> Entry 260 - October 1, 2005:  Please Hold...

Phew... Things are madder than ever here in Amsterdam.
I had planned to have a more extensive report about our
Alsatian adventures ready by now - but things didn't go
as planned. Between my new 9-to-5 job (which is really
a 7-to-7 job), a few remaining free lance gigs and the
sampling for the MM Awards I just didn't have the time
to write anything for this log. There are a few fabulous
fresh E-pistles waiting to be published in Malt Maniacs
as well, but it will take some more time to edit them.

My first priority right now is the MM Awards...

The picture at the right shows the astonished reaction
of Olivier's father when he saw the maniacs at work in
the bottling hall two weeks ago - the picture was taken
early in the morning when we had just barely started.
At the end of the day we had filled well over 1,000
miniatures and we still weren't finished yet.

Anyway - this is just a very quick update to let you know what's going on.
Instead of submitting fresh log entries I'll add little updates to this log entry until I'm done with the Awards samplings.

02/10/2005 - When I write this I've already sampled +/- 55 awards samples; I'm almost half-way.
I still have dozens more to go during my 'first impression rounds' before I'll give them all another go to come up with my final rating for the MM Awards. I'm struggling because I've been having a lot of bad nose days, but the reward at the end keeps me going: as soon as I've submitted my final scores to Serge he'll divulge the identity of the whiskies I've been sampling. I can't wait! And I shouldn't complain too much - I've started sampling two weeks ago, but Klaus and Thomas just received their packages and maniacs like Peter and Krishna may not receive their packages for another two weeks. That means they'll have to cram all the awards sampling into a month - the results will be published on November 15, 2005.
 

04/10/2005 - Well, I've finally taken a break from the awards samplings to publish a few E-pistles;
1) The Trouble with Harry by Louis Perlman - the long awaited sequal to Louis' 'EWWGBOI' E-pistle.
2) Poetry & Whisky by Krishna Nukala - a first on MM; an actual poem about the water of life. Who's next?
3) Whisky with Jim by Lawrence Graham - a record of lawrence's adventures with Jim Murray in Canada.
4) Whisky Fringe vs Whisky Live by Ralf Mitchell - Ralf compares two of the major Scottish whisky festivals.
5) Chocolate & Whisky by Olivier Humbrecht - often discussed amongst the maniacs, but not in public yet.
 

06/10/2005 - Hot news about that Signatory Craigduff that everybody's talking about.
Davin spotted the following notice on Gordon Homer's 'Spirit of Islay' website;

"This just in from Signatory, October 6th... At time of bottling our first cask of Craigduff 1973, we believed, based on information available to us, that Craigduff was a peated malt from Strathisla Distillery. Based on our own more detailed research, we have now established that Craigduff was, in fact, distilled at the nearby Glen Keith distillery. Since first releasing Craigduff, there has been considerable "chatter" on how the whisky was peated etc. In this regard our own understanding is now as follows;-
 
Lightly peated barley from Glen Keith maltings was used in conjunction with controlled amounts of concentrated peated water, being added to each wash charge. Peated water was brought in 45 gallon drums from Stornaway, on fishing boats into the port of Buckie. The peated water was run through the small still at Glen Keith, which was coupled to an angled condenser and water driven off to concentrate the peatiness in the remaining water. It is understood that 10 gallons of the concentrated peated water was added to each wash charge.
 
We understand the drive behind the experimental distillation came from a sister company in Japan.
Apparently, during the course of the experiment, a sample of the concentrated peated water, whilst en route to Japan, was intercepted at Heathrow airport by Customs Officials who were convinced it was whisky in disguise, and decanted a fair bit of the drum before realising, too late, that it was in fact just water.
 
We apologise for any inconvenience that our wrongly associating Craigduff with Strathisla Distillery may have caused and would be grateful if you could update your web site and any other product descriptors to reflect the fact that Craigduff was actually made at Glen Keith.
 
Best regards,
 
Andrew Symington"

Now THAT's interesting, isn't it?
And as long as we're discussing the news: Duncan Taylor would like to buy its own distillery one day, but the rumours about their interest in Glendronach are unfounded. Or so we've been told...
 

07/10/2005 - I've updated the matrix (+ 750 Kb!) with our last pre-awards scores.
This will probably be the last matrix update before publication of the MM Awards results on November 15.
We've recently made some excellent progress w.r.t. some 'obscure' distilleries; our goal of getting at least 6 expressions on the matrix doesn't seem so far away anymore. There are still some distilleries like Allt-A-Bhainne, Aultmore and Balmenach that require some further investigation, but we're making good progress. Meanwhile, the number of visitors to MM keeps rising steadily; we've already broken the 1000 visitors a day barrier twice this week!
 

10/10/2005 - Hurray! I've just finished my first tries of all 2005 Awards submissions.
That means I have just over a month to do a closer inspection. That's a luxurious position compared to maniacs like Krishna in India or Peter in the USA who still haven't received their packages yet - and will consequently have to try well over a hundred malts in less than a month. A tough job, but doable for the true 'maniac', I suppose. Meanwhile, I even have time to take a little break and maybe publish some fresh tasting notes on a few other whiskies in the upcoming weeks.
 

12/10/2005 - Finally, I found some time to take a little break from the MM Awards samplings.
There are some absolute knockout malts among the submissions, but that's all I can say right now.
Here are my notes on a few 'historical' Highland Parks that Luc sent me from Belgium some time ago.

#1) - Highland Park 8yo (43%, OB, Ferraretto Milano, Bottled 1979)
Nose: Polished and quite sherried. Burnt coffee beans in the background. Fruits coming forward.
After +/- ten minutes it grows a little sweeter and I got some organics. Something metallic?
Taste: Very smoky in the start. Very nice, but there's little complexity or development. Sulphur?
Score: 84 points - I really like the profile but it's not quite complex enough for the upper 80's.
This must be a different bottling than the Highland Park 8yo (43%, OB, Ferrato Import, Sea Label) we tried at Valentino Zagatti's place last year - that was a 1960's distillation while this was distilled +/- 1971 (assuming the data is correct).

#2) - Highland Park 12yo (40%, OB, Bottled 08/07/1992 for the Belgian Market)
Nose: Sweet and floral at first, then quickly emerging organics. Fruits & furniture polish. Heather?
Growing fruitier and fruitier, losing some of its complexity in the process. A solid everyday dram.
Taste: Very fruity on the palate as well - not as malty as the 'normal' 12yo's of the period it seems.
Quite smooth - is that the faintest hint of oil? Some wood and some smoke. Gradually improving balance.
Score: 86 points - which means it scores in the same area as the 'normal' 12yo of the early 1990's.

#3) - Highland Park 17yo 'No Vintage' (43%, OB, James Grant, Green dumpy bottle, Bottled 1970's)
Nose: Aah, intriguing start with mysterious organics (antiquity) before turning into a fruitier direction.
Very interesting and quite unique. A fabulous start, but it slowly fades away. Finish within 15 minutes.
Taste: Exquisite fruits - much more depth than the 'Belgian' 12yo, while remaining playful. Great stuff
It becomes much smokier towards the finish. Some bitterness as well, but the fruit balances it out.
After I finished the last drops and cleaned my glass, the water tasted peaty! That's odd...
Score: 92 points - one of the best Highland Parks I've tried so far. Thanks, Luc!

#4) - Highland Park 25yo (51,5%, OB, Circular wooden box, Bottled 2000)
Nose: Aaaah..., rich, sweet and fruity. Nougat. Lovely. Then some coffee notes. Lovely balance.
Hey, are those ghurkins? Every now and then something odd pops up on the spicy / organics side.
Taste: Hmmmm.... Not exactly a stunner, although it picks up over time. Once again the fruit dominates.
Eventually the palate reaches recommendable levels, but the 'highly' classification is earned by the nose.
Score: 87 points - but maybe it suffered a bit from the 'shadow' of that magnificent 17yo from the 1970's.

Three of Luc's HP's received a score in the mid-80's - pretty much what I've come to expect of Highland Park. The absolute highlight was the 17yo 'no vintage' OB from the 1970's. The quality of 'antique' malts isn't neccessarily higher than that of modern malts, but here we have a perfect example of just how magnificent some of those oldies can be.
 

15/10/2005 - And now for something completely different....
I planned to write an E-pistle about some of the excellent whisky blogs that have appeared lately, but haven't gotten around to it yet. With the publication of the results of the Malt Maniacs Awards planned for November 15 I don't expect to have loads of free time on my hands for the next month either, so that E-pistle will remain 'in the can' for a while longer.

Nevertheless, there's one blog I'd already like to point out to you: The Scotch Blog by Kevin Erskine.
When I noticed a link to MM in his most recent entry I decided I should return the favour. Kevin's blog has only been running for half a year but it's already filled with loads of useful information, strong opinions and original viewpoints - or, as Kevin puts it himself; 'straight news and blunt comment on the Scotch whisky industry'. The Scotch Blog offers lots of variation in topics as well; just the way I like it. There really is just one thing left on my wish list - scores that would actually tell me which whiskies Kevin likes best himself...
 

19/10/2005 - I'm now halfway through my second run of the awards malts.
Time for a small break to clear some old bottles on my shelves in preparation for the christmas shopping.
During the past two years I've been ravishing my reserve stock, but now that I've got a steady job again I can afford to bring some fresh material onto my shelves soon. For this session I've worked my way through three big bottles and a sample that Thomas sent me from Germany. Here are the results, short and sweet.

The Rosebank 12yo 1991/2004 (43%, Signatory Vintage, D. 27/11/91, B. 5/2/04, Casks #4700-02, 35cl) was brought by brothers Rene and Richard Tammes when they came over for a movie night a while ago. Well, as it turned out we needed a few drams to help us stay awake during the movie. We watched 'Battleship Potemkin' (1925) from Sergei Eisenstein; fairly heavy stuff to digest because the 'grammar of images' we know today was still in its infancy. Members of the MTV generation would most likely fall asleep after five minutes. This one is very light in colour with a slight greenish hue.
Nose: Grainy and a little sweet. Veggy in the back of the nose. Faint sweet apple notes.
Prickly. Cider. Granny smith or golden delicious. I can't say I find the 'typical' Lowland citrus here.
It didn't make a big impression during the movie but upon closer inspection it's quite good.
Taste: Sweet, smooth start. Sweet and fruity on the palate with a hint of pine in the background.
Score: 75 points - which isn't that bad at all for such a young Lowlander.

The Knockando 1986/1998 (43%, OB, 100cl) was opened half a year ago; a reliable bedtime dram.
Nose: Malty. Weird organics after five minutes. Touch of oil, perhaps? Not too expressive and MOTR.
Taste: Sweet with a touch of liquorice in the finish. Not special, but given the obscurity I filled some samples.
Score: 75 points - although it does improve after some breathing and I was inclined to go higher now.

The bottle of Clynelish 14yo (46%, OB, Bottled +/- 2003) arrived on my shelves by mistake.
When my shopping went completely out of control in 2001 I bought it without realising I had already bought a bottle earlier; it's hard to keep track of things if you're buying dozens of bottles a month. Well, as it turns out this is a malt I didn't really need two bottles of. The first bottle passed through my shelves without raising many eyebrows, much
Nose: Sweeter and maltier than I remembered at first. Then it grows lighter and grainier. Peanuts?
Solid, but not a lot of depth or complexity. Perhaps some veggy elements? Old prune jam. Chalk?
Taste: Sweet and solid. Good mouth feel - they've got it just right at 46%. Bitter finish.
Well, it's an interesting dry bitterness with a hint of liquorice. Still, it pulls the score down a bit.
Score: 80 points - although I was inclined to just one point up from my previous score of 80 points.

The Clynelish 12yo 1989/2002 (43%, Signatory, South African Sherry Cask #3241) turned out to be a sibling of a bottle I tried in 2001; the Clynelish 11yo 1989/2001 (56.7%, Signatory Vintage, matured in South-African sherry butt #3233; distilled on 17/5/1989 and bottled on 15/02/2001). Judging from the notes this one was quite similar - but not quite as good.
Nose: Odd. Barnyard smells. Some sweetness. Real sherry. A very odd puppy, hard to describe.
Taste: Hint of oil. Very dry Strong tannins in the finish. Green wood. Feels like an actual dry sherry.
In the back of the finish it falls apart completely, though. Very individualistic, maybe too freaky for some.
Score: 78 points - it almost reaches the 80's based on uniqueness alone. Not for everybody, though.

The Laphroaig 10yo 1990/2001 (46%, Cadenhead's Original Collection, Bourbon Hogshead, 282 Bottles) was part of the package that German malt maniac Thomas Lipka sent some time ago. High time to try it, wouldn't you say so?
Nose: Sweet and peaty, with spices and organics developing quickly. Hint of rubber? Quite odd.
Hint of sugared lemon? It starts off as a fairly typical 'Kildalton' malt, but it grows weirder and weirder.
Something sweaty. Nothing of the 'medicinal' smells (idodine and bandages) that Laphroaig is famous for.
Taste: Peaty, and again some sweetness. Smoke. Maybe a hint of something medicinal? A tad metallic?
Score: 84 points - very interesting and enjoyable in the nose, but the palate doesn't hold up its end.
By the way, I think I would have identified this as an Ardbeg in a blind test due to 'lack of medicine'..

And that's all for now - more shelf cleaning planned for next week.
 

21/10/2005 - I've just received a press release from Murray McDavid that's quite interesting.
After Cadenhead's and Wilson & Morgan, Murray McDavid has rums now as well. Here's the news;

Old Sea Dog, New Party Trick

Rum and The Caribbean - tropical sunsets, swashbuckling buccaneers, tyrannical  pirates,  Johnny Depp, Keith Richards. Rum still enjoys a  dark, wild, rock n' roll reputation. And a guilt trip. Developed to its peek by eighteenth century colonials exploiting slave labour (and missionaries converting natives) the Rum industry has dramatically consolidated following sixties independence movements through out the Caribbean. Murray McDavid Sales Director Andrew Gray: "Comparisons exist with Scotch whisky - both rely on mixers and cocktails to shift enormous volumes of standard products. The small distilleries are gone. Nationalised giants rule. With our experience we wanted to explore, before it was too late, the single malts of Rum."  History has clung on by the finger tips. In Guyana, famous stills plucked from the Versailles and Port Morant distilleries (both long gone) were relocated  from estate to estate in a bizarre travelling circus. But like the sailing ships of a by gone era they are now the forgotten wreck up some remote creek – without the paddle. In keeping with the Caribbean character, Murray McDavid the enfant terrible of whisky bottlers, has dared to rekindle the roguish spirit in their suitably buccaneering manner to offer consumers more choice.

Four different rums, a mere 250 six bottle cases of each, bottled with out colouring or chill filtration are the first rums ever to be bottled on the whisky isle of Islay using the island's legendary spring water. But here's the twist: after a decade and more maturing in the eponymous Bourbon casks, an additional, rakish evolution occurred in exotic European Oak wine casks.

- Trinidad's Caroni distillery, North West of the island, produces a lighter style rum where  Malmsey Madeira casks have introduced a subtle element of toasted, sweet berry fruit.
- Guyana's Uitvlugt distillery (pronounced 'Out-Floot') west of the Demerara river produced a heavier rum distilled using the last remaining Demerara Vat Still pulled out of the defunct Port Morant distillery. Guigal's Hermitage casks has brought a toasty, spicy, berry-fruit nuance.
- Enmore , east of the Demerara river, was distilled from the celebrated Versailles stills taken from that once proud distillery. It makes a lighter, aperitif-style rum ideally suited to a subtle hint of Viognier exotic fruit from Condrieu casks.
- Jamaica's Hampden Estate on the north Coast was founded and run by two famous Scottish families the Stirlings and Farquharsons. Renown for a fruitier rum, this aspect has been enhanced with rich berry fruit from Port wood.

"We expect these to be savoured on their own, with a dash of water as an aperitif, or even as a lighter digestif, or enjoy with a cigar. Mix them only if you must!". Murray McDavid celebrates these last vestiges of a  by gone era via the colourful labels depicting traditional estate scenes and Caribbean joie-de-vivre. "This innovative approach celebrates the turbulent sea-faring  heritage of islands from opposite sides of the Atlantic by using single estate rums in dynamic wood.  Though it's probably too late, it does prove you can teach an old dog new tricks; there really is more to Rum than just Coke".

Well, as usual the PR people of Murray McDavid know how to paint a rosy picture...
If you didn't know any better, their introduction of a range of rums seems like a small revolution in maltland.
Well, they are certainly not the first, but I expect they won't be the last either. A tasting with some Wilson & Morgan rums some time ago proved that some of them rival Scotch single malts in depth and complexity. Murray McDavid ARE the first to finish their rums in ex-wine casks, as far as I know, though. That might be interesting, but in my mind it doesn't fit too well with the claim 'We wanted to explore, before it was too late, the single malts of Rum.'
If these rums are indeed so special, why did they need a finish?

And that's it for now - back to the sampling for the MM Awards.
 

25/10/2005 - I'm almost done with round II of the awards samplings... Hurray!
Time for one last quick 'break' with two Duncan Taylor samples that arrived together with the three grain whiskies I've reviewed on September 5. These are two vatted malts (a.k.a. blended malts) that are released under the name 'Big Smoke'. One is bottled at 40.1% (DTC-5/139) and one at 60.1% (DTC-5/135). The label on the sample bottles states that they contain Islay malts (several, in this case), but not which one. Well, let's try to find out, shall we?

The Big Smoke 1999/2005 '40' (40.1%, Duncan Taylor, DTC-5/139, Bottled 1/7/2005) is the relative 'weakling of the duo at just 40%. You wouldn't believe it's just 40% if you taste it, though - It feels quite potent on the palate.
Nose: Meaty and peaty. Not so much smoky at first sight. There's a gentler, sweeter side to it as well.
Then smoke starts emerging - but it's a gentle 'smoked salmon' smoke rather than an actual fire. Very nice.
Taste: Sweet start, with peat emerging after a few seconds. Brilliant big centre that lasts for a long time
Finally the smoke apears in the dry finish, together with a 'Buysman' bitterness. Falls apart a bit in the finish.
Score: 83 points - a solid, peaty whisky that feels stronger than 40%. Just lacks some 'finesse' on the palate.
Not quite as extreme as I imagined, but an excellent, 'cleaner' alternative to the Black Bottle, it would seem.
If I had to guess (with a gun to my head) I'd say there's Caol Ila and Bowmore in the mix, but it's hard to tell.

The Big Smoke 1999/2005 '60' (60.1%, Duncan Taylor, DTC-5/135, Bottled 22/6/2005) was the big brother.
Nose: Surprisingly light and fruity in the start. Not a lot of definition in the start. Let's add some water.
No, not much happening. This is strange; the 40% version seemed to have more character and depth.
Taste: Hot but lighthearted on the palate. A very hot and smoky centre, growing drier and hotter.
Metallic. After I added some water it became a little smoother in the start; not much change otherwise.
Score: 77 points - the power keeps this one above 'average', but the '40' is my clear personal favourite.
That being said, if you're looking for raw power during a winter walk in the woods, this will do just fine.

So, that's a fairly surprising result.
I usually tend to prefer overproof malts to those bottled at a whimpier 40 or 43%, but in this case the bottling with the lower ABV provides the depth and complexity that attracted me to single malts in the first place. The 60% version is very enjoyable as well, but seems somehow better suited for outdoors dramming, when you're looking for pure 'ooomph'.

And that's it from a windy and rainy Amsterdam for now.
Just three more weeks before the results of the MM Awards are published.
 

30/10/2005 - Yes, the sampling for the MM Awards 2005 is over, at least for me.
Except for Davin most other maniacs are still busy with their awards samples, but I now have the time to look at a few other bottlings I've sampled during this glorious October month. The weather has been unseasonally wonderful all month and when I write this it's another sunny day with temperatures reaching 20 degrees Celcius. Normal conditions here in Holland at the end of October would be wind, rain and afternoon temperatures around 10 degrees Celsius. Nature seems confused as well; the birds are singing like it's spring and grean leaves are still on the trees. I suppose I could have even cycled to the beach and have a quick dip in the North Sea without any ill effects. But I didn't - I had 'work' to do...

Finishing my notes on the Alsatian adventures in September for example.
I'm happy to report that I've finally managed to add all my tasting notes to log entry #259.
And that's a great excuse to turn my attention to four samples I brought back with me from Alsace. I couldn't always keep up with the powerdrammers Serge, Olivier, Davin and Luc during the weekend, but they saved me some samples and they've been silently taunting me from the shelves for six weeks now. Time to twist their little necks...

#1) The Clynelish 12yo (43%, OB, Di Chiano Import, Small cap, Regular neck, Bottled +/- 1970).
Nose: Antiquity. Spices. Light in style, but this is no light weight malt. A tad too subtle for me?
Taste: Antiquity on the palate as well. Big sweetness in the centre, evolving into mocca & coffee.
Some smoke. Tia Maria in the finish. It feels absolutely magnificent on the palate. Feels stronger than 43%.
Score: 86 points - but I should add that all other maniacs that tried it gave it 90 points or more.
Clynelish, very much like Bruichladdich, often acts as a litmus test to seperate the boys from the men...
The 'new' Clynelish (i.e. not the old 'pre-Brora' Clynelish) is mostly loved by 'the wine whimps'.

#2) The Inverleven 26yo 1977/2003 (57%, DT Rare Auld Peerless, Cask #3095, 108 Bottles).
Nose: Light and a little sweet. Some intruiging spices after a few minutes, but nothing else.
Taste: Sweet and a little grainy. Very hot and quite harsh. More herbal towards the dry finish.
Score: 78 points - the high proof gives it some 'oomph', but can't hide the lack of depth.
Some old Lowlanders can reach perfection given enough time, but they need a good cask.

#3) Springbank 12yo 100 Proof (57.1%, OB, Imported by Samaroli, 2400 Bottles, Bottled early 1980's).
Nose: Wowie! Dark, deep sherry. Sweet with lots of organics in the background. Fruits. Leather. Smoke.
Wonderful development over time. Many layers. Cough syrup. Something faintly medicinal? Great stuff!
Taste: Lovely fruits with a hint of smoke. Next I got organics on the palate - I usually get those in the nose.
Brilliant tannins, giving it a considerable 'bite'. The smoke grows stronger over time - especially with water.
Score: 96 points - now I understand what Serge, Olvier, Davin and Luc were raving about. Superb!
With 96 points it makes it into my top five personal favourite single malts - and I'm no Springbank fan...

#4) Miltonduff 12yo 1989/2001 (65,28%, Single Barrel Coll., Cask #30322, 289 Bottles).
Nose: Wowie! Big and polished first, growing dustier. Lovely fruits. Developing organics. A big malt.
After I added a dash of water the nose opened up just a little bit further. Another cracking malt...
Taste: Very potent on the palate. Big and sweet. Not terribly complex, but extremely drinkable.
Some water improved the palate as well, giving it some more depth. A cloying sweetness in the finish.
Score: 88 points - but I should add that this particular malt might be too sweet for some people.
This Miltonduff may be the highest proof whisky I've ever tried - or at least it's in the top three.

And that's all for now - much more work to do in the next two weeks.
Just a little over two weeks before the results of the MM Awards are published.

Sweet drams,

Johannes
 

> Entry 261 - November 1, 2005:  Autumn in Amsterdam

After a glorious October month (second warmest in recorded history)
the weather seems to be taking a turn for the worst here in Amsterdam.
Leaves are falling from trees, it's gloomy and toadstools are popping up
left and right. For most normal people this is bad news and the possible
precursor to a winter depression, but this is the time peatheads on the
northern hemisphere awake from their summer slumber to prepare for
dramming season. It takes the cold of winter to really bring out the
strongest points of a liquid bodywarmer from Islay or the Highlands.

So, I guess I could attack a bunch of the Ardbeg or Brora samples
on my shelves to celebrate the occasion. Yes, I could - but I won't.
I have more urgent 'maniacal' matters on my mind at the moment.

First of all, I have to finish loads of stuff for the MM Awards.
I may have submitted my final scores already, but when I write this
ten other maniacs are still frantically sampling the samples for the
MM Awards 2005. Or better yet, make that twelve. I didn't need
all of the contents of my 60cl sample bottles to form a fairly 'solid'
opinion about the whiskies that were submitted, so rather than use
the rest of the samples to refine my own scores I forwarded my stash
to Alexander v/d Veer and Michel van Meersbergen so we would have
two more opinions about these single malts on the monitor eventually.

When I dropped off the packages at the Cadenhead's store Andries insisted I'd have a dram.
Well, in those cases resistance is futile, so I picked a Knockando 1979/2000 Master Reserve (43%, OB, 70cl). Not that I was expecting it to be especially interesting, but because Knockando is one of the few remaining distilleries on my to -do list. As soon as I've sampled six expressions I can wipe it from my 'to do' list, and this would be Knockando #5. While Andries brought me up to speed on recent events I made some brief notes on the Knockando. The nose was malty and MOTR. A little sweet, a little spicy. On the palate it was a tad bitter. Pleasant, but again middle-of-the-road. The bitterness on the palate keeps the score at 77 points - a good malt for a night of heavy dramming, but not especially interesting.

Hmm, yes.... Andries and I talked a bit about scores and I explained that in my book 77 points isn't a 'bad' score at all. In fact, any score in the 70's indicates that this is a good whisky that is just perfect for easy dramming when you can't (or simply don't want to) pay too much attention to the whisky in your glass. Anything scoring in the 70's is very OK in my book and an excellent alternative to any other type of drink available. Even the whiskies scoring in the 60's arent THAT bad; but with the huge variety of available single malts that score 70 points or more I simply can't advise spending money on them. However, for a full-time malt maniac like myself a malt needs to show something special to reach the 80's and a score in the 90's is reserved for the very best of the best; a precious few whiskies that deserve to be remembered forever.

Anyway, the next dram Andries poured be was a 'bastard' malt from Germany.
The 'ZDFbeg 1988/2005 (55.5%, Whiskykanzel, Bottled 04/2005, 500ml) was an Islay malt. If you know that the ZDF is one of Germany's TV channels and ARD is another one, it's not hard to guess that this is actually an Ardbeg. What's more, the Germans actually do seem to have some sense of humour. They know how to select their casks as well, because this had all the sweetness and peat I love in Ardbeg in the nose, even after just seven years in the cask. It's meaty and dusty as well, giving it a complexity that would suggest a much higher age. It performed very satisfactory on the palate as well. A very good young Islay malt that's wise beyond its years - 86 points it is.

Anyway... I would have loved to hang around longer but I had to drop by the post office to pick up a package that Ralf Schroder sent me from Germany. Ralf had only e-mailed me that he wanted to send me a package to help me in my quest, but he wouldn't tell me what the contents were. Well, after I returned home I unpacked the little box with trembling hands, only to find three small 25cl sample bottles with some unidentifiable scribblings on them. It seems Ralf still uses the gothic script, but with his help I could decypher the writings. As it turned out I received;

Glenburgie 13yo 1990/2003 (57.9%, G&M 'Reserve', Cask #12510)
Glentauchers 14yo 1990/2004 (46%, G&M 'Reserve', Cask #14516)
Royal Lochnagar NAS 'Selected Reserve' (43%, OB, Bottled +/- 2003)

Excellent! Thanks, Ralf - three distilleries that are still on my 'to do' list.
I probably should have waited for a better nose day to come along but I just couldn't help myself.
I started with the Glenburgie 13yo 1990/2003 (57.9%, G&M 'Reserve', Cask #12510) that obviously came from a sherry cask. Loads of lovely sherry notes in the nose. Sweetness and fruits. Not as sharp as you's expect at this strength. On the palate I got sherry as well, but it's not as obvious as in the nose. My kind of malt, but it just lacks that little bit of extra personality that it needs to reach the upper 80's. So, let's make that 84 points for the Glenburgie.

The Glentauchers 14yo 1990/2004 (46%, G&M 'Reserve', Cask #14516) was a release in the same range as the Glenburgie; I think they are bottled for the Dutch market. So, this one made his way back to Holland. It's quite solid and malty in the nose with a little more substance than most 'old school' Connoisseur's Choice bottlings. Malty with faint hints of smoke and lemon. Quite solid and malty on the palate as well. Maybe still just a tad 'MOTR' but at 46% it feels much bigger that the average CC at 40%. Quite dry in the finish with a touch of bitterness. Today I couldn't find anything that really stands out but I still decided to go for 82 points for this one.

Last but not least, the Royal Lochnagar NAS 'Selected Reserve' (43%, OB, Bottled +/- 2003).
Although the standard 12yo bottling of (Royal) Lochnagar is relatively easy to find I still have tried only three expressions so far. I haven't seen this expression in Holland yet, but then again I haven't visited many liquorists lately. This one was quite sweet and fruity in the nose with just a touch of oil. Maybe a hint of something coastal. On the palate it seemed a little maltier. Fruity with some smoke again. No oil here, but it still didn't impress me enough to reach the 80's.
So, 78 points it is for the fourth expression of Royal Lochnagar I ever tried.

I was tempted to immediately open the four fresh 'obscure' bottles I bought at Andries (a Balmenach, a Glenallachie, a Glen Spey and a Strathmill) but finally decided against it. It's best to open them when I've polished off some other bottles on my shelves. I can't afford to expand my drinking collection from 24 to 36 again just yet...

So, that's it from me for now - only two more weeks to go the publication of the MM Awards results.

Sweet drams,

Johannes

PS: All the recent publicity for MM has made the number of visitors explode over the last few months.
We've broken several 'personal records' and the site now regularly attracts over 1,000 visitors a day.
I'm as proud as a monkey with two love-lolly's...
 

> Entry 262 - November 8, 2005:  Three Islands

Yes, I saw a flock of geese flying south across the foggy fields this morning.
With the weather slowly turning 'autumny' now, the time seems just right for an
exploration of some more 'coastal' whiskies. I've got an 'Islay' session planned for
later this month (not to mention a big 'Brorathon' around christmas), but for this
blog entry I'll focus on three other islands in Scotland; Arran, Orkney and Skye.

Arran may seem like the ugly duckling of the three, but after a few shaky years
directly after the distillery was opened in 1995 they now have a few very nice
offerings in their range. The Arran NAS Marsala Finish (56.9%, OB) I tried earlier
this year was the first expression to reach the 80's in my book and I've heard
good things about a few other recent bottlings. So, a decade after the distillery
was opened Arran seems to be getting ready to play with the big boys. Great!
Check out Arran's distillery profile for more information about the distillery.

Now, let's try the only Arran malt on the table tonight;

#1) Arran NAS 'Grand Cru Champagne Cask Finish' (58.8%, OB, Btl. 2005, 308 Bts.)
Nose: Sweet and grainy, quickly growing fruitier. Faint hint of smoke? Developing organics. Sake?
Ah, this definitely opens up with time. Well, not for long. It drifts in and out of focus. Camphor?
More spices and organics in the nose during a second nosing. Stock cubes. Quite unique. 'Foody'.
Taste: Oy, a hint of pine in the start. Sweet and herbal. Dry and quite harsh towards the finish.
Feels a bit winey at the end with tannins pulling my gums in. Yeah, in the end this is utterly drinkable.
Score: 83 points - not really my 'type', but expressive and a solid overproof whisky (especially on the palate).

So, that would make it the highest scoring Arran I've tried so far. Excellent.
Now, let's hop more than a hundred miles north for an investigation if the a few new Orkney malts.

#2) Scapa 14yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2005)
Nose: Very sweet. Grainy, but not in a bad way. A little sharp. Glue? Toilet freshener?
I got more fruits during a second nosing. Still sharp, but much better than during my first try.
Taste: Phew! Bitter and grainy. Pine. Eucalyptus. Still, there's a sweet undercurrent, growing stronger.
Some bitterness too. The nose opens up quite nicely over time, but on the palate it remains decidedly average.
Score: 75 points - sorry, I  don't care a lot for the taste of this batch. But then again I've never been a big fan of the young official Scapa's. I've always found them a bit 'on the fence' where their Highland Park sister bottlings usually show more character and personality at a relatively tender age. That being said, older expressions can be stupendous!

#3) Scapa 1993/2005 (45%, Gordon & MacPhail for La Maison du Whisky)
Nose: Sweet and grainy start. Maybe a tad dusty. Grows a little spicier with time. Not too bad...
Taste: Dusty and oily. Feels like a bourbon. Quite hot. Short finish. Very dry and herbal aftertaste. Aspirin.
Score: 75 points - once again I eventually end up with an 'average' score. Not bad but not special either.
So, let's see if we can get some better results from its only neighbor; Highland Park...

#4) Highland Park 13yo 1992/2005 (65.2%, Adelphi, Cask #20361)
Nose: Whiff of glue in the start - Velpon. Light and grainy. Quite sweet. Sweet apples. Quite pleasant.
The nose seems sweeter and fruitier the second time. Sweet spices like in christmas cake. Hint of rum.
Taste: Sweet & solid. Apples. Dry finish, growing winey and a tad bitter. Strawberry jam. Lots of late fruits.
Score: 83 points - despite a slightly disappointing turn of events on the palate that passed eventually.
Big, hot and solid with a surprising touch of liquorice. A powerhouse malt.

#5) Highland Park 18yo (43%, OB, Bottled +/- 2005)
Nose: Raw rhubarb. More fruits after a minute. Sweet tangerines. Almost like 'Southern Comfort Light'.
A little malty. Only after tasting it on the palate did I detect (or imagine) a hint of peat in the background.
Taste: Sweet and smooth start, with a suprising peaty kick after a few seconds. Wow, I didn't expect that...
Lovely long finish; excellent mouth feel. Quite hot, so I imagine this is an overproof malt. Medicinal finish.
Score: 86 points - given the medicinal finish I might have identified it as a Laphroaig in a blind test.
There's definitely a hint of something medicinal on the palate, especially in the finish.

#6) Highland Park 19yo 1985/2005 (54%, Signatory, Cask #2911, Hogshead, 296 bottles)
Nose: Sweet, heavy and a little grainy. Clay? Fruits. Organics. I couldn't delve too deep into this malt.
Taste: Sweet - maybe with the faintest hint of peat in the background. Yes - almost medicinal. Hot and dry.
Light and sweet on the palate - with a medicinal twist at the end. Highly enjoyable, in fact. I love this stuff.
Score: 87 points - but this is a fairly conservative score. I had a feeling there was more than I could detect.

#7) Talisker NAS '175th Anniversary' (45.8%, OB, Bottled 2005, 60,000 Bottles)
Nose: Aaah... Dust and sherry. Quite peculiar. Cleaning vinegar. Organics. Sweet sherry. Lovely.
I like the individuality here. This is different.
Taste: Solid, sweet, full and fruity. Hint of smoke? A fairly classic profile, but some details seem slightly off.
Spicy punch. I didn't detect any peat until I was ten minutes into this dram; then I found a little in the finish.
Score: 87 points - this malt wins most of its points on the palate, but I seem to have a bad nose day today.

#8) Talisker 15yo 1989/2004 (59.9%, SMWS 14.14)
Nose: Raw rhubarb. Very restrained. Something faintly grassy or herbal. Nothing too remarkable at first.
Seems fruitier and spicier in the nose during round II. Peppery, hot & dry on the palate again.
Taste: Sweet start, growing bigger and a little peppery in the centre. Hot and dry; slightly woody finish.
It becomes extremely 'chewy' at the end of the loooong finish. I was litterally chewing my gums here.
Score: 87 points - by no means '100% perfect' (especially in the nose), but I love the overall package...
During my second session I would have scored the nose a tad higher and the (dry) palate a tad lower.

#9) Talisker 25yo 'Bottled in 2004' (57.8%, OB, Refill Casks, 21000 Bottles)
Nose: Fruity start, quickly growing mustier, then sweeter. Lovely, but not much development with time.
Taste: Hmmm... An odd, almost perfumy episode before peat emerges. Wood. Aspirin. Bitter finish.
Not a lot of changes in the nose after adding water, but the palate blossoms. Sweet and peaty. Fruits too.
Score: 85 points - The nose starts off lovely, but it's let down by the harsh, fiery palate. Hot, hot, hot...
It does much better on the palate after some breathing. More peat. Highly recommendable stuff.

#10) Talimbourg 19yo 1986/2005 (45.9%, The Whisky Fair, Bourbon hogshead #1485, 252 Bottles)
Nose: Sweet start. It almost threathens to go in an oily direction, but never really does. A clean malt.
Taste: Faintest hint of peat? Yes, sweet as well. reminds me a bit of #50. Feels quite gritty in the finish.
Something that reminds me of oriental cooking, but I don't know what. Nice chewy mouth feel in the centre.
On the palate it actually appeals more to me than in the nose. Chewy with subtle peat. Lots of fun here...
Score: 82 points - I'd put this in the 'recommendable' category, even though it's not really my style of malt.

And that's the end of my latest review of these islands. Arran surprised me with the best expression I've tried so far, Highland Park bravely defended the honour of Orkney and Skye brought some beauties to the table as well. That's just as well, because I'll have a 'Walpurgis Day' with loads of 'strange' stuff soon.
So, that's it for now; I'd better get a good night's sleep...

PS: Oh yeah.... It's officially confirmed... Malt Madness is a cool site!
At least according to the editor of the whisky section of Netscape's Open Directory.
Malt Madness was voted 'cool site' in the Food: Drink: Liquor: Whisky: Scotch section.
Oh joy...

Sweet drams,

Johannes
 

> Entry 263 - November 11, 2005:  Walpurgis

I know 'Walpurgisnacht' is only once a year on April 30 (at least 'traditionally')
but I like to make up my own traditions which include two Walpurgis nights in
a year - the 'proper' on in April and a 'mirror walpurgis' session in November.

During previous 'walpurgis' sessions I've mostly looked at 'foreign' whiskies.
This time I focused my attention on some other 'types' of whisky. Malt Madness
mostly deals with single malts, but over the years I've discovered that blends, grain
whiskies and vatted malts can be just as interesting and satisfying as single malts.

I have quite an interesting selection on the table tonight; a Ben Nevis 'single blend',
two single grain whiskies, vatted malts from famous Grouse and Samaroli, three recent
new bottlings in John Glaser's Compass Box range, three whiskies released by John, Mark
& Robbo and last but not least a number of 'bastard malt' from France and Taiwan.

The Ben Nevis 34yo 1970/2005 'Single Blend' (50.3%, Adelphi, Cask #4640) is something quite unique; a blended whisky that's composed of malt whisky and grain whisky that was distilled at the same distillery: Ben Nevis. Needless to say the grain whisky was produced with different equipment, but that doesn't change the fect that this truly is a 'single blend'.
Nose: Polished but not very expressive initially. Developing organics with a hint of raspberry in the background.
Hint of wassabi? Major improvement, opening up. More organics. Spicy. Hint of leather? This one needs time.
Taste: Smooth and fruity in the start. Sweet. Weaker with a hint of smoke in the centre. Falls apart in the dry finish.
Score: 83 points - a very impressive nose but it doesn't quite cut the mustard on the palate. Woody. Cheap tannins.

The Famous Grouse 'Vintage Malt Whisky' 1992/2004 (40%, OB) is a vatted malt.
Nose: A gutter smell. Oil and vomit. The harshest notes disappear over time, leaving little else.
Youch! Something metallic. Granted, it wasn't THAT bad in the nose when I tried it a second time.
Taste: Wasted. Another bad finish? Beer. 'Blendy'. An odd feeling I can only describe as 'fake tannins'.
Score: 51 points - pretty worthless. I emptied my glass in the sink. Definitely not my cup of tea.
Nothing that impresses me much, although I'll admit it actually does have some pleasant sides to it.

The Samaroli No'Age Edition 2001 (45%, Samaroli, 1596 Bottles) is another vatted a.k.a. blended malt.
Nose: Light and grainy with Cointreau liqueur in the back of the nose. Hint of smoke in the back of the nose.
Some odd organics develop after a minute. Whiff of the sea. Fairly subtle but there's a lot going on there.
Taste: Lemony and fruity on the palate as well. It grows more powerful over time. Pretty good mouth feel.
Score: 81 points - it's a good whisky but nothing really stands out. Loses just a few points in the finish.

After two vatted malts it's time for the Speyside 1990/2005 'Armagnac Finish' (54.4%, Celtique Connexion, 297 Bottles). This is a so-called 'bastard malt' from an undisclosed distillery bottled by an innovative company in Brittany, France.
Nose: Sweet and just a tad 'chemical'. Not terribly expressive. Some smoke and oil beneath the surface?
I just burned my nose. Must be an overproof malt. If so, it's remarkably tight-lipped. Better in the summer?
Seems a little sweeter and maltier in the nose during my second try. Spicy prickle in the back of the nose.
The nose shows more depth after some breathing. On closer inspection I'd have to put this above average.
Taste: Touch of peat in the start? Very dry - and quite flat. Malty. Quite hot, sweetening out. Quite light.
Grows distinctly more winey towards the finish. The finish itself is a tad bitter. Feels quite young.
Score: 80 points - it's a potent whisky, but it lacks some depth and complexity. A very young malt, perhaps?
By the way, I just took a look at the Celtique Connection website - there's an English version as well now.
They've added a nice little piece of 'celtic' music to their site - why don't you have a listen?

Hey, hey.... With the exception of the Famous Grouse these 'deviant drams' did pretty well...
Now, let's have a look at three recent releases in John Glaser's 'Compass Box' range.

#1 - Compass Box 'Eleuthera' (46%, Compass Box, K5073, Bottled +/- 2005)
Nose: Very faint whiff of toilet freshener. Hint of glue. Sweetish and very subtle.
Veggy and something smoky. A tad herbal as well. Not much else going on, it would seem.
Taste: Soft start with a growing peaty power towards the middle. Dries out quickly. Dry, woody finish.
Score: 77 points - No major flaws, just lack of character. But I have to admit the palate grew on me.

#2 - Compass Box 'The Spice Tree' (46%, Compass Box, Inaugural Batch, 4150 Bottles, 2005)
Nose: Lemon & spices. Light but fragrant. A brilliant summertime malt. Faintest hint of smoke? Light.
It gains more depth after some breathing. Very nice. After a few minutes more spices and organics.
Taste: Oy, that's too bad... A little bit weak in the start. Grape skins. Woody and tannic. Flat and bitter.
Score: 83 points - the bitter finish almost pulls it down but it's saved by the wonderful developing nose.

#3 - Compass Box 'The Peat Monster' (46%, Compass Box, K5064, Bottled +/- 2005)
Nose: Light and grainy. After a while some distant peat emerges. Some sweet dough in the background.
Taste: Peat, but not a lot. Hint of soap? The feeling of tannins in my cheeks, but not the actual taste.
Not very complex. Feels very dry and a bit gritty. The peaty component comes to the foreground over time.
Score: 78 points - not quite potent enough for my tastes, but it grows over time. Almost recommendable.

I wasn't overly impressed by the Eleuthra, nor by the latest version of the 'peat monster'.
Earlier releases were genuine 'monsters' - this is a 'peat mutt' at best... The new 'Spice Tree' composition is a nice surprise, though. Even though I'm not usually a big fan of light whiskies this one brought me lots of pleasure. John Glaser was the trailblazer for hip new 'designer' whiskies a few years ago and now more companies have followed in his footsteps. John, Mark and Robbo from the Easy Drinking Whisky Company are the first example that springs to mind, which is just as well because I have three samples on the table as well tonight. Let's give them a go...

#1 - The Smoky Peaty One (40%, John, Mark & Robbo, Bottled +/- 2005)
Nose: Starts off with a whiff of oil, followed by fruits. Lemon drops. Grows fruitier and fruitier.
Hints of mud and organics in the background. Some peculiar organics. Very enjoyable, I must say.
Great development over time as well. The nose slowly climbs into the 80's - but will the taste match it?
Taste: A little watery in the start. Thin in the middle as well. Too little 'body' - it almost seems pre-diluted.
Smoke. Dry with a hint of liquorice. There is a suggestion of sherry and grapes but it doesn't really deliver.
Score: 79 points - A promising and highly enjoyable nose let down a bit by the relatively simple palate.

#2 - The Rich Spicy One (40%, John, Mark & Robbo)
Nose: Aaaah... Sweet, creamy and sherried. Beeswax. Lovely fruits. Smells like a pastry bakery.
Superb - so many things going on that I can't find the time to write it all down. becomes quite peculiar.
Taste: Sweet and fruity as well, with some smoke and organics lurking beneath the surface. Winey. Lovely!
Score: 83 points - but it might not be to everybody's taste. Wine finished? Seems 'doctored' somehow.

#3 - The Smooth Sweeter One (40%, John, Mark & Robbo, Bottled +/- 2005)
Nose: Sweet and grainy. Werther's Original. Lemon and weird organics after a few minutes.
It didn't impress me too much at first, but it grew on me. A dirty whisky - which is a good thing...
Actually, this one seemed like a disaster dram at first, but given time the nose becomes just GREAT!
Coffee. Metallic? This is really unique. Faint hint of sake? Brazil nuts! A real adventure for the nose.
Taste: Phew... Bitter start. Sweetens out in the centre, but remains grainy. Watery. Winey finish.
Just like the nose, it needed some time to grow on me. It never becomes nearly as pleasant, though.
Score: 80 points - not especially enjoyable on the palate, but a 'you really have to sniff this' nose.

Hey, that's interesting....
The 'new kids on the block' JM&R seem to be the winners of this triple H2H bout by a whisker.
Two of their bottlings reach the 80's while just one of John Glaser's latest releases does the same. All six bottlings scored above average, so here's further proof that it's safe to look beyond the world of single malts again if you're hunting for good whisky. The 1990's seem to have been a relatively weak decade for blends and vatted malts, but it looks like the category of single malts will have more serious competition from other types of whisky in the years to come.
Speaking of other types of whisky: there were two single grains on the table as well;

The Invergordon 1964/2005 (??%, Adelphi, Cask #57637) was the third and oldest bottling from the distillery I tried; two Peerless bottlings from Duncan Taylor distilled in 1965 scored 89 and 91 points respectively. Not too shabby, eh?
Nose: Flat and 'blendy start. Developing sweetness. Coconut. Ah, this opens up nicely. Weird oriental spices.
Vietnamese egg rolls? Organics. Wow, lot's of development in a short period of time - blink and you'll miss it.
A lovely fresh fruit cake sweetness after a few minutes. Raspberries. Coconut? Metallic. This is brilliant!
Taste: Very, very sweet, flattening out quickly. Fruity. Actually, more like imitation fruit. Pleasant, though.
After a few minutes I got some great chewy tannins on the palate. This one makes a great comeback.
Score: 90 points - after a fairly weak start it kept on developing and improving. Quite unique; needs time.

The Carsebridge 25yo 1979/2005 (56.4%, Ducan Taylor, Cask #32901, 154 Bottles) was my very first bottling from this grain distillery. It is located on the border between the Highlands and the Lowlands, just like Glengoyne.
Nose: An odd one. Smells like a rum. Furniture polish? Sweet. Old coffee? Major improvement over time.
During a second try it started like an old rum again. Sweet. Hot. Very pleasant, opening quickly over time.
Taste: Soft start, quickly sweetening out. Very smooth - like an Irish whiskey. Lovely mouth feel.
Sweet and smooth on the palate. Big, bourbony centre. Not really my 'type' but very good!
Score: 86 points - although I have to admity this one was hard to score at this point.

And that's it for this 'Walpurgis' session...
The single grains were the clear winners of the evening but the other categories performed admirably as well. I think the conclusion is obvious: it's safe to look beyond the world of single malt whiskies now and then. Both Compass Box and the Easy Drinking Whisky Company don't have to be ashamed of any of their products and once again we've seen that single grains can compete with the top echelon of single malts, provided they are properly matured...

Sweet drams,

Johannes
 

> Entry 264 - November 13, 2005:  Private Feis Ile

Pfffft... This has been a very busy week for me, whisky-wise.
It's only two days until the official publication of the results of
the Malt Maniacs Awards 2005, so I'm up to my armpits in data.

With just two days left, I had to give this year's whisky festival
in Leiden a miss and I didn't have time to finish a planned article
about Kilchoman either. Why did I want to write about this new
Islay distillery? Well, it so happens that the first spirit is finally
flowing at Kilchoman - almost six months after the stills were
initially supposed to be fired up during Feis Ile 2005.

Martine sent us the picture at the right from the latest edition
of the Ileach (the local newspaper on Islay) as solid proof that
Kilchoman is now really up and running like a proper distillery.
Excellent news - Islay now has eight working distilleries!
As good a reason as any to have a little 'Islay' session, no?
However, I decided to start off with some lighter stuff...

#1 - Auchentoshan 1995/2005 (43%, Jean Boyer)
Nose: A little sweet, a little grainy. Faint whiffs of tea leaves. Something oily after a few minutes.
Taste: A little sweet, a little grainy. No, make that very grainy. Eucalyptus? Herbal. Hint of oil?
Score: 60 points - not really my cup of tea, I'm afraid. It's just too light and devoid of character.

#2 - Rosebank 1990/2005 (46%, Berry Bros & Rudd, Casks #1518-1519-1520)
Nose: Sweet and lemony. Fairly bland, to tell you the truth. Or maybe I should say 'light'? Needs time.
Taste: Soft and sweet start. Starts sucking in your gums quickly. Very dry in the finish. Accessible.
Score: 76 points - pleasant enough mouth feel, but not spectacular in the nose - although it powers up.

#3 - Springbank 15yo 1989/2005 (60.5%, SMWS 27.57)
Nose: Light and lemony. Chalky. Quite sweet. The faintest hint of smoke in the background?
The nose seemed a tad friendlier this time. Sweet with something fairnly coastal. Quite harsh.
Taste: Phew... Very herbal. Eucalyptus? Dry and quite gritty towards the finish. Was this finished?
Score: 75 points - this has power but little depth or individuality. Rough and a tad flat on the palate.

So, that's enough of preliminary sampling - let's get out the Islay stuff now.
Well... Let's start with the gentlest of Islay malts (and the only unpeated one); Bunnahabhain.

#4 - Bunnahabhain 12yo (40%, OB, Bottled 2005)
Nose: Oil, quickly followed by organics. Very peculiar. Fine white pepper. This is quite pleasant, actually.
Weird organics. Sweeter 'sake' notes after a few minutes. Malty. Bubblegum. Soap? Freaky, but I'm intrigued.
Taste: PHEW! Bitter. Eucalyptus. Cheap perfume. It loses quite a few points on the palate!
Score: 79 points - it falls from grace after a unique bouquet, but it almost made it to 80.

#5 - Bunnahabhain 1974/2005 (46%, Berry Bros & Rudd, Casks #11534-11536)
Nose: Peculiar. Clay? Glue? Milk powder. Hint of lemon? After a while pine, oil, camphor and eucalyptus.
Taste: Oily and herbal in the start. Pine. Fortunatly, it grows bigger, sweeter and fruitier in the centre.
Score: 78 points - but that's because I'm not a big fan of piney, herbal notes in my malts. It's personal...

#6 - Bunnahabhain 33yo (45.5%, Royal Mile Whiskies, Cask #6249, 201 bottles)
Nose: Organics and a hint of oil in the start, then some faint fruity notes emerge. Growing sweetness.
A tad 'grainy' in style. It has a 'polished' quality. It has moments of complexity, but flat spells as well.
Let's wait a while. Oooaah! Organics and antiquity during my second try. Fruits and organics. Quite funky.
Rubber? Seems like a completely different malt. Really lovely fruits - tropical ones. This is a 80's malt.
Taste: Again some oil in the start, sweetening out. Gooseberries. Sweet white grapes. Hint of dust.
Just a little sweet liquorice. Unfortunately, it drops off towards the bitter and relatively simple finish.
Score: 86 points - but I should add that this is the first malt on what promises to be a bad nose day.

That's three Bunnies down, with the Royal Mile Whiskies bottling coming up as the clear winner.
Let's move down to the 'Kildalton' area along Islay's south coast now to have a look at Laphroaig.

#7 - Laphroaig 10yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2005)
Nose: Oooaah... Sweet and peaty, straightforward. Some fruity notes after a minute. I love the nose!
A peat monster that takes no prisoners. Meaty and rubbery. Hint of iodine. Hey... Tea. A little bit 'dirty'.
Taste: Sweet and peaty, just like the nose. Lovely! Just my kind of profile, but it seems to lack a little depth.
On closer inspection it just lacks some power on the palate. Exceptionally nice, but it could use more 'oomph'.
Score: 85 points - though I was initially inclined to go for the 90's. However, it's not quite complex enough.

#8 - Bowmore 1999/2005 'Young Peaty Islay 3rd Batch' (61.5%, Royal Mile Whiskies, 308 bottles)
Nose: A tad lemony in the start. Then peat emerges. Some grain and dust in the background. Very nice.
Dusty in the nose this time. Rice crackers. Hint of oil, perhaps? Hmmm, yes... Not my favourite aroma.
Taste: Peaty, sweet and just a tad dusty. Big burn. Dry. Something herbal? A tad medicinal? Liquorice.
Oil hidden between the smoke. There's peat as well, but it's obscured by a metallic layer of smoke.
Score: 82 points - I like it a lot, but in the end it lacks the depth and 'weight' I expect in the upper 80's.

Now, let's look beyond the world of the 'legitimate' single malts and focus on two 'deviant drams'.
The 'Finlaggan' is fairly widely available and doesn't distinguish between various batches. Wilson & Morgan's 'House Malt' is not quite as widely available, but different batches (that can come from different Islay distilleries) are clearly distinguished from eachother.

#9 - Finlaggan NAS 'Old Reserve' (40%, Vintage Malt Whisky Co, Bottled +/- 2005)
Nose: Peat. A little 'dirty' but sweeter, fruitier overtones as well. First impression: a Kildalton malt.
Meaty - salami, to be precise. Not too much development over time, but just my kind of malt.
Taste: Peat again. More and more smoke. Not as sweet on the palate, but a nice, solid Islay malt.
Score: 84 points - although I have to admit this is a fairly 'emotional' score. Simple but effective.

#10 - W&M House Malt 'Born on Islay' 1997/2005 (43%, Wilson & Morgan, Cask #818-824)
Nose: Intriguing start. Peat. Funky organics with sweet fruits and organics in the background. Hint of soap.
Vinegar? Mustard? Salami again. Aaaah! I burned my nose several times snorting up all the air in the glass.
Taste: Soft, fresh peat, growing much smokier in a few seconds. Nice mouth feel but not terribly complex.
Serious. Lovely chewy tannins at the end of the centre, but the finish is just a little too dry for my tastes.
Score: 82 points - the dry, relatively simple finish pulls it from the mid-80's. Lacks a little sweetness.

So, that was a fairly satisfactory result...
All the Islay whiskies scored above average and the Bunnie 33yo from Royal Mile Whiskies as well as the Laphroaig 10yo ended up in 'Highly Recommendable' territory. I wish I could delve a little deeper into these results tonight, but I've got to focus on publishing the results of the Malt Maniacs Awards 2005. So, I bid you all a hearty goodnight!

Johannes
 

> Entry 265 - November 15, 2005:  Awards Winners

Ta-ta-ta-ra-ta-ta-ta-ra-ta-ta-taaaaah!
The results of the Malt Maniacs Awards 2005 are finally in - and they are impressive!
Over 100 bottlings managed to win a medal this year, and once again we found that the number
of awards we had last year (15) wasn't quite enough to properly pay hommage to some of the
top performers in the pack. So, we invented three brand new awards; the 'Aeneas Coffey Award'
for the very best grain whisky (the Invergordon 1964/2005 at 47.1% from Adelphi, Cask #57637),
the 'Multiple Personality Award' for the best blended or vatted whisky (Ben Nevis 34yo 1970/2005
'Single Blend' bottled at 50.3%, also by Adelphi) and the 'Dark Horse Award' for the most surprising
bottling of the competition - in this case the Craigduff 32yo 1973/2005 at 49.4% by Signatory.

But hey, you can find the full results of the MM Awards 2005 by clicking HERE.
In this liquid log I'd like to share the tasting notes on some of my own personal highlights.
If you're more interested in the colective opinion of the malt maniacs I suggest you check out
the aforementioned 2005 Awards page - or the matrix which shows the scores of a dozen certified
malt maniacs, allowing you to compare individual scores for different malts and different batches of
the same single malt. It's interesting to see how some official bottlings show steady improvement
over time while other seem to be dropping off - or maybe we're just getting spoilt in our old age...

The whisky world is forever changing and you have to keep paying attention; yesterday's premium
malt could be today's underachiever and today's 'Average Joe' could be tomorrow's 'Golden Boy'.

One of my personal favourite awards malts was the Macallan 'Coilltean' 1992/2004 (55%, Samaroli).
This was from a new American oak cask (#8518) and only 420 bottles were made. A few are still available.
Nose: Big and sweet. Late summer fruits and a hint of smoke. Lovely! Developing spices and organics. Maggi.
Oh, those organics are amazing. Hint of oil. Smoky, fruity and nutty. Roasted brazil nuts. This is just brilliant!
Taste: Sweet start with a hint of herbs. Fruit pie. Lovely tannins! Brilliant mouth feel. I looove this! Unique!
Jagermeister or cough bonbons - before growing sweeter. Lovely fruits in the centre, followed by tannins.
Score: 94 points - this one kept on growing and growing and growing on me. What a superb malt.
Peter Silver gave it 94 points as well, but apart from Serge the other maniacs voted silver & bronze.

The Highland Park 36yo 1967/200X (49.7%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, Cask #10252, 138 bottles) was another one of my personal favourites - and this one received six other votes for gold and four for 'big silver' as well. Magnificent!
Nose: Light and sweet. Bakery aroma's. It quickly grows bigger and more complex. Organics. Odd peaty notes.
Oooh, this is quite lovely! Hint of antiquity. Quite a spectacular nose. Ladies & gentemen, we have a winner!
Oh yes, this is a beauty! Peat and fruits. All the good stuff is still there after some time - and more, it seems.
Taste: Lovely mouth feel. Old peat, a bit like the OMC Ardbegs from the early 1970's. Smoky drought. Lovely!
Maybe just a tad thin in the centre. Brillaint tannins in the peaty finish - this is extremely chewable. Excellent!
Score: 94 points - but it needs some time to get there. Seems like a sure-fire candidate for a gold medal.

The Inchgower 24yo 1980/2005 (60.4%, Adelphi, Cask #14152) got seven votes for gold - from Serge (90), Davin (91 ), Peter (90), Ho-cheng (92), Krishna (90), Alexander (90) and me (92) to be precise. It just missed a gold medal.
Nose: Heavy sherry and cough syrup. Smoke. Wet dog. Organics. Spicy. Coffee. Sweetening out with time.
The bouquet seems strangely shallow at first, but there's some development over time. Needs ten minutes.
Loads of dry sherry and organics in the nose at first. Ice tea with lemon. Wet dog. Sweetening out. Lovely!!!
Taste: Sweet and fruity start, quickly growing smokier. Very thick, almost like a liqueur. Tia Maria.
Something sourish in the finish. After fifteen minutes the smoke starts to overpower everything else.
Excellent on the palate as well, Sweet, fruity and supersmooth. Mega-complex This is just brilliant...
Score: 92 points - my kind of profile, but at first it seems just a little too 'superficial' to earn a score in the 90's.
A late bloomer. I had it in the mid 80's for the first ten minutes, but it kept growing on me as it opened up.

The Royal Brackla 27yo 1975/2002 'Green Brackla' (59.7%, The Whisky Exchange, C#5471, 204 bottles) was the silver medal winner that came closest to winning a gold medal. It actually would have won gold if it had been up to Serge, Olivier, Davin, Luc, Ho-cheng, Krishna and me. If it hadn't been for Klaus' 70 points it might have earned a gold medal.
Nose: Ooeaah! A serious malt with a lot of complexity, but at first everything is happening below the surface.
Sweet, sherried - but not extremely so. A little muddy and 'boggy'. Dentist. Developing spices and organics.
Balsamico vinegar. Farmy. Hey, is that a hint of peat? Might be the 'shadow' of the previous malt as well...
Taste: Sweet and sherried, crawls up the back of your nose. Lovely fruits. fresh, sweet spices. 'Peperkoek'?
Sucade. Smoke becomes more prominent over time. Sourish notes take over after a while. Wowie!!!! Good stuff.
Score: 92 points - the nose develops into something brilliant, but the palate keeps it from the upper 90's.

The Ledaig 30yo 1974/2005 (48.7%, Signatory, Cask #3223, Shery hogshead, 208 bottles) turned out to be the very best Ledaig I ever tried, and according to the matrix there are quite a few maniacs that agreed. Still, it 'only' got silver.
Nose: Heavy sherry - no surprise given the deep brown colour. Spices. Organics. Maggi. Classic & brilliant.
Balsamico vinegar. A sherry monster par excellenence. One of the malts with the highest gold potential.
Taste: Heavy, smoky sherry and spices. Fits the bouquet like a glove. Lovely playful fruity notes.
Some smoke? Sweet and smooth and just brilliant. And just when the sweetness fades there's peat.
Excellent chewy tannins. Powdered coffee. A hint of bitterness that's just enough. Almost perfect.
Score: 93 points - quite extreme, leaving not a trace of distillery character, if you ask me.

Another big personal favourite was the Isle of Jura 5yo 1999/2004 (60.6%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, Cask #19). However, only Olivier, Krishna and Luca agreed it should receive gold, so the average score of 87 led to a silver medal.
Nose: Light, sweet and grainy. Hey, is that peat? Yes it is - but quite light. Then organics emerge.
A big nose. Lovely development. Leather. Salt. Oysters? Meaty - salami. Boeuf Bourguignon perhaps?
Taste: Just like in the nose, the peat takes a while to develop. Very dry towards the finish. Caol Ila?
It grows very hot after a while. Smoke. This is a real peat monster - it might even scare away novices.
Score: 92 points - but sampled with a fresh nose and palate it does reveal some small 'imperfections'.

Halfway through this rapport it's time to shift my attention to Islay.
Many of the maniacs are self-confessed peatheads, so it's no wonder the Islay malts won big this year. The biggest winner by far was Laphroaig, but I'll write a few words about two other personal favourite Islay malts of mine first.

I loved the quirkiness of the Ardbeg 6yo 1998/2005 (56.2%, SMWS 33.57, Sherry Gorda).
The same was true for Davin (95), Krishna (92) and Thomas (91). Brilliant but not for everybody.
Nose: Odd fruits and some organics. A finished malt? Then a bashful peaty presence reveals itself.
Whew... I like it but this isn't for everybody I suppose. Sweet. Meaty. Smoky. Hint of chloride. Winey.
Definitely not 'middle of the road'. 'Off the beaten track' would be a better description. A weird one.
Second nosing: Aaah... All the good stuff is still there, but it seems sweeter and peatier now. Beautiful!
Meaty with loads of organics in the nose. This is at least upper 80's - maybe even 90's material.
Taste: Dry start, growing peatier and a tad medicinal. Then heavy smoke takes over completely.
On the palate I got peat, smoke and old fruits during round II.  but maybe too quirky for its own good.
Score: 92 points - definitely not a boring malt. It's not for everybody, though... A class of its own.

There's a special story attached to the Port Ellen 22yo 1982/2004 (61.1%, Douglas Laing for PLOWED Society, Cask #740, 264 Bottles). I was a submission by the PLOWED Society and some maniacs already got to try a sample this summer at martine Nouet's place. Based on the scores it received that night (after a little private concert by Norma Munro) this would have won solid gold, but with the stiff competition and the gruelling tasting pace, it won solid silver instead.
Nose: Wowie! Organics, pepper and loads of barnyard aroma's. Smoke. A sweeter undercurrent.
Grows much more serious over time. A fruity echo in the background. Blammo! What a brilliant malt!
Taste: Sweet, medicinal start. Very big and peaty in the centre, transforming into smoke in the dry finish.
Chewy with dry tannins. Hot. Hint of liquorice. Maybe this is just a little bit too dry for my tastes.
Score: 93 points - a relatively conservative score. Especially the palate is simply magnificent.

Now, on to the biggest winner of the Islay distilleries; Laphroaig.
Strangely enough Allied hadn't participated in previous awards, but this year a few OB's and IB's just blew away the competition. The Laphroaig 13yo 1991/2005 (59.1%, SMWS 29.40) could have won gold as far as I was concerned.
Nose: Light, sweet and fruity - maybe with the faintest hint of perfume. Developing organics. Meaty. Leather.
Interesting development over time - it makes a lot of stops along the way. At times it's almost a 90's malt.
Maybe some water melon in the nose as well over time. Then more wonderful organics emerge. Great
Taste: Oy.... Soapy, perfumy and herbal start. But then a big, sweet and solid centre makes amends.
The things that disturbed me earlier vanished. Dry, peaty and magnificent on the palate as well with time.
Hmm... In the finish it grows too dry for my tastes. Well, I like the smoke. A very 'stretched' malt.
Score: 90 points - it was very touch to rate this malt and it definitely needs a lot of time.

I'm not sure about the details of the Laphroaig 'Quarter Cask' (48%, OB, Bottled +/- 2005) - as far as I know they are all single cask batches, so this is probably different from the sample we got to try at the distillery. This seemed better.
Nose: Aaaah... Lovely organics in the start. Medicinal elements growing stronger. Rubber. Diesel. Meaty notes.
There's a softer, fruitier side to the bouquet as well, but you have to look for it. Give this one time to breathe.
Taste: Big peat. Smoke, quickly growing dryer and more medicinal. Laphroaig? Dry and quite bitter. Chewy.
The palate doesn't seem quite so solid during a second try, but still enough for a score comfortably in the 90's,
Score: 90 points - just my kind of profile. I didn't even dare to add water in fear of breaking up the palate.

And than there's the Laphroaig 10yo 'Cask Strength' (55.7%, OB, Red Stripe, Bottled +/- 2005).
I'm very happy that this old favourite of mine met with so much approval from the other maniacs as well.
It came in at #2, right after the brilliant Laphroaig 31yo for La Maison du Whisky. What a knockout malt!
Nose: Lovely sweetness for a second, then a blast of peat. Grows bigger and better integrated with time.
Meaty. Quite a brutal monster at times, but it does have its sweeter moments as well. Uncompromising.
Hint of mint? Burns your nose if you inhale too deep. Softens up and grows more complex with water.
Taste: Sweet & fruity for a second, followed by a flash of peat. Solid centre. Hot. Gasoline in the finish.
Smoke. Stands water VERY well - in fact, it brought out a magnificent & endless peaty finish. Magnifico!
Score: 93 points - It really is right up my alley; sweet and peaty, smoky and dry. Needs some time.

The Laphroaig 31yo 1974/2005 (49.7%, OB for La Maison du Whisky, Sherry, 910 bottles) won the Non Plus Ultra Award for the highest scoring whisky of the 2005 Awards. No less than ten maniacs voted for a gold medal here. Brillaint!
Nose: Ooaaah! A serious sherry monster. Tea leaves. Spices. Hint of camphor? A cafe the morning after a party.
Then some strange vegetal notes. A nose to get lost in. It needs some time to reach its zenith, though. Superb.
Hoo-aah! A MONSTER! So much going on... Dirty and most complex, although it needs a little work. Top dog!
Taste: Sweet but serious. Then a lovely fruity centre. Black currants. Peat & fruits. Fabulous tannins.
Lovely mouth feel. Smoke & wood. Good tannins. Hint of Tia Maria.  The score kept climbing and climbing...
Score: 95 points - just what I like... The mouth feel is just SO magnificent! Lovely developing nose as well.

So, as you can see we would have had even more gold medal winners this year than the seven we had.
But then again that goes for most other maniacs as well. However, a whisky needs to appeal to enough other maniacs as well in order to earn gold. I should also mention that we purely judged the whiskies on their 'quality' - i.e. how much we liked them. Had we taken the price of the malts into consideration, some of the silver and bronze winning malts might have done even better. Three of the last winners I'd like to mention are three bottlings done by Sun Favourite in Taiwan.

#1 - Blackadder 'Smoking Islay' (59.7%, Blackadder for Taiwan SMWTA, Cask BA 2005/202, 233 bottles)
Nose: Sweet melon. Strawberry. Every so rich and gentle. A liquid fruit basket. Then peat & some spices.
After circa five minutes I got more organics and peat. Some very faint meaty notes in the background.
Taste: What? Peat? I didn't find that much in the nose. Big & peaty. A tad too dry in the finish for me.
Score: 85 points - but I probably should have added some water... This is a heavy overproof malt.

#2 - Blackadder 'Peat Reek' (61.7%, Blackadder / Sun Favourite, Cask BA 10571, 294 bottles, May 2005)
Nose: Sweetish. Hint of grass. Not much else at first. Then a growing peaty presence emerges. Smoke.
Taste: Sweet peat! And lots of it! Meaty. Lovely. On the fresh side. Excellent mouth feel. Chewy tannins.
Score: 85 points - not the most complex malt I know, but plenty of peat, just the way I like it.

#3 - Blackadder 'Peat Reek' (62.1%, Blackadder / Sun Favourite, Cask BA 10570, 299 Bottles, May 2005)
Nose: Sharp and peaty. Sweaty. Diesel and a hint of oil, perhaps? Sour? Not a lot of complexity in the nose
Taste: Big, sweet and peaty. Fabulous! Earns some bonus points on the palate. Lovely tannins too. Bone dry.
Score: 87 points - with a nose to match the great palate it might have reached the 90's. Brillaint mouth feel.

All of these malts won solid silver medals (and a 'Blairfindy' I'll discuss later won gold).
Now, I've just heard a funny story about these 'Sun Favourite' bottlings. When a friend of Ho-cheng sent a few of these bottles from Taiwan we just assumed that Sun Favourite was an independent bottler. Well, as it turns out it isn't really. Sun Favourite is really a large industrial conglommerate (paper, real estate, etc.) and the vast majority of their 'drinks business' actually involves importing bottles for the personal drinking collection of the boss! Sometimes a number of bottles find their way to the 'open market', but Ho-cheng complains that the boss keeps all the really good stuff for himself ;-)
Well, judging from the results of the MM Awards 2005 the boss & his staff have excellent tastes...

And that's it for this report - I've still got a lot of 'wrapping up' to do w.r.t. the awards.
Check out the MM Awards 2005 Results page for around 90 other medal winners.

Sweet drams,

Johannes
 

> Entry 266 - November 27, 2005:  Glengoyne

GlengoyneGlengoyne was one of the big winners of the 2005 Awards.
They won 2 awards and 7 medals (2 gold, 3 silver, 2 bronze).
Even after the impressive results during last year's awards
(2 awards and 3 medals; 2 x silver and 1 x bronze) none of
the maniacs expected such results from this modest distillery.

Particulary interesting were three bottlings from casks that
were selected by Glengoyne's very own distillery employees.
The third highest scoring malt of this year's MM awards was
a 19yo bottling from a sherry puncheon selected by stillman
Ewan Hendry. Stillman Duncan McNicoll's choice (a 15yo malt
from a sherry hogshead) won gold as well. Stillman Ronnie
Palmer selected a bourbon barrel and paid the price: silver.
Here are my notes on these three magnificent single malts;

Glengoyne 19yo 1986/2005 'Ewan's Choice' (51.5%, OB, Sherry Puncheon #441, 600 Bottles).
Nose: Lots of sweet sherry, just like the ultra-dark colour suggests. Hot spices. Red peppers? Hint of maggi.
Taste: Smoky & very dry. Winey. Concentraded fruits. The tannins create a vacuum in your mouth. Brilliant.
Score: 92 points - although I expect this is just a tad too extreme for some. Very serious on the palate.

Glengoyne 15yo 1989/2005 'Duncan's Choice' (55.7%, OB, Sherry hogshead #1204, 350 Bottles)
Nose: Rich, sweet, smoky, nutty & sherried. Another 'classic'. Doesn't develop much over time, though.
Well, there's some development - after +/- five minutes I got some lovely spices and organics. Extra points!
Taste: Fermented fruitiness in the start. Sweet and sour in the centre. Hint of smoke? Pleasant mouth feel.
Extremely dry and smoky on the palate. I love it, although I can't say it's well-balanced. One for freaks...
Score: 91 points - it just seems a tad too extreme on the palate to reach the upper 80's right now.

Glengoyne 22yo 1982/2005 'Ronnie's Choice' (53.6%, OB, Bourbon barrel #449, 200 bottles)
Nose: Bad nose day - couldn't pick up much. Prickly. Spicy? There seems to be a lot going on I can't detect.
The second time around the nose seemed quite fruity. Spices? Whiff of tea leaves. Quite 'natural' in style.
Taste: Solid and malty. Dry finish. Very drinkable. No other comments. Its sheer power lifts it above average.
Score: 84 points - Nice, smooth and fruity on the palate with a soldi malty centre. Extremely drinkable.

Glengoyne originally planned to offer these bottlings exclusively through their website, but after they proved such a succes at the MM Awards they will be released through selected traders as well. Recommended UK retail prices are 80 for the 15yo Duncan's Choice, 100 for the 19yo Ewan's Choice and 120 for the 22yo Ronnie's Choice. Very friendly prices indeed; nothing of the price gauging we've seen happening already with some of the other MM Awards winners.
Full story on: http://www.glengoyne.com/distillery_news_events/news/?page_id=42
Meanwhile, the 'normal' Glengoyne bottlings did exceptionally good as well....

Glengoyne 15yo 'Scottish Oak Wood Finish' (43%, OB, Bottled 2005)
Nose: Restrained sherry. The faintest hint of smoke? Furniture polish. More organics after five minutes.
Growing complexity, but it remains restrained. You really have to work at this one. Hint of pepper sauce.
Yeah, this is nice... All the goodness of sherry, but not 'in your face'. Fruits and some organics. Good.
Taste: Sweet start, growing very fruity in the centre. Growing depth and cohesion towards the chewy finish.
Score: 83 points - although it would have climbed a little higher with some more power in the nose.

Glengoyne 19yo 1985/2005 (55.8%, OB, Refiil sherry cask #1227, 697 Bottles)
Nose: Old fruits. Developing organics. Not much else I could detect. Quite restrained in the nose at first
Powers up. Fruits, spices and organics. Lots of spices appear and vanish again over time. A little 'dirty'.
Taste: Sweet and malty in the start. Big, full, fruity centre. Tannins, coffee and a hint of smoke in the finish.
Score: 87 points - mostly thanks to the lovely palate. The bouquet seems very promising but a tad subtle.

Glengoyne 32yo 1972/2005 (48.7%, OB, White Rioja cask #985, 328 bottles)
Nose: Wow!!! Extremely rich and extremely sweet and fruity. Strawberry jam. This is quite lovely!
Not a lot of development at first, though. Strawberry fruit sweets. Some spices in the background.
Taste: Hey, that's odd. Hardly any sweetness at first. No wait - there it is, in the centre. A tad herbal?
There's lots of stuff that I usually don't like, but this is something unique. And character should be rewarded.
Score: 90 points - I don't think the palate is perfect but the unique nose deserves gold. This is special!

Glengoyne 37yo 1967/2005 (47.6%, OB, Sherry Butt #975, 246 bottles)
Nose: Relatively soft start, then heavy sherry and cough syrup. Sweet pastry. Caramac. Then organics.
Brilliant! Vegetable stock. Maggi. Serious and playful at the same time. A bouquest to get lost in; fantabulous.
I love it... Hurray, full of goodness. The nose keeps changing over time, like a 'magic candy ball'. Hint of mint.
Taste: Very sherried start, growing friendlier and fruitier towards the centre. Drops off towards the woody finish.
Score: 92 points - I had it at 93/94 for quite a while but it loses a few points in the finish. Still fabulous, though.

And that's it for this short and sweet 'Glengoyne' awards special.
I'll pay attention to a few other medal winning whiskies next time.

Sweet drams,

Johannes
 

> Entry 267 - November 30, 2005:  Silly Stats

Oh, I feel like such an ass...
You may remember me bragging about the 20,000 unique visitors per month
mark that we passed a few months ago? Well, as it turns out the simple monthly
statistics might simply be calculated by adding up all the totals of the daily number
of unique visitors. The 'uniqueness' of a visitor is determined on a daily basis, so if
the same person visits MM again two or three days later he could be counted again
for the monthly statistics. Assuming that most of our 'regular' visitors drop by more
than once a month, the number of different visitors to MM is quite probably still
a bit below 20,000 people per month.
 
Of course, I feel like an ass...
We're still growing fast, mind
you. The daily statistics are
accurate and they show that
for the past weeks we had well
over 1,000 visitors a day for
every single (work) day of the
week. I've included a screen
shot of the stats for the last
two weeks at the right. The first
column shows the number of
actual individual visitors while
the second column shows the
number of different pages that
were accessed. As you can see,
we clearly get much more
visitors during 'work' days...

Hmmmm.... So, we get fewer visits during the weekends, eh?
That might suggest that quite a few people enjoy these pages in their boss' time.
If you are indeed reading this while you actually should be working: Hey, hey - shame on you ;-)
If your excuse is that you're too busy drinking during the weekends - well, that's a perfectly fine explanation by maniacal standards, of course. So, good luck to you weekend drammers out there! (As long as you drink responsibly, of course.)

Meanwhile, I've published just a fraction of my notes on the 2005 Awards winners.
I'll publish some more tasting notes in my next log entry.

Sweet drams,

Johannes
 

> Entry 268 - December 1, 2005:  Awards Review 1

Ah, I can't get enough of these pictures of our Awards Adventure in Alsace.
Here's an action shot of Davin and Luc running out of room & time at the end
of our improvised miniature bottling line. We'll, if you've read the results of the
2005 Malt Maniacs Awards you'll know that we didn't waste our blood, sweat
and tears in vain - more than a hundred candidates managed to win a medal.
I've only covered a few of the biggest medal winners in my log entries so far.
It's high time I published my notes for some of the other highlights of 2005.

Before I get to the notes I'd like to share something else with you, though.

It might please you to learn that a few maniacs have another JOLT planned
for later this year. For those of you that tuned in relatively recently: a JOLT
is a Joint On-Line Tasting where several malt maniacs join eachother on-line
for a tasting session. In 2002 & 2003 we had a few JOLTS focusing on the
product of a single distillery (we covered Laphroaig, Aberlour, Macallan and
Springbank so far), followed by a few more modest 'Pandora' blind sessions.

One of my biggest regrets w.r.t. the 2005 Awards was that I didn't have the
time and room to publish the comments of all judges for all the medal winners.
It's a real shame I couldn't use +/- 90% of the extensive comments that were
written. I definitely want to improve on that next year, so I've ordered the lab
rats, oops, I mean maniacs, to use a very strict, format for their tasting notes.

It seems the least I could do is try to use the same format myself as well, wouldn't you agree?
Yeah, well... I suppose so. But I'll reserve that for the slightly less stellar material that I'll get to next week.
For this report that focuses on a few of the absolute highlights that I haven't elaborated on yet.

Let's start with the Blairfindy 24yo 1980/2004 (55.9%, Blackadder for Sun Favourite Taiwan, C#5984).
As you may know, 'Blairfindy' is a name that's used for 'illegitimate' bottlings from the Glenfarclas distillery.
Another winner for Blackadder and Sun Favourite - only 182 bottles were made - most went to the boss? ;-)
Nose: It's almost black! Old coffee and burnt caramel. Empty wine casks. Slowly emerging organics.
Ooooh, that's nice. Big, sweet and fruity. Lovely sherry. Hint of oak. Organics. A classic profile.
At first I had it in the lower 80's, but the spices, organics and 'soupy' smells lift it into the upper 80's.
Taste: It starts out sweet and friendly on the palate too, but grows more serious and woody with time.
Excellent. Heavy, dry and smoky. Woody - but in a good way. Heavy sherry. Sweetening out. Cough syrup.
Lovely tannins too, balanced by the sweetness. In the end it just stops short of the 90's with...
Score: 89 points - although it's almost a tad too extreme for my tastes, can you believe that?

I personally liked the Glenfarclas 1974/2004 (50.5%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, Refill Sherry hogshead #6041) just as much as the Blairfindy, but the Blairfindy received wider support from the maniacs, hence its gold medal.
Nose: Big, sweet and polished. Spices in the background. Honey. Baklava. Then leather & organics.
Oh yeah! Fruity and sherried, with spices and organics joining the party after a while. Great fun.
Taste: Soft, fruity start with a pinch of smoke growing stronger and stronger. Menthos freshness.
After some breathing: Big and sweet on the palate. Great fruity centre. Yep, this is the good stuff.
Score: 89 points - another one that's right up my alley. A fine showcase of the power of sherry.

In comparison the Glenfarclas 25yo (43%, OB, Bottled +/- 2005) didn't do quite so well, but then again this one is bottled at just 43%. A quick look at the top of the 'Awards Hit List' shows that many maniacs tend to prefer overproof malts.
Nose: Sweet and polished, but not very expressive at first. Opens up over time, growing more unique.
With time: still sweet but there are lots of lovely fruits now as well. You just have to work at it a little.
Taste: Hint of peat? Strong tannins. Quite bitter towards the finish. Gritty. Still, there are moments of glory.
Score: 85 points - just give it time. After a few minutes both the nose and palate open up.

The Benromach 22yo Port Finish (45%, OB, 22 months Port pipes finish, 3500 Bottles, Bottled 2005) was further proof that Gordon & MacPhail are doing good things in their new distillery. They sent in one of my favourite Benromachs so far.
Nose: Fruity with a hint of smoke. Strawberry sauce. Organics in the background. Oh yes, this is nice!
It ticks all the right boxes for me, although it might just lack a little depth. Could be a bit more expressive.
Taste: Chewy tannins right from the start. Smoke. Very dry, especially in the finish. Some distant fruits.
More smoke after a while, accompanied by some lovely liquorice. Yes, this (just) makes the upper 80's.
Score: 85 points - Lovely and quite unique. At times I was inclinded to increase my score to 86 or 87.

The Dailuaine 31yo 1973/2005 (47.8%, The Whisky Fair, Sherry Butt #14739, 204 bottles) managed to thoroughly impress me, but it didn't receive enough support from other maniacs to win a gold medal. Only Craig voted for gold too.
Nose: Mellow, thoughtful start. Sweet with a hint of dust. Cotton candy. Hint of mint? Then more organics.
Vegetable stock. Classic sherry development, but maybe a little more stand-offish than some sherry monsters.
Much more power in the nose after some breathing. A sherry monster. Again a hint of dust. Meaty. Brilliant!
Hey, could that be the faintest whiff of peat smoke? The nose keeps developing and surprising you at every turn.
Taste: Quite soft in the start. Very sweet as well. Big, fruity centre. Smoke? Lovely. Hint of something metallic.
Score: 90 points - this is right up my alley and if anything I'd say this is a conservative score. I love this stuff.

Edradour didn't do too bad this year either with two silver medals.
My score for the Edradour 11yo 1994/2005 (59.6%, OB, SfTC, Madeira finish, cask #04/316/4, 488 bottles) was much lower than that of most other maniacs, probably because I only got to try a little bit (these are 50cl bottles).
Nose: Light and a tad dusty. A little sharp and not too expressive. The faintest organics. A bad nose day perhaps?
Taste: Solid, sweet and fruity start. Big centre. Dry, cool and a tad metallic in the finish. Some nice tannins.
Score: 77 points - not really my cup of tea, it seems. The finish has a 'bourbony flatness' I'm not crazy about.
I should add that this is one of the few malts I didn't get to try twice, though - it deserved a second chance.

Meanwhile, I adored the Edradour 11yo 1994/2005 (57.1%, OB, Straight from The Cask, Gaja Barolo finish).
Nose: Fruit sweets. Some spices and organics in the background. Quickly growing complexity. Lovely!
Oh yeah, this is turning into a sherry monster! The spices and organics grow more powerful over time.
Taste: Smooth start. Smoky and fruity in the centre, then the tannins emerge. Lovely mouth feel.
Score: 88 points - it has a few odd sides to it (like a taste of Nivea salve or baby oil) but I like it a lot.

The Craigduff 32yo 1973/2005 (49.4%, Signatory, Sherry cask #2513, 566 Bottles) was another Signatory Vintage bottling that did very well this year. This is a rare expression from the Glen Keith distillery; lightly peated, apparently.
Nose: Sweet. Hint of mocca? Then some peat (?) covered in early fruits. A tad too subtle for me, perhaps?
It seemed far less subtle in the nose after some breathing. Warm milk and mocca. Faintest hint of peat.
Taste: Quite watery in the start. Then sweet liquorice. Something sour. Dry with playful tannins in the finish.
Then I got mocca on the palate too. Toffee. Malty & fruity, with a hint of peat smoke. Tad dry in the finish.
Score: 87 points - maybe a tad subtle, but overall highly enjoyable. I'm simply a sucker for tannins I guess.

The Benriach 28yo 1976/2005 (56.9%, Signatory, Cask #9442, Sherry butt, 426 Bottles) was submitted by Signatory Vintage as well, and although I didn't personally vote for gold enough other maniacs did to earn it a gold medal.
Nose: Aaah. Lovely sweet start with faint hints of cookery and medicine in the background. Very expressive.
All the goodness was still there during a second try - and this time it seemed even more complex. Great stuff.
Taste: Brilliant! Smooth and powerful at the same time. Fruity with loads of coffee in the background. Lovely.
Lovely gooseberry sweetness on the palate. Succulent. The mouth feel is really excellent. No subtlety here...
Score: 89 points - just my kind of profile. At times I was even inclined to increase my score to 90 points.

I found myself in a lonesome corner with my admiration for the Aultmore 1991/2005 (46%, Wilson & Morgan).
This bottling was matured in sherry wood and it isn't ashamed about it. A true sherry monster; quite extreme.
Nose: Rich and very fruity. Spices. Quite sharp, though - you can't get a nose-full. Rubber, fruit and sherry.
Smoke? Maybe a tad extreme, but that's just how I like it... Based on the nose, I could go for 90 points.
Taste: Sweet, rich and sherried. Quite lovely! Feels very hot - a bit too much? Mega-enjoyable, though.
Score: 88 points - a sherry monster. It pushes all the right buttons for me. Lovely stuff...

The Glenrothes 36yo 1968/2005 (53.2%, Ducan Taylor, Cask #13486, 144 bottles) was one of three silver medal winning whiskies submitted by Duncan Taylor this year. This one came very close to becoming my favourite Glenrothes.
Nose: Serious & very sherried. Developing fruits soften it up a bit. Furniture polish. Whiffs of mint & Velpon.
Taste: Sweet & fruity - ripe & fermenting fruits. Big, smoky burn in the centre. The sweetness fades away.
Score: 86 points - Highly recommendable, although I can't pick out specific highlights.

The Glenlivet 36yo 1968/2005 (48.6%, Duncan Taylor, Sherry cask #6195, 136 bottles) was another winner from Duncan Taylor playing in the 'senoirs' league. This cask was laid to rest just two years after I was born! Amazing...
Nose: Rich. Mocca. Sweet coffee. Hint of old smoke. The nose seems to drops off a little, though.
No, wait... Hoo-aah! Brilliant spices and organics - dirty dishes the morning after an Indonesian meal.
Sherry. Then fruits, mocca and coffee. It smells cold, if that makes any sense... Smoky and a little metallic.
Taste: Brilliant mouth feel. Touch of rubber. Very hot. Lovely tannins. Some old, sweet coffee again.
Score: 88 points - but it might turn out to be a conservative score. I think I've just burnt my nose...

Last but not least, there's the Glen Grant 31yo 1970/2001 (45%, Samaroli, Sherry cask #1025).
Nose: Rich, polished and sherried. Then some organics emerge; a classic profile. Lovely, lovely, lovely.
Second try: Again, polished and beautifully balanced in the nose. Hint of perfume. Gooseberry. I dig it...
Taste: Smoky and quite extreme in the start, sweetening out in the fruity centre. Very chewy; nice tannins.
After some time: still fruity with hints of dust and smoke. Yeah, this is extremely drinkable, Feels just righ.
Score: 89 points - here is a malt that earns most points on the palate; a sherry monster, not for everyone.

And that's it for this report - I'll write about some medal winners from Islay next time.

Sweet drams,

Johannes
 

> Entry 269 - December 5, 2005:  Awards Review 2

Pffft... In these dark days before Christmas I'm once again forced
to face one of the more idiosyncratic elements of our Dutch culture;
Sinterklaas. He's the leaner & meaner Dutch version of the character
known as Santa Claus in North America or Father Christmas in the UK.
I've mentioned Sinterklaas in the past, but I don't think I've ever had
the chance to explain the disturbing phenomenon in much detail yet.
That's why I decided to write a 'beginner's guide to Sinterklaas'.

There are many different stories about the origins of Sinterklaas.

Allegedly, Saint Nicholas was the archbishop of Myra (in present
day Turkey) in the fourth century AD. Thanks to his many good
deeds the archbishop eventually earned a promotion to sainthood.
Saint Nicholas became especially popular as patron saint of sailors,
merchants, prisoners and children; a fairly mixed flock to watch over.
In fact, Amsterdam has adopted Saint Nicholas as its patron saint.

Much like the pop star Madonna, Saint Nicholas has managed to
remain popular through the ages by constantly reinventing himself.
When his popularity amongst merchants and sailors slowly started to
dwindle he focused his attention on children – and the rest is history.
These days Saint Nicholas is one of the biggest global superstars.
His public persona is different in various countries, though...

Most countries in the western world know him as Santa Claus.
That would be the jolly, slightly overweight fellow that lives on the North pole with his elves.
However, the Dutch and Flemish have a different, far bleaker view of Sinterklaas. For one thing, he doesn't live on the North pole to manage the production of toys. Instead, he stays in Spain where's he's making notes in his big red book. Apparently the warmer climate in Spain allows him to get plenty of exercise, because Sinterklaas is notably 'leaner' than Santa Claus. He probably rides his white horse ('schimmel') a lot, and maybe indulges in the occasional spot of golf.

Sinterklaas is much 'meaner' than Santa Klaus as well.
His big red book contains a complete record specifying which children have been naughty and which have been nice. Dutch children that have been nice have nothing to worry about; they can expect the same treatment that good children worldwide can expect from Santa Claus: they receive presents. Naughty Dutch children have bigger problems than simply not getting their presents, though. They run the risk of being taken back to Spain in the big sacks that were used to bring the presents for the nice children to Holland. Sinterklaas doesn't handle the naughty children himself; he has a sizable crew of 'Zwarte Pieten' (Black Peters) to help him with that task. Strangely enough, exact figures about the precise number of naughty Dutch children that are taken to Spain each year are not available. Nevertheless, the arrival of Sinterklaas and his Zwarte Pieten by steam boat mid-November brings a unique blend of hope and fear to the hearts of Dutch children each year.

But maybe that's quite enough about one of my childhood trauma's, let's change the topic to whisky.
Once again I'll focus on a few medal winners of the Malt Maniacs Awards 2005 - all Caol Ila's this time.
During last week's session I didn't manage to stick to the new 'shorthand' format, but this time I will.

The Caol Ila 1995/2005 'Extra Strength' (50%, Wilson & Morgan) was the youngest of the bunch.
Nose: Sweet & grainy. Some very faint organics emerge quickly. Then more peat drifts to the surface.
Taste: Soft start, peatier in the centre. Sweet, but just enough tannins to balance it out. Dry finish.
Score: 85 points -  Nice development over time. A solid, fresh and clean Islay malt.

The Caol Ila 1993/2005 (46%, Wilson & Morgan) is two years older but a tad 'weaker' as well.
Nose: Light, grainy & sweetish. Hint of Lemon? Opens up with organics & some peat. Something 'dirty'.
Taste: A little watery, then a flash of dry peat. No monster. Dry finish. Lacks a little depth for my tastes.
Score: 83 points - not a constant performer, but over time it makes its way into the lower 80's.

The Caol Ila 1993/2005 (59.9%, Adelphi, Cask #6779) did exceptionally well considering its age.
Nose: Lemon & dust. Grainy. After some time more peat emerges. This is a hot & heavy peat monster!
Taste: Super sweet punch. Peat. Smoke. Some fruits. Liquorice. Salami. Liquorice & cinnamon. Hot & cold.
Score: 89 points - one of the few malts that almost reaches the 90's mainly on the palate. What a stunner!

The Caol Ila 12yo 1992/2005 (46%, Whisky Galore) is just a smidgen older than the last two.
Nose: Peculiar. Faint organics. Something grainy in the background. Light fruits. Peat. Meaty notes.
Taste: Sweet and softly peated. Peanut fleece. Smokier towards the centre. A gentle peat monster...
Score: 90 points - this malt needs a little time to reach its prime, but when it does you're in for a treat.

The Caol Ila 25yo 1979/2004 (61.2%, Bl'adder / Sun Favourite, C#5334) was the oldest Caol Ila in 2005.
Nose: Lovely sweet peat. Shoe polish. Quite unique. Gasoline. Rubber. Something medicinal. Faint horse stable.
Taste: Sweet peat as well. Magnificent explosion of peat and smoke after a few seconds. Salted liquorice.
Score: 90 points - maybe not a 'perfect' malt, but it fits my nose like a glove. Not for everyone, though.

Phew... It was hard to prune my extensive notes down to the 'shorthand' format, but as you can see the end result is a relatively short and tight report that still contains the most significant 'specifications' of the whiskies. Since I'm running out of room for this page of my liquid log I think I'll give this format another go for my next 'awards' review as well.

Sweet drams,

Johannes
 

> Entry 270 - December 10, 2005:  Awards Review 3

And here's another snapshot of the MM Awards 2005...
It shows our Taiwanese maniac Ho-cheng Yao handing a
well-deserved MM Award to Robin Tucek from Blackadder.

The people of Sun Favourite Taiwan were gracious enough
to let Blackadder receive the award, but I should point out
that all the winning whiskies were bottled especially for Sun
Favourite who also submitted the bottles. So, a huge chunk
of the credit should go to our Taiwanese friends here too.

But by now I've covered all the really big winners already;
Laphroaig & Glengoyne on a distillery level, as well as quite
a few independent bottlers. I've worked my way down the
list of my own personal favourits and by now we've reached
the 'bronze' section of my list. These whiskies were not as
amazing as the silver and gold winners, but they are still
recommendable whiskies, often offering very good value.

Let's start with the Glenfarclas 12yo (43%, OB, Bottled +/- 2005).
Nose: Strong grains & glue. Then sweeter, fruitier notes. Sherry? Rhubarb & sorrel. Spices. Hint of melon.
Taste: Fairly watery start. Slightly itter but powerful centre. Smoother towards the finish. A tad 'blendy'.
Score: 80 points - but it needed some time & air. I couldn't find too much to get excited about at first.

Given its ripe old age, I found the Glenfarclas 1974/2000 (43%, OB, 2732 Bottles) slightly underwhelming.
Nose: Sweetish with a hint of oil in the background. Gooseberry. Nutty and a little malty - not too expressive.
Taste: Sweet and smooth. Fruity centre. A little MOTR, but very drinkable. Good mouth feel, maybe a tad flat.
Score: 83 points - a very personal score, and it took some breathing to get there. This one grows on you.

Other maniacs were more taken with the Macallan 15yo 'Fine Oak' (43%, OB, Bottled 2005) than I was.
Nose: Sweet & grainy. Hint of lemon. Faint hint of smoke in the back of the nose? Just too subtle for me.
Taste: Light and a little MOTR. Bitter towards the gritty finish. Unremarkable. This one seems quite young.
Score: 75 points - I can't find any major flaws, but it just lacks a little bit of character and personality.

The Tomatin 25yo (43%, OB, Bottled +/- 2005) was relatively 'handicapped' at just 43%.
Nose: Light and grainy with organics in the background. Hint of lemon, perhaps? Some smoke?
Taste: Sweet. Fruity. Gooseberries? Maybe just a tad herbal? Pleasant, deep but not too complex.
Score: 82 points - very pleasant on the palate, but right now it doesn't seem quite 'recommendable'.

My sample of the Cardhu 22yo 1982/2005 (57.8%, OB, 3000 Btl.) was only 1/2 full. Did I judge too fast?
Nose: Sweet & grainy; a bit like an Irish whiskey. A little veggy, prickly in the back of the nose. Hint of dust.
Taste: Sweet, dusty & fruity start, big dry centre. Oldfashioned cinnamon sweets. Dry. Touch of liquorice.
Score: 80 points - not terribly complex (and not too much development) but very drinkable. A big whisky.

I liked the Cragganmore 10yo 1993/2004 (60.1%, OB, Bodega European Oak, 15000 Bottles) a lot.
Nose: Faint spices & a whiff of smoke. Sweet. Bakery. A lot going on in the background. Touch of perfume?
Taste: Soft for a microsecond, quickly powering up. Sweet & fruity. Excellent mouth feel. Long, dry finish.
Score: 84 points - central heating for the palate. Touch of liquorice? The high proof lifted my spirits...

The Glenrothes 1972/2004 (43%, OB) was one of the more expressive OB's I've encountered so far.
Nose: Polished. Big and fruity. Prickle. Glue and old coffee? Very restrained at first. Old cigarette smoke.
Taste: Sweet, big and fruity. Tia Maria. Sherried with a touch of smoke. Some tannins. Metallic. Malty finish.
Score: 84 points - a very enjoyable and refined single malt that definitely deserves a shiny bronze medal.

And that's it for another batch of awards malts.
I think I should be able to wrap up all my 'personal awards reporting in a few days.

Sweet drams,

Johannes
 

PS: I'm reading a pretty good book these days; the Malt Whisky Yearbook 2006.
It has some excellent contributions from our very own Charlie MacLean and Ulf Buxrud, as well as some good stuff from Michel Jackson and more self-congratulatory material by a few other writers. I'm reading it during my commute to work, so I'm only at page 74 so far. I'll write a full report once I've finished the book. I can't wait to get to the part with the 'distillery profiles'; seems like a great source to 'double check' the data I've assembled for the distillery profiles on this website.

PPS: Which reminds me...
I've issued a challenge to the other maniacs. I'll to finish the profiles on all the active distilleries on Malt Madness before the end of 2006 while the other maniacs get busy with profiles on the silent distilleries - or at least the ones that closed during the last two decades or so. That's just the sort of motivation I need to get back to work on the distillery profiles; so far I've only covered the distilleries that have names starting with 'A' and 'B'.
 

> Entry 271 - December 12, 2005:  Awards Wrap-Up

Well, now... I think it's time to wrap up the awards reporting...
It's almost a month after the results of the Malt Maniacs Awards 2005
have been published and life in Amsterdam is slowly returning to normal.

The MM Awards have been an exhaustive but fun experience, just like
the Alsatian filling party in September. As you can see from the picture
at the right, we were all getting a bit silly and disorganised at the end
of a long weekend dedicated to talking, sampling, filling and packaging.
Olivier, Davin, Luc and myself worked in teams so we could divide and
swap tasks, but our sribe Serge was the brains of the operation who
had to keep track of the identity of all blind miniature sample bottles.

Contrary to what the picture suggests, Serge took his task seriously.
The near perfect execution of this year's competition is proof of that.
And the various postal offices and 'mules' delivered good work as well.
All of the judges, even those in Australia, the USA, India and Taiwan,
received their packages in time and out of well over 1,000 samples that
were shipped around the world only one got misplaced. Very good work!

And now it's time to share my notes on some of the last awards malts.
I've already covered the big winners in previous log entries, now most
of what's left on my list is a fairly mixed bunch of mostly Speysiders.

The An Cnoc 12yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2005) was one of two medal winning An Cnocs this year.
Nose: Ah, that's nice. Barnyard with some leathery notes. Cardboard? It's hard to find any specifics.
Taste: Odd and a little winey. Harsh, flat centre. Big and malty. Becomes very nice and chewy later on.
Score: 80 points - this whisky defintely has its moments - but quite a few weak spots as well.

The An Cnoc 1990/2004 (46%, OB) was a little older than the 12yo but didn't do significantly better.
Nose: Corny. Some faint organics. Rotting milk powder. That may not sound very nice, but it is. Oily?
Taste: Sweet, grainy start, growing much bigger and hotter in the centre. Solid, but not too complex.
Score: 80 points - this is definitely a good whisky, but I couldn't pick out many specifics here.

The Aberlour 1994/2005 (46%, Berry Bros, Casks #8847-8850) defended Aberlour's honour this year.
Nose: Sweet, light & lemony. Some spices and organics in the background after a minute. Very accessible.
Taste: Watery start, growing sweeter quickly. Lighthearted. Hint of dust. Hot, dry and woody in the finish.
Score: 81 points - not bad at all, but just a tad too generic to set my heart on fire at first sight.

The Macallan 15yo 1989/2005 (57.2%, SMWS 24.82) did better than the OB - because of the proof?
Nose: Light, a tad grainy & malty. Faint fruits. Gooseberries. Solid and enjoyable, but a very 'bourbony' malt.
Taste: Sweet with a hint of liquorice root. Grows much bigger in the centre. Hot and cold. Dry finish. Woody.
Score: 82 points - Something in here reminded me of Glenmorangie or Glenlivet. The lightness? The subtlety?

The Glen Ord 40yo (40.1%, Royal Mile Whiskies, 300 bottles) was one of the oldest submissions.
Nose: Unique. Light and fruity with hints of glue and grain. Reminded me a bit of the 'Greenore' Irish.
Taste: Gritty in the start. Malty & chewy. Hint of pine? Liquorice. Sweet finish. Solid but slightly MOTR.
Score: 84 points - there's a disturbing hint of pine there that keeps it out of the upper 80's for me.

Now for an obscure malt; the Glenglassaugh 28yo 1976 (51.9%, Dormant Distillery Company, Cask #2376).
Nose: Sweetish, grainy. Hint of lemon. Quite big. Hint of toffee. Some spices & organics. Nice development.
Taste: Gentle start, quickly developing into a sweet, malty centre. A tad dry, woody and bitter in the finish.
Score: 82 points - a great nose, but a tad too bitter and uneven in the finish to climb further into the 80's.

Shouldn't the Clynelish 1971/2005 (45.7%, M&H Cask Selection, 228 bottles) be called a Brora?
Nose: Very light with a touch or organics in the background. Sweet and a little grassy. Fruity kick.
Taste: Sweet & fruity as well. A little more body than the nose suggests. Dry, satisfying finish.
Score: 85 points - a tad light for me, but I like it. Lovely overripe banana or gooseberry on the palate.

The Clynelish 1972/2005 (49.4%, The Whisky Exchange, 206 bottles) closes tonight's line-up.
Nose: Light & grainy. Hint of fruits. Opens up after a minute, becoming spicier. Organics. A tad subtle for me.
Taste: Fruity start. Solid malty centre with a touch of sweetness. Liquorice. Grows bitter towards the finish.
Score: 82 points - this really shines at moments and is medal material, even to a Clyne-sceptic like me.

Yes, and that's it again for this report - the last 'official' MM Awards 2005 report.
My next log entry will focus on some interesting developments around Diageo's 'Classic Malts'.

Sweet drams,

Johannes
 

> Entry 272 - December 15, 2005:  More Classic Malts

Well, well, well...
Last week I heard some rumours about the 'classic malts'.

This has been Diageo's 'core range' of six single malts for well
over a decade, but now there's talk of a much broader range.
I assume pretty much everybody who's reading this will have
heard of the six 'Classic malts' from Diageo; the range has been
a huge whisky marketing successes since the launch in 1987.
Bust just in case you haven't heard about it or your memory
needs a refreshment, here's a list of the six classic malts;

- Cragganmore (Speyside - a solid malt with an edge)
- Dalwhinnie (Highands - a tad too gentle for my tastes)
- Glenkinchie (Lowlands - my least favourite classic malt)
- Lagavulin (Islay - my absolute #1 favourite to this day)
- Oban (Highlands - the 14 is OK but there are better ones)
- Talisker (Skye - Excellent, comes just after Lagavulin)

According to the rumours, distilleries that might be included
in a wider range would be Caol Ila, Clynelish, Glen Elgin, Glen
Ord, Knockando and Royal Lochnagar. I checked the matter
with Diageo but I can't publish the 'official' response just yet.
So, let's visit the website and check the map (also pictured
at the right) which distilleries are listed apart from the six
classic malts I already mentioned.

As it turns out, the map lists a total of 13 distilleries; the six CM's and these seven;

- Caol Ila (from a small island that now has a second representative in Diageo's wider core range)
- Cardhu (one of four Speyside representatives, together with Cragganmore, Glen Elgin & Knockando)
- Clynelish (as the sole representative of the 'Coastal East' region on the new Diageo distillery map)
- Glen Ord (chosen as one of the three 'Highland' representatives, with Dalwhinnie & Royal Lochnagar)
- Glen Elgin (not the most obvious choice as a Speyside representative, given Diageo's large portfolio)
- Knockando (another Speyside malt that was marketed seperately as an OB for at least a decade)
- Royal Lochnagar (a fresh representative of the 'Highlands' style, available as an OB for a long time)

Until now Caol lla, Clynelish, Glen Elgin and Glen Ord were marketed as the 'Hidden Malts'.
The Diageo site said about them: 'A range of four distinctive single malt whiskies, which together represent over 600 years of distilling tradition and heritage. They are now being distributed in approximately 20 markets.' Well, these four 'Hidden Malts' have now been embraced by the larger 'Classic Malts Selection'. As far as I could tell, Knockando was not mentioned (at all) on the old Diageo site and the same goes for Royal Lochnagar. Finally, we have Cardhu which was put in a class of its own by Diageo - possibly because of the relaunch of Cardhu as a vatted malt a few years ago (followed by the re-relaunch as a single malt again). OK, bringing these distilleries under a single umbrella seems to make sense...

However, Diageo owns many more distilleries.
On their website they also listed well over a dozen 'distillery malts'. Many of these (for example Benrinnes & Blair Athol) have been available only in the semi-official 'Flora & Fauna' range since 1993 but Auchroisk (Singleton) and Dufftown were available as OB's in the 1990's as well. The 'distillery malts' are Auchroisk, Benrinnes, Blair Athol, Dailuaine, Dufftown, Glendullan, Glenlossie, Glen Spey, Inchgower, Linkwood, Mannochmore, Mortlach, Pittyvaich, Rosebank, Strathmil & Teaninich.

Looking at this list I can spot a few more obvious candidates as 'typical' representatives for the Speyside region, for example Linkwood and Mortlach. With the choice for Cardhu, Glen Elgin and Knockando they seemed to have selected some of the lighter Speyside malts as typical representatives of the region. Well, maybe that makes sense - considering that the 'Highlands' category has gained some weight in comparison. Putting Oban in a 'coastal west' region instead of the Highlands has merits as well, especially with Clynelish taking the opposite position on the east coast. After thinking it over, I feel the 'regional' aspects of malt whisky are a little better integrated in the new selection - whether that was the objective or not.

I'll do some more thinking about this in the forseeable future to figure out how I feel about it exactly.

Sweet drams,

Johannes
 

Entry 273 - December 18, 2005:  Amsterdramming

It has been quite a while since I enjoyed a 'maniacal' session.
Reason enough to invite Alexander van der Veer and Michel van Meersbergen
to one of the seedier parts of Amsterdam for a tasting session this weekend.
But before I get to the session report I'd like to respond to a few messages that
I received after the first part of my Malt Mafia E-pistle was published in MM#16.

In the article, I mentioned the name of Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi
in a context that might give one the impression that I disagree with his politics.
Well, I very well might if I knew anything about them, but that's not the case.
Mr. Berlusconi happens to be a politician, but in this case I wasn't talking about
Silvio Berlusconi the politician, I was talking about Silvio Berlusconi the criminal.
If memory serves, Silvio's criminal record includes (among other things) tax fraud,
false accounting, corruption and bribery of officials like police officers & judges.

So, my remarks were not 'political' in nature. If I wanted to make some political
comments they'd probably deal with our own Dutch prime minister Balkenende...
Yes, it's the Harry Potter of Politics! But don't panic... I'm running desperately
short on space on this page, so I'll spare you my political comments for now.

In fact, I'll have to spare you the particular details of this session as well.
I'll have to restrict myself to my notes and scores for the malts we sampled today, as well as a bunch of notes I just had lying around. I'll start with a trio of official expressions from Tomintoul, the 10yo, 16yo and 27yo.

The Tomintoul 10yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2005) was the youngest of a trio of Tomintouls.
Nose: Malty and grainy. Hint of oil? A little sharp but not very outspoken. A good, MOTR malt though.
Taste: Sweet and malty, a bit harsher in the centre. Hint of smoke, perhaps? Very drinkable but plain.
Score: 75 points - I can't find anything really remarkable here. No flaws but little distinctive elements either.

The Tomintoul 16yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2005) scored just slightly lower than a batch I tried two years ago.
Nose: Aaaaah. Lovely sweetness like an old dark rhum. Then lots of rubber. Vegetable stock. Something 'veggy'.
Taste: I didn't feel like having more than a few sips during a first try, but it's actually a very decent single malt.
Score: 77 points - almost 'recommendable'. The nose is nice enough but it loses some point on the palate.

It's hardly surprising that the Tomintoul 27yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2005) was my favourite of the three.
Nose: Very fruity; dried apples. Malty. Mildly sherried. Not terribly complex but lovable. Lighthearted.
Taste: Sweet and, again, very fruity. Lovely mouth feel with just the right amount of tannins for me.
Score: 83 points - but it might have gone higher with a little more power on the palate. Very nice.

The Balblair 16yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2005) did a little better than a batch bottled around 2000.
Nose: Mild sherry, sweet & fruity. Beeswax? Faint spices in the background. Oatmeal and warm milk.
Taste: Smooth & sweetish, grittier in the centre. A bit rough & grainy. Coffee beans. Fruits. Hint of liquorice?
Score: 78 points - an enjoyable nose (subtle but still lower 80's) but the palate keeps it below the 80's.

The Glenugie 25yo 1979/2005 (50%, DL OMC, 291 Bottles, DLREF 1094) was brought by Michel.
Nose: Grainy, light and a little creamy. Herbal? String beans. Vegetables. Freshly sawn wood (not pine).
Taste: An odd contrast; it tastes woody, but it's a 'young' kind of woodiness. Grows sharper with water.
Score: 80 points - not really my type of malt, but it has enough uniqiue sides to it to remain interesting.

At the end of the session I also sampled a few fresh bottles I bought at Cadenhead's Amsterdam a while ago.
I bought these bottles especially to fill in some obscure parts of the matrix - that's malt mania for you...

Balmenach-Glenlivet 14yo 1989/2003 (53.2%, Cadenhead's, Bourbon Hogshead, July 2003, 300 Btl.)
Nose: Not very expressive. A little dusty; more so after adding some water. Faint veggy notes.
Taste: Malty start, growing bitter quite quickly. Sourish. Very gritty feeling, like after eating rhubarb.
Score: 77 points - I had it around 70 points for the first few minutes but then it started to open up.
Additional observations: After some water and time there's notable improvement in the nose. Meaty?
After adding a splash of water the palate got a menthol freshness. Herbal & sweet notes growing stronger.

Glenallachie 13yo 1989/2003 (60.8%, Cadenhead's, Bourbon Hogshead, July 2003, 318 Bottles)
Nose: Restrained in the start. Hint of burnt toffee. Fudge. Mellowing out. Suggestion of some organics.
Taste: Bittersweet oranges like Cointreau. Southern Comfort? Almost liqueurish. Big sweet fruity finish.
Score: 86 points - it manages to improve on an impressive start. Hard to believe it's a bourbon cask!
The nose moves to tangerine with time. I hesitated to add water. When I did I got some warm milk.
After a minute the water really takes effect - a true 'peacock's tail', like Serge would say. Great!

Glen Spey-Glenlivet 15yo 1985/2001 (57.5%, Cadenhead's, Sherry Butt, July 2001, 612 Bottles)
Nose: Full & heavy, big and sweet. Could perhaps use just a little more depth, but I like it. Then spices.
Marmeldade? Fresh croissants with melting butter. Just the slightest hint of burnt toast. The breakfast malt...
Taste: Sweet, fruity and very drinkable at cask strength. Bit of orangy bittersweetness in the finish.
Score: 85 points - without a shadow of a doubt the best Glen Spey I ever tried.

Strathmill 11yo 1992/2004 (59.7%, Cadenhead's, Bourbon Barrel, January 2004, 84 Bottles)
Nose: Old coffee and dust followed by weird organics. Smells a bit like 'antiquity'.
Taste: Mocca. Feels a bit like a rhum - a gritty smoothness, if than makes any sense.
Score: 84 points - Strange, but I like that. Well, not always...

Teaninich 19yo 1983/2002 (58.7%, Cadenhead's Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 174 bottles)
Nose: Nice but a little bit 'dirty'. Grain? Malty with some nuts and toffee. Chalk. Some organics after a while.
Taste: Hot. Very, very hot. Too hot too really pick up anything beyond the solid sweetness. Feels great.
Score: 83 points - not too complex but a great powerhouse malt. It took a while to grow on me, though.

And that's it from me for now - seasoned greetings!

Sweet drams,

Johannes
 

> Entry 274 - December 23, 2005:  Wrap-Up

Phew... Christmas is looming on the horizon.
Many gatherings with friends & family planned
during the next week, so little time to properly
wrap up my 'malt administration' for 2005.
And there's a lot of wrapping up to do...

The last three months have been fairly insane
due to the Malt Maniacs Awards and as a result
my Stock List doesn't reflect the situation on my
shelves anymore and my Hit List is in serious need
of an update too. Time to assemble all remaining
notes and scores for 2005. This log entry will be
reserved for the 'raw data', analysis will follow.

First of all, we have some Linkwoods and Mortlachs.
During the session with Michel and Alexander we discussed how similar bottlings from this distillery can be. That was one of the reasons I've included several Linkwoods and Mortlachs in the latest 'Pandora' blind tasting. But as it turns out, some of these bottles passed through my shelf system without me publishing any notes on them.
Let's start with the Linkwoods;

Linkwood 11yo 1988/2000 (43%, SigV, Sherry Butt #2786, D. 31/05/1988, B. 06/01/2000, 932 Bottles)
Nose: A big sherry monster. Lovely organics. Toffee? Oh yeah, I love these extreme sherry monsters...
Taste: Phew! Big sherry attack! Smoke? Cool and minty in the centre, dry and woody in the long finish.
Extreme. Quite a contrast with C#2790 (see below) on the palate. That one is arguably better balanced...
Score: 83 points - I adore the XLNT nose but it's not convincing enough on the palate for the upper 80's.

Linkwood 12yo 1988/2000 (43%, SigV, Sherry Butt #2790, D. 31/05/1988, B. 24/10/2000, 912 Bottles)
Nose: Sweetish and a little fruity. Sweet malt and a hint of dust, just like a handful of malted barley. Nice.
It grows a little 'dirtier' over time. I imagine this is easy to drink by the bottle. Not overly complex, though.
Taste: Bittersweet fruity burn. More orangy bitterness later on. Chewy fruits at the end of the long finish.
Score: 78 points - a very decent single malt, and one that grows much more interesting with time.

Linkwood 1991/2005 (46%, Wilson & Morgan, Sherry Wood)
Nose: Sherry. Polished. Fruity. Spices are next. An upbeat malt. Hint of balsamic vinegar in the background.
More serious with time; organics. Very nice development over time; growing complexity. Hint of sulphur?
Taste: Not as cheerful as the nose. Sherry. Little sweetness. Hint of liquorice. Quite dry. Some tannins.
Score: 88 points - but the lovely nose warrants a score well in the 90's. The best of Speyside & Spain.

After three Linkwoods there were three Mortlachs on the table;
First was the Mortlach 13yo 1988/2001 (43%, Signatory Vintage, Sherry Butt #2638, D31/05/88, B28/06/01, 948 Bottles). I had almost emptied this bottle carelessly because I thought it was my second bottle of a version I already tried. Only when I paid attention to the cask number did I notice that this bottlings was new to me. Phew - that was a close call...
Nose: The first impressions are 'veggy' and 'farmyard'. Rotting hay. Slightly warped sherry. A weird one.
It smells a bit 'dirty' - but I have to admit that's not neccesarily 'bad'. Stings a bit in the nose.
Taste: Malty. Sophisticated sweetness that slowly fades away towards the centre. Coffee?
It grows dry and bitter towards the finish. Tea leaves. It slips out of recommendable territory here...
Score: 78 points - hardly the finest example of Mortlach I ever tried but it has an interesting nose.

Next: the Mortlach 13yo 1988/2001 (43%, Signatory, Butt #4270, D. 23/11/88, B. 11/12/01, 647 Bottles).
Nose: Organics. Sweaty socks. Quite potent for a Speysider. Dentist? Hint of grass? Settles down quietly.
Taste: Sherried but not too sweet. Light tannins. More 'serious' than many other young sherried Speysiders.
Score: 82 points - yep, I'd recommend this, but if it had opened up more it might have been mid-80's,

The Mortlach 8yo 1987/1995 (61.6%, Cadenhead's, 03/87, 12/95, USA, 75cl) came from Michel.
Nose: Organics. Metallic. Something spicy. Whiff of dust after addingw water, then more alcoholic.
Taste: Big & sweet - and surprisingly drinkable at C/S. Lovely hot & fruity centre. Long sweet finish.
Score: 80 points - but I have a feeling I may have to revisit this one to get a better impression.

I saved the oldest and heaviest Mortlach for last - at over 62% it could cause a nose bleed...
I bought the Mortlach 20yo 1978/1998 (62.2%, UDRM) quite some time ago. I don't know if that had anything to do with it, but when I tried to open the bottle the cork broke. Blasted!!!! That has happened to me just a few times earlier and I always feel that there might have been some contamination, even after filtering and decanting the whisky.
Nose: Again, it starts with organics. Could that be a 'marker' for Mortlach? Sweetening out over time.
Taste: Sweet. Big fruity centre with a slight grittiness that gives it some more substance. Quite hot.
After adding some water the sweetness seemed to disappear completely. Finish grows a tad bitter.
Score: 82 points - but I should add that is a very preliminary score. This needs a closer inspection.

After a small break I finished the evening with some (relatively) more obscure stuff...
The Caperdonich 1997/2005 (43%, Jean Boyer) was produced by a small French independent bottler.
Nose: Whiff of vomit in the start, but it improves quickly. Peat? Feisty prickle. Farmy notes, growing stronger.
Sweaty. Light fruity overtones in the background. Lemon. Not too complex, but this is just my kind of profile.
Taste: Sweet & peaty. First impression says Ardbeg or Caol Ila. There's an oily component I'm not crazy about.
Towards the finish distant herbal notes & some bitterness take over. Whiff of smoke in the end. Quite potent.
Score: 83 points - it loses a few points on the palate. Very enjoyable, I could spend an evening with this...

Last (recorded) dram this year: the Glen Elgin 1978/2005 (47.5%, Adelphi, Cask #4512).
Nose: Very sweet. Nose-numbing. Maybe I'm having a bad nose day, but I can't pick up anything.
Taste: Sweet and very hot. Mighty pleasant, actually. Not a lot of depth or character, though.
Score: 79 points - not a lot of character in the nose but it works great on the palate. Very drinkable.

And that's it for this year...
I have many ambitious plans for 2006 but I'll get into those later on...

Seasoned greetings!

Johannes

Later Liquid Log entriesEarlier Liquid Log entries

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
DRAM DIARY OCTOBER - DECEMBER 2005
(New & Revised Track Record scores)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

My Track Record is usually updated once a month with my latest scores.
The latest update was on October 1, 2005 when there were exactly 1226 single malts on the list.
Since then, I've sampled and scored the following Scotch single malt whiskies;

81 - Aberlour 1994/2005 (46%, Berry Bros, Casks #8847-8850)
80 - An Cnoc 12yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2005)
80 - An Cnoc 1990/2004 (46%, OB)
92 - Ardbeg 6yo 1998/2005 (56.2%, SMWS 33.57, Sherry Gorda)
83 - Arran NAS 'Grand Cru Champagne Cask Finish' (58.8%, OB, 308 Bottles, Bottled 2005)
88 - Aultmore 1991/2005 (46%, Wilson & Morgan)
60 - Auchentoshan 1995/2005 (43%, Jean Boyer)
78 - Balblair 16yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2005)
77 - Balmenach-Glenlivet 14yo 1989/2003 (53.2%, Cadenhead's, Bourbon Hogshead, July 2003, 300 Btl.)
83 - Ben Nevis 34yo 1970/2005 'Single Blend' (50.3%, Adelphi, Cask #4640)
89 - Benriach 28yo 1976/2005 (56.9%, Signatory, Cask #9442, Sherry butt, 426 Bottles)
85 - Benromach 22yo Port Finish (45%, OB, 22 months Port pipes finish, 3500 Bottles, Bottled 2005)

83 - Big Smoke 1999/2005 '40' (40.1%, Duncan Taylor, DTC-5/139, Bottled 1/7/2005)
77 - Big Smoke 1999/2005 '60' (60.1%, Duncan Taylor, DTC-5/135, Bottled 22/6/2005)
85 - Blackadder 'Peat Reek' (61.7%, Blackadder / Sun Favourite, Cask BA 10571, 294 bottles, May 2005)
87 - Blackadder 'Peat Reek' (62.1%, Blackadder / Sun Favourite, Cask BA 10570, 299 Bottles, May 2005)
85 - Blackadder 'Smoking Islay' (59.7%, Blackadder for Taiwan SMWTA, Cask BA 2005/202, 233 bottles)
89 - Blairfindy 24yo 1980/2004 (55.9%, Blackadder for Sun Favourite Taiwan, C#5984)
82 - Bowmore 1999/2005 'Young Peaty Islay 3rd Batch' (61.5%, Royal Mile Whiskies, 308 bottles)
79 - Bunnahabhain 12yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2005)
78 - Bunnahabhain 1974/2005 (46%, Berry Bros & Rudd, Casks #11534-11536)
86 - Bunnahabhain 33yo (45.5%, Royal Mile Whiskies, Cask #6249, 201 bottles)
85 - Caol Ila 1995/2005 'Extra Strength' (50%, Wilson & Morgan)
83 - Caol Ila 1993/2005 (46%, Wilson & Morgan)
89 - Caol Ila 1993/2005 (59.9%, Adelphi, Cask #6779)
90 - Caol Ila 12yo 1992/2005 (46%, Whisky Galore)
90 - Caol Ila 25yo 1979/2004 (61.2%, Bl'adder / Sun Favourite, C#5334)
83 - Caperdonich 1997/2005 (43%, Jean Boyer)
80 - Cardhu 22yo 1982/2005 (57.8%, OB, 3000 Btl.)
86 - Carsebridge 25yo 1979/2005 (56.4%, Ducan Taylor, Cask #32901, 154 Bottles)
78 - Clynelish 12yo 1989/2002 (43%, Signatory, South African Sherry Cask #3241)
86 - Clynelish 12yo (43%, OB, Di Chiano Import, Small cap, Regular neck, Bottled +/- 1970)
82 - Clynelish 1972/2005 (49.4%, The Whisky Exchange, 206 bottles)
85 - Clynelish 1971/2005 (45.7%, M&H Cask Selection, 228 bottles)

77 - Compass Box 'Eleuthera' (46%, Compass Box, K5073, Bottled +/- 2005)
78 - Compass Box 'The Peat Monster' (46%, Compass Box, K5064, Bottled +/- 2005)

83 - Compass Box 'The Spice Tree' (46%, Compass Box, Inaugural Batch, 4150 Bottles, 2005)
84 - Cragganmore 10yo 1993/2004 (60.1%, OB, Bodega European Oak, 15000 Bottles)
87 - Craigduff 32yo 1973/2005 (49.4%, Signatory, Sherry cask #2513, 566 Bottles)
90 - Dailuaine 31yo 1973/2005 (47.8%, The Whisky Fair, Sherry Butt #14739, 204 bottles)
88 - Edradour 11yo 1994/2005 (57.1%, OB, Straight from The Cask, Gaja Barolo finish)
77 - Edradour 11yo 1994/2005 (59.6%, OB, SfTC, Madeira finish, cask #04/316/4, 488 bottles)
51 - Famous Grouse 'Vintage Malt Whisky' 1992/2004 (40%, OB, vatted malt)
84 - Finlaggan NAS 'Old Reserve' (40%, Vintage Malt Whisky Co, Bottled +/- 2005)
86 - Glenallachie 13yo 1989/2003 (60.8%, Cadenhead's, Bourbon Hogshead, July 2003, 318 Bottles)
84 - Glenburgie 13yo 1990/2003 (57.9%, G&M 'Reserve', Cask #12510)
79 - Glen Elgin 1978/2005 (47.5%, Adelphi, Cask #4512)
80 - Glenfarclas 12yo (43%, OB, Bottled +/- 2005)
85 - Glenfarclas 25yo (43%, OB, Bottled +/- 2005)
89 - Glenfarclas 1974/2004 (50.5%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, Refill Sherry hogshead #6041)

83 - Glenfarclas 1974/2000 (43%, OB, 2732 Bottles)
82 - Glenglassaugh 28yo 1976 (51.9%, Dormant Distillery Company, Cask #2376).
83 - Glengoyne 15yo 'Scottish Oak Wood Finish' (43%, OB, Bottled 2005)

91 - Glengoyne 15yo 1989/2005 'Duncan's Choice' (55.7%, OB, Sherry hogshead #1204, 350 Bottles)
92 - Glengoyne 19yo 1986/2005 'Ewan's Choice' (51.5%, OB, Sherry Puncheon #441, 600 Bottles)
87 - Glengoyne 19yo 1985/2005 (55.8%, OB, Refiil sherry cask #1227, 697 Bottles)
84 - Glengoyne 22yo 1982/2005 'Ronnie's Choice' (53.6%, OB, Bourbon barrel #449, 200 bottles)
90 - Glengoyne 32yo 1972/2005 (48.7%, OB, White Rioja cask #985, 328 bottles)
92 - Glengoyne 37yo 1967/2005 (47.6%, OB, Sherry Butt #975, 246 bottles)
89 - Glen Grant 31yo 1970/2001 (45%, Samaroli, Sherry cask #1025).
88 - Glenlivet 36yo 1968/2005 (48.6%, Duncan Taylor, Sherry cask #6195, 136 bottles)
84 - Glen Ord 40yo (40.1%, Royal Mile Whiskies, 300 bottles)
84 - Glenrothes 1972/2004 (43%, OB)
86 - Glenrothes 36yo 1968/2005 (53.2%, Ducan Taylor, Cask #13486, 144 bottles)
85 - Glen Spey-Glenlivet 15yo 1985/2001 (57.5%, Cadenhead's, Sherry Butt, July 2001, 612 Bottles)
82 - Glentauchers 14yo 1990/2004 (46%, G&M 'Reserve', Cask #14516)
80 - Glenugie 25yo 1979/2005 (50%, DL OMC, 291 Bottles, DLREF 1094)
84 - Highland Park 8yo (43%, OB, Ferraretto Milano, Bottled 1979)
86 - Highland Park 12yo (40%, OB, Bottled 08/07/1992 for the Belgian Market)
83 - Highland Park 13yo 1992/2005 (65.2%, Adelphi, Cask #20361)
93 - Highland Park 17yo 'No Vintage' (43%, OB, James Grant, Green dumpy bottle, Bottled 1970's)
86 - Highland Park 18yo (43%, OB, Bottled +/- 2005)
87 - Highland Park 19yo 1985/2005 (54%, Signatory, Cask #2911, Hogshead, 296 bottles)
87 - Highland Park 25yo (51,5%, OB, Circular wooden box, Bottled 2000)
94 - Highland Park 36yo 1967/200X (49.7%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, Cask #10252, 138 bottles)
92 - Inchgower 24yo 1980/2005 (60.4%, Adelphi, Cask #14152)
90 - Invergordon 1964/2005 (47.1%, Adelphi, Cask #57637)
78 - Inverleven 26yo 1977/2003 (57%, DT Rare Auld Peerless, Cask #3095, 108 Bottles)
92 - Isle of Jura 5yo 1999/2004 (60.6%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, Cask #19)
83 - JM&R 'The Rich Spicy One' (40%, John, Mark & Robbo, Bottled +/- 2005)
79 - JM&R 'The Smoky Peaty One' (40%, John, Mark & Robbo, Bottled +/- 2005)
80 - JM&R 'The Smooth Sweeter One' (40%, John, Mark & Robbo, Bottled +/- 2005)
77 - Knockando 1979/2000 Master Reserve (43%, OB, 70cl)
90 - Laphroaig NAS 'Quarter Cask' (48%, OB, Bottled +/- 2005)
84 - Laphroaig 10yo 1990/2001 (46%, Cadenhead's Original Collection, Bourbon Hogshead, 282 Bottles)
85 - Laphroaig 10yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2005)
93 - Laphroaig 10yo 'Cask Strength' (55.7%, OB, Red Stripe, Bottled +/- 2005).
90 - Laphroaig 13yo 1991/2005 (59.1%, SMWS 29.40)
95 - Laphroaig 31yo 1974/2005 (49.7%, OB for La Maison du Whisky, Sherry, 910 bottles)
93 - Ledaig 30yo 1974/2005 (48.7%, Signatory, Cask #3223, Shery hogshead, 208 bottles)
83 - Linkwood 11yo 1988/2000 (43%, SigV, Sherry Butt #2786, D. 31/05/1988, B. 06/01/2000, 932 Bottles)
78 - Linkwood 12yo 1988/2000 (43%, SigV, Sherry Butt #2790, D. 31/05/1988, B. 24/10/2000, 912 Bottles)
88 - Linkwood 1991/2005 (46%, Wilson & Morgan, Sherry Wood)
94 - Macallan 'Coilltean' 1992/2004 (55%, Samaroli, New American oak cask #8518, 420 bottles)
75 - Macallan 15yo 'Fine Oak' (43%, OB, Bottled 2005)
82 - Macallan 15yo 1989/2005 (57.2%, SMWS 24.82)
88 - Miltonduff 12yo 1989/2001 (65,28%, Single Barrel Coll., Cask #30322, 289 Bottles)
80 - Mortlach 8yo 1987/1995 (61.6%, Cadenhead's, 03/87, 12/95, USA, 75cl)
78 - Mortlach 13yo 1988/2001 (43%, Signatory Vintage, Sherry Butt #2638, D31/05/88, B28/06/01, 948 Btl.)
82 - Mortlach 13yo 1988/2001 (43%, Signatory Vintage, Sherry Butt #4270, D23/11/88, B11/12/01, 647 Btl.)
82 - Mortlach 20yo 1978/1998 (62.2%, UDRM)
75 - Rosebank 12yo 1991/2004 (43%, Signatory Vintage, D. 27/11/91, B. 5/2/04, Casks #4700-02, 35cl)
76 - Rosebank 1990/2005 (46%, Berry Bros & Rudd, Casks #1518-1519-1520)
92 - Royal Brackla 27yo 1975/2002 'Green Brackla' (59.7%, The Whisky Exchange, C#5471, 204 bottles)
78 - Royal Lochnagar NAS 'Selected Reserve' (43%, OB, Bottled +/- 2003)
81 - Samaroli No'Age Edition 2001 (45%, Samaroli, 1596 Bottles)
75 - Scapa 1993/2005 (45%, Gordon & MacPhail for La Maison du Whisky)
75 - Scapa 14yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2005)
80 - Speyside 1990/2005 'Armagnac Finish' (54.4%, Celtique Connexion, 297 Bottles)
96 - Springbank 12yo 100 Proof (57.1%, OB, Imported by Samaroli, 2400 Bottles, Bottled early 1980's)
75 - Springbank 15yo 1989/2005 (60.5%, SMWS 27.57)
84 - Strathmill 11yo 1992/2004 (59.7%, Cadenhead's, Bourbon Barrel, January 2004, 84 Bottles)
87 - Talisker NAS '175th Anniversary' (45.8%, OB, Bottled 2005, 60,000 Bottles)
87 - Talisker 15yo 1989/2004 (59.9%, SMWS 14.14)
82 - Talimbourg 19yo 1986/2005 (45.9%, The Whisky Fair, Bourbon hogshead #1485, 252 Bottles)
85 - Talisker 25yo 'Bottled in 2004' (57.8%, OB, Refill Casks, 21000 Bottles)
83 - Teaninich 19yo 1983/2002 (58.7%, Cadenhead's Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 174 bottles)
82 - Tomatin 25yo (43%, OB, Bottled +/- 2005)
75 - Tomintoul 10yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2005)
77 - Tomintoul 16yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2005)
83 - Tomintoul 27yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2005)
82 - W&M House Malt 'Born on Islay' 1997/2005 (43%, Wilson & Morgan, Cask #818-824)
86 - 'ZDFbeg 1988/2005 (55.5%, Whiskykanzel, Bottled 04/2005, 500ml, Ardbeg)

So, it seems I can add well over a hundred fresh entries to my Track Record this time.
My malt mileage so far: 1441 ...
 

StemapEarlier Liquid Log entriesEarlier Liquid Log entries

Glenfiddich

The last few months of 2005 proved to be more maniacal than ever. I've sampled almost 150 malts.
Most of my attention was focused on the Malt Maniacs Awards 2005 these months - a great adventure!

260 - 01/10/2005 - Please Hold; my Liquid Log went into hibernation before the 2005 MM Awards.
261 - 01/11/2005 - Autumn in Amsterdam; the weather is finally turning. As good an excuse as any.
262 - 08/11/2005 - Three Islands; an investigation of the products from Arran, Orkney and Skye.
263 - 11/11/2005 - Mirror Walpurgis; twice a year I turn my foggy eyes towards some 'deviant drams'.
264 - 13/11/2005 - Private Feis Ile; The awards left me tied to home so I planned a private session.
265 - 15/11/2005 - MM Awards 2005 Winners; the leaders of the pack in this year's awards line-up.
266 - 27/11/2005 - Glengoyne; After making a strong impression last year, 2005 was a victory lap.
267 - 30/11/2005 - Silly Stats; As it turns out I've misinterpreted some of our more recent statistics.
268 - 01/12/2005 - Awards Review 1; After analysing the biggest winners it's time to look at the rest.
269 - 05/12/2005 - Awards Review 2; Let me tell you about Sinterklaas while I sample some Caol Ila's.
270 - 10/12/2005 - Awards Review 3; Working my way down the list I've arrived in bronze territory.
271 - 12/12/2005 - Awards Wrap-Up; Let's spend a few words on the last noteworthy awards entries.
272 - 15/12/2005 - More Classic Malts; Diageo recently introduced the 'Classic Malts Selection.
273 - 18/12/2005 - Amsterdramming; Alexander van der Veer & Michel van Meersbergen dropped by.
274 - 23/12/2005 - 2005 Wrap-Up; an assembly of my final comments and tasting notes for 2005.

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Tullibardine
 

Inchmurrin (Loch Lomond)
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Liquid Log - October to December 2005

Lochnagar 12 years old whisky
Longmorn 16 years old whisky
Macallan 12 years old whisky
Miltonduff Scotch whisky
Oban 14 years old Scotch whisky
Scapa Scotch whisky