Whisky tasting notes & scoresEarlier entriesLater entries

Entry #301 - 01/04/2007 - It's Alive!  (Hurray, after a silence of six months by Liquid Log is alive again.)
Entry #302 - 06/04/2007 - McTears In My Eyes  (A git bought a 'fake' bottle of Ben Wyvis at McTears.)
Entry #303 - 26/04/2007 - The Kindness of Strangers  (Free whisky is a great motivator. ;-)
Entry #304 - 11/05/2007 - XXXLnt Shirts  (During my first trip to Ireland I finally met Dave Broom.)
Entry #305 - 12/05/2007 - Kilbeggan Report (1)  (Well, actually... It's not much of a report yet.)
Entry #306 - 28/05/2007 - Feis Ile 2006  (I couldn't physically be there, but joined in spirit.)
Spring 2007 Dram Diary -  By the end of Spring there were some 2100 malt whiskies on my Track Record.
 

Welcome to the first 'post-reconstruction' page in my Liquid Log. Everything is still rough around the edges and still needs a polish, but at least the Liquid Log itself is surfable again. Enjoy these entries...
 

Entry #301 - It's Alive! Alive I Tell You!

It's alive!April 1, 2007 - Wowee!!! It's not a joke - Malt Madness is alive again!
MM has been 'frozen' for six months, so I felt it was about time that the website
was resurrected . We have experienced a software crash in 2001, a car crash in
2003 and a hardware crash in 2006 and now we're slowly recovering from the
last crash. We launched the new Malt Maniacs site in January 2007 and now I've
finally found some time to start the reconstruction of the old 'Malt Madness' site.
By splitting the old website into different independent sections, we should be
able to recover from potential future crashes and other incidents more quickly.
 
Both new sites are still far from finished, mind you...
I'm a perfectionist at heart and working hard to integrate all the 'frozen' stuff
in the ADHD section (1997-2006) smoothly into the new sites. I'll have to divide
my attention between my new job, Malt Madness and Malt Maniacs, so I'm afraid
that it could take until the end of 2007 before everything is completely up and
running again. In fact... as far as Malt Madness is concerned, this fresh log
entry is just the first 'public' sign of life. Quite appropriate, because Spring has
arrived early this year and the very first flowers have already popped their little
heads out of the ground; harbingers of the luscious green Spring months ahead.

During the long winter my Liquid Log was frozen. Because I used the log on the site to keep track of my malt mileage, my 'madministration' has turned into a complete chaos over the recent months. I'm not even sure about my 'Hamstergeddon' progress (my quest to sample at least six different expressions from each distillery) - but more about that later on... To tell you the truth, I had actually planned to wrap up this Liquid Log altogether and just write E-pistles for Malt Maniacs.

Now that Serge's WhiskyFun site has become an integral part of our worldwide whisky community I had my doubts about the added value of two different whisky (b)logs on MM/MM/WF. What's more, I'll never be able to match Serge's daily pace and these days there are dozens of other whisky (b)logs in the web anyway. So, why bother? Well, strangely enough, reading some of those other blogs actually inspired me to continue with a skimmed down version of my my own log. A few of them proved that it's still possible to find fresh perspectives on the wonderful world of whisky - while many others did little more that offer microwaved versions of press releases and PR material. I know I can be overly critical and 'Calvinistic' in my views, so Malt Maniacs isn't always the best platform to express my personal opinions. The Malt Maniacs Manifesto specifically states that nobody can 'speak for all the maniacs' - so I shouldn't use the pages of Malt Maniacs to vent my own spleen either.

So, back to the malty matters at hand - in this case tasting notes on a dozen malts I recently sampled;

Glenury Royal 12yo (40%, G&M Licensed, John Gillon & Company, Btl. Early 1980's, 5cl) - sample from Michel
Nose: Ah! Sweet & malty start. Subtle 'veggy' notes emerge, but they are very well integrated with the sweetness. Metallic. Not the sort of profile I instinctively like, but a surprising complexity.
Taste: Oy! Dusty. Weird start... Even a hint of something medicinal? Vaguely minty and metallic as well.
Score: 80 points - maybe just a tad oxidised? Still very interesting - almost enough to make it to 80 points.
In fact, after some 10 minutes in the glass it made the jump to 80. Yes, I would recommend this.

Tullibardine NAS (40%, OB, 'Painted Label', +/- 1995, 5cl) - no age statement on the miniature bottle.
Nose: Sweeter than I expected - and not as oily. Quite pleasant actually! What a nice surprise...
Taste: Ouch... For a moment there I thought I could actually recommend a Tullibardine. But then I tasted it.
It has the oil I loathe, although there's a pleasant coffee influence towards the finish.
Score: 70 points - which still isn't bad for a Tullibardine, mind you.

Pittyvaich 12yo (43%, Flora & Fauna 'OB', +/- 2000)
Nose: Herbal broth with a nice touch of fruit. Pleasant sweetness. Over time 'veggy' elements take over.
Taste: Starts out sweet (but rather undefined) on the palate as well, but disintegrates towards the finish.
Not spectacular, but an interesting twist of liquorice in the finish kept it well above average.
Score: 78 points - not my kind of profile but interesting...

Cragganmore 15yo (57.8%, Cadenhead's, 35cl, Bottled +/- 2006)
Nose: Fruity with a hint of cardboard. Nice enough, but little development over time. Fairly 'MOTR'.
Taste: Fairly sharp and a little bit 'veggy'. Nothing else really stood out. Maybe I didn't add enough water?
Score: 77 points - which is not all that impressive compared to the official bottlings at just 40 or 43%.
Still good whisky, but perhaps a tad below the standards of

Lagavulin 1990/2006 Distillers Edition (43%, OB, PX finish)
Nose: Surprisingly light and fruity start. In fact, it's extremely fruity. Is this actually Lagavulin?
Leather but no peat. Ah wait, now the organics drift to the surface. Very pleasant.
Hey, now the fruits are back. Strawberry? Water melon?
Taste: Smoky, rather than peaty, especially towards the finish. Great mouth feel but little complexity?
Score: 86 points - highly recommendable, but not every thing's perfectly integrated. Very hot at just 43%.
In fact, after half an hour I was leaning heavily towards 87 points, my score for last year's batch.

Ardbeg 1981/2005 'Kildalton' (52.6%, OB, 5ml from 'The Peat Pack')
Nose: Grainy start, quickly opening up into salted fruits (?). Hint of lemon - or detergent? Then real fruits.
Taste: Hah! This also has the trademark 'delay' in taste development - the peat takes a while to emerge.
Maybe some salmiak? Over time the finish grew on me - touches of fruit and something vaguely metallic.
Score: 85 points - although I had it at 84 points for most of the time.

These were just a handful of the malts I've sampled over the past few months.
The 'dram diary' below (currently) lists around two dozen drams I've recently sampled. I hope the new colour scheme makes it easy to pick out the highlights. During a recent session at the Cadenhead's store we also tasted two samples that Joe Barry brought over from South Africa. He brought them from a visit to the Three Ships distillery - as far as we know one of only two whisky distilleries currently operating in Africa. There was some confusion about what was what, so I won't add the notes to my dram diary. A good thing too, because the stuff wasn't very nice, to tell you the truth. The nose of the first sample had a clear rotten eggs smell at first, growing grainier. Sulfur and straw in the nose - a strange combination. It was harsh, sweet and chalky on the palate - an 'episodic' malt. An astringent finish with loads of aspirin. Far too dry and the sweetness disappears completely. I couldn't go higher than 32 points , even though it was definitely interesting. The other one was better, but not as much as we expected. The nose was still grainy with a hint of lint. Vague whiff of cola syrup? Cabbage water. Interesting. Not really anything worth mentioning on the palate, so the score sticks at 39 points. The samples were nearly empty and had made a flight across the world, so I won't add them to my malt mileage. Michel and I agreed there seemed to be a strange sulphury problem in South Africa.

Grant MacPherson from Cadenhead's HQ had come over to the store in Amsterdam to pour a dozen cask samples of upcoming bottlings to a 'select' group of +/- 20 people. Michel van Meersbergen (who has just passed the 2000 malts mark) will write a full report on that session, so please watch the pages of Malt Maniacs for that. Unfortunately, those are cask samples as well, so Michel can't count them for his malt mileage. During my end sprint to the 2000 malts mark last year I had a funny feeling in the back of my head. Now I realise that must have been Michel breathing down my neck. I wouldn't be surprised at all if he beat me to the 3000 malts mark - in fact, Serge already arrived there last year and so did Olivier more recently...

That's almost 'it' for this report - but how about 'Hamstergeddon'?
Because I haven't kept proper notes on my sessions for six months I'm not even entirely sure if I finished the Hamstergeddon challenge; sampling at least six expressions from every recently active distillery in Scotland. According to the MM Monitor I've managed to exterminate Allt-A-Bhainne, Coleburn, Convalmore, Dallas Dhu, Glencraig and Glenlochy since the last check of my list on August 15, 2006.

That leaves just Fettercairn (1 expression) and Mosstowie (2 expressions), if I'm not mistaken.
I'll check my data, but I should be able to beat Michel to the punch here as well ;-)

Sweet drams,

Johannes
 

Entry #302 - McTears In My Eyes

An anonymous McTears employeeApril 6, 2007 - Some maniacs are fairly active on eBay and
auction sites, and Olivier just informed the other maniacs of
a funny piece of news. Well, it's funny to most of us, but
quite sad for the feeble minded buyer. Olivier already knew
it was a 'fake', but an airhead paid 360 (not including 15%
commission + VAT) for a bottle of 'Ben Wyvis' whisky.

That price wouldn't be too bad if this whisky was indeed
bottled at the Ben Wyvis distillery, which closed decades ago.
However, this whisky wasn't, and the buyer and the people
at McTears (a whisky auction house in Glasgow) would have
known that if they had simply checked the 'Fake Alert' page
on MM. This bottle actually retailed for less than 20 Euro's
at Gall & Gall some three years ago. For your own personal
amusement, check out entry #11 on the 'Fake Alert' page
in the ADHD section of MM.

Well, that sort of proves that browsing around the MM site
is actually useful ;-)  The hapless consumer could have saved
himself 360 (+15% commission + VAT) while the people at McTears wouldn't have had to wipe all that egg out of their
eyes. I can understand how a novice could make a mistake
like this, but not 'professionals' who charge a commission of
15% to put an estimate on the bottles. Apparently their
estimate was set at 400 - 600 pounds, so the poor sod that
bought a bottle of Ben Wyvis probably thought he was lucky.

Ah well, serves him right...
Somebody that makes a blunder like that shouldn't be
buying any special bottles of single malt whisky anyway...

Johnnie Walker Blue Label was made for that type of customer...
And for once that Blue Label would have been cheaper AND would have tasted better than the malt whisky!

That would have been a funny (albeit wry) little whisky story on itself, but as it turns out
the plot thickened considerably later on. As it turns out, McTears not only SHOULD have
known that the bottle of Ben Wyvis was a (semi)fake; they DID know. Our Dutch reader
Jeroen Koetsier sent this message to McTears - over a week before the actual auction;

'Dear Sir,
 
I noticed the following lot in your auction;  166 - Ben Wyvis-10 year-old - 1 bottle - 400 - 600
Distilled, matured and bottled in Scotland from the House of Invergordon Distillers, Edinburgh. Specially selected for Gall & Gall. 70 cl. Single malt, 40% volume. Since I live in The Netherlands, and collect whisky for 10 years, I can provide you with additional info on this bottle. It was released in large (5000+ bottles) batches in the year 2000/2001. The whisky inside was NOT distilled at Ben Wyvis distillery. Invergordon just owns the name, and uses it at will. This bottle can still be found throughout the Netherlands. The price is GBP 30. Please act on this.
I wouldn't want to be the 'victim' of this Invergordon scheme.'

One would think that in return for their 15% commission (and to protect their reputation) McTears would jump on this like the proverbial rooster on a chicken. Well, apparently not. Martin Green replied on March 19;

'Thank you for your email,
I am the whisky consultant and specialist with McTear's, Glasgow.
Thank you for your information, I will discuss this with the directors at McTear's.'

I don't know how long and hard that discussion was, but the end result was...  nothing.
The bottle DID appear at the auction - without so much as a Post-It note from Martin Green or the directors attached to it to explain their estimated value of 400 - 600 GBP . Needless to say, a whisky collector with more money than sense fell for it. He paid 360 (not including VAT and the regular fat 15% commission fee for McTears) for a bottle of 'Ben Wyvis' whisky distilled in the 1990's.

That really got my brain boiling again - especially because we published an interview with Mr. Green in Malt Maniacs #17. The interview was conducted by foreign correspondent Ralf Mitchell and it provoked me into doing something I had never done before - add an 'editorial comment' explaining that some maniacs might have something to say about the views of Mr. Green as penned down by Ralf Mitchell. One remark in particular that surprised us was the claim by Mr. Green that he 'hadn't seen anything of a dubious nature in recent years'. Just when we had collected over a dozen fakes on our 'Fake Alert' page within a year...

In the light of what we've learned recently, part of the interview becomes particularly funny;

RM - What is your view  on the recent appearance of fake whiskies ?
This is a question of considerable interest to all Malt Maniacs !!!

MG - 'Well basically, to sum it up,  Auction Houses are always on the look-out for any item that appears not to be authentic, whether it be Whisky or it be anything else !  Ehm.... if I had any doubts whatsoever about stock coming in, by the sheer fact of where it was coming from, or what it appeared to be, ...... and I wasn't sure, ..... I would instantly reject it !  Without any question and doubt, and if there was any further concerns, I would advise the client to go ahead and have the spirit, label and glass analyzed before we would take it, and even then, if there was further doubt, there would have to be a report with it to confirm that it was authentic.''

RM - Have you seen any fake whiskies yet ?

MG - 'Not recently, no, I've not seen anything of a dubious nature in recent years.'

RM - You are aware of the Macallan situation ?

MG - 'Yes, very much so !'

RM - And I believe there is some turn-of-the-century Longrow surfaced as well, and may be fake !!

MG - 'I haven't seen any of that. No one has approached us with that. Certainly, there are possible sources, but they would probably not approach me because they know that within the industry I have taken a very strong stance !'

RM - Right, right, that's grand! Thank you, emn.........

Indeed - what to say to the 'strong stance' taken by the self-acclaimed 'whisky consultant and specialist'?
It's human to make mistakes - but it isn't to charge 15% commission for it. But that's not the worst part. McTears had been warned a week in advance that this was by no means a special bottling. Many thousands of bottles had been sold (and were apparently still being sold) by Gall & Gall outlets in Holland. Still, McTears maintained their initial estimate of a value of 400 to 600 pounds (a price increase of some 2000% in just three or four years !) and decided not to share this trivial piece of information with the people bidding for the bottle. They continued with the auction as if nothing was wrong... Well, I guess 15% commission on 400 - 600 GBP is considerably more than 15% on the actual value of circa 20 Euro's...

When Olivier Humbrecht shared the news of the sale with the other malt maniacs there was quite some discussion, as you can imagine. The rumour mill was spinning like crazy and Dave Broom even sent a message to McTears. After a few days he received a reply which basically said: 'the bottle has been added to our list of fakes - although it's technically not a fake'. The collective response of the maniacs was 'Huh?'. They knew that a week before the auction and did nothing! The reply from McTears finished with this curious line;
'No doubt though in the decades to come, even this bottling will become a collectors item.'

Yeah, right...
In that case I happen to have a few cases of Johnnie Walker Red Label available for just 99 Euro's a bottle...
Fortunately, they seemed to realise that this was a lame response, even by their standards. A day later (a week after the sale), when most maniacs were still festering with fury, Martin Green finally appeased most of us with the following message;

'I have today cancelled the sale of the above to protect the buyer.'

Well, that's something. But isn't 'protecting' the buyer something one should do in advance?
That's a bit like calling a shot against rabies 'protection from dog bites'. In fact, I think that 'protection' is the reason some people are willing to pay that 15% commission. As Serge pointed out, this probably wouldn't have happened on eBay - and they don't charge 15% commission. Krishna and me were still muttering discontentedly amongst ourselves but, to quote Michel: 'No doubt about that Krishna. But... In a few minutes the sun is about to rise, birds are singing their little hearts out... Let's stick to the feeling justice is done in this matter.'

Well, I'm not sure 'justice' is the right phrase - but I guess we can mark this case as 'solved'...

Sweet drams,

Johannes
 

Entry #303 - The Kindness of Strangers

Singleton of GlendullanApril 26, 2007 - When I dropped by the woods last week, I was surprised
by two surprises. Surprise #1 came in the form of a bottle of something that
is not available here; a Singleton of Glendullan 12yo (40%, OB, USA, 75cl).
It was sent to Holland by Mary Di Brita from the USA. I had heard of those
new 'Singleton' bottlings before, but in case you haven't, I'll paint a quick
picture in very broad strokes;

In the 1990's, 'Singleton' used to be a name reserved for the malt whiskies
from the Auchroisk distillery. The bottles of 'Singleton of Auchroisk' have
slowly faded away from the shelves of liquorists, but they will now be able
to replace them with three 'new' Singletons - distilled at three different
distilleries. Well, actually - if that liquorist goes through official channels
he'll have only one new Singleton to replace the old one. Three different
markets receive three different malts;

USA: Glendullan 12yo - I haven't seen the 8yo OB from the 1990's for ages.
Europe: Dufftown 12yo - The 10yo OB from the 1990's has vanished too.
Asia: Glen Ord 12yo - The old 12yo 'cube' OB is still available in Europe.

So, now I have the opportunity to try the 'American' Singleton - thanks
Mary! This bottling was launched recently (mid April) for the first time in
Illinois and New Jersey.
 
Nose: Hint of mint. Sweetish. Much heavier that the Glendullan OB from the
1990's - good! Is it just me, or is this not unlike a very complex bourbon?
There's treasure if you dig deeper. There's a mint candy sweetness that
pops up every now and then that keeps it interesting. Yes, on a bad nose
day this is not unlike a very complex bourbon - but I will need to try again.
Taste: Warm, sweet and malty. Growing a little 'greener' and cooler after a
minute. Shimmering. Silky smooth start, growing harsh and again bourbony
towards the finish. Quite woody too.After a few minutes the sweetness is washed away from the surface.
Verdict: 81 points - I was ready to go for +/- 83 points first, but the finish dragged it down.
Definitely a few steps up from the 8yo official bottling from the 1990's (74 points) it seems.
Well, this is a very preliminary impression. (Oh, and I DO like the box & bottle design...)

In fact, it's one of the few newly designed bottles & labels that I do actually like. I LOVED the new Macallan bottle design they introduced along with the 'Fine Oak' series a few years ago (more so than the whisky inside), but I'm not that crazy about the new Highland Park design. But at least the Edrington Group learned their lesson and focused their PR efforts on the newly designed bottles instead of the whisky inside those bottles. They still release the occasional old beauty, but the 12yo 'workhorse' malt isn't the affordable stunner it once was. Well, as a consumer I don't like the development, but I guess it makes perfect business sense. Why pay a lot of money for an 18yo if the 12yo is almost just as good - and costs only half the price of that 18yo?

And speaking of business sense...
If I had any, Malt Madness would have been turned into a commercial site years ago.
Over the years I must have spent over 20,000 hours on it (I'm not even thinking about Malt Maniacs now) and if 'the meter had been running' (if somebody would have been foolish enough to pay me for it) I would have been able to buy myself a very comfortable cottage in the woods by now - and a few bottles of Dalmore 50yo to boot...

But I lack any business sense when it comes to my personal passions. And that was no problem whatsoever during the start of the internet boom because enough people felt they needed advice about e-business and internet communication to keep my little internet consultancy business running smoothly, simply based on 'word of mouth'. However, these days a fresh young generation of managers has emerged on the corporate scene.  Most of them seem to think they understand how the web works because they've used it for years. By the time two different clients expressed a desire to 'do something with YouTube' (without the faintest hint of a clue WHAT they wanted to show their aging customer base on the web) I knew I had to find a regular job again...
I decided to pick up my old job of editor & copywriter again - far less pay, but far less frustration as well...
So I don't have that cottage just yet - nor those bottles of Dalmore 50yo.

In fact, my own 'reserve stock' (which wasn't too impressive to begin with) has been dwindling over the past three years. My 'Stock List' hasn't been updated in over a year, and I see little point in reviving it at the moment. I've hardly bought any fresh bottles over the last few years, so I think the number of bottles in my reserve stock may have dropped below 100 by now.

Fortunately, there was another surprising addition to my stock a few weeks ago - but I'll tell you about that in another entry...

Sweet drams,

Johannes
 

Entry #304 - XXXLnt Shirts

Dave BroomMay 11, 2007 - Well, after three years I finally had
the opportunity to meet my fellow Malt Maniac Dave
Broom in the flesh - so I could finally hand him his
official Malt Maniacs T-shirt. Well, actually, that's still
more like the official Malt Madness T-shirt. Our Indian
maniac Krishna had them made in 2003 by an Indian
clothing manufacturer when Malt Maniacs was still a
section of this website - and since the stocks are
running out now I guess we should start thinking
about a new official MM T-shirt some time soon... 

If you're looking at the picture and think that Dave
Broom is a dwarf, you would be wrong; he's merely
dwarfed by the XXXL T-shirt of Unusual Size. The
unusual size was caused by a tad too much pro-active
thinking on both sides. When Krishna asked us to
pass along our sizes, many of us Western maniacs
figured that the generally slightly smaller and more
slender people of India would probably have smaller
sizes - so we passed along very generous estimates
of our sizes. At the same time, the manufacturer in
India reasoned that the generally larger and fatter
people in the West would probably need slightly
larger T-shirts than the Indian people themselves.
The result was, as you can see, a very generously
proportioned T-shirt. The neck label says XXXL, but
it's actually more like an XXXXXL in metrics.

I got to meet Dave (along with Michael Jackson
and other journalists and whisky writers) at a dinner
hosted at the Kilbeggan distillery in Ireland. The
distillery has been silent for fifty years, but now
Cooley has brought it back to life again. I'm not a
very enthusiastic traveler, but I had never been to
Ireland before, so when I received an invitation I
jumped at the occasion.

And indeed, Ireland turned out to be just as I expected - rolling green hills with tree- and brush lines and drizzly weather. And the Irish accent turned out to be just like you hear in the movies, with the rolling 'R' and everything. Interestingly enough, my own gritty Dutch accent was mistaken for a Welsh accent by two Irish ladies that had heard me ranting on and on about this or that for a while. They came up to me to ask about my accent because they were not sure - and then apologized when I turned out to be Dutch.
They didn't have to apologize - I felt like it was a compliment!

We Dutch have to torture our throats and vocal chords from very early on in life - our mother tongue is a health hazard. As a result, I think English spoken with a heavy Dutch accent is torture to the ears as well. I've been trying to get rid of mine for over a decade now - but so far with fairly limited success, I'm afraid. The conversation with the Irish ladies gave me an idea for a brand new approach, though. If I can't get rid of my accent, perhaps I could at least transform it to resemble a less painful accent. And as less painful accents go, I think I could do far worse than Welsh...

The Kilbeggan dinner itself was an interesting experience as well for anybody with a keen interest in accents.
On the various tables one could hear various Irish, Scottish, American, German, Swedish and Dutch accents - and I'm quite sure I didn't remember all of them. The dinner was truly wonderful and the interesting theme and composition demanded most of my attention, along with the conversations with my neighbors at the table, Dr. Jurgen Setter from Scoma (a Keeper of the Quaich and proud to be one) and a journalist for the Dutch edition of Penthouse Magazine. Great - that should provide me with an excuse to buy myself a fresh copy soon - the last one in my archive is from the last millennium ;-) 

But I'm getting side-tracked now - and far ahead of myself to boot...
I have a lot to tell about Kilbeggan, but that will have to wait until tomorrow I'm afraid.

There's just one last little tidbit of news I'd like to share for now.
I had actually feared that the painfully slow reconstruction of the websites would be disastrous for our traffic numbers. However, the contrary seems to be the case. A few years ago we could already confidently state that we had thousands of visitors each day and now both Malt Madness and Malt Maniacs both have 'structurally' more than 2,000 unique visitors each day. I assume WhiskyFun shows similar numbers, so we can now claim that:

Together, Malt Madness, Malt Maniacs & WhiskyFun reach more than 5,000 unique and whisky loving visitors each day . That means that we've created our own little global village on the web - with the actual size of a medium sized village...

Hip, hip.... Hurray! Next stop: Global World Domination!
(Yeah, yeah... I know that's a pleonasm - but it sounds cooler than regular world domination, no?)

Sweet drams,

Johannes
 

Entry #305 - Kilbeggan (I)

Kilbeggan DistilleryMay 12, 2007 - The spirits must have been
smiling on us when we arrived at Kilbeggan
distillery near Tullamore. It had been cloudy and
drizzly all the way from Schiphol Airport to Dublin
where a driver from Cooley's picked me and a
few other visitors up and drove us the 100 miles
to the Kilbeggan Distillery. (Or kilometers? The
sign just said '100' - I must admit I don't know
which scale they use in Ireland.)
 
Anyway, during the trip the sky slowly cleared
up and by the time we arrived the weather was
positively lovely for the time of the year. When
Kilbeggan distillery finally appeared around the
corner (well, it was actually us who appeared
around the corner) I experienced a sense of
deja vu - to my surprise this turned out to be
the distillery I couldn't find!

For the first chapter of the Beginner's Guide to single malt whisky I  used a picture of a distillery that somebody sent me many years ago. And I've been curious about which distillery it actually was ever since.

As I visited more and more distilleries in Scotland, I could tick them all off my list of potential suspects, so I grew ever more curious about which distillery could be depicted in the picture. And my suspense grew even further when I had to collect pictures from all distilleries in Scotland a few years ago for the 'Distillery Data' section. None of the thousands of pictures I worked through showed the charming little distillery with the water wheel and square chimney from the picture. I slowly started to fear that it must have been one of the distilleries that was demolished and lost in the 1980's. I was very pleased to learn that this was not the case.
The charming little distillery has indeed been silent for 50 years - but I just should have looked in Ireland instead of Scotland...

However, thanks to Cooley, Kilbeggan is coming back to life again in the year of our laird 2007.
And as it turned out, the inside and backyard of the distillery are every bit as picturesque and interesting - and quite different from any Scottish whisky distillery I've seen so far. Before the dinner we were taken on an extensive tour of the distillery which I will report on in an upcoming entry. That goes for the Kilbeggan dinner as well - but some of the locals that sat in on the occasion shared tome interesting stories about the weather. The locals told me that they experienced an unusual heat wave in Ireland in April, just like we had in Holland. Wow, what a coincidence. Global Warming seems to be happening all over the world now ;-)

That's all for now - much more about Kilbeggan in the next few log entries...

Sweet drams,

Johannes
 

Entry #306 - Feis Ile 2007

Oysters at LagavulinMay 28, 2007 - Things are very hectic here in Holland
at the moment, so I didn't have time to visit Feis Ile this
year. Too bad, but I should be able to make it next year. And the good news is that Serge is keeping the rest of
the world updated on the events on WhiskyFun with
regular reports on their adventures. And thanks to the
many miracles of modern technology those reports
come with pictures these days - like this one of Olivier
feeding an oyster to Konstantin at Lagavulin distillery.
That's a 'Feis Ile' tradition at Lagavulin that goes for
every maniac. Well, not the 'feeding' part - but
Konstantin resisted tradition...
 
The maniacs who made it to Islay are now half way
through festival. Thanks to the daily Feis Ile reports
from Serge on WhiskyFun I can focus my efforts on
the next issue of Malt Maniacs - expected on June 1.
I hope I will be able to wrap everything up in time...

As I already mentioned, these are hectic times for me. I've recently started at a new job, I'm busy writing for my very first book AND I'm still very busy with the reconstruction of both Malt Madness and Malt Maniacs to restore them to their former glory. To top it all off, we should start our preparations for the Malt Maniacs Awards 2007 in a few weeks. All in all, it will be quite a while before I have the spare time to pick up my regular tastings and reports again. Another effect of the hectic times is that the rest of my Kilbeggan Report will have to wait until next month. So much for on-line information spreading with the speed of light ;-)

Which reminds me... I've just uploaded what should be the last and final version of the Beginner's Guide.
The single page that I published in 1995 had grown to ten chapters a few years later and keeping every up-to -date became a little bit of a boring job after more than a decade. That's why I've decided to start work on the 'Advanced Beginner's Guide'. But before I 'freeze' the last version I want to double check all my facts. Please feel free to send me any questions, comments and additions you might have. You can use the e-mail address at the bottom of the page. That's the address you can use if you'd like to subscribe to the Mixed Messages Mailinglist as well. That way, you'll stay updated on recent developments like the shelter Konstantin has created under the Malt Maniacs umbrella for the old Malts-L mailinglist - or the recent launch of Germaniacs (MM in German!).

But that's it for now - gotta get back to work on Malt Maniacs #104...
In the mean time, please check WhiskyFun for 'live reports' of the latest adventures of the malt maniacs.

Sweet drams,

Johannes
 

Liquid Log OverviewLater Liquid Log entriesEarlier Liquid Log entries

68 - Ardbeg 18yo 1975/XXXX (43%, Signatory, Decanter, C#2464-67) - very medicinal nose, bitter palate.
85 - Ardbeg 1981/2005 'Kildalton' (52.6%, OB, 5ml from 'The Peat Pack') - sample from Michel
77 - Balvenie 14yo 'Roasted Malt' (47.1%, OB, 34 casks, Btl. 2006) - the finish was just a tad too harsh.
86 - Benriach 10yo 'Curiositas' (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2007) - a recent batch of 'Curiositas' was excellent.
80 - Bowmore NAS 'Darkest' (43%, OB, +/- 2006) - sampled at a presentation in Amsterdam.
80 - Bunnahabhain 9yo 1997/2006 (46%, The Ultimate, Refill Butt #5267, D1/12/97, 13/12/06) - Nice...
88 - Bunnahabhain 20yo 1979/1999 (50%, DL OMC, Sherry, 358 Bts.) - sherry, wood & smoke.
72 - Cardhu 12yo (40%, OB, +/- 2006) - not exciting as a single malt, but fine compared to 'deluxe' blends.
77 - Cragganmore 15yo (57.8%, Cadenhead's, 35cl, Bottled +/- 2006) - sampled at the Cadenhead's store.
81 - Dufftown-Glenlivet 14yo 1966/1980 (45.7%, Cadenhead's, Dumpy, 75cl) - may have been oxidised.
79 - Glen Garioch 15yo (43%, OB, Btl. +/- 2005) - good, fruity whisky; not 'top shelf' but better than average.
77 - Glengoyne 12yo (43%, OB Lang Brothers, Bottled early 1980's, 5cl) - from Michel (oxidised perhaps?)
90 - Glen Grant 50yo 1956/2006 (40%, G&M, Unknown series or cask#) - from Hans Offringa.
70 - Glenkinchie 10yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2004) - not bad at all but still a light Lowlander...
78 - Glenmorangie 1981 Sauternes Wood Finish (46%, OB, #1006) - not worth 230 GBP in my book.
83 - Glen Scotia 1999/2006 (45%, OB, Distillery Select, Bourbon C#518, D23/07/99, B14/03/06, 330 Bts.)
85 - Glen Scotia 14yo (57.7%, Cadenhead's, No vintages, Bottled +/- 2005, 20cl)
80 - Glenury Royal 12yo (40%, G&M Licensed, John Gillon & Company, Btl. Early 1980's, 5cl)
89 - Highland Park 21yo 1984/2005 (56.1%, OB, Gerry Tosh, C#43, 289 Bts.) - almost 90's material...
81 - Inchfad 2001/2006 (45%, OB, 'Distillery Select', C#666, Dist. 14/2/01, Btl. 22/6/06, 350 Bts.)
85 - Inchgower 27yo 1976/2004 (55.6%, UD Rare Malts) - from Ho-cheng, it went down very well.
84 - Kininvie 15yo 1990/2006 'Hazelwood 105' (52.5%, OB, First fill sherry cask, Bottled August 1 2006)
86 - Lagavulin 1990/2006 Distillers Edition (43%, OB, PX finish) - sweet tomato in the nose. Needs time.
78 - Ledaig 7yo (43%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006) - a fairly impressive score considering its relatively young age.
88 - Longmorn-Glenlivet 13yo (46%, Cadenhead's Black label, Sherry Wood Matured, Btl. late 1980's, 5cl)
81 - Longmorn 15yo (45%, OB, Bottled +/- 2005) - here's a bottling that managed to stay the course...
90 - Old Farm 1938/1943 100 Proof Straight Rye Whiskey (50%, OB, USA) - from Hans Offringa.
78 - Pittyvaich 12yo (43%, Flora & Fauna 'OB', +/- 2000) - this bottling hadn't crossed my path yet.
71 - Rosebank 12yo (43%, Flora & Fauna, Bottled +/- 2006) - a sample from Rosebank fan Peter Boersma.
90 - Royal Brackla 30yo 1976/2006 (53.6%, Cadenhead's, Sherry, November 2006, Gold label)
81 - Singleton of Glendullan 12yo (40%, OB, USA, 75cl) - new bottling for the USA.
80 - Springbank 10yo (46%, OB, Black Label, +/- 2006) - good to see that this one found the way up again.
70 - Tullibardine NAS (40%, OB, 'Painted Label', Bottled +/- 1995, 5cl) - sample probably from Davin.
65 - Tullibardine 1993/2006 (46%, OB, Sherry Wood Finish) - weird, but the oil didn't bother me here.
82 - Whyte & Mackays 'Special' NAS (43%, OB Whyte & Mackay, Cream label, 5.5cl, Blend, Btl. Early 1970's)
 

This is my first 'new style' Dram Diary. From now on I start working on a fresh dram diary as soon as Serge has finished a new version of the Malt Maniacs Monitor and Malt Maniacs Matrix - tens of thousands of scores for thousands of whiskies. We'll try to publish a new version of the MM matrix and MM monitor every two or three months. The brand new 'Specials' section on the Malt Maniacs home page offers tasting notes for a few dozen recently released single malts. As far as my personal 'Track Record' is concerned; the last time I checked the total tally was +/- 2150 whiskies seriously sampled & scored...

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