Essential Guide to Scotch Whisky

Fortunately, I have a handful of spare e-mail addresses for situations just like these, so I registered under the alias 'Jonathan Dough' and proceeded.
Finally, I could read my guide...
But first, why not take a quick look at those 'special must-have bonuses' - the six tasting mats with a value of 19,95 U$? I've received a few requests to offer downloadable tasting mats on Malt Madness in the past, but I usually responded with the advice to 'take a simple piece of paper and draw a few circles on them'. These tasting mats are a tad more elaborate that that, but I wouldn't pay three dollars for a mat like this - or any tasting mat for that matter... There were further disappointments in store concerning the tasting mats, but I will rant a little more about those in my (free) Liquid Log - Let's take a look at the guide itself now.

Essential Guide to Scotch Whisky

And as far as those 'experts' are concerned - none of them is actually identified.
From the looks of it only the last three chapters might have been written by 'experts in the field'. Compared to the first flimsy three chapters the second half of the book is fairly 'heavy', but even then I didn't feel '100% satisfied' as was suggested by the text on the web site;

We are so confident that the information included in this eBook is of such excellent value that we will provide
a full refund to any customer who is not satisfied up to 12 months after purchase. It should only take a few
weeks to absorb the information which is clearly laid out in the eBook– and to gauge the benefits that it
provides as it opens up a whole new "vista" to the world of single malts and scotch whisky! However, we are
giving you 52 weeks to decide – you can only win ! That's right, at anytime during the next 365 days, if you
are not satisfied with the value of the information provided in "The Essential Guide to Scotch Whisky" and the
special bonus, we will refund your entire payment.

Well, I wouldn't say the eBook was entirely worthless, but I wasn't quite satisfied with the information either.
Compared to other books like the Malt Whisky Yearbook I mentioned earlier, I didn't feel the 'value' was 30 dollars or 15 pounds. I felt that half of that amount would be a fair price, so I sent a message suggesting a 50% refund...
I haven't heard back yet but will update this stories if there are new developments...

Fortunately, some of these 100 'essential facts' were
more than just a single line or paragraph - but overall I
learned almost nothing that I didn't know already. And
the first chapter is not just painfully short; a lot of those
'essential facts' are repeated here and there as well.
But let's proceed to chapter 2 now. Hmm...  even thinner,
I'm afraid. A timeline of two pages that ends in 2000.
Didn't they mention something about 'out of date' info?

The Essential Guide to Scotch Whisky

Main Segments

The eBook Review; What the... ?

After I had completed the lengthy payment process, I
encountered my first nasty surprise. Because the 'special
must have bonuses' were PDFs, I had assumed that the
eBook itself would be a PDF as well - easy for printing so
you can digest the information on offer leisurely whilst on
an aeroplane or the toilet - or even an aeroplane toilet.
No such luck, I'm afraid; only AFTER payment has been
processed the download turns out to be an .exe file.
As you may be aware, an executable file could contain all
sorts of spyware and do things to my computer I wouldn't
want. Needless to say, the software crashed a few times
before I could read the guide - or at least I thought I could
now read the guide... Not quite yet, I'm afraid.
Before you can read the guide you have to sign a form that
says 'I understand that by registring this eBook, I am giving
Pagoda Graphics Ltd permission to contact me via e-mail from
time to time with offers and information related to the content
of this eBook.
' And if you do NOT accept these conditions,
you can't read the eBook you just paid 30 dollars for!

Chapter 4 finally offered some real meat. A lot of actual information on the mashing and distillation process - but just a few lines about maturation at the end. That's the most important part of the process! Chapter 5 offers a pretty good explanation about nosing and tasting - things are starting to look up now... And I had no major complaints about chapter 6 either - although there's a lot of information that can be found elsewhere on the web too.


The first chapter deals with "The Top 100 Essential Scotch Whisky Facts".
Apparently, the facts below are 'must have knowledge' - I guess I risk copyright
infringement by revealing these 'insights of experts in the field' ;-)

56 - In 2005 (worldwide whisky consumption) was 300 million liters of alcohol.
57 - The top export market by volume for Scotch whisky in 2005 was France.
58 - The top export market by value for Scotch whisky in 2005 was the USA.
59 - The top selling (blend brand) in 2004 was Johnnie Walker Red Label.
60 - The top selling (malt brand) in 2004 was Glenfiddich.

Chapter 3 offers little solace as well - the list of distilleries doesn't feature distilleries like Kilchoman and Glengyle that were started around 2005. What's more, important silent stills like Brora are not covered either.

Meanwhile, I've started work on the ADVANCED BEGINNER'S GUIDE - which should knock your socks off...
Follow me on Twitter if you want to know when the ABG will be available. Meanwhile, may I suggest that you check out the distillery information and tasting notes in the Distillery Data section, or the whisky recommendations in the mAlmanac.

Sweet drams,

Johannes van den Heuvel
Founder Malt Madness & Malt Maniacs

All in all, I felt overwhelmingly underwhelmed after the whole experience.
Most information in the guide can be found on various (free) web sites as well and if you feel like paying for an old fashioned book, there are many available that offer more information for less money, like the Malt Whisky Yearbook.

UPDATE: The reply took some time to arrive, but after it did I actually received a 100% refund - even though I just asked for 50%.
So, that was a pleasant surprise after the initial disappointment of the e-book itself. As you may have gathered from the e-book
review I felt quite emotional right after reading the 'essential guide' and I wanted to share my anger and disappointment with the
rest of the world. However, I've now received my money back - just like they promised. That makes me a much happier person...
What's more, with such a money back guarantee that actually works it suddenly becomes an e-book I could actually recommend!
That way, people won't have to take my word for it but simply can decide for themselves if they felt the 'Essential Guide' was worth
their hard earned cash. You can check it out for yourself at:

Malt Whisky BasicsMalt Whisky VocabularyMalt Whisky RegionsMalt Whisky Distillation
whisky information

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