sent around some of the more 'exclusive' entries in the Malt Maniacs to the members of the MM mailinglist last week, but here are a few more pleasant surprises from the competition;

First of all, there was the Glengoyne 'Billy's Choice' 18yo 1989/2007 (54,1%, OB, Amontillado Hogshead #1202, 249 Bts.) that just missed gold - it was the highest scoring silver medal winner. The other 'choice' bottling from Glengoyne was the Glengoyne 'Robbie's Choice' 18yo 1989/2007 (55,1%, OB, Ruby Port Hogs C#328, 277 Bts.) and that also received a big fat silver medal. The difference in average score was fairly minimal, so which one you prefer is just up to your personal taste. Fact of the matter is that these bottles find themselves in the company of much older and more expensive bottlings at the top of the silver medal range. Both are limited releases, so if you still want a bottle you'd better start looking for it a.s.a.p.

Two other limited releases that did very well with virtually identical scores in the upper 80's were two bottles from Japan; the Yoichi 1991/2007 (62%, OB, Warehouse #15, Cask #129493) and Yoichi 1991/2006 (63%, Nikka for Bar Cask Tokyo and TWF Limburg, C#129445). Another highlight from Japan was an entry that won one of only 10 gold medals, the Karuizawa 'Vintage' 1981/2007 (58.1%, OB, Cask #103). Other Japanese entries at the very top of the silver segment were the Nikka Yoichi 18yo 1987/2006 (55,2%, SMWS, C#116.9, 'From Madeira to the Caribbean'), Yamazaki Vintage Malt 1980/2004 (56%, OB), Miyagikyo 1989/2007 (60%, OB, Warehouse #20, Cask #105419) and Hanyu 1988/2007 (55.6%, Number One Drinks Company, Cask #9501, 352 Bts., Japanese oak finish). Those are all limited releases, but the Yamazaki 25yo (43%, OB, Bottled 2007) should be easier to find.

If you're looking for a (relatively) friendly priced Port Ellen, the Port Ellen 24yo 1982/2006 (59,4%, Chieftain's, Hogshead C#1513, 300 Bts.) might be interesting. You have to pay for the age, but not for a fancy label. But the Lagavulin 1990 Distillers Edition (43%, OB, Bottled 2007) will be much easier to find and it didn't win an award for nothing. The next 'value' highlight on the list seems to be the Highland Park 18yo 1988/2006 (46%, Cadenhead's, Sherry wood, 678 Bts.). Far cheaper than the Highland Park 30yo OB - although that one was also impressive enough to earn a solid silver medal.

I was also impressed with the Dalwhinnie 20yo 1986/2006 (56,8%, OB, Refill European Casks).
Much more body and character than the regular expression. Adelphi's Breath of Islay 14yo 1992/2007 (56,5%, Adelphi, C#5347, 278 Bts.) and Breath of the Isles 13yo 1992/2006 (52,6%, Adelphi, C#3201, 292 Bts.) should offer great value, and so would these other silver medal winners;

Wilson & Morgan 'House Malt Born on Islay' 1997/2007 (43%, Wilson & Morgan, C#3973-3980)
Caol Ila 1991/2007 (57.5%, The Single Malts of Scotland)
Linkwood 16yo 1990/2007 (49,3%, Adelphi, C#9733, 269 Bts.)
Mortlach 16yo 1991/2007 (57,5%, Adelphi, C#5947, 492 Bts.)
Glenfarclas 1988/2007 (56,3%, OB 'Familly Casks', C#7033, 572 Bts.)
Dailuaine 10yo 1996/2007 Medoc Finish (50%, Chieftain's, C#90421/90422, 618 Bts.)
Port Charlotte 2001/2007 PC6 (61.6%, OB)
Glenrothes-Glenlivet 16yo 1990/2007 (57,3%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, Rum Butt, 588 Bts.)
Balvenie 17yo 'SheryOak' (43%, OB, Bottled +/- 2007)
Badger 'Islay' 6yo 2001/2007 (46%, Milroy's, C#27, Bourbon Hogs, 398 Bts.)
Rosebank 16yo 1990/2007 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, Cask ref 3404, Claret finish, 263 Bts.)
Bowmore 16yo 1990/2007 (58,4%, Whisky-Doris, Bourbon, 88 Bts.)
The Glenlivet 16yo 'Nàdurra' (59,7%, OB, Batch#0407C, Bottled 2007)

Last but not least: the Irish. Highlights were the Tyrconnel 10yo Sherry Finish (46%, OB, Bottled +/- 2007) and the Connemara 1991/2007 (50,2%, OB for 'The Nectar Belgium', Peated malt, C#V96/1 129) from Cooley and the Bushmills 16yo (40%, OB, Ireland, Bottled +/- 2007) and Bushmills 1989 (53.7%, OB for Celtic Whiskey Shop, Cask #16267) from... erm... Bushmills.

And that's it for now I'm afraid - tomorrow my working life starts again....
Watch this space (and the Malt Maniacs & Friends group on Facebook) for more news.

Sweet drams,

Johannes

Summer 2007 Dram DiaryLiquid Log OverviewLater Liquid Log entriesEarlier Liquid Log entries

87 - Ardbeg 30yo 1963 (40%, G&M Connoisseurs Choice, USA, Bottled +/- 1993) - from Dave Russo.
79 - Ardmore 12yo 1994/2007 (46%, The Single Malts of Scotland, C#578+598, 745 Bts.)
64 - Arran NAS 'Chateau Margaux Finish' (59.4%, OB, Bottled +/- 2005, 320 Bts.) - a failed experiment.
78 - Arran 1996/2005 Vintage (46%, OB, 6000 Bts.) - intriguing organics after a few seconds.
72 - Arran 11yo 1995/2007 (50%, DL OMC, DL REF 1375, 348 Bts.) - at 11 years it still feels young.
67 - Auchentoshan NAS 'Three Wood' (43%, OB, +/- 2006) - slipping rapidly after some decent batches.
76 - Auchentoshan 10yo 1992/2003 (46%, Murray McDavid, MM5458) - not bad for an Auchentoshan.
74 - Auchentoshan 11yo 1992/2003 (58.5%, Cadenhead's, 216 Bts.) - a little too sharp for my tastes.
80 - Auchroisk 15yo 1989/2005 (59.5%, Cadenhead's, Sherry, 636 Bts.) - a nicely polished nose.
82 - Aultmore-Glenlivet 10yo 1989/2000 (59.5%, Cadenhead's, 228 Bts.) - the nose needs water.
80 - Balblair 1989/2007 (43%, OB) - a new 'vintage' bottling from Balblair, along the lines of Glenrothes.
90 - Balblair 40yo 1965 (47.7%, The Single Malts of Scotland, Cask Strength, Bottled June 2007)
78 - Balmenach 1974/1998 (40%, Connoisseurs Choice) - very expressive for a 40% CC from the 1990's.
86 - Banff 25yo 1976/2001 (57.1%, James MacArthur, C#2260) - Banff starts to look like a hidden gem.
82 - Blair Athol 16yo 1990/2006 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, DL REF 923, Distilled 05/'90, Bottled 12/'06)
81 - Bowmore 13yo (80 Proof, Cadenhead's, 1970's) - a miniature with clear signs of 'old bottle effect'.
79 - Bowmore 16yo 1989/2005 (51.8%, OB, 134 Bourbon casks) - just not quite recommendable.
81 - Brora 1982/2002 (40%, G&M Connoisseurs Choice) - a nice Brora, but I'd like some more 'ooomph'.
73 - Bruichladdich 1991/2002 (46%, Coopers Choice, 3 years in port wood) - three years was too long?
78 - Bruichladdich 25yo 1968/1994 (50%, Cadenhead's) - showcases how much Laddie has improved.
86 - Bunnahabhain 27yo 1979/2007 (46%, The Single Malts of Scotland, Bottled June 2007)
78 - Caperdonich 1968 (40%, G&M Connoisseurs Choice, Old Brown Label) - but I tried it before.
82 - Caperdonich 1968/1999 (43%, Mackillop's, C# 813) - a little more 'body' than the G&M.
77 - Clynelish 10yo 1996/2007 (59.6%, The Single Malts of Scotland, C#2428, 666 Bottles)
80 - Cardhu 12yo (43%-86 proof, OB, Mid 1980's, Ivory label, Screw cap) - from the good old days.
80 - Clynelish 1989 (58%, James MacArthur, +/-2001) - Surprisingly fruity in the nose. Hint of smoke.
83 - Dallas Dhu 22yo 1982/2005 (43.0%, Signatory, hogshead, C#705, 407 Bts.)
76 - Erin Go Bragh 6yo (40%, OB, Ireland, Bottled +/- 2000) - handicapped by the finish.
76 - Fettercairn 1992 (60.5%, James MacArthur, +/- 2003, 5cl) - a powerhouse malt with little definition.
80 - Fettercairn 13yo 1993/2007 (59%, Cadenhead's, 318 Bts.) - a fairly rare IB from Fettercairn.
77 - Glenburgie 8yo (40%, G&M 'OB', code IC/DAH, Bottled +/- 1993) - surprisingly virile for an 8yo.
89 - Glencadam 32yo 1974/2007 (57.3%, The Whisky Fair, sherry wood) - excellent Glencadam!
78 - Glen Esk 13yo 1982/1995 (66.5%, Cadenhead's, D. 04/'82, Btl. 06/'95) - great for sipping.
82 - Glenfarclas 1977/2002 (43%, OB, Rect label, 1200 Bts.) - not that great for a 25yo, really.
82 - Glengordon 15yo 1974/1990 (40%, G&M for Spinola, Italy) - tasted with Davin & Michel at Schiphol.
63 - Glen Grant 5yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/-2004, Italian market) - hardly a superb malt, but very cheap.
83 - Glenlivet 1972 (59%, G&M Licensed, 'George Grant label' for Galvani Parma, +/- 1985)
86 - Glenlossie 17yo 1973/1990 (40%, G&M for Spinola, Italy) - one of my favourite Glenlossies.
71 - Glenmorangie NAS 'Quinta Ruban' (46%, OB, Port finish, 2007) - hardly their finest hour...
84 - Glenmorangie 1993/2004 Burr Oak (56.3%, OB, 1152 Bts.) - a pleasantly expressive surprise.
80 - Glenmorangie 15yo (43%, OB, +/- 2006) - not too impressive, considering the steep price.
83 - Glenmorangie 1977 (43%, OB, +/- 2000) - almost as good as the 'Burr Oak' - but twice as old.
77 - Glen Spey 15yo 1985/2001 (43%, Signatory, C#3045, 678 Bts.) - food for completists.
86 - Glenugie 1967/1997 (40%, G&M Connoisseurs Choice) - one of my favourite expressions.
29 - Goldlys 3yo (40%, OB, Belgium, Bottled 2007) - ghastly stuff; what a way to introduce your brand.
62 - Goldlys 10yo (40%, OB, Belgium, Bottled 2007) - a big jump up from the 3yo, but not quite there yet.
74 - Highland Park 10yo 1996/2006 Ambassador Cask 2 (58.8%, OB, Refill, C#1071)
83 - Highland Park 22yo (80 Proof, Cadenhead's, Black label, 1970's, 5cl) - wonderful nose.
94 - Highland Park 32yo 1974/2006 (51.9%, SMWS, 4.109, 141 Bts.) - one point up after my 2nd dram.
75 - Isle of Jura 13yo 1988/2002 (59.4%, Blackadder Raw Cask, C#1639) - peat on the palate?
72 - Isle of Jura 1991/2004 (55.1%, James McArthur Old Masters) - another very oily expression.
62 - Isle of Jura 1988/2007 'The Delme-Evans Select' (59.9%, OB, Oloroso, C#1796, 757 Bts., Feis Ile)
94 - Lagavulin 12yo (43%, OB, cream label, Cinoco, 1979, rotation, 75cl) - a blast from the past.
86 - Laphroaig 18yo 1987/2005 (50%, DL OMC, DL REF 1762, 632 Bts., D. 11/'87)
75 - Lark NAS Distillers Selection (46%, OB, C#LD51, Black bottle, Bottled 2007, 50cl)
76 - Lark NAS Cask Strength (58%, OB, C#LD47, Clear bottle, Bottled 2007, 50cl)
80 - Ledaig 31yo 1974/2005 (47.2%, Signatory, C#3222, 217 Bts.) - surprisingly smooth palate.
84 - Linkwood 13yo 1990/2003 (46%, OB, Sherry, Whiskyclub Regensburg) - from Pit's club.
72 - Linkwood 20yo 1985/2006 (60.2%, Dewar Rattray, C#4544, 231 Bts.) - opinions differ...
72 - Littlemill 12yo (40%, OB, +/- 2005) - not a lot of well defined character traits besides the oil.
66 - Littlemill 12yo (40%, OB, +/-2007) - oil and veggy notes were more apparent in the recent bottling.
78 - Littlemill 16yo 1991 (53.8%, Exclusive Malts David Stirk, C#166, 251 Bts., 2007) - not too bad.
76 - Littlemill 20yo 1984/2004 (46%, Hart Bros.) - just above average, but I'm just not a Littlemill fan.
92 - Longmorn 18yo 1971/1990 (58.1%, G&M for Spinola, Italy) - tobacco, cedar wood & tertiary fruits.
90 - Longmorn 31yo 1974/2006 (49.8%, The Whisky Fair, C#3494, 135 Bts.) - a real beauty!
78 - Macallan NAS '1874' Replica (45%, OB) - Bottled around 2002, possibly a replica of a fake bottle...
85 - Macallan 14yo 1990/2005 (53.9%, Adelphi, C#10136, 211 Bts.) -
87 - Macallan 18yo 1979/1997 'Gran Reserva' (40%, OB) - one from the good old days.
77 - Mackmyra Preludium 04 (53.3%, OB, Btl. 11/04/'07, 9096 Bts.) - better than I expected.
90 - Miltonduff 23yo 1966/1990 (62.4%, G&M for Spinola, Italy) - symphony in polished wood & celery.
85 - Mosstowie 30yo 1975/2005 (49.4%, Duncan Tailor Rarest of Rare, C#5815, 175 Bts.)
77 - Port Ellen 15yo 1974/1990 (40%, G&M for Spinola, Italy) - the weakling in this series.
20 - Sigel No. 7 Barley "Good Old Germany" (40%, OB, Germany) - the worst whisky I've tasted in a while.
89 - Single Speyside Malt 40yo 1966/2007 (52.4%, The Whisky Fair, Oloroso, 150 Bts.)
92 - Single Speyside Malt 41yo 1965/2007 (53.5%, The Whisky Fair, Sherry) - an extreme beauty.
82 - Smith's Angaston 7yo 1997 (40%, OB, Australia) - a very pleasant surprise from down-under.
78 - Speyside 10yo 1993/2003 (46%, Hart Bros, Sherry cask) - possibly the best expression yet.
77 - Strathmill 31yo 1975 (48.1%, JWWW Auld Dist, Burgundy Chateauneuf du Pape, 150 Bts.)
64 - Teaninich 20yo (56.9%, James McArthur, Pot Still Label) - only try this if obscurity is your thing.
84 - Tomatin 22yo 1968/1990 (40%, G&M for Spinola, Italy) - extreme orange marmelade; great!
88 - Tomatin 30yo 1977/2007 (48.6%, The Whiskyfair, D. 02/'77, Btl. 02/'07, 223 Bts.)
 

After the big overhaul of this website in 2006 and 2007 I've switched to a 'seasonal' rhythm for the HTML pages in my Liquid Log. That means that you can browse directly to the log entries for the Summer of 2007 and those for the Spring of 2007 through these links. At the end of each season I send my scores to our French malt maniac Serge who adds them to the Malt Maniacs Monitor and Malt Maniacs Matrix - along with the most recent scores of the other Malt Maniacs. So, you don't have to take my word for it; the matrix and monitor offer tens of thousands of scores for thousands of different whiskies. The new 'Specials' section on Malt Maniacs (scroll to the bottom of the home page to find it) offers tasting notes for a few dozen recently released single malts. As far as my personal 'Track Record' is concerned; I've stopped updating it after I passed the 2000 malts mark, but the last time I checked malt mileage was +/- 2350 single malt Scotch whiskies seriously sampled & scored...

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