Whisky tasting notes & scoresEarlier entriesLater entries

Entry #307 - 21/06/2007 - My Trip to Ireland, Part II  (A little more on my Kilbeggan visit.)
Entry #308 - 25/06/2007 - My Trip to Ireland, Part III  (Finally, the full story - for mailinglist members.)
Entry #309 - 01/08/2007 - MM Awards & A Few Drams  (Notes on a handful 'Hamstergeddon' drams.)
Entry #310 - 08/08/2007 - MM Statistics  (An interesting piece of research by a fan of Malt Madness.)
Entry #311 - 11/08/2007 - Dutch DVD Tasting  (A seat on the panel was good for my malt mileage.)
Entry #312 - 19/08/2007 - Bunnahabhain & Port Ellen  (Time to make some serious progress now.)
Entry #313 - 30/08/2007 - Michael Jackson RIP  (Sad news; Michael Jackson passed away today.)
Entry #314 - 15/09/2007 - Istanbul  (A business trip to Istanbul ruined my ambitious sampling plans.)
Summer 2007 Dram Diary - By the end of Summer there were circa 2150 malts on my Track Record.

Although I'm only halfway with the reconstruction of Malt Madness and Malt Maniacs, I've managed to pick up a fairly steady sampling pace again. That's just as well, because the Malt Maniacs Awards 2007 are coming up. With some luck I should be able to make it to 2500 single malts by the end of the year...
 

Entry #307 - June 21, 2007;  My Trip to Ireland (Part II)

Kilbeggan steam machine June 21, 2007 - Over a month ago I
promised to write some more words
about my trip to the recently re-opened
Kilbeggan distillery in Ireland. It was my
first trip to Ireland and I liked what I saw;
the green country, the rolling hills, the
friendly people and the distilleries.
Well, the distillery...

I didn't have a chance to visit one of the
other distilleries in Ireland yet, but I can't
imagine they are quite as charming as the
Kilbeggan distillery. I've visited less than
two dozen of the Scotch distilleries (so
I'm hardly an expert), but none of them
had colourful details like a steam engine,
a trio of massive discarded pot stills or a
water wheel that drives a big part of the
operation. Sections of Kilbeggan may
seem a little run down compared to the
average Scottish distillery, but that gives
it all the more charm & character.

I also had the opportunity to chat with Michael Jackson there.
We had spoken briefly at a few whisky festivals before, but never more than a few minutes. The 'VIP' tour af the distillery gave us the chance to discuss malty matters in more detail. I've also met my fellow malt maniac Dave Broom for the very first time there. A wonderful time was had by all...

Anyway, I'm afraid that I still haven't found the time to wrap up my Kilbeggan report...
I'm still very busy with the reconstruction of both Malt Madness and Malt Maniacs - I want 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 these hectic times is that the rest of my Kilbeggan report will have to wait a few more days. In fact, it might be reserved for members of the 'Mixed Messages Mailinglist'...

So much for on-line information spreading with the speed of light ;-)

Sweet drams,

Johannes
 

Entry #308 - June 25, 2007;  My Trip to Ireland (Part III)

June 25, 2007 - After the Malt Madness site had been 'frozen' for a six months I enthusiastically picked up the work on my Liquid Log again in April 2007. However, as it turned out I simply didn't have the time to submit regular updates next to a full time job. In fact, I recently decided that the only way to keep the sites going (and develop a few plans I'm brooding on) is by taking on a part-time job. I've also started on my very first whisky book - expect more news about my 'professional' future soon.

MM Exclusive!Meanwhile, my editor at Whisky Etcetera
(the Dutch whisky magazine) has just
agreed to let me write an article about
my Kilbeggan visit. Of course, he didn't
feel like publishing a 'second hand'
article, so I can't publish a full report
on these pages - at least not yet...
 
However, sending the report to the
members of the 'Mixed Messages
Mailinglist' isn't 'publishing' it, is it?
 
So, I've sent out a MM Exclusive Report about my recent Irish trip.
In the future I'll send around more of these special reports, so if you don't want to miss any of my malt musings it might be smart to join the mailinglist. Simply send a message to the e-mail address at the bottom of this page. Why not? It's 100% free.

And don't worry - there's a little bit of 'public' information in this log entry as well...
The big crash is now one year ago, so I really need to get the rest of the websites 'live' again.
That's why I've replaced my Liquid Log with this 'scrapbook' - at least for now. One of the things I want to include in the new Malt Madness website is a 'Vox Populi ' section like we used to have on the old site. Here's the first snippet of 'public' comments...
you might find entertaining or useful, or maybe even both....

Johannes,
 
Thanks so much for the great site(s). Like many I am sure you hear from, I am a relative newcomer to the world of SMSW, but with some help from your website I am quickly becoming maniacal. Just thought I'd drop you a line to let you know that you turned me on to the magic that is the Laphroaig 10 C/S via the old Bang-For-Your-Buck page. I must be one lucky duck. You list the price on BFYB at 49 Euros for the 1 liter bottle as of the writing of that page. Well, here in the US I only find the 55.7% 750CL bottling (red stripe), but the price at my favorite shop is $42.50 each when I buy them 2 bottles at a time. That translates into only 31.46 Euros per 750CL or 41.95 Euros per 1000CL at today's exchange rate. What a bargain!! Under 61 US cents per MM point per liter of whisky...
 
I have tried many others (most of them wonderful), but so far for me the Laphroaig C/S has got to be the best whisky per dollar as well as one of the best overall.
 
Thanks again for your maniacal devotion!

Jake Carriker
Austin, Texas

Expect more public contributions and responses soon...

Sweet drams,

Johannes
 

Entry #309 - August 1, 2007;  MM Awards & A Few Drams

August 1, 2007 - After the surprising success of Japanese whiskies at the Malt Maniacs Awards 2006, we decided to invite a number of producers of American whiskey (bourbon, rye whiskey, malt, etc.) to participate in the Malt Maniacs Awards 2007. I guess they're intimidated by the competition, because so far we have received just one measly response from the USA. Understandable, I guess... Over thirty other participants from Scotland and Ireland have already confirmed they will join this year, though.

Meanwhile, a stash of samples has been steadily growing on my shelves - time to dig into the stash...
This is a working day, so I'll limit myself to three whiskies this time.

Imperial 11yo 1994/2006 (46%, Whisky Galore, C#2110, 276 Bts.) - Light and honey sweet in the nose, growing more 'veggy'. Fairly grainy in the palate; bitter finish. After a minute a hint of 'Velpon' glue emerges in the nose. Not exactly my kind of profile, but the evolution of the nose is very interesting. The development in the nose classifies it as 'above average' but the palate keeps it at 77 points.

Speyburn 12yo 1967/1979 (45.7%, Cadenhead's, Dumpy, 75cl) - Ah! Immediate 'antiquity' in the nose.
More metallic than spicy this time. Very subtle marzipan sweetness in the background. Hint of smoke.
Old paper? Squashed bug? The nose is quite excellent, so the very weak start on the palate was a surprise.
Hard to rate this, but I'm going with 86 points - very satisfying complexity.

Highland Park 17yo 1988/2005 (56.7%, Cadenhead's, Bourbon hogshead) - The nose starts with a chemical fruitiness. Sweet plastic. Seems quite alcoholic on the palate without water at first. The nose is quite sweet. Maybe a little heathery as well, but that may be because that was one of HP's 'key notes'. Fruits are moving towards citrus. Appealing complexity. Hint of liquorice on the palate? Yes, and it becomes more obvious with time. Almost peaty in character. Definitely smoky in the finish. Now, let's add some water...
Not much change now - but maybe that's not a bad thing. My score: a solid 85 points.

And that's it for this entry - more next week...

Sweet drams,

Johannes
 

Entry #310 - August 8, 2007;  MM Statistics

whisky statisticsAugust 8, 2007 - After publishing
Malt Maniacs #105 last week I
was crushed by an avalanche of responses, mostly on Michel van
Meersbergen's piece on paxarete .
I'll get back to those in an 'Ask an
Anorak' discussion in an upcoming
issue of Malt Maniacs.

For this entry in my scrapbook
I'd like to focus on another
interesting message from Jake
Carriker. He took the trouble of
making an analysis of all the
scores on my Track Record and
came up with some interesting
results. Well, at least they're
interesting for nerds like Jake
and myself ;-)

Hi Johannes,
 
I corresponded with you a few weeks ago to let you know how much I enjoy the Laphroaig C/S you made me aware of via your BFYB page. I continue to taste more malts and enjoy life a little more every day because of it.
 
OK, so I am a nerd.
I trade commodities for a living using computerized systems and basically spend lots of time crunching numbers of all sorts. Since I enjoy such things I decided to have some fun by analyzing the whisky scores from your old Malt Madness archived Track Record. Now I am sharing my analysis with you. Don't worry, nothing serious here, just a goof off project, and I thought you might enjoy seeing the results. On the other hand, you may already have done much more in-depth analysis yourself.
 
Attached is a spreadsheet I put together that plots a frequency distribution histogram of all 1540 whisky scores that appear on the old track record. Some sort of neat things popped up as I looked at it. Reading across the raw data sheet, we can see that you have awarded a score of 80 to 77 separate whiskys, which represents exactly 5% of all the whiskys you have scored (on the Track Record anyway). The last column in the row tells us that 44.68% of all whiskys get 80 or fewer points. Cool, huh? Well, it is to me anyway...
 
In the Frequency Histogram graph sheet, you can see how the same data in the examples above is represented graphically. Each score, from the lowest you have awarded (11) to the highest (96) gets a bar. The height of the bar represents what percentage of whiskys have been awarded that particular score. As you can see, the big picture shows a generally bell shaped curve with a long tail out to the left side representing all the really nasty stuff you have endured and scored, with the bulk of the scores falling between 70 and 90, and the ether above 93 representing the top 1% of whiskys (in your opinion, of course;).
 
You might have fun just looking at the graph and noticing your own scoring tendencies.
One neato thing that stood out to me was a preference for round numbers (60, 65, 70, 75) at the lower-middle end of the scale. As humans, we all have a psychological bias toward the neat, clean feel of numbers ending in 0 and 5, and this tendency shows in the scores of whiskys that don't qualify as top tier stuff. It appears at the 60 score level scores seem to pile up as if you are a bit reticent to let a whisky drop down into the 50s unless there is something really wrong with it. You could also be giving some "true" 58s and 59s the benefit of the doubt.
 
However, the affinity for round numbers disappears when the scores approach the upper 70s or higher.
This is indicative of "getting serious" and not allowing any kind of foolishness get in the way of getting the proper score on a deserving dram. In fact, there may be a slight bias AWAY from round numbers in this segment of the range. It appears that no 79.5 whisky is going to get the benefit of an 80 score, and check out how many more 84s there are than 85s. 85 seems to be a "benchmark" score, and ain't no stinkin' 84s gonna get in there without a fight!
 
The air is especially rarified up above 90 with only a little more than 7% of drams reaching scores of 91 or more.
Scores of 94+ are the best of the best with less than 1% of whiskys earning such top marks. This is as you explain it on your site and as it should be. The very top end is tough to crack. Congratulations on being consistent and having the distribution of your scores be representative of your true feelings about the drinks! It would be depressing to take someone's scores seriously and come to find out 50% of stuff they touch to their lips becomes a 90 or above.
 
Anyway, I hope you enjoy looking at the data. I have. Thanks for keeping up the good work!
 
Best,
Jake Carriker
 
PS - Analysis like this does have a more useful and practical side. For instance, if someone were to do a sheet like this for each of the maniacs, each person's personal scoring preferences would become clear (in a mathematical sense) and a system for "normalizing" them to a benchmark curve could be invented. I am by no means lobbying for such a thing, just brainstorming. Cheers...
 

Excellent comments from Jake...
It's true that I have 'mental barriers' around certain 'border' scores, for example the grey area between 'better than average' and 'recommendable' - 79, 80 or 81 points. On a 1-100 scale, one or two points may not seem like a lot, but it becomes relevant in relation to 'batch variation' between consecutive versions of a whisky. Or if you collect and compare thousands of scores like the maniacs.

I will add a section about this topic to the Advanced Beginner's Guide - when it's done...

Sweet drams,

Johannes
 

Entry #311 - August 11, 2007;  Dutch DVD Tasting

August 11, 2007 - Phew.... I've just returned (slightly tipsy) from a recording of a Dutch 'Whisky Tasting' DVD.
Not hardly as painful as I had expected - and I had the opportunity to sample sixteen fresh batches of familiar malt whiskies. You can find my scores for all whiskies in my 'Dram Diary' below, but I'll quickly list the biggest surprising experiences of the tasting. First of all, I noticed the colour of the recent expression of the Auchentoshan 10yo . These days it seems much darker in colour than it used to be in the 1990's; I'd say caramel. I think it's a stupid move, but then again I've never been a fan of Auchentoshan anyway, especially the young 'spirity' expressions. A positive surprise was the Balvenie 12yo Doublewood - still going strong and a favourite of many of the tasters, most of whom were relative beginners. It's good to see this old favourite of mine standing firm against a backdrop of falling standards.

The Glenfarclas 15yo (46%, old packaging, bottled +/- 2005) was a nice surprise as well. This bottle came from older trade stocks from late 2005 or early 2006 and still had the old label. I was under the mistaken impression that the quality of the 15yo suddenly jumped up when they introduced the new label in 2006, but now it seems the new & improved Glenfarclas 15 was already in the bottles before they changed the label. I guess the math works out - I think they switched bodegas in 1990 or 1991. The new 8yo official bottling was fairly underwhelming though - as well as the Glenfarclas 21yo. The 8yo, 10yo and 15yo grew increasingly spicy, but that line was broken when we arrived at the 21yo. Could be explained by my 'bodega' theory...

Last but not least; the Johnnie Walker Green Label 15yo - much improved since the last time I tried it. It's still a little 'middle of the road' (so I find it hard to rate), but I'd say it's now on par with many single malts in the same price range - just short of 80 points. The Famous Grouse 12yo Vatted Malt was a shocking disappointment compared to the JW Green. Well, it proves one thing; blending is an art form.

And that's all about the DVD tasting for now. You can find all scores in my Dram Diary below. If you want to know more about the many senseless and sensible discussions (and if you live in Holland), you'll just have to buy the DVD when it's finished...

Sweet drams,

Johannes
 

Entry #312 - August 19, 2007;  Bunnahabhain & Port Ellen

Dark clouds over Bunnahabhain bayAugust 19, 2007 - Next week, fellow
malt maniac Michel van Meersbergen
will drop by with some fresh samples,
so it's high time I made some room
on my shelves.

Browsing through the chaos I found
three recent expressions from the
Bunnahabhain distillery on Islay. The
picture at the right shows the view of
the 'paps of Jura' from the pebble beach
in front of the distillery. The ominous
weather we're experiencing today in
Holland reminded me of the dark clouds
over Bunnahabhain when Serge, Olivier,
Davin and me made a pilgrimage in 2005.

So, let's try some recent expressions
from Bunnahabhain, shall we?

Bunnahabhain has long been the only distillery on Islay to use unpeated malt for their whisky, but one of the Bunny samples on my shelves proved that they have been experimenting with peat as early as 1997 - just when malt whiskies started to take off. It's interesting that their neighbor Caol Ila, known for its peated whiskies, also produces a lesser known unpeated variety. Anyway, here are my notes on three Bunnies...

Bunnahabhain 1997/2005 (57.8%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, C#5665, 309 Bts.) - The label says 'heavily peated'; this was the 'Bill & Maggie Miller' edition, distilled 11/97 and bottled 11/05. Fresh and quite peaty in the nose indeed. Smells fairly young and thin, though... MUCH more peat on the palate, strange it doesn't shine through in the nose. Nice interplay of salt and sweet. Salt liquorice. Too bad the finish drags a little bit. Perfect for those that are looking for a heavy punch on the palate. Not quite the complexity that can be found in the Laphroaig Quarter Cask or 10yo official bottlings at first, but certainly boxing in the same class. The nose opens up after some breathing, gradually lifting the score from 82 to 85 points - definitely worth picking up if you're looking for a heavily peated malt (on the palate at least). A peat monster in disguise and something one wouldn't expect from the gentle Bunnahabhain distillery.

So, now I had a problem... I started with the Bunny because I wanted to start this session nice and easy.
Since this was an overproof peat monster, I've burnt my palate and have to schedule an half our break. (...)
OK, I'm back - everybody still here? Great - then let's try a H2H of the...

Bunnahabhain 27yo 1979/2007 (46%, The Single Malts of Scotland, Bottled June 2007) - The nose starts off sweet and surprisingly light, almost citrussy. Quite fruity on the palate as well, followed by a long and sustained sweetness that reminded me of some fruity candy from my childhood. Chewing gum perhaps? Quite unique. After a few minutes a few faint organics emerge in the nose. Spices too - those often go side by side. On the palate it performs quite well, a smooth sweetness rounding out some of the harsh woody undercurrent. A very long finish. Unlike the 29yo from The Whisky Fair that I tried alongside it, the nose has a lot of 'staying power'.
Score: 87 points.

Bunnahabhain 29yo 1977/2007 (53%, The Whisky Fair, Bourbon Hogshead) - Wow! Very intriguing nose with candy, coconut and spices. Very special indeed - not unlike a Springbank from the good old days. Not quite as appealing on the palate, but overall it's still a very entertaining package. After a few minutes the nose fell flat, so I decided to add some water. A few drops unleashed a soapy flash in the nose, followed by some veggy notes. The first nose came close to 90, but it finally arrived at an overall score of 87 points.

To tell you the truth I didn't feel quite satisfied after three Bunnies - event though they were all highly recommendable. So I proceeded with a bunch of Port Ellens that have been piling up on my shelves...

Port Ellen 23yo 1983/2007 (56.7%, DL Platinum for Whisky Fair, Bourbon HH, 150 Bts.) - Whoah!
The nose is extremely rich at first, but doesn't betray its peaty heritage. The palate does, however - and does so BEAUTIFULLY! Very peaty and salty, but with a sweet undercurrent that ties everything together. Perhaps a hint of burnt coffee in the nose? Most of the fun is to be had on the palate though. There is a delayed punch in the mouth that would have made me pick this as an Ardbeg in a blind test. The nose definitely has some Laphroaig traits as well, along with some meaty notes. Then some subtle organics emerge. One of the very rare occasions where the palate drags the overall score into the 90's - at least initially. The nose needed some time to fully open up, but when it did it pushed the score up to a rare 93 points - one of the very best Port Ellens I've ever tried. No need to add a drop of water...

Port Ellen 25yo 1982/2007 (59.6%, The Whisky Fair, Sherry Wood) - A brief whiff of oil before growing saltier. Quite austere without much apparent sherry influence. Subtle organics creeping to the foreground. Slowly growing complexity in the nose. It starts off quite sweet and pleasant on the palate but the finish is a tad gritty and somber. Let's add a few drops of water and wait a minute... The water brought forth some minty notes in the nose, but not much else. No, wait, now there's something sweet and citrussy. Some more solid peat on the palate with the added water, but I still can't go any higher than 87 points for this one. In my book Islay malts have to be either peat monsters or very complex to score in the 90's; this one offers a little bit of both.
Still highly recommendable, mind you...

Port Ellen 21yo 1982/2004 (61%, DL Platinum / WCOA, 302 Bts., Potstill 2004). I don't usually pay much attention to the colour of a whisky, but this one was unusually dark. Loads of fruits and sherry sweetness in the nose - right up my alley. An amazing richness in the nose. Smoke and something that could be sulfur. Hint of chalk in the background? Very surprising on the palate as well; all the fruity sweetness was there, but some wood and loads of smoke as well. Beautiful combination, nicely balanced. Austere finish. The nose keeps evolving, so I didn't dare to add water at first. When I did, I wasn't disappointed and it eventually arrived at a very solid 92 points - a 'early 70's Kildalton style' Port Ellen. Brilliant combination of sweetness & smoke in the finish. These high scores are specially surprising because not all Port Ellens from the early 1980's were staggering.

That was a tough act to follow, but according to the data on the Monitor the next one should be good too.
Port Ellen 19yo 1981/2000 (59.4%, The Bottlers, Refill sherry, C#1550) - from a refill sherry butt. The nose is very different from the Douglas Laing bottling. Lighter in style with more spices and citrus notes. Water melon? String beans? Very smooth and round start on the palate. Hint of something oily before evolving into a long salty finish. Unfortunately, it turns quite sharp in the end. Sure, this is a very good malt, but I don't quite see why three maniacs scored it in the upper 90's. Maybe the complexities in the nose are a tad too subtle for me? Let's add some water... Hmmm... Not an actual improvement I'd say... A score of 88 points is more than enough in my book.

Last but not least; Port Ellen 23yo 1976/2000 (58%, Signatory, dumpy, C#4762, 258 Bts.) - bottled on January 13, 2000. The nose didn't really 'speak to me' after the previous four. Some gentle grainy notes and perhaps some citrus. Tired cask or tired sample? Nah, probably just a subtle 'bourbon' style malt. Fairly sharp and woody on the palate - can't go higher than 86 points here.

And that's it for this entry...

Sweet drams,

Johannes
 

Entry #313 - August 30, 2007;  Michael Jackson (RIP)

Whisky writer Michael JacksonAugust 30, 2007 - I've just received some sad news.
Famous whisky and beer writer Michael Jackson passed away.
Not long after my 'amazing discovery' of single malt whisky in the early
1990's I made another amazing discovery - Michael Jackson's Single Malt
Whisky Companion
. It was my very first book on whisky and it completely
transformed my keen interest in single malts into a genuine passion.

I doubt I would ever have found the confidence to publish my musings
on the world wide web if Michael's lyrical whisky writings hadn't given
me the courage to do so. After launching the first version of the Malt
Madness website in 1995 I discovered many more whisky writers and
many excellent books about whisky, but I still feel that Michael Jackson
wrote 'the ultimate whisky book' with his Malt Whisky Companion.
Michael's scores also inspired some of the malt maniacs to start work
on the matrix (and later the monitor). The first version of the matrix
was actually nothing more that a comparison of the 'benchmark'
scores of Michael Jackson and those of three or four maniacs.

Unfortunately, I only met Michael a few times in real life. The last time I saw him was in May at the re-opening of the Kilbeggan distillery in Ireland. It was clear that he wasn't in perfect health, but he told me he enjoyed himself tremendously inside the old and unique distillery buildings.

I guess that is what made Michael Jackson a 'guru' for many malt maniacs - the passion for single malt whisky we shared. Serge has temporarily replaced the main page on WhiskyFun to allow other malt lovers to share their 'tributes' and comments.

I will crack open a very special bottle from my 'reserve stock' tonight and think some spiritual thoughts...

Sweet drams,

Johannes
 

Entry #314 - September 15, 2007;  Istanbul

IstanbulSeptember 15, 2007 - Last week I had to fly
to Istanbul for my work. Even though the
weather there was mostly glorious (the
attached shot of the Aya Sofia is proof of
that) the airplane flights back and forth did
promote my latent cold to a heavy sinusitis
attack after my return.

Too bad, because I could have used a decent
dram after Istanbul. The city on the Bosporus
was formerly known as Constantinople and
has a rich history, but most of the modern
metropolis (with 15,000,000 inhabitants;
almost as much as the entire country of
Holland) has been built right on top of that
rich history. There are some great sites to
see though - and the Galata tower offers a
brilliant view of the city.

Even though Turkey is a secular state, the majority of the population is of the muslim persuasion. That means that you won't find many liquorists in the streets. I had hoped to score a bottle of 'Ankara' (the only Turkish single malt whisky) but couldn't find any. There were some questionable blends in bars, but nothing that really tickled my fancy.

So, I was looking forward to a few drams on the flight home.
However, the fact that I couldn't unpop my ears by swallowing indicated that my sinuses were starting to freak out. Indeed, the next week or so my nose was completely useless - so no dramming. Fortunately, things are looking up now; I seem to be in control of most of my nasal capacities again, so it's dramming time! And this might also be a nice occasion to kick off the peat season again a few months ahead of schedule. Maybe it's my imagination, but Islay malts always seem to work like excellent cold medicine. For this Islay session I selected three Ardbegs from 1991 - not long after the distillery resumed production around 1990.

Ardbeg 13yo 1991/2004 (55.1%, Acorn, Japan, D. 02/'91 Btl. 12/'04) - The nose starts with a lovely subtle sweetness. No peat apparent at first, but there's loads on the palate. A little meaty too. Sweet, smooth finish. Woody undercurrent. Meanwhile, some organics and chloride are emerging in the nose - and then some dust. If memory serves the nose of the 10yo OB was more complex, even at 'just' 46%. At the same time, this works great on the palate, so adding water was a risk. Well, it might have opened up the nose a little bit, but also fractured the mouth feel. Bonus: faintest hint of liquorice. Hard to come up with a score - let's say 87 points.

Ardbeg 1991/2005 (57.1%, JWWW The Cross Hill, 270 Bts.) - The nose starts fairly flat. Some development, but very subtle. Sweet and slightly veggy on the palate before growing peatier. Touches of wood. Fairly pleasant on the palate with a salty sweetness. Towards the finish a bitter undercurrent becomes more obvious. I'd put it at the bottom of the 'highly recommendable bracket with 86 points.

Ardbeg 15yo 1991/2007 (54.4%, The Whisky Fair, 327 Bts.) - Comparatively oily start in the nose, sweetening out. Then it becomes more serious, chalky and salty. Meaty notes and organics after a few minutes - lovely... Quite pleasant on the palate as well. At first not a lot of 'definition', but maybe that's because of the bourbon cask. After some more breathing I got some vague metallic notes in the nose, and then a slowly evolving parade of other aroma's. String beans? Really interesting; this one shows different sides of itself at different times. This is a malt you can spend time with - 89 points (earned mostly by the slowly unfolding nose).

So, all of them are overproof Ardbegs from 1991, yet the differences are considerable.
A great example of the relatively limited impact of the 'house style' of a fresh spirit on the matured product.

OK, let's have just one bonus dram, the Laphroaig 13yo 1988/2001 (46%, Murray McDavid, Bourbon, MM2109). The nose was quite clean with veggy overtones. Then some yoghurt and passion fruit, followed by cardboard. On the palate I got a flash of cod oil, then dust, then peat. Interesting... It feels a little thin on the palate though - especially after the overproof Ardbegs. Still, I think it's a highly recommendable malt.
So, this scores the minimum score in that bracket; 85 points...

Meanwhile, there has been heavy debate amongst the maniacs about the insane raises in malt whisky prices lately. Serge's anger has heated up his creative juices and you can expect some fresh and funny perspectives on the topic of price gauging later on on WhiskyFun . I would love to vent my spleen as well, but as long as the sites are under reconstruction I have other priorities. For one thing, the old 'Bang-For-You-Buck' formula has become obsolete by now... In the late 1990's I used to qualify a price (in Euro's) that was half of the score as 'fair'. These days the relation between price and quality has changed dramatically. I'm afraid that anything that costs less (in Euro's) than it scores could be considered 'fairly priced' these days.

And that's it for now. However, the good news is that I'm now almost finished with the reconstruction of my Liquid Log - I still have so wrap up log entry #300 properly, but you can also browse around the reconstructed section for a bit if you like. Please let me know if you encounter any broken links - or other problems...

Sweet drams,

Johannes
 

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

87 - Ardbeg 13yo 1991/2004 (55.1%, Acorn, Japan, D. 02/'91 Btl. 12/'04) - very little peat in the nose.
86 - Ardbeg 1991/2005 (57.1%, JWWW The Cross Hill, 270 Bts.) - this had a strangely subdued nose.
89 - Ardbeg 15yo 1991/2007 (54.4%, The Whisky Fair, 327 Bts.) - a malt you can spend lots of time with.
79 - Arran NAS 'Amarone Wine Cask' (55%, OB, Limited Edition, 2006) - Pot Still Festival 2007, Leusden.
85 - Ayrshire 32yo 1975/2007 (46%, Signatory Vintage, C#556, 265 Bottles) - Pot Still Festival 2007.
63 - Auchentoshan NAS 'Select' (40%, OB, +/- 2006) - I could find hardly any difference with the 10yo.
64 - Auchentoshan 10yo (43%, OB, +/- 2006) - much darker these days than in the 1990's; caramel?
74 - Balblair NAS 'Elements' (40%, OB, +/- 2005) - a dependable malt, if only a little 'MOTR' for my tastes.
84 - Balvenie 12yo 'DoubleWood' (40%, OB, +/- 2007) - still going strong, a favorite of many of the tasters.
85 - Bunnahabhain 1997/2005 (57.8%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, C#5665, 309 Bts.) - Sample from Serge.
86 - Bunnahabhain 9yo 1997/2007 (59%, Signatory, refill sherry butt, C#5272, 645 Bts.) - Pot Still Festival.
83 - Bunnahabhain 18yo 'XVIII' (43%, OB, 1500 Bts., 2005) - sampled at the Pot Still Festival, Leusden.
87 - Bunnahabhain 27yo 1979/2007 (46%, The Single Malts of Scotland, Bottled June 2007) - Sukhinder.
87 - Bunnahabhain 29yo 1977/2007 (53%, The Whisky Fair, Bourbon Hogshead) - Sample from Carsten.
87 - Bunnahabhain 38yo 1968/2006 (43.1%, Duncan Taylor, C#11571, 150 Bts.) - Pot Still Festival 2007.
85 - Bunnahabhain 40yo 1966/2006 (40.6%, Duncan Taylor, C#4877, 146 Bts.) - Pot Still Festival 2007.
88 - Caperdonich 38yo 1968/2006 (56.3%, Duncan Taylor, C#2616) - Pot Still Festival 2007, Leusden.
67 - Craigellachie 15yo 1989/2004 (59.4%, Dewar Rattray, C#3880) - a disappointment from DR...
46 - Famous Grouse 12yo Vatted Malt (40%, OB, +/- 2007) - weak compared to the Johnnie Walker Green.
78 - Glenallachie 14yo 1992/2007 (43%, The Ultimate, C#468) - Complex on the nose with mint sweets.
77 - Glen Elgin 12yo (43%, OB, +/- 2006) - sampled at the Pot Still Festival 2007, Leusden.
81 - Glen Elgin 22yo 1978/2000 (53.3%, Signatory, C#4589, 298 Bts., Velvet) - Two points up from 79.
73 - Glenfarclas 8yo (40%, OB, New bottling, +/- 2007) - maybe this expression is only available in Holland?
79 - Glenfarclas 10yo (40%, OB, +/-2005, 'Thistle Edition') - A notable step up from the new 8yo OB.
85 - Glenfarclas 15yo (46%, old packaging, bottled +/- 2005 just before the new packaging).
81 - Glenfarclas 21yo (43%, OB, +/-2005)- quite a disappointment after the 8yo, 10yo and 15yo.
72 - Glenfiddich 12yo Special Reserve (40%, OB, 2007) - straightforward and dependable; nothing to add.
79 - Glengoyne 10yo (40%, OB, +/-2006) - a 'straight' sherry character; no fruits, more like actual sherry.
85 - Glen Grant 16yo 1989/2005 (46%, Van Wees Ultimate, C#23059) - sampled at the Pot Still Festival.
88 - Glen Grant 37yo 1970/2007 (52.6%, Duncan Taylor, Rare Auld, C#8379, 208 Bts., D02/'70, B02/'07).
73 - Glenkinchie 1991/2005 Distillers Edition (43%, OB, Amontillado finish) - more to offer than the 10yo.
74 - Glenlivet 12yo (40%, OB, +/-2007) - still a reliable 'MOTR' malt whisky; not likely to offend anybody.
72 - Glenmorangie NAS 'Port Wood Finish' (43%, OB, +/-2006) - a major fall from grace since the 1990's.
82 - Glentauchers 14yo 1990/2005 (46%, DT Whisky Galore) - one of the more interesting expressions.
80 - Highland Park 12yo (40%, OB, orange label, 2007) - big gap between the 12yo and 18yo OB's now.
85 - Highland Park 17yo 1988/2005 (56.7%, Cadenhead's, Bourbon hogshead) - surprisingly phenolic.
77 - Imperial 11yo 1994/2006 (46%, Whisky Galore, C#2110, 276 Bts.) - decent but unremarkable malt.
86 - Inverleven 27yo 1977/2005 (51%, Signatory, Bourbon, C#3600, 146 Bts.) - a pleasant surprise.
58 - Jameson NAS (40%, OB, +/-2005) - still fairly disappointing compared to the Scotch whisky.
78 - Johnnie Walker 15yo 'Green label' (43%, OB, +/-2006) - much improved lately; on par with singles.
87 - Lagavulin 16yo 'Port Ellen' (43%, OB, +/-2004) - the 'softening up' since the late 1990's stopped.
85 - Laphroaig 10yo (40%, OB, +/-2007) - overall winner despite many 'beginners' at the DVD tasting.
85 - Laphroaig 13yo 1988/2001 (46%, Murray McDavid, Bourbon, MM2109) - before the finishing craze.
84 - Linkwood 16yo 1990/2007 (56.2%, Signatory, C#9721, 161 Bts.) - sampled at the Pot Still Festival.
90 - Longmorn 1973/2006 (54%, G&M Cask, C#6350) - last dram at the Pot Still Festival 2007.
75 - Oban 14yo (43%, OB, +/-2007) - still a fairly 'mainstream' malt whisky.
88 - Port Ellen 19yo 1981/2000 (59.4%, The Bottlers, Refill sherry, C#1550) - few 'typical' sherry notes.
92 - Port Ellen 21yo 1982/2004 (61%, DL Platinum / WCOA, 302 Bts., Potstill 2004) - heavily sherries PE.
86 - Port Ellen 23yo 1976/2000 (58%, Signatory, dumpy, C#4762, 258 Bts.) - not overly impressive.
93 - Port Ellen 23yo 1983/2007 (56.7%, DL Platinum for Whisky Fair, Bourbon HH, 150 Bts.) - Whoah!
87 - Port Ellen 25yo 1982/2007 (59.6%, The Whisky Fair, Sherry Wood) - Very decent PE.
71 - Speyburn 10yo (40%, OB, +/-2005, Blue label) - this malt is still boxing in the lighter categories...
86 - Speyburn 12yo 1967/1979 (45.7%, Cadenhead's, Dumpy, 75cl) - 'antique' sample from Michel.
 

This is my second '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 Malt Maniacs 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 on my virtual Track Record was +/- 2150 single malt Scotch whiskies seriously sampled & scored...

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