Special Report - Hamstergeddon 2006

Hamstergeddon!What is 'Hamstergeddon', you ask?
That would be a fun pun from Davin on the annual
'Ardbeggeddon' event that's organised by the American
PLOWED people. But while Ardbeggeddon (which has
reached mythical proportions by now) has its focus on
mass consumption of quality whiskies, Hamstergeddon
is a project dedicated to a far more 'maniacal' purpose:
collecting bottles, miniatures and samples from all the
Scotch malt whisky distilleries that are not yet (or: still
not) represented by at least six expressions on our
collective 'score board'; the Malt Maniacs Matrix.
We want to 'eliminate' the single malts we've collected
before the end of 2006, so the name 'Hamstergeddon'
fits the bill quite well, we think.... Here you'll find fairly
frequent updates on our struggle to properly fill the
matrix this year - and in the years to come.

This special Hamstergeddon report is part of a series of six.
In Log Entry #300 I've tried to wrap up the first part of the Liquid Log I've kept between 1997 and 2006.
I've collected some monthly reviews for 2006 and my monthly 'malt mileages'.
These are the five other special reports;

300A - Past, Present & Future (Observations & ideas about the future of Malt Madness / Malt Maniacs)
300C - Festivities (Reports about various meetings, festivals and 'super tastings' from April to December)
300D - Vox Populi (Every now and then we receive an interesting question from a member of the public)
300E - A Beginner's Guide to Amsterdam (Yeah, I know it's a bit off-topic, but I promised to publish it)
300F - The Raveling (The tying up of several unraveling 'loose ends' of my liquid log before the re-launch)
My personal quest to finish all Distillery Profiles this year is documented on a special 'progress' page.
Here's an overview of our final sprint to the 'Hamstergeddon' finish line - and the progress on my 'to do' list.

This page contains the following entries;

25/04/2006 - Groundhog Day (A report about some particulary 'hard core' hamstergeddon tasting)
30/04/2006 - Hamstergeddon Status Report 1.0 (One month into the project we take stock)
21/05/2006 - Hamstergeddon Status Report 1.5 (My visit to Alsace was a big hamster-boost)
04/06/2006 - Warming Up (A little 'warming up' session for the upcoming debauchery with Davin)
13/06/2006 - Hamster Fight! (Davin visited Amsterdam for a MASSIVE Hamstergeddon session)
30/06/2006 - The Hamsterdam Sessions (My delayed tasting notes for the 'Hamsterdramming')
12/08/2006 - Ye Olde Matrix (Now that the big overhaul of the site is near, I'm starting to panic)
14/08/2006 - The 'Jump' to 1650 malts (?) (With the site ready to crash, I have to hurry it up)
15/08/2006 - Hamstergeddon Satus Report 1.9 (How far did we come with 'Hamstergeddon'?)

April 25, 2006 - Groundhog Day

Oh boy, I've really lost my way...
I had planned to write about some 'big issues' concerning the future development of MM
this month but until now I've been mostly focusing on Amsterdam and my 'usual' tasting
sessions. Now there's less than one week left and I'll never manage to finish all that I
planned in April. Still, there are some 'loose ends' I want to wrap up. Or rather need to
wrap up; partly because I plan on building a brand new website 'on top of' this one next
year and partly because I have a compulsive streak in me that keeps nagging me about
all the ambitious and foolhardy projects and plans that I've started and never finished.
The hard drive of my PC is cluttered with enough 'rough diamonds' (or, as others call it,
'crap') to fill hundreds of log entries but with the deadline of December 31, 2006 looming
on the horizon it's time to focus on my main objectives.
These objectives would be (in no particular order);

   * Finishing the distillery profiles (I still have to cover all active distilleries starting with G-T)
   * Getting at least 6 different expressions from each relevant distillery on my Track Record
   * Getting at least 6 different expressions from each relevant distillery on the MM Matrix
   * Making proper arrangements for the Malt Maniacs Awards 2006 with Serge & Olivier
   * Tweaking the content and structure of the current site to function as an 'archive'
   * Setting up a new & improved infrastructure and user interface for Malt Madness 2.0

Phew.... quite a hefty list if you consider that it should all be done in the next eight months.
And these are just the big projects - my calendar is also filling up quickly with a bunch of whisky
events and maniacal meetings. In two weeks I'll be joining fellow Dutch maniacs Michel and Alexander for a visit to Bert Bruyneel in Belgium, in May I'll be flying to Alsace for some powerdramming at Serge's, in June Davin will drop by in Amsterdam for a few 'Hamstergeddon' sessions and the three Dutch maniacs will attend the 'Super Wigman Tasting', we'll probably have another 'Awards Filling Party', and so on and so forth...

Well, never mind... I'll just have to tackle these issues one at the time, I guess... It just means that I'll have to put a bunch of other pet projects I've been working on 'on the backburner', so to speak. I may get to them later this year and then again I may very well not - you'll just have to check this log regurarly to see if any of these pipe dreams ever become reality ;-)

But enough about my strategical scheming for now - I have some fresh tasting notes as well.
First of all, there was a Glen Albyn sample from Olivier. I'm saving most of the samples Olivier sent for a big 'Hamstergeddon' session when Davin gets to Holland after Feis Ile, but there wasn't enough left in this miniature for two people to seriously sample it and the little screwcap was very loose. So, let's try that one now...

Glen Albyn 20yo 1969/1989 (55%, Signatory, cask #483-484, Dist. 14/2/69, Bottled 8/89)
Nose: Quite fruity with a solid dose of sherry. Then more organics emerge. Very quick development.
Antracite? Rotting peaches. Bakery aroma's. Strange - it seems to switch between multiple personalities.
It had moments when I was inclined to go for the upper 80's, other moments it barely reached average.
You have to pay attention, though. After some fifteen minutes it's pretty much dead. A strange one...
Taste: Solid, sweet start at cask strength. Solid, sweet and malty centre. Hot, fruity finish. A bit weird.
The finish is very long, the problem is that it's a bit winey and metallic. Even the faintest hint of peat?
Not really my type of finish - but like the nose the character seemed to change constantly. Weird....
Score: 80 points - interesting enough to give it the most lukewarm of recommendations.
It really drops off at the end of the finish, but the nose is extremely interesting.

Hurray.... I've just sampled my fourth Glen Albyn - as it turns out the best one I've tried so far.
As a silent distillery - and one of the more obscure ones to boot - it wasn't on my 'to do' list, but that doesn't mean I'm not psyched to have gained some more experience with the product from the distillery. Another distillery I really needed to explore further is Loch Lomond - being less than thrilled with three out of the the four expressions I've tried so far (an Loch Lomond NAS, an Old Rhosdhu 5yo and an Inchmurrin 10yo - 51, 44 and 66 points respectively), I really wasn't trying too hard to find more expressions from this low profile distillery. That being said, a 2004 bottling of Croftengea (a heavily peated version) managed to surprise me quite a bit - expressed in a perhaps overly generous 84 points. Now it's time to bring the number of sampled expressions from Loch Lomond to six, so I can make a first 'broad strokes' judgement.

Craiglodge 2001/2005 (45%, OB, Distillery Select, Cask #223, Dist. 26/2/01, Bottled 8/9/05, 434 Bottles)
Nose: Sour and immature. Very farmy. Cattle feed. Not unlike grappa. Not a trace of peat I could find.
Taste: Superficial and gritty. Very much like grain whisky. Young, cheap grain whisky that is.
Very much like stale beer in the finish - they've stooped to new lows at Loch Lomond distillery.
Score: 32 points - that's right.... this is one of the very worst single malts I ever tried!
The only thing that kept it from sinking any lower was the fact that it had personality.
Oh, the torture and humiliation I'm willing to suffer to reach my obsessive objectives...

Inchmoan 2001/2005 (45%, OB, Distillery Select, Cask #53, Dist. 5/3/01, Bottled 7/9/05, 397 Bottles)
Nose: Crap! Pretty much the same as the Craiglodge. Farmy and immature, maybe less expressive.
In fact, it quickly turned into a 'gutter' direction. Glue and maybe the faintest memory of a hint of peat.
Taste: A little sweeter than the Craiglodge, maybe with the faintest hint of peat. Beer again.
Score: 28 points - incredible.... What were they thinking when they released this?

Phew.... I thought that at +/- 30 Euro's a bottle these were bound to offer good value but I was wrong.
Maybe the fact that they've used articficial corks for these bottlings should have tipped me off... And I think I've finally found the real reason why Loch Lomond uses so many different names for their malts. The likelihood of anybody with a reasonably discerning taste ever again buying a bottle of Loch Lomond after having tried it are slim. The brand name will be burned into the section of the limbic system devoted to 'experiences to avoid at all cost next time'. By releasing their malts under so many different names, Loch Lomond allows people to make the same mistake over and over again....

Well, it's Groundhog Day!!! To quote the famous American philosopher G. W Bush: 'Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again.' It seems the people of Loch Lomond managed to fool me five out of six times. That's quite enough, I think. I can cross it from my 'to do' list and file it under 'unsound investment' - just like that other generically named distillery: Speyside / Drumguish. Over the years I've learned that even the most obscure and neglected distillery has inadvertedly used some excellent casks in the past and some of these casks were left alone long enough to do their magical work. However, in some cases these exceptions seem to be so rare that it's simply foolhardy to take a chance. After 'officially' sampling six expressions from both Loch Lomond and Speyside (and quite a few more 'off the record') these are the only two active distilleries on the distillery data page that share this questionable honour.

However, there are a few other distilleries on my 'to do list' that could join them later.
I have my doubts about Allt A'Bhainne, Aultmore, Glen Spey, Tamnavulin and Tullibardine. Well, I guess we'll know soon enough - 'Hamstergeddon I' is just a few weeks away! I can hardly wait...

Anyway... Do you know what this means?
I can cross Loch Lomond from my 'To Do' list - excellent....

Sweet drams,


April 30, 2006 - Hamstergeddon Status Report 1.0

After Feis Ile 2006 (which I sadly won't be able to attend) Davin will
drop by in Amsterdam to do some tasting for the 'Hamstergeddon'
project. This is the name for our latest maniacal challenge: trying to
get at least six expressions from each 'relevant' (i.e. operating or
recently closed) distillery in Scotland on the matrix. Davin and myself
have been very active in pursuing this goal, but not all the malt
maniacs share the same level of dedication in this matter.

Well, who can blame them? After all, there's often a fairly good reason
why bottlings from distilleries like Allt A'Bhainne or Glen Spey are rare.
More often than not the odd bottling that is released to the public isn't
quite up to the same standards as more 'mainstream' malts. The malt
whisky that's produced by these distilleries was made almost exclusively
for blending, and usually at a relatively tender age to boot. It would
seem logical to assume that the cask management at these distilleries
was focused on turnover and volume rather than on the quality of
individual casks. That being said, there's some magic and mystery
left in the process that shapes a single malt Scotch whisky.

It's entirely possible that the occasional promising cask gets forgotten
about long enough to develop an interesting character of its own. The
trick is finding out what the odds are (approximately) for each distillery.

Even Davin and I don't want to punish ourselves more than we have to...
So, we decided that the opinion of at least three different maniacs on at least half a dozen different expressions from a particular distillery would enable us to make a 'ballpark guesstimate' about the general odds of any particular bottling from that distillery being any good. I should point out that with these 'obscure' bottlings, factors like the type of cask or the bottler that selected it are even more important than usual. That means that the fairly randomly selected number of six expressions per distillery is hardly statistically sound.
Never mind, that's the number - and it's the same as the number I need for my own 'to do list'.

So, it seems that this year the maniacal goals and my own are conveniently converging...
Those among you who are of the mathematical persuasion will have instantly understood what I only figured at the end of a night of heavy dramming: if you combine two 'sets' of objectives (the maniacal 'to do list' and my own) you get three subsets: two sets of original objectives that don't match and an area in the middle where they overlap.
So, that would be:

  • Set A (Distilleries that I - but not the other maniacs - still need to explore further)
  • Set B (Distilleries that the other maniacs - but not me - still need to explore further)
  • Set C (Distilleries that both the other maniacs and myself still need to explore further)

Thanks to the miracles of modern technology it was easy to coordinate our worldwide efforts within a few hours. We agreed that we would try to tackle the first two groups in May, leaving us seven more months to form a joint strike force to attack the remaining distilleries in Set C. Around May 18 I will fly to Basel to meet up with Serge to do some serious dramming and hopefully get the chance to sample enough expressions from the remaining distilleries in Set A. Serge told me he has some 700 (!!!) samples waiting to be tasted, so there's a good chance I'll get to strike these distilleries from my list soon;

Set A - My Personal 'To Do List'

1 x Dalwhinnie (Granted, hardly an obscure distillery. I just never looked very hard for new expressions.)
3 x Fettercairn (Not as widely available as Dalwhinnie, but certainly obtainable without too much effort.)
2 x Glenury Royal (Now, THIS is a proper obscure distillery. However, Serge has some in Alsace he told me.)
2 x Strathisla (Not especially obscure, and also destined to fall from the list after my visit to Alsace)

In fact, Serge just confirmed that he has quite a few samples from most of these distilleries on his shelves, with the exception of Dalwhinnie. Well, it should be easy enough to check out a recent batch of Dalwhinnie at De Still or the Cadenhead's store in the forseeable future, which means I should have 'caught up' with the other maniacs by the end of May as far as these distilleries are concerned. So, there are just four distilleries (Dalwhinnie, Fettercairn, Glenury Royal, Strathisla) with more expressions listed on the matrix than on my Track Record. On the other hand, there are no less than twelve distilleries that I've already crossed off my 'to do list' while the other maniacs seem to have fallen behind. This is 'Set B', listed below...

Set B - The Maniacal 'To Do List'

2 x Auchroisk (Singleton) - and as luck would have it I have two samples; the 1981 and 10yo OB's.
2 x Cardhu - Davin just ordered a 5cl mini of the Cardhu 12yo Pure Malt (40%, OB, Bottled 2003).
1 x Dufftown - When I write this we are still looking for one more expression for the matrix.
3 x Glencadam - Just three expressions on the matrix for this recently reopened distillery.
1 x Glenkinchie - When I write this we are still looking for one more expression for the matrix.
1 x Glen Moray - When I write this we are still looking for one more expression for the matrix.
1 x Inverleven - When I write this we are still looking for one more expression for the matrix.
2 x Knockando - I happen to have not two but three different expressions available for the maniacs.
2 x Littlemill - Davin just ordered a 5cl mini of the Littlemill 13yo 1990/2004 (43%, SigV, C#2976).
1 x North Port-Brechin - When I write this we are still looking for one more expression for the matrix.
1 x Speyburn - Davin just ordered a 5cl mini of the Speyburn 1974 (40%, Connoisseur's Choice).
2 x Speyside - Davin just ordered a 5cl mini of the Speyside 10yo 1993/2003 (46%, Hart Brothers).
2 x Tormore - When I write this we are still looking for two more expressions for the matrix.

So, that's 18 expressions from 12 distilleries, about half of which are already 'on stock'.
A few more miniatures that Davin bought on eBay are bound to arrive soon and I may be able to find samples for some of these distilleries when I rummage around in my own samples collection. I plan to collect all relevant samples and miniatures in a package and pass that on to Serge in three weeks - so he can take it with him to Islay. If we manage to make the list complete in the next few weeks Davin, Serge and Olivier could mix these 'hamstergeddon' malts in with their 'regular' sampling during Feis Ile 2006. If they succeed, we'll have the rest of the year to focus our efforts on:

Set C - Our Collective 'To Do List'

The list below shows the number of expressions we still need for the matrix first and the number I personally need to fill the required half dozen for my Track Record between brackets.

3 (2) x Allt A'Bhainne - an obscure distillery for sure; we need to find no less than three more bottlings.
1 (1) x Aultmore - Just in from Olivier: a James McArthur bottling from 1989 at more than 60%.
1 (2) x Balmenach - Just in from Davin: Balmenach 25yo 1972/1997 (43.0, Hart Brothers).
2 (1) x Blair Athol - Almost there.... I foolishly neglected to make notes on an antique version recently.
4 (1) x Deanston - Almost wiped from my personal 'to do list', but the maniacs still need five to go!
2 (2) x Glen Albyn - Erm.... my administration is a little vague at this point... One or two available...
3 (4) x Glenallachie - I have a Glenallachie 13yo 1989/2003 (60.8%, Cadenhead) on my shelves.
2 (2) x Glenburgie - Just in from Davin: Glenburgie 10yo (40%, Gordon & MacPhail).
2 (4) x Glencraig - Just in from Davin: Glencraig 30yo 1974/2004 (40.1%, DT Rarest of the Rare).
4 (3) x Glenesk (Hillside) - Just in from Davin: Glen Esk 13yo 1982/1995 (66,5%, Cadenhead's).
2 (2) x Glenglassaugh - Two expressions still unaccounted for. We'll keep our eyes peeled.
3 (2) x Glenlochy - Quite an obscure one as well; I'm one step ahead of the other maniacs here.
1 (1) x Glen Spey - Just in: Glen Spey 15yo 1985/2001 (43%, Signatory, butt #3045, 678 Bottles).
2 (1) x Glentauchers - Just in from Davin (I think): Glentauchers 1990 (59.2%, James McArthur).
5 (3) x Glenugie - Here we'll still need a lot of work to do; there's just one version on the matrix so far.
4 (3) x Kinclaith - Just in from Davin: Kinclaith 20yo (46%, Cadenhead's black label) - but 3 more to go.
1 (2) x (Royal) Lochnagar - Almost there, if I can find a sample soon I've caught up with the pack.
2 (2) x Milburn - A problem here is that most available bottlings seem to be from Gordon & MacPhail.
1 (2) x Mosstowie - Another distillery where I'm just a tad behind on the other maniacs. Fixable...
2 (2) x Pityvaich - Two more to go for both me and the other maniacs before we've filled our quota.
4 (2) x Strathmill - A forgotten distillery; I have a Strathmill 11yo from Cadenhead's on my shelves.
3 (3) x Tamnavulin - I crossed this silent still from my own list but two fresh expressions just arrived.
1 (1) x Teaninich - Just one more expression to go. We have: Teaninich 20yo (56.9%, James McArthur).
1 (2) x Tullibardine - Just in from Davin: a Tullibardine 15yo (49.8%, Hart Brothers). One more to go.

That's it for now.
Expect an 'intermediate' Hamstergeddon update around May 21, after I've returned from France.
The next 'proper' update is scheduled for some time by the end of June, after Davin's visit to Amsterdam.

Sweet drams,


May 21, 2006 - Hamstergeddon Status Report 1.5

Bonjour, mes amis!
I've enjoyed a few highly enjoyable days in Alsace last week.
Serge and I spent almost the entire second day on a terrace
in the sun, enjoying many drams and the local flora & fauna, including a pair of busy storks that were nesting on a medieval
building nearby, swallows, bats and a hornet. (Well, we didn't
really enjoy that one...) No hamsters were sighted, though...

Serge and his lovely wife Frederique are the most gracious
hosts you could ever imagine and they have a very well
stocked kitchen and herb garden. That gave Serge & me
the opportunity to investigate certain aroma's we found in
the malts further. During these few days in Alsace I've
smelled and identified more new things than ever before
in such a short time!

For example, my breakfast on day II was my first glass of Chartreuse!
It's a traditional herbal liqueur in the 'aniseed' spectrum - some similarities to 'Pernod' but more complex.
Other enlightening experiences included half a dozen different honeys (including chestnut and pine), several interesting food oils (including pistachio oil and Argan oil from Morrocco) and 'propolis' - which I'll explain later because it's quite interesting how this stuff is used and produced. In fact, I'll get into all the other details of my trip later on. Since this page is supposed to deal with the 'Hamstergeddon' project, this is neither the time nor the place for a big 'vacation' report.

On this page I'll limit myself to a list of the 38 (!!!) samples we tried; most of them 'obscure'.
This is sort of an 'intermediate' review - I'll take stock of our progress again after the scores from Feis Ile 2006 (Serge, Olivier and Davin will attend) and Davin's upcoming visit to Amsterdam in June are in. We should be able to strike off quite a few obscure distilleries in June after the dust has cleared - allowing us to focus on the remaining distilleries in September.

Here's what Serge and I tried in a series of H2H's;

95 - Ardbeg 1967/1995 (53,2%, Signatory Vintage, Dark Oloroso Cask #574)
93 - Ardbeg 1967/1995 (53,7%, Signatory Vintage, Pale Oloroso Cask #575)
89 - Ardbeg 1967/1996 (52,3%, Signatory Vintage, Pale Oloroso Cask #576)
92 - Ardbeg 1967/1997 (52,2%, Signatory Vintage, Dark Oloroso Cask #1138)
75 - Balmenach 1970 (40%, G&M Connoisseur's Choice Old Brown Label, 12yo?)
79 - Balmenach 12yo (43%, Flora & Fauna, Bottled Late 1990's)
83 - Deanston NAS (40%, OB, "100% Highland", Bottled Late 1970's)
65 - Deanston 12yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 1990)
89 - Fettercairn 13yo 1980/1994 (43%, Sign, Cask 2001-02, 750 b.)
87 - Fettercairn 14yo 1980/1994 (43%, Sign, Cask 2003-04, 680 b.)
64 - Glen Albyn 10yo (43%, OB, Bottled 1960's)
73 - Glen Albyn 1973/1998 (40%, G&M Connoisseur's Choice)
70 - Glenallachie 12yo 1992/2004 (43%, Signatory Vintage, C#453)
82 - Glenallachie 1981/2004 (55.9%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, C#600)
78 - Glenburgie 5yo (40%, OB, Bottled Late 1960's, Italy)
70 - Glenburgie 10yo (40%, G&M 'OB', Bottled circa 2004)
84 - Glencraig 19yo 1981/2001 (59,5%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, 276 Bottles)
79 - Glencraig 30yo 1974/2004 (40.2%, Rarest of the Rare, Cask #2928, 229 Bottles)
80 - Glenugie 20yo 1966/1987 (46%, Cadenhead dumpy, D 12/'66 - B 04/'87)
75 - Glenugie 1966/1986 (55%, Samaroli, 75 cl, 480 Bottles)
87 - Glenury Royal 1964/1977 (80 Proof, Cadenhead's Dumpy - 12yo age statement?)
88 - Glenury Royal 1966/1979 (46%, Cadenhead's 'Dumpy')
78 - Kinclaith 35yo 1969/2004 (53.2%, Duncan Taylor RoR, C#301455, 207 Bottles)
81 - Kinclaith 35yo 1969/2004 (54%, Signatory, Cask #301443, 217 Bottles)
84 - Laphroaig 17yo 1987/2004 (51,9%, Jack & Jack Auld Distillers Coll., sherry cask 180 Bottles)
90 - Laphroaig 'Tamifroyg' NAS (49%, Regensburger Whisky Club, Bottled 2006, 28 Bottles)
77 - Millburn 11yo 1983/1994 (59.7%, Cadenhead's)
79 - Millburn 25yo 1974/2000 (58.5%, Aberdeen Distillers, C#5725)
75 - Pittyvaich 13yo (54,3%, James MacArthur, Bottled early 1990's)
89 - Pittyvaich 26yo 1974 (55.8%, Kingsbury Celtic for Japan, cask #3498, 514 Bottles)
80 - Strathisla 10yo (43%, Chivas OB, Italy, Bottled 1960's)
91 - Strathisla 1967/2003 (54,3%, G&M for Barmetro 35th Anniversary, C#2063, 153 Bottles)
79 - Strathmill 1992 (64.2%, James McArthur, Bottled +/- 2005)
81 - Strathmill 28yo 1975/2003 (44%, The Secret Treasures, c. #1890/1892, 554 b.)
87 - Tamnavulin 1988/1997 (58.9%, Gordon & MacPhail Cask Series, C#4706-4709)
90 - Tamnavulin 37yo 1967/2005 (46.7%, Duncan Taylor, C#1018)
65 - Teaninich 10yo 1993/2003 (61%, SMWS 59.23)
89 - Teaninich 21yo 1982/2004 (62.3%, The Bottlers, Refill sherry butt #7202)

And that's not all. Serge also passed along a whopping 60 samples for me to try at home!
I've been thinking in secret about a 'Death Race 2000' project to try and reach the 2000 malts mark before the end of the year. After some serious consideration I've dismissed the project as simply too mad, but with a few trips and swaps like this it might actually become feasible! But maybe I should worry about some other unfinished projects first...

Like Hamstergeddon, for example....
After tasting two (Old) Fettercairns, two Glenury Royals and two Strathislas in Alsace I've almost eliminated all the 'Set A'  distilleries (already sufficiently explored on the matrix but not on my Track Record with less than six expressions sampled.) Dalwhinnie and Old Fettercairn are the only 2 remaining distilleries on that list right now. The status of sets 'B' and 'C' is a bit harder to determine at the moment. Set B featured the distilleries that I've already tried at least six expressions of, but 'the maniacs' not. Since I'm also a maniac, each malt that Serge and I tried would only need a third score to reach the matrix. In this case none of the Set B distileries could be knocked off, but in many cases there was enough left for a third maniac to try it. That means that some of the malt we tried will trickle onto the matrix in the next few months.

That leaves the 'C' set, and we've made quite some progress there. After sampling the Balmenach 12yo F&F it can be crossed off the maniacal list, but since the maniacs tried one more than me it moves to my 'set A' - with one more to go... After the Glenburgie 10yo OB we need just one more on Track Record and matrix. Serge and I tried two Glencraigs in Alsace (a 19yo and a 30yo), which puts it at six on the matrix - but just four on my track record. So, that moves to 'Set A' as well... The Glenugie 1966/1986 from Samaroli was just a drop in the ocean - the maniacs still need four more (two more for me.) The Kinclaith 35yo from Signatory puts the maniacs at 3 and me at 2 and last but not least the Strathmill 28yo from The Secret Treasures - so that one puts us at 3 against 1. After the Alsacian visit we could strike one distillery from Set C altogether: Teaninich. With the Teaninich 10yo from the SMWS and Teaninich 21yo from The Bottlers on my Track Record and the matrix we've met our quotum from this distillery.

That's it for now - expect a full report on the dramming in Alsace over the next few weeks...

Sweet drams,


June 4, 2006 - Warming Up

If all goes according to plan Davin will land at Schiphol airport
tomorrow evening for a few days of Hamstergeddon dramming.
I felt I needed to do a little 'warming up' in order to get myself
in the best possible sampling shape. And as luck would have it
I've brought sixty samples back from Alsace two weeks ago...
That means there's plenty of fresh stuff on my shelves to keep
me suitably warm tonight. Since I'm still in full 'hamstergeddon'
mode, I picked the most 'obscure' samples available. Well, the
ones that had less than 2cl left in them anyway - the ones that
are almost full will be shared with other malt maniacs, obviously.
Sampling sessions with maniacs like Serge, Olivier, Davin & Peter
have taught me the benefits of 'micro-dramming'.
When I started MM in 1997 I still felt I needed to drink an entire
big (70cl) bottle before I could give it a 'serious' score, but these
days I'm usually able to 'classify' a malt pretty accurately based on
half a dram. Well, provided I have a 'good nose day', of course...

I started tonight's session early and managed to squeeze in over a dozen different malts.
That's enough 'warming up' for one evening, eh? The first half of the evening is dedicated to three pairs from the same distillery. I've always been an advocate and practitioner of H2H tastings (head-to-head, tasting two malts at the same time), but the pressures of keeping MM updated have lead me astray over the past few years. The H2H sessions with Serge two weeks ago allowed me to articulate the character of the malts much better than when I would have sampled them in sequence, so I'll try to do more of my future samplings 'head-to-head'.
Tonight's first 'dynamic duo: two Tullibardines.

Tullibardine 33yo 1972/2006 (43.1%, Dewar Rattray, Cask #2597)
Nose: Wow! Surprisingly fruity with a hint of tobacco.... Beautifully polished. Cookie dough. Pine?
Taste: Smooth and sweet at first, growing more solid and fruitier (apple?) in the centre. Gritty finish.
Score: 88 points - I added a point after some organcs and Menthos appeared in the nose. Needs time!!!

Tullibardine 1987/2005 (46%, Unknown Bottler - Teln. Anttr.? -, 'Remade Hogshead')
Nose: Malty and slightly nutty. Increasing oiliness and sweetness. Lemon cheesecake? More organics.
Taste: Oily and herbal - the 'chartreuse' type of herbal. Sourish in the finish. Radish? Ginger? Too bad...
Score: 79 points - starts out more like the Tullibardines I know and hate, but improves with time.

If you've read the first E-pistle of MM#18 you may remember that I'm testing a new 'format' for my notes.
Well, I find myself struggling with the limitations of my own '4 line review' format here, because this second Tullibardine really develops a lot over time. Well, at least the nose does. The palate never really worked for me, but with the developing nose (bakery aroma's, metallic, herbal sweets, etc.) the score gradually climbed from 74 to 79 points. In fact, based on the nose alone it might have reached the mid-80's. So, here's another Tullibardine that needs time to develop!

And speaking of time... Now it's time to investigate two ancient Miltonduffs...

Miltonduff 1963 (40%, G&M, Old brown banner label, Bottled early 1980's)
Nose: Wow!!! Big bold and rich! Sweet, evolving into bitter chocolate. Even a hint of peat. Then it drops off.
Taste: Fruity in the start, lovely tannins in centre and finish. Like the nose, it loses steam very quickly.
Score: 81 points - it seems to have very 'long legs' at just 40%, but that's an optical illusion. No stamina.

Miltonduff 1963 (40%, G&M, Old map label, Bottled early 1990's)
Nose: Aaaah... Starts like the last one; rich and sweet. And just like the last one it desintegrates quickly.
Taste: Oy.... Menthol... Very herbal - like chartreuse again... Dry, hot and bitter. Loses points here.
Score: 78 points - I had it at 76/77 for a while but if you wait long enough it makes a partical recovery.

And once again three lines don't seem quite enough to tell all there is to tell.
In both cases, the malts dropped off after a minute or two, only to make a partical recovery some fifteen minutes later. Instinctively I'll try to write down everything I smell and taste, but since it would be impractical to let a malt breathe for a quarter of an hour before you can enjoy it, I've ristricted myself to my initial impressions.
OK, the last pair now...

Glenglassaugh 12yo (43%, OB, Bottled +/- 1992)
Nose: Wow... Shoe polish. Very rich. Hint of leather? Faintest suggestion of fruit in the background.
Taste: Owww... That's too bad. Not quite as interesting as the nose. Short with a bitter finish.
Score: 78 points - I like it just fine (above average), but not quite enough to actively recommend it.

Glenglassaugh 38yo 1967/2006 (59.3%, Signatory, Cask #98/635, 109 Bottles)
Nose: Aaah... Big, rich and honeyed. With a splash of water it grows slightly more serious before dying.
Taste: Phew! Too much at cask strength... Oddly enough, it grows drier with water. This one's dead...
Score: 71 points - the 'blink and you'll miss it malt'. Too hot at cask strength, but drowns with water.

Pfft... Time for a little break...
In fact, there's something I probably should point out to relative novices reading this.
This Liquid Log and the rest of the website have grown so huge over the years that it's likely that most readers only ever read a part of Malt Madness / Malt Maniacs. As a result, some 'basic' issues that the other maniacs and myself have discussed repeatedly in the past could still be missed by the occasional surfer. The Beginner's Guide lists quite a few tips and tricks, but other information is spread across the rest of the website. So, just in case you missed it before, here's an important tip about moderation while dramming. Make sure to take regular breaks if you're having a big tasting session or visiting a festival and drink plenty of water between drams. This will help your nose, palate and liver to withstand the onslaught. If you spend fifteen minutes with each dram (admittedly too short) it would be advisable to take at least half an hour to an hour after every 4 to 6 drams. Especially if you remembered to have a good meal (not too hot and spicy) beforehand, you should enjoy the session or the festival in good health and high spirits...
It's 21:00 now - my battery has recharged and I'll investigate six other drams;

Glencadam 32yo 1973/2006 (46.4%, The Whisky Fair 'Artist Edition', 87 Bottles)
Nose: Sophisticated, growing fruitier and bolder quickly. Black currants. Cassis. This is lovely!!!
Taste: A tad perfumy in the start, evolving into a fruity centre and a dry, slightly tannic finish.
Score: 88 points - by far the best Glencadam I ever tried. Here the time in the cask paid off...

Royal Brackla 1976/2003 (57.1%, Scott's Selection)
Nose: Grainy. Paint. Light and slightly flowery. Nuttier with water. Organics and a hint of pepper.
Taste: Solid start at C/S. Hint of peat? Dry finish. Harsh. Still hot with water, but sweet & satisfying.
Score: 84 points - a good, solid malt, but maybe slightly to hot & bothered for my tastes.

Royal Lochnagar 30yo 1973/2003 (57.9%, Douglas Laing Platinum)
Nose: Rich but nondescript at cask strength. Flattens out with water before growing sweeter.
Taste: Hot. Coffee. Too powerful at cask strength. Sweeter and smokier with some water. Very nice!
Score: 86 points - adding water usually benefits the nose more than the palate, but not here.

Phew... Is the room spinning or is it just me?
Blatantly ignoring one of the tips I just preached about, I forgot dinner tonight.
As a result I'm now feeling a tad light-headed... Time for another break... <munch, munch, munch...>
Aaah..., that's better. Ordinarily I try to avoid eating during a session whenever possible, but this was an emergency. Without a 'solid bottom in your stomach' a few cask strength drams can easily impare your judgement.

North Port 25yo 1981/2006 (56,1%, Whiskyfair, Sherry butt, 120 Bottles)
Nose: Rich and polished. Sherry, fruits and spices. Strawberry. Highly enjoyable - best North Port ever?.
Taste: Fruity and very hot at cask strength. A splash of water works beautifully here. Hint of perfume.
Score: 89 points - my sixth North Port ever, and the best (although a 25yo Cadenhead's came close).

Teaninich 14yo 1983/1997 (58.3%, Clan des Grands Malts)
Nose: Light and grainy at first, mellowing out. Subtle organics. Grows much more complex with water.
Taste: Bold and sweet with a burn in the back of the throat. Loss of body and more bitterness with water.
Score: 84 points - rating this was a bit of a conundrum; water improves the nose but destroys the palate.

Glendullan-Glenlivet 20yo 1978/1999 (64.2%, Cadenhead)
Nose: Whoah! Big and serious. Oaky. Hints of mocca. Spices. Mace? Then some organics emerge. Stunning!
Taste: Phew!!! I had it at 90 points before I tasted it. Bitter and unbearable at C/S. With water it's metallic.
Score: 87 points - highly enjoyable and entertaining, even though it's arguably too rough on the palate.

And that's it for this report, I'm afraid.
No 'closing argument' or anything - I'll have to clean up my apartment before Davin arrives.
I'll publish our latest 'Hamstergeddon' results as soon as possible.

Sweet drams,


June 13, 2006 - Hamster Fight!

The malt maniacs are a friendly and
easygoing bunch most of the time,
but under the right circumstances
(or should I say the wrong circum-
stances?) we can easily turn into
the ranting & raving type of maniac
that gives maniacs a bad name.
I think that people who have
encountered one or more maniacs
at a tasting or at a festival can
testify to that... ;-)

Some of the malt maniacs even
have to surpress violent impulses
when somebody beats them at a
bottle auction at e-Bay or cleans
out a store before they can get
that special bottle they've been
trying to find for months...

With that in mind, the gathering of
four of the most obsessive maniacs
and some of the most obscure malts
in one room could have very easily
have ended in a bloodbath...
Fortunately for me and my furniture
we managed to keep things relatively
civilised this time and none of the
maniacs were injured during our
sessions - and neither were any
hamsters for that matter...
In fact, Davin's visit was a pleasure,
as always. I think this was his fourth
or fifth trip to Amsterdam since we
met on-line and it's funny to see how
our malt mania has developed since
 then. In the 2001 '52 challenge' we
were pleased as punch that we both
made it. This time we sampled 40
new malts over the course of just
three days. Well, just two days really.
Davin arrived on monday evening not
long before midnight, pretty jetlagged
after spending 2 weeks in Scotland.

While there, Davin managed to sample over 150 malts.
When he left Amsterdam again before noon on thursday he had sampled exactly 200 whiskies on his trip.
What a liver! Anyway, here's a list of the forty fairly obscure whiskies I tried during Davin's visit.
My tasting notes will follow shortly...

75 - Allt-A-Bhainne 9yo (58.8%, Cadenhead)
70 - Allt A'Bhainne 16yo 1985/2001 (50%, DL OMC) - Updated score
73 - Auchroisk 28yo 1974/2003 (56.8%, UDRM)
72 - Aultmore 12yo 1989/2001 (43%, Signatory, Butt #2394, Distilled 30/05/89, Bottled 8/10/2001)
86 - Aultmore 14yo 1989 (60.5%, James MacArthur)
77 - Aultmore 15yo 1989/2005 (46%, Whisky Galore)
70 - Balmanach 25yo 1972/1997 (43%, Hart Brothers, January 1972, May 1997)
85 - Blair Athol 12yo (43%, Flora & Fauna, Bottled mid 1990's)
83 - Caperdonich 31yo 1970 (52.3%, Caledonian Selection)
88 - Cardhu 'Over 8 Years Old' (75 Proof, OB / John Walker & Sons)
76 - Convalmore 1981/1998 (40%, G&M Connoisseur's Choice)
75 - Dailuaine-Glenlivet 14yo (59.6%, Cadenhead's, 18.75cl)
76 - Deanston 12yo (40%, OB, Burn Stewart)
69 - Deanston 12yo (40%, Glenkeir Treasures The Whisky Shop, Bottled 2005?)
82 - Dufftown-Glenlivet 15yo (56.6%, Cadenhead's, 35cl)
56 - Glen Albyn 15yo 1980/1996 (43%, Signatory Vintage, Cask #2950-51)
85 - Glen Albyn 26yo 1975/2002 (54.8%, Rare Malts)
85 - Glenburgie-Glenlivet 16yo (59.6%, Cadenhead's, 18.75cl)
87 - Glencadam 1974/2001 (59.9%, MacKillop's Choice)
74 - Glenesk 1982/1994 (40%, Connoisseur's Choice)
83 - Glenesk 1975/2005 (55.3%, The Cross Hill, Jack Wieber's, 210 bottles)
75 - Glen Flagler NAS (70 Proof, OB, Black & Red shield label, 1 2/3 Fl Osz., Bottled 1970's)
79 - Glenflagler 23yo 1970/1994 (50.1%, Signatory Vintage, Cask #...)
83 - Glenmorangie 1993/2005 Truffle Oak (60.5%, OB, 886 Bottles)
82 - Glen Spey 13yo 1981/1995 (62.3%, Cadenhead's, Distilled June 1981, Bottled March 1995)
82 - Glen Spey 1985/1999 (60.9%, Cadenhead's, 222 Bottles)
72 - Glentauchers 1990/2001 (40%, G&M OB)
60 - Inchmurrin 28yo (43%, OB, USA)
57 - Kinclaith 20yo (46%, Cadenhead) re-tasted, score stays the same.
85 - Kinclaith 36yo 1969/2005 (50,1%, DTC Rarest of the Rare, Cask 301456, 152 Bottles)
74 - Knockando 1978/1993 (43%, OB J&B)
81 - Lochnagar 35yo 1970/2005 (46.2%, Jack Wieber's Old Train Line, 167 bottles)
73 - MacDuff 16yo 1989/2005 (46%, Cadenhead's, 678 Bottles)
83 - Millburn 29yo 1974/2004 (53,9%, Cadenhead's, Bourbon hogshead, 296 Bottles)
84 - Milton-duff-Glenlivet 12yo (43%, OB, Italian import square bottle)
80 - Strathisla 37yo 1965 (43% McKillop's Choice)
74 - Tamdhu NAS (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2005)
87 - Tamnavulin-Glenlivet NAS (75 Proof, OB, 'TG' Western Lettering, 12/3 Fl. Ozs, Bottled 1970's?)
57 - Tullibardine 1988 (46%, OB, Bottled +/- 2004)
83 - Tullibardine 17yo 1988/2005 (57.1%, Blackadder RC, Sherry B.#269, 539b.)

Quite some obscure stuff in that list, isn't there?
Yes, and to tell you the truth I really wouldn't mind finishing this part of my journey of discovery.
I feel I HAVE to have tasted a minimum of six expressions from each active and recently closed distillery in Scotland before I can proceed to the next phase of my research next year. However, a great deal of the obscure bottlings I 'have' to taste are very hard to find - so the vast majority of the readers of MM will never have the chance to sample them. At the same time, my frantic hunt for obscure bottles and samples has left me with precious little time to check out what's going on with many of the regular official bottlings that people can actually buy - preferably for a good price...

Anyway, I'll write some more words about that in log entry 300A shortly.

I'm not sure yet how 'The Hamsterdam Sessions' have affected the maniacal 'to do list' for the matrix, but I've already checked the progress as far as my personal Track Record mission is concerned. If I'm not mistaken, the only distilleries remaining on my 'to do list' are now Allt A'Bhainne (1), Banff (1), Fettercairn (1), Glencraig (2), Glenlochy (2), Kinclaith (1), Ladyburn (4), Royal Lochnagar (1) and Mosstowie (2) - nine distilleries and fifteen bottles. And if I'm not mistaken, the Wigman Supertasting this weekend will take care of Banff.

Next on this page: my tasting notes for 'The Hamsterdam Sessions'...

Sweet drams,


June 30, 2006 - The Hamsterdam Sessions

In my previous entry I wrote about some highlights of Davin's visit to Amsterdam.
However, I didn't have the time to transcribe my scribbly notes to the web, so that
has been on my 'to do' list for the past few weeks. With the month of June almost
over I'll need to get to work, otherwise the entire 'administration' of my progress
(i.e. the monthly 'dram diaries' that feed my Track Record) might fall to pieces.
I'm still pressed for time these days, so this report is relatively short and sweet.

The Hamstergeddon sessions started on a tuesday morning at a very early hour.
Davin had arrived half an hour before midnight on monday at Schiphol airport and
after we arrived at my apartment it was already tuesday. Two weeks in Scotland
had brought Davin in top dramming condition, so he insisted we had to share a few
drams before retiring for the night. Well, I didn't really need a lot of convincing...

Deanston 12yo (40%, OB, Burn Stewart)
Nose: Smooth and sweet. Apples? Grows farmier and metallic over time.
Not bad at all. It's still a little 'weird' and farmy, but that definitely sets it apart.
Taste: Phew! Very bitter - astringent like aspirin. Harsh. I have to say this pulls down the score.
Score: 76 points - Which still makes it one of the highest scoring Deanston OB's I've tried so far.

Glen Albyn 15yo 1980/1996 (43%, Signatory Vintage, Cask #2950-51)
Nose: Dusty. Watery. Chloride. Grows more suggestive - but never really delivers.
Taste: Flat and woody. Harsh, burning centre and finish. Hint of herbs?
Score: 56 points - another disappointing Glen Albyn, I'm sorry to report...

Glenmorangie 1993/2005 Truffle Oak (60.5%, OB, 886 Bottles)
Nose: Sweet. Vanilla. Hint of Chartreuse. Marzipan with water. Not too expressive, I'd say.
Taste: Way too hot at cask strength. Gets fruitier with a splash of water. Quite drinkable.
Score: 83 points - this is a pretty solid offering from Glenmorangie, maybe topping the 18yo?

With three drams under our belts it was time to call it a night, because we needed our rest for the day of heavy dramming that lay ahead. Well, especially Davin... While I was awoken (like I had been during the past several months) by the builders that start their work at 7:00 AM Davin just kept on snoring. He slept in a room right next to a hallway where the cavemen were drilling into solid concrete but that didn't seem to bother him much. Finally, around 10:00 AM we could get to our morning 'skalks' - the breakfast of champions...

Glen Spey 1985/1999 (60.9%, Cadenhead's, 222 Bottles)
Nose: Sweet start, evolving into bittersweet fruits. Blueberries. Coffee? Nice but not very 'deep'...
Taste: A single drop causes a smooth micro-explosion in your mouth. Becomes grittier with water
Score: 82 points - very pleasant, but it wasn't quite complex enough for the upper 80's.

Tamnavulin-Glenlivet NAS (75 Proof, OB, 'TG' Western Lettering, 12/3 Fl. Ozs, Bottled 1970's?)
Nose: Mellow with some spices in the background. Austere. Very enjoyable profile, but not overly complex.
Taste: Oy... Bitter start. Growing rounder, sweeter and woodier in the centre. Emerging 'antiquity'. Nice!
Score: 87 points - I had it at 84 for a log time, but over time emerging organics lift it into the upper 80's.

Cardhu 'Over 8 Years Old' (75 Proof, OB / John Walker & Sons, Bottled +/- 1975)
Nose: Swampy. Antiquity with a hint of something metallic. Sourish. Lapsang Souchon? Salmiak. Unique.
Taste: Very soft start. Serious. This one quickly grew on me, despite being not as sweet as I normally like.
Score: 88 points - almost the best Cardhu I ever tried. A shame I had too little pocket money in 1975...

Glenesk 1975/2005 (55.3%, The Cross Hill, Jack Wieber's, 210 bottles) 
Nose: Rich. Mocca. Growing feintier, then sweeter. Pickles! Drops off after a few minutes.
Taste: Big, round and sweet at cask strength. Fruity overtones. A solid malt. Very enjoyable.
Score: 83 points - down from 86/87 during the first few minutes. Can't quite keep up the pace...

With four skalks under our belt we felt it was time to get some brunch in town. Needless to say, we couldn't resist swinging by Andries at the Cadenhead's store for a chat and a dram. With our minds firmly focused on the obscure stuff, we didn't go overboard and used the time with Andries mostly for a much needed reprieve before the real 'work' would start.

Blair Athol 12yo (43%, Flora & Fauna, Bottled mid 1990's)
Nose: Heavily sherried. Roasted nuts. Smoke. organics. Quite serious and much 'bigger' than recent releases.
Taste: Fruity and sherried. Roasted nuts again, and the same seriousness I found in the nose. Very good.
Score: 85 points - it definitely scores a little higher on my malt-o-meter than more recent bottlings.

I'm afraid that I've only made some very superficial notes on the MacDuff 16yo 1989/2005 (46%, Cadenhead's, 678 Bottles). The nose was light and grainy, the taste was sweet and I finally decided on a score of 73 points.
Time to head back home again for a serious attack on some Hamstergeddon malts.

Lochnagar 35yo 1970/2005 (46.2%, Jack Wieber's Old Train Line, 167 bottles)
Nose: Fresh and fruity - feels much younger than 35yo. Polished and refined.
Taste: Bitter and quite flat. Salty? After 'decanting' it a few times between different glasses it vanished.
Score: 81 points - starts out very promising but shows hardly any developm

Tullibardine 1988 (46%, OB, Bottled +/- 2004)
Nose: Restrained. Hint of oil. Maybe a suggestion of sweetness. Alarming lack of character.
Taste: Phew... Feels a bit like fresh spirit. Rough. Dry, gritty finish. They chose to release this?
Score: 57 points - once again a Tullibardine bottling manages to disappoint me... What a surprise...

Tullibardine 17yo 1988/2005 (57.1%, Blackadder RC, Sherry B.#269, 539b.)
Nose: Starts our restrained as well, but grows farmier with time and a little water.
Taste: Big and spicy at cask strength. Coffee? Very enjoyable. Wow, this IS a surprise!
Score: 83 points - not quite expressive and complex enough in the nose to reach the upper 80's.

Glen Spey 13yo 1981/1995 (62.3%, Cadenhead's, Distilled June 1981, Bottled March 1995)
Nose: Restrained start with a hint of coffee. Something nutty? Diesel? A little odd but interesting.
Taste: Salty start; quite unusual. Benefits from a little water; suddenly turns sweet. Coffee as well.
Score: 82 points - further proof that great bottlings come from even the most obscure distilleries.

Glencadam 1974/2001 (59.9%, MacKillop's Choice)
Nose: Rich, sweet and polished at cask strength. Adding water makes it much more 'alcoholic'.
Taste: Sweet and a tad oily at cask strength. Fresh. Surprisingly drinkable. More resinous with water.
Score: 87 points - this one needs a good dose of water and time to recover. It climbed from 84 to 87.

Glen Albyn 26yo 1975/2002 (54.8%, Rare Malts)
Nose: Sweet & creamy. Bakery aroma's. Organics. Very enjoyable, but desintegrates mostly with water.
Taste: Sweet start, malty centre at cask strength. Hot and quite gritty. Farmier with water. Very good.
Score: 85 points - without a shadow of a doubt the very best Glen Albyn out of the eight I've tried so far.

Caperdonich 31yo 1970 (52.3%, Caledonian Selection)
Nose: Big & Sweet. Develops to spices and 'herbs the provence'. Some smoke? Very appealing.
Taste: Resinous. Somehow feels a bit like a finished malt. Sourish in the finish. Tannins. Quite chewy.
Score: 83 points - this one starts out very promising in the nose but loses a few points on the palate.

Aultmore 12yo 1989/2001 (43%, Signatory, Butt #2394, Distilled 30/05/89, Bottled 8/10/2001)
Nose: Sweetish. Dry wheat? Other cereals & grains. Faintest hint of something medicinal?
Taste: Something veggy and faintly sweetish. No obvious flaws, but a little bit bland. Sweet finish.
Score: 72 points - which is about as good as these young Aultmores seem to get, apparently.

Aultmore 14yo 1989 (60.5%, James MacArthur)
Nose: Deep & sweet. Sophisticated fruits. More serious over time. What an enjoyable surprise!
Taste: Slow fruity explosion on the palate. Doesn't make a very big first impression but keeps improves.
Score: 86 points - an unexpected surprise and the second best Aultmore I've ever tried.

Well, that was quite enough dramming for one evening...
We had to get some rest because Michel van Meersbergen would arrive the next morning with breakfast. When he did we wasted very little time on the actual solid food. We kept things mostly liquid with some fruit shakes for the vitamins and a few skalks for the calories. A fitting start of the 'grand finale' of this Hamstergeddon session...

Aultmore 15yo 1989/2005 (46%, Whisky Galore) 
Nose: Grainy with a hint of something farmy. Light, reminding me a lot of Deanston right now. Spicy.
Taste: Fairly nondescript. Solid but not a lot stands out, so I'm not sure what else to write down here.
Score: 77 points - despite my limited notes I'd put it just a tad above average.

Convalmore 1981/1998 (40%, G&M Connoisseur's Choice)
Nose: Sweetish. Apple? It's not terribly expressive but seems to have more spirit than some other CC's.
Taste: A touch of peat! Liquorice. That's a nice surprise! Fruitier en woodier later on. Very nice.
Score: 76 points - the palate was quite convincing at just 40% but the nose didn't back it up.

Tamdhu NAS (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2005)
Nose: Slick and oily. Sweetish. Developing spices. Not overly complex, but very pleasant.
Taste: Not quite as accessible as the nose, but nothing wrong here either... Quark bitterness.
Score: 74 points - which is two points up from the same bottling as it was +/- 1995. Good show!

Inchmurrin 28yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006)
Nose: Chemical. String beans. Shoe polish. Quite unique, but that's not really a good thing here...
Taste: Herbal. Extremely flat. Most definitely not my type of malt - but then again Loch Lomonds rarely are.
Score: 60 points - actually making the third highest scoring Loch Lomond out of seven so far. Go figure...

Strathisla 37yo 1965 (43% McKillop's Choice)
Nose: Extremely nice combination of sweet & creamy on on end and organics on the other. Lovely!!!
Taste: Herbal and quite bitter - not nearly as impressive as the nose. Propolis. Woody. Tannic. Salt.
Score: 80 points - Based on the nose it might have reached 90 points but it loses most credit on the palate.

Glenburgie-Glenlivet 16yo (59.6%, Cadenhead's, 18.75cl) 
Nose: Round & fruity with a solid base. Very pleasant. Classic example of a good malt whisky.
Taste: Potent and malty at c/s, but a little nondescript. One of the better 'MOTR' malts I've tried.
Score: 85 points - I usually like my malts a little more 'opinionated' but this is an excellent malt whisky.

Dailuaine-Glenlivet 14yo (59.6%, Cadenhead's, 18.75cl)
Nose: Relatively restrained. Beer? Maybe there was more, but two other maniacs were distracting me.
Taste: Nondescript (a bit tannic) at cask strength. Bitter. Resinous. Beer again. Not really my type.
Score: 75 points - for somebody with a sweet tooth like me this porobably isn't the right choice.

Dufftown-Glenlivet 15yo (56.6%, Cadenhead's, 35cl)
Nose: Quite creamy and mellow at cask strength. Restrained. A tad grainy? Opens up with water.
Taste: Smooth and malty start. Big sweet centre. Great mouth feel at C/S. Lovely stuff, if you ask me.
Score: 82 points - sweet and malty; once again this Dufftown manages to push the right buttons.

Auchroisk 28yo 1974/2003 (56.8%, UDRM)
Nose: A 'green' malt with camphor and eucalyptus. Not my kind of profile but some people like it...
Taste: Very herbal. Tannic. Eucalyptus. Bitter. Aspirin. This one has personality, but it seems a-typical.
Score: 73 points - certainly not a 'bad' whisky, but I'm just not into the 'herbal' side. Yeah, it's personal...

I think this may have been the time that Alexander van der Veer showed up.
The situation in my apartment quickly evolved (or should I say deteriorated?) from 'DEFCON 3' (chaos) to 'DEFCON 2' (pandemonium) and as a result I've misplaced my tasting notes on the seven next drams on our malts menu.

72 - Glentauchers 1990/2001 (40%, G&M OB)
74 - Glenesk 1982/1994 (40%, Connoisseur's Choice)
74 - Knockando 1978/1993 (43%, OB J&B)
84 - Milton-duff-Glenlivet 12yo (43%, OB, Italian import square bottle)
70 - Allt A'Bhainne 16yo 1985/2001 (50%, DL OMC) - updated score!
75 - Allt-A-Bhainne 9yo (58.8%, Cadenhead's, no further details available)
83 - Millburn 29yo 1974/2004 (53,9%, Cadenhead's, bourbon hogshead, 296 Bottles)

We had been keeping the really special stuff (Glen Flagler, Kinclaith) apart because Belgian maniac Luc Timmermans and foreign correspondent Bert Bruyneel were scheduled to join us in the evening. Sadly, they couldn't make it, but that may have been just as well because getting more than 4 reliable scores from one 5cl samples would be stretching it, even for the malt maniacs. There are limits to micro-dramming...  Anyway, here are the six 'specials'

Glen Flagler NAS (70 Proof, OB, Black & Red shield label, 1 2/3 Fl Osz., Bottled 1970's)
Nose: Light and subtle, but with some substance. Slightly farmy. Would have been better at higher proof.
Taste: Malty, coffee. Feels almost below 40% at first, but powers up. Unbalanced. Woody. Dry. Tannic.
Score: 75 points - but I imagine some oxidation may have affected the contents of the bottle here.

Glenflagler 23yo 1970/1994 (50.1%, Signatory Vintage, Casks #1260+7861)
Nose: Starts out very flat and restrained but opens up. Spicier with time. Dille & taragon.
Taste: Sweet with a faint herbal undercurrent. The herbal element grows stronger over time.
Score: 79 points - which is quite impressive given the herbal side. The nose has a lot to offer

Deanston 12yo (40%, Glenkeir Treasures The Whisky Shop)
Nose: Sweet. Smells like a finished malt - very winey. Rich and complex - maybe a tad much for some.
Taste: Weird! Uneven. Coffee. Bitter finish. It's not without its charms but there are some obvious flaws.
Score: 69 points - if this malt wasn't finished I suspect something went 'wrong' during distillation.

Balmanach 25yo 1972/1997 (43%, Hart Brothers, January 1972, May 1997)
Nose: Herbal. Piney. A little oily? Chloride. Strange, smells more like an East or West coast Highlander.
Taste: Woody. Bitter. Gritty on the palate. Maybe this one has spent a little too much time in the cask?
Score: 70 points - but it might have done better in a smaller line-up. After all, this was dram #20 today.

Kinclaith 20yo (46%, Cadenhead)
Nose: Light & dusty. Not very expressive. Parafin. Gasoline. Opens up for brief episodes. Hint of peat?
Taste: Extremely herbal at first. Pine and resin. Perfumy. Faintest hint of antiquity. Plywood. Not my type.
Score: 57 points - I actually tried this before and feared I underscored it. I'll stick to my original score.

Kinclaith 36yo 1969/2005 (50,1%, DTC Rarest of the Rare, Cask 301456, 152 Bottles)
Nose: Deep sweetness at first. Then a lot of other stuff emerges. Discussed it rather than wrote it down.
Taste: Herbal like the Cadenhead's, but with the sweetness the balance is MUCH better now. Sherried.
Score: 85 points - which once again proves that the 20yo Cadenhead's bottling was an exception.

And on that high note we wrapped up the official part of the Hamsterdramming.
I can't calculate our exact progress for 'Hamstergeddon' because not all the latest scores for the MMMatrix are in yet, but as soon as they are I'll publish a list on this page. Based on that we'll be able to determine which samples we'll still have to hunt down for our last big Hamstergeddon sessions during the filling party for the Malt Maniacs Awards 2006.

That's it for now... I've just looked at the clock and it's already July....

Sweet drams,


August 12, 2006 - Ye Olde Matrix

KLEBANG! As you can read elsewhere in this log, I was
hit by a heavy object on the night of July 21. The heavy
object in question was most probably a car or train, but
it might have been a flying saucer as well - a few hours
of my memory is missing and there seem to have been
no witnesses. My surgeons later told me that my injuries
(all on the left side of my body and memory loss) were
consistent with a traffic accident - I wouldn't know...
Anyway, I'm recovering quite smoothly now, but thanks
to the heavy concussion I haven't worked on the website
for a few weeks. Even worse - I haven't tasted a single
dram since July 21 and should get back to dramming now
to eliminate my last 'Hamstergeddon' malts.
However, when I temporarily 'froze' the old website earlier today to work on the upgrade to MM 2.0, I discovered that I had forgotten to update the 'old' Malt Maniacs Matrix along with it. I just did, but working on it steered my train of thought towards yet another 'big topic' we need to solve in the next few weeks and months: the future of the Matrix & Monitor. I think that Davin, Louis, Craig and me already started with the first version of the matrix in the 1990's and by the time we launched the E-zine in 2002 we already had a matrix with 12 members. Some of the members of the 'jury' have changed (and the more detailed 'Malt Maniacs Monitor' was added later), but the basic concept hasn't changed since then. However, 'the times' have. With the size of the matrix at almost a Megabyte (!!!) and the possibility that we may have to pay for extra 'traffic' on the website in the future, I have to do some serious thinking about the matrix in the next few weeks...

And that's not all I need to think about...
We may move to a new 'format' next year, but we'll still need to keep the current one fresh, all the more so because the results of the Malt Maniacs Awards 2006 will be published on December 1, 2006. Besides, the 'Hamstergeddon' project was all about trying to get at least six expressions from each active and recently closed distillery on the matrix. It looks like we're getting close, but we're not quite here yet. With the end of the year drawing closer, we could have a problem...

I may have to get very creative and prematurely 'promote' one or two maniacs who are not currently on the matrix yet. In this case that would probably be Michel (malt mileage +/- 1400) and/or Robert (currently 700+). Both will attend the Awards Filling party in Alsace, and therefor be on the 'jury' this year, meaning another boost to their malt mileage. The tricky part is making sure we don't lose any of the obscure malts on the current matrix because one of the three scores needed for inclusion in the first place was from a maniac that will drop off the matrix...

Like I said, something to think about...
Stay tuned for my brainwaves in upcoming log entries...

Sweet drams,


August 14, 2006 - The Jump to 1650 (?)

While I was preparing for the 'freezing' of the current site (see the next entry for more on that), I found some lost tasting notes. Hmmm. A great excuse to make some last additions to my Track Record before I freeze the site. By the end of July my track record was 1628 malts, so if I manage to scrape together 22 fresh entries from my shelves I'll be at exactly 1650 single malts when I temporarily close down the site.

So, let's start with two notes I made just after Davin left in June;

Knockando 14yo 1979/1994 (43%, OB)
Nose: Light with the faintest hint of something farmy. Soft mint. Sweetening out. Best nose on a Knockando?
Taste: Oooh.... Too bad, something soapy / perfumy. Other stuff pops up, but I can't get past the violets.
Score: 55 points - Based on the nose alone it might have been the 80's, now it's barely above 50 points.

Ardmore 1981/1997 (40%, G&M Licensed OB)
Nose: Sherried & fruity. Polished. Hint of smoke and organics in the background? Beautiful nose.
Taste: Soft, almost watery start. No sweetness at first, but then there's lots in the finish. Interesting.
Score: 82 points - recommendable, but it would have been even more so with a palate to match the nose.

That puts me at 1630 exactly. Quite a nice surprise with the Ardmore that Michel brought me.
Now, let's try to find the 20 'emptiest' fresh samples on my shelves to get to a nice and round 1650...

Caperdonich 37yo 1968/2006 (40.3%, Duncan Taylor / Lonach)
Nose: Malty with a hint of fruits. Very 'friendly' and quite clean. Faint menthos? Hint of string beans.
Taste: Oooh... Terribly soft-spoken. Seems hardly like 40%. Pleasant and easily drinkable, though...
Score: 77 points - better than 'average', but not quite what I expected at this ripe old age.

Cragganmore 14yo 1969 (40%, G&M Connoisseur's Choice, old brown label)
Nose: Fruity. Polished. More open and accessible than many later CC bottlings. Hint of Chloride?
Taste: Oy... Very bitter at first. Oxidation? Smoother in the fruity centre and finish. Impressive body.
Score: 79 points - but I should add that this miniature was almost empty, so maybe it was oxidised.

Inverleven 1979 (40%, G&M License Bottling, IB/EI, Bottled +/- 1990)
Nose: Not as light as many other Lowlanders, even though it's just a decade old. Cardboard?
Taste: A tad sweetish in the start, growing maltier and quite bitter. Marzipan. Not too bad at all...
Score: 71 points - a tad below average but certainly not bad for a young Lowlander.

Macduff 32yo 1972 (46%, Ian McLeod for Malt Brothers)
Nose: Hint of dust, growing sharper. Old dirty table cloth? Memories of a greater past.
Taste: Bitter, growing dustier towards the centre. Stays bitter - and quite flat - until the very end.
Score: 65 points - to me, this one seems waaaay past its prime... Could it have been oxidised?

Macduff 36yo 1969/2006 (59.1%, Duncan Taylor, Cask #3681, 120 bottles)
Nose: Rich & fruity. Complex with some intriguing vinegar notes. Wonderful development. 90's material?
Taste: Whew... The start is a bit odd, but it develops beautifully in the centre. Fruity finish. Quite complex.
Score: 89 points - what a wonderful oldie! Not quite 'perfect' enough on the palate for the 90's, but close.

Well, that stretch ended on a high note...
Five more samples down - fifteen more to go... That last one really kicked like a mule, so maybe it would be wise to take a break for half an hour before I proceed with some material that's easier on the tongue - and the brain.
I'll try to stick to the lower proofs for the next batch of malts...

Inchmurrin 12yo (40%, 0B , New livery, 2006)
Nose: Malty, mashy, slightly sour. Dies down quickly after a few minutes. Not much fun to be had...
Taste: A tad oily. Spirity. A touch of 'Buysman' (burnt caramel) bitterness in the finish. Not my cup of tea.
Score: 60 points - the same score as before. What? Oh yeah, I already had this...

Cardhu 12yo (40%, OB, Old white label with black type, Bottled +/- 1975)
Nose: Fruity at first with farmy stuff in the background. Dust and cardboard? Very interesting!
Taste: Feels rougher on the palate than I would have expected, which pulls it from the upper 80's.
Score: 84 points - just short of the upper 80's but miles better than the current version.

Longmorn-Glenlivet 12yo (40%, G&M licensed bottling, 'Pure Malt', 1980's)
Nose: Oooh! It's not quite an 'antique', but the profile definitely shows 'old bottle effect'! Sweet wood.
Taste: Nice, with wood, smoke and quite some tannins. Pinch of salt? Hey, even a layer of subtle peat.
Score: 86 points - I love the coal smoke in the nose, but for me it just lacks some sweetness. Austere.

Talisker 50yo 1955/2005 'Secret Stills' (45%, Gordon & MacPhail, Dist. #01, Release #01, C#1312, 564 Btl.)
Nose: Wow! Big, polished wood with fruits and pipe tobacco. Just the sort of profile I adore.
Taste: Excellent! Austere, but not too much. Hint of old peat, balanced by faint fruits. Liquorice?
Score: 92 points - What a beauty! This one goes to the top of my Hit List straight away.

Macallan 14yo 1991/2005 (46%, The Alchemist)
Nose: Very light & fruity. Subtle and surprisingly pleasant. Hardly recognisable as a Macallan. Back-prickle.
Taste: Hmmm.... Not quite as endearing here. Young, 'sappy' wood. One for the wine lovers? Woody finish.
Score: 78 points - I'm sure Serge will love it but for me it's not quite what I'm looking for on the palate.

Macallan 30yo 1971/2002 'Vintage' (56.4%, OB, Cask #4280)
Nose: Wow! This IS clearly a Macallan, but the style is lighter than I'm used to. Spicy. What a beauty!
Taste: Wonderful chewy fruits from start to finish. Fabulous mouth feel. To busy enjoying to make notes.
Score: 91 points - BANG! The second one in the 90's today. One of the best 'post 2000' official Macs.

Erm....  I'm starting to feel it now. I knew I should have stuck to 40% and 43% whiskies.
Taking on those last remaining 10 malts tonight might not be such a bright idea after all...
Please tune in tomorrow for the last 10 malts that should bring my Track Record to 1650 exactly.

Oh yeah... I also had a chance to re-examine the Glenfiddich 31yo 1973/2004 (48.9%, Cadenhead's, Bottled April 2004, 186 Bottles). I decided to increase my score from 87 to 88 points. A mighty fine dram, especially over time. Something 'farmy' in the nose that I haven't found so far in other (mostly official) Glenfiddichs.

Sweet drams,


August 15, 2006 - Hamstergeddon Status Report 1.9

The last time I updated the Hamstergeddon score board was on July 1.
For those who just tuned in: the Hamstergeddon project is our latest
maniacal challenge: trying to get at least six expressions from all
'relevant' (i.e. operating or recently closed) distilleries in Scotland on
the matrix. Conveniently enough, my purely personal progress (tracked
on my... erm... Track Record in detail) was more or less on par with our
group efforts, so I could mostly tag along.
The last two months were vague, but I recently received the latest
Monitor. I'm not sure yet how changes in the Matrix have affected the
maniacal 'to do list', but I've already checked the progress as far as
my personal Track Record mission is concerned. If I'm not mistaken, the
only distilleries remaining on my personal list are Allt A'Bhainne (1),
Coleburn (2), Convalmore (1), Dallas Dhu (1), Fettercairn (1), Glencraig (2),
Glenlochy (2) and Mosstowie (2); eight distilleries and twelve bottles.
The Hamstergeddon project hasn't been on the top of my list lately, but
with the Awards Filling Party 2006 around the corner I need to determine
which distilleries haven't been crossed off our list yet. Let's take the
latest matrix (dated August 15) and take a look at all distilleries listed
in my previous Hamstergeddon Status Report.
The list below shows the number of expressions we still need for the matrix first and the number I personally need to fill the required half a dozen bottlings for my Track Record between brackets. Distilleries that I (and often the other maniacs as well) still need to work on are printed bold, so it's easier for me to check where I need to direct my efforts.

2 (1) x Allt A'Bhainne - we managed to nibble one bottling off our collective list since April. Work to do.
0 (2) x Coleburn - Somehow I only recently noticed that I hadn't had my fill of Coleburn yet.
0 (1) x Convalmore - Another distillery that has somehow managed to slip under my radar.
0 (1) x Dallas Dhu - this distillery probably doesn't qualify as 'obscure', but I need to try one more.
1 (0) x Deanston - Already wiped from my personal 'to do list', but the maniacs still need one more to go.
0 (1) x Fettercairn - Not all that obscure, so the omission on my end should be rectified soon enough.
1 (0) x Glenallachie - Down from two expressions to go on our last count.... So, we're almost there...
1 (2) x Glencraig - Here's another tough nut to crack; No wonder, the distillery closed in the 1980's.
1 (0) x Glenesk (Hillside) - Here we also made a big leap; From three to just one more to go. Cool...
1 (0) x Glenglassaugh - One expression still unaccounted for. We'll keep our eyes peeled.
1 (0) x Glenkinchie - When I write this we are still looking for one more expression for the matrix.
3 (2) x Glenlochy - Quite an obscure one as well; I'm one step ahead of the other maniacs here.
1 (0) x Glen Moray - When I write this we are still looking for one more expression for the matrix.
2 (0) x Glentauchers - Just in from Davin (I think): Glentauchers 1990 (59.2%, James McArthur).
1 (0) x Inverleven - When I write this we are still looking for one more expression for the matrix.
1 (0) x Kinclaith - After the sessions in Alsace and Amsterdam there's just one more version to go.
2 (0) x Littlemill - Davin ordered a 5cl mini of the Littlemill 13yo 1990/2004 (43%, SigV, C#2976).
1 (0) x Milburn - A problem here is that most available bottlings seem to be from Gordon & MacPhail.
1 (2) x Mosstowie - Another distillery where I'm just a tad behind on the other maniacs. Fixable...
1 (0) x Pityvaich - One more to go for the other maniacs before we've filled our quota for the matrix.
2 (0) x Speyside - Davin ordered some miniatures that I could take to Alsace with me.
2 (0) x Strathmill - A forgotten distillery - the ugly little brother of the big sister: Satrathisla.
1 (0) x Tormore - When I write this we are still looking for one more expression for the matrix...

That means that we could wipe Auchroisk, Blair Athol, Coleburn, Dufftown, Glenburgie, Glenugie and Knockando from the list since last time. Very nice, but that might not be enough for us to reach our goal before the end of the year. However, there is one 'trick' I could pull out of my hat. There are now two relatively 'fresh' maniacs who have been dramming like crazy and have already neared or even passed the 1000 malts mark. If I would offer the matrix columns of the two 'least active' scoring maniacs to Michel van Meersbergen and Robert Karlsson we could actually make some extra progress.

However, that's something I'll look into in Malt Maniacs #19 next month.
Since this is probably the last entry of my 'Liquid Log' (at least in it's current form) I want to wrap up something else here first; the 10 more new malts I need to reach a nice and round 1650 single malts by August 15. Since none of the samples on my shelves are 'Hamstergeddon' material, these notes don't really belong here. Well, deal with it - I'm currently trying to wrap up all pages as soon as possible and I still need to finish a LOT of pages...

So, after finishing off 12 fresh samples yesterday it's time for the big finish....
For the first five samples of the evening, let's have myself a little 'T Party'...

Tamnavulin-Glenlivet 10yo 'Naturally Light' (40%, 0B, Bottled early 1990s)
Nose: Grainy. Beer-like nose prickle. Old dish water? Not a lot going on beneath the surface.
Taste: Quite flat and superficial. As a whisky, it's just fine, but it didn't really excite me.
Score: 70 points - a smooth and easily drinkable whisky, but it doesn't seem too special.

Tullibardine 1993/2004 (40%, OB)
Nose: Sweet. Quite nice, actually. Nothing very interesting, but here's a light and accessible whisky.
Taste: Sweet and not too oily or herbal. Well, there's a smidgen iin the finish, but here it's balanced.
Score: 70 points - this might be my first young Tullibardine that scores in the seventies.

. . .


That dot-dot-dot represents yet another micro-crash of this old website...
It seems most of the work since the last crash was saved this time, though. This is becoming quite stressful, so I'll try to wrap up this archive site as soon as possible... But NOT before I've made it to 1650 single malts!
So, on we go with...

Tomatin 40yo 1965/2005 (44.9%, M&H Cask Selection, Bourbon cask, 120 Bottles)
Nose: Whiff of paint thinner, quickly sweetening out. A sophisticated yet friendly malt. Fruit sweets?
Taste: Ooh, that's too bad. Nothing really 'wrong' here, but it feels a tad weak, bitter and a tad herbal.
Score: 85 points - but of course our Belgian maniac Luc scored it in the 90's. He must have a few bottles ;-)
Interestingly enough, an old 'Jack Wiebers' Tomatin had the same void between nose and taste.

Tobermory 9yo 1995/2004 (46%, Murray McDavid, Fresh sherry, MM0420)
Nose: Sweet and grainy. Granny Smith? Not unpleasant and surprisingly powerful and complex. Beer?
Taste: Oooh... There's the infamous oiliness of Tobermory. It loses quite a few points here. Bitter finish.
Score: 64 points - but I should add that this is a very 'personal' score. Oxidised, perhaps?

Tobermory 1994 (60%, Natural Color, France, Bottled 2005)
Nose: Farmy and slightly organic. Smells very young at first. Prickly like a soda pop.
Taste: Strangely enough, there's not a lot of taste at 60%. What I could taste was quite decent, though.
Score: 72 points - and it only stays in the 70's because it's an interesting malt. Deanston-like?

Phew... that was another 'afterburner'...
It would be wise to take another little break... And tonight I used the free time for a little audiovisual entertainment; the animated ('badly animated' by their won admittance) TV series 'South Park'. If this site wasn't about to crash I'd try to convey some of the funniest moments, but for now I have to restrict myself to simply referring you to: www.spikedhumor.com  (Sorry, even adding external links has become a dangerous exercise now...) Just search for 'South park' and you can view loads of funny clips...
But hey, let's get back to the tasting now...

Glen Keith 33yo 1971/2005 (51.9%, Jack Wieber's Old Train Line)
Nose: Dark and sweet. Polished, maybe just a tad too much? Resin? Inconsistent. Rancid butter.
Taste: Strangely watery start, with a thick, burning centre. Smoke? A little odd, losing points.
Score: 82 points - I'd recommend it, but not TOO enthusiastically. Another weird JWWW palate.

Glen Ord 15yo 1989/2004 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, 604 bottles)
Nose: Sweet, mellow and just a tad watery. More spices emerge over time. Beer? Notable improvement!
Taste: Quite soft and smooth in the start, even at 50%. A big bitter bite in the finish. Too bad.
Score: 79 points - Based on the nose it would make it to the lower 80's - but not on the palate.

Glen Ord 10yo 1985/1995 (56.9%, Cadenhead's)
Nose: Sweet with a little more citrus than the OMC. Altogether 'fresher' - but mellowing out with time.
Taste: Chewing gum. Drops off quite a bit towards the dry, hot, flat finish. Hints of herbalness? Phew...
Score: 76 points - I know I probably should have given it more than 15 minutes, though...

Glen Ord 20yo 1983/2003 (59%, Signatory, Cask #378, 458 bottles)
Nose: Ah! Lovely - an altogether different class of malt. Woody and polished. A gentlemen's club...
Taste: Woody on the palate as well - maybe a tad too much so? Smoke and tannins. Again, it's the palate...
Score: 81 points - in the end it's just on 'the edge', but I'd recommend it... Well, in the subtlest manner.

And so, we come to my 1650th dram....
Oh, the brain-pain... What to choose, what to choose?
Ah, wait a minute, I know... I'll go for a bottle Davin was raving about: the...

Port Charlotte 2001/2005 (61.4%, Gordon Homer IB, Bloodtub # R23, 39 Bottles)
Nose: Wow! Leather, sweat and peat, followed by sweeter notes. Werther's Original? Fruit sweets?
Taste: Sweet and peaty. Smoky and fruity. Wonderful mouth feel! Heavily smoked sausage. Gunpowder?
Score: 93 points - truly astounding. Very probably the best 4yo malt I've ever tried! Not for the faint-hearted.

Bloody.... This is AMAZING - I think the best stuff made at Bruichladdich I EVER tried.
In fact, that's where my Track Record comes in handy... Yes indeed! And ranked from 'best' to 'worst' the second on the list is the Port Charlotte 2001/2004 (67.3%, C#286). It's even more extreme - the ONLY two Port Charlottes I've tried so far BOTH scored in the 90's, while none of the 40+ Bruichladdichs I've tasted reached the 90's. I hope the PC OB that will be released soon will be just as good. Well, let's face it, it probably won't - the two I tried were private casks and most likely 'selected' with great care. Some 'lesser' casks would have ended up in a big vatting needed for an OB.

Still, a product to watch very very closely...
Could I be growing into a 'Bruichladdich' fan after all?
Not likely - but a 'Port Charlotte' fan? Could be...

Anyway, that's it for now... I couldn't have picked a better 1650th dram...

That's it for now. Check out Log Entry #300 for more recent events...

Sweet drams,


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Liquid Log Entry #300-B (Spring-Autumn 2006)

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