Well, when I write this it is still winter
- both 'meteorologically' and weather-wise...
As seasonal reviews go, I'm afraid this is a fairly poor one; just two log entries...
- a malt whisky distillery in the 'Midlands' region of Scotland, not far from Edradour and Blair Athol.
So - 'freezing' the liquid log allowed me to make some proper progress.
Entry #325 - The Little Ice Age
December 28, 2007 - Here's the view
It means I'm 'freezing' this liquid log again.
So join the the Mixed Messages Mailinglist or join us on MM&F if you want to stay informed...
Entry #326 - Catch 'Em While They're Gullible...
March 18, 2008 - This liquid log has been 'frozen'
You can find the full text of the press release on the Malt Maniacs & Friends group on Facebook.
After I sent Mark's press release to the members of the 'Mixed Messages Mailinglist' I received a rapid response from somebody representing an SWA member. He felt that my message was 'a bit misleading'. Well, I have to admit that I spiced up the press release with a few inflammatory observations from my end, but that was just to express my concerns. My command of 'legal' English isn't sufficient to interpret law language and fine print with any degree of certainty or authority. Fortunately, I have nerves running straight from my eyeballs to my guts, and my guts told me there could be reason for concern amongst consumers...
The response continued with a few interesting comments;
Well, I would certainly love to see the results of that market research. I happen to know a little bit about market research myself, and the truth of the matter is that you can get pretty much any results you would like if you are the one deciding on which questions are asked from which people in which context. In some cases the goal of market research is indeed getting actual information from the market, but these days it is also often used to legitimise a policy. So, unless I've seen the full study myself, I'm usually not convinced by market research if the source of the research could have a (hidden) agenda.
Besides, I think consumer groups like Malt Maniacs have been fighting against the confusing term 'pure malt'
since the 1990's because it could indicate both a single malt and a vatted malt. (If you're already confused by these phrases, check out chapter two of the Beginner's Guide.) So, we're actually very happy to see that 'the industry' finally decided to stop using the phrase 'pure malt' which was indeed confusing.
There already was a perfectly viable alternative to describe a mixture of malt whiskies from different distilleries.
That was the phrase 'vatted malts'. For some mysterious reason the SWA decided two years ago to introduce a new concept 'blended malt whisky'. Despite the fact that around 100% of the whisky consumers I've talked to
find this much more confusing, the industry (or at least the SWA) is still pushing for the new phrase.
'... Secondly, another important decision was taken to protect single malt.
Well, that's funny...
Anyway, that's it for today. I've received more responses but I'll get to those in another entry.
(NOTE: THE 'SWA' DEBATE HEATED UP QUITE A BIT AFTER I WROTE THIS FIRST LOG ENTRY...)
= = = = =
And that was already 'it' for my reports for the winter of 2008.
'Hello Johannes, as a newcomer to the world of single malts I discovered your site a few weeks ago and have been spending an unhealthy amount of time perusing its very informative, amusing and approachable contents ever since.. how's that for arse-kissing?! I mean it though. Over the years I've generally consumed vast amounts of beer and wine and avoided spirits, smugly telling myself that this policy excludes me from the possibility of becoming a textbook alcoholic - I didn't find this difficult because I'd never encountered any that I really liked (my knowledge of whisky was confined to the odd unpleasant experience with a bottle of Bells) and because my predilection for drinking quite quickly meant that if I did drink spirits in pubs I either spent most of the time waiting for my friends to finish their beers, or if I didn't feel like waiting, getting shitfaced at record speed!
Over Christmas, though, I tucked into a glass of 18 yo Glenmoranjie and found it delicious - I savoured the smell and the taste at length, rather than just chucking it down my throat. Then I discovered Highland Park, Glenlivet, Macallans and Talisker - all great-but it was when I found Laphroaig that I realized I'd had it. I have NEVER loved a drink so much. My experience of it to date is simply the 10 yo 40% variety, but no doubt like numerous others who have looked at Maltmadness, I am now champing at the bit to get my hands on a bottle or five of the cask strength stuff.
At the moment I'm on holiday in Vietnam, trying to make my bottle of duty free 40% last the holiday, but the moment I'm back home (Oxford, England) I will be hurrying into town to get some cask strength, as well as some quality glasses. What I'm finding slightly puzzling is knowing exactly which one to go for. The 2005 version which did so well at the Malt Maniacs Awards is 55.7%, as is the one on the Track Record, but the 2005 "expression"(am I using that term correctly?) on the Hit List (93 points) and in the BFYB section clocks in at 57.3%.
And when I look at the matrix, the 57.3% from 2002 looks even more tempting (as does the Green Stripe, obviously a favourite of yours, from 2000 - but I guess this is hard to get hold of now). I also noticed somewhere in your liquid blog that you weren't that impressed with the 2004 version, also 57.3%, which I think you awarded 86 points, although you thought that maybe you were having a bad nose day.
So I suppose my question is, how will I know what a year a given bottle is - there doesn't seem to be any obvious sign on the bottle - and in the absence of any information, is it most likely to be 2005? Following on from that, if there are indeed two 2005 versions, which one do you consider to have the edge? I guess the common sense answer is that whichever one or more of these I buy will be the best I've ever had and I needn't get too caught up in the details, but I just thought I'd try to maximize my chances of experiencing cask strength heaven by addressing these questions.
In the words of Columbo, just one more thing... when it comes to adding water, I notice you talk about adding ten drops to the Green Stripe of 2000. Do you do this with a pipette? Am I going to have to break into a school science laboratory and steal one to perfect my whisky kicks?!
I really enjoy your site and hope you can help me,
Well, thanks lot for the meaningful arse-kissing, Pat ;-)
Good questions. First of all, I always like to stress the fact that MMadness is all about my PERSONAL taste - which may differ from yours. But it seems you've already browsed the site extensively, so I guess you already knew that. If you look on the Malt Maniacs Matrix you'll see that the maniacs are pretty much in complete agreement that the Laphroaig 10yo Cask Strength is a brilliant dram. Too me, its character combines the best characteristics of the 15yo and 10yo at 40 or 43%. And if you take your time, you can experience a wonderful landscape of fragrances while you add water, a few drops at the time. There are differences between the batches, but until now every expression (yes, you use the term correctly) I've sampled was superb.
That being said, the latest batches of the Laphroaig 10yo CS I've tried seem to be just a tad 'rougher' than
earlier ones. You know about 'batch variation' - and that really goes in both directions; up and down. However,
one of the great things about the matrix is that it sometimes allows us to see 'trends' in a certain direction over
the years, because we distinguish between various batches. However, you are correct when you note that there
are often no obvious signs on the bottle or label. On most official bottlings, the bottling year isn't specified.
Sometimes codes printed on the bottle or label can give a clue if you know how to interpret the code (not easy
because all bottlers use different codes) or deduct the general time of bottling based on changes on labels,
bottles or packaging - or the moment and place you bought it. And matters are made even worse by the fact that labels and packaging are sometimes changed halfway through a 'batch' of a dozen or more casks.
Fortunately, collectively the maniacs have access to a great deal of information.
However, as I said - batch variation is a relative 'short term' phenomenon; it occurs between the consecutive 'batches' of a particular bottling. Generally speaking, the difference between batches that were released within a few months of eachother are minimal. If the difference on the monitor between batches is one or two points, that's well within the 'margin of error'. That being said - the profile of the most recent batch I've tried (the '2006') had changed a bit, causing it to earn 'only' 88 points - as opposed to earlier batches that all earned scores in the 90's. But I'm a strict scorer, so a score of 88 points is still mighty impressive. So, don't worry too much about which version to get, just pick up whatever version you see. Multiple batches are released each year, so there's a chance none of the maniacs have tried the particular batch on the shelves of your liquorist anyway.
Last but not least: Yes, I use a plastic pipette that you can get in some whisky stores in Holland.
87 - Ardbeg 30yo 1963
(40%, G&M Connoisseurs Choice, USA, Bottled +/- 1993) - from Dave Russo.
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. 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 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 +/- 2400 single malt Scotch whiskies seriously sampled & scored...
If you're not bored
yet, you could also
check out these
other sections of
you could take a
closer look at
the whisky map
or check out the
details of one of
Allt A' Bhainne
Isle of Jura
Last but not least:
my Liquid Log will
continue as my...