A - The design and layout of this site used to be tailored to the browsing configuration of 'the majority' of the on-line population.
For a long time this meant that you had to use a PC and a recent version of Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser if you wanted to view the site like it was intended. However, it also meant that you could experience some technical difficulties if you were one of those die-hards still using Apple's overpriced junk - or a gadget freak trying to watch this website on your mobile phone.
You should be able to view everything as it was intended with the following configuration:
- Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7
- Browser: Mozilla FireFox 3.0 or higher (Internet Explorer works as well, but items like the Interactive Map won't run as smoothly)
- Screen Resolution: at least 1024x768 pixels
- Browser font size: 'Medium'
- System font size: 11 or 12 (TrueType font Verdana installed).
If you use a smaller screen resolution than 1024x768 (or use a minimised window or keep your favourits open) you'll have to scroll horizontally. Those of you with a larger screen resolution will have some extra useless space at the right of their screen.
Just think of it as some room to make notes on ;-)
A - Actually - they shouldn't anymore after the reconstruction from 'the big crunch' in 2006 is finally finished.
If you still have technical problems, please let me know which browser you're using and I'll look into it. Even in the 1990's I didn't feel like writing all the HTML by hand, so I used NetObjects Fusion 2.0 to build the site. We're now at version 10 and it's still not bug-free.
This means I (or rather you ;-) have to put up with one annoying bug with regards to the display of some text elements.
If the text on a page overlaps, try decreasing the font size of your browser under the 'View' pull-down menu of your browser.
If you select the 'standard' setting you should be able to view every page on the site without any problems.
Screen size and screen color can be adjusted on most screens in the Windows control panel. Very much like the Dutch swamp-worm, this site grows out of its skin every three years or so - I may be able to solve the problem in a future incarnation of the site.
A - Ah, now you're talking my language! First off, here are three important tips for beginners.
Tip #1: Don't buy just one bottle of single malt whisky - buy two or three and try them head-to-head.
Tip #2: Use cognac bowls, sherry copita's or wine glasses - or buy some if you don't have any. It's the best investment you'll make...
Tip #3: Read the Beginners Guide beforehand to enhance your enjoyment and prevent mishaps.
But MM has plenty of suggestions for more seasoned malt lovers as well, mind you... The Hit List offers an overview of my personal favourite single malt whiskies while the Bang-For-Your-Buck List focuses on the malts that offer the best value for money.
A - Back in the early 1990's I would probably have answered: the Lagavulin 16yo (OB).
However, since then I've learned that 'the' best single malt doesn't exist. It all depends on personal preferences, as well as present company, weather conditions and the mood of the day. Personal preferences are more or less predestined (although tastes can 'evolve' as your nose and palate become more educated), but the other factors I mentioned are variables. For example; I might just enjoy a dram of Tobermory on a sunny day in the company of Heidi Klum right after I've received a huge pay-rise more than a glass of Lagavulin while being beaten over the head with a big stick by Osama Bin Laden. In the rain... So, it's all relative...
What's more, we all have different tastes
and it's entirely feasible that yours are different from mine.
In fact, I'm almost certain that they are. It's very likely that you don't like some of the writers and composers that I mentioned in my brief personal introduction, and it's the same with single malts. And variation in personal taste is the least of our 'problems'. You can look at a single malt whisky from many different perspectives. Maybe you find the nose much more important than the taste - or vice versa. Or maybe you're more interested in development over time than in the way it responds to water. There's something to be said for balance in the nose of a malt, but a single malt whisky that goes ballistic in one corner of the spectrum can be very enjoyable as well.
So, I'm afraid that these days I wouldn't be able to answer that question within an hour...
But all these 'problems' are not really problems - they are what make the world of single malts so much fun!
If you're interested in my personal favourite single malt whiskies, you should check out my Hit List in the mAlmanac.
- Loch Dhu 10yo (OB) - whether it comes in a 20cl, 70cl or even 100cl bottle.
I realise that this short and sweet answer seems to contradict my answer to the previous question, but the majority of the malt maniacs seem to agree the 'worst' single malt whisky ever produced was the Loch Dhu 10yo. By and large the most single malts released on the market range from very decent to superb, but every now and them a small disaster in a bottle manages to sneak its way onto my shelves to haunt me. Check out the Shit List for an overview of some other malts that I think are 'avoidable'. But then again: maybe you shouldn't avoid them - after a Drumguish 3yo you'll appreciate a relatively 'mainstream' Glenlivet 12yo all the more.
A - Well, that's easy: the Beginners Guide offers all the 'basic' information you'll need
- and the Advanced Beginner's Guide picks up where the original Beginner's Guide leaves off. After that, you may want to flick through my Liquid Log (a chronological record of my tastings since 1997) or the Distillery Data section. The DD section offers plenty of statistics and background information about all Scotch whisky distilleries.
Like most of this website, the beginners guide and DD section focus on single malt whiskies produced in Scotland.
But there's more in the world of whisky - check out the Deviant Drams section for my notes on other whiskies.
If everything else fails, make sure to check out the Liquid Links page before you try to 'google' it.
A - That's easy too. Just go to my Track Record and you will find my score for that whisky - if I tried it between 1997 and 2006.
Clicking on the name of the malt will take you to the appropriate tasting notes in my Liquid Log. If I haven't tried a particular bottling, it's entirely possible that some of the other malt maniacs did. Check out the MM Matrix for the scores of thousands of whiskies that were sampled by at least 4 malt maniacs. The MM Monitor on Whiskyfun that's maintained by Serge Valentin features even more single malts. But obviously the easiest way to find data on a specific whisky is by using the search box above. If you want to find out when a particular official bottling was bottled, we usually don't know more than you do. In some cases we offer our 'best guess', but that's just what it is - our 'best guess'... When we estimate a bottle was bottled around 2000, it could very well be 1999 or 2001 as well.
A - The Distillery Data section contains information about
+/- 90 active distilleries in Scotland.
Actually, it contains information about quite a few silent distilleries and new projects in Scotland as well.
A - I get a lot of questions about the value
of 'collector's items' like Macallan '1874' or bottles recovered from a sunken ship.
I have to admit that I'm not a collector myself, so I really wouldn't know anything about it - it's what the buyer is willing to pay for it, I guess. Maybe you can find some more information through one of the liquid links or Google. But please keep in mind that the bottles you find on eBay or in some stores might actually be fake - so it's wise to keep your eyes open at all times.
A - Well, evidently - at least if some of the 'fanmail' that the maniacs and I receive is any indication.
Just take a quick glance at the list of 'testimonials' from other visitors I've added to the 'contact' page. Judging from their kind words (soothing balm for my ego, let me assure you), It would seem they are pleased enough with our efforts. Of course, I'm conveniently ignoring the fact that those who don't like Malt Madness probably won't bother to let me know ;-)
No reason for panic though - if Malt Madness doesn't tickle your fancy, there are thousands of other whisky websites.
Just check out the Liquid Links section for an overview of a selection of my personal favourites.
A - I'm currently very busy with my research into the matter.
I'll let you know as soon as I've processed all the data and made sense of it all...
There is, however, one preliminary result I can already divulge. My personal experience indicates that single malt whiskies provide an excellent fuel source for the brain while it's working on existential questions like 'what's the meaning of life', 'is there life on other planets' and 'I wonder how many bottles of whisky I can balance on my head'. (I found the answer to that last one: none.)
So, why don't you have yourself a glass of whisky while you look for wisdom on the rest of this site ?
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
 The Beginner's Guide (Ten chapters stuffed with information aimed at the novices in maltland.)
 The Distillery Data section (All active distilleries in Scotland - and a few silent ones and upstarts too.)
 The mAlmanac (A section with - hopefully - useful information for both novices and seasoned imbibers.)
 The Liquid Log (A chronological overview of my alcoholic adventures, containing over 300 entries.)
 The Deviant Drams section (Dedicated to all other alcoholic beverages.)
Apart from the hundreds of 'topical' pages in these five site sections, there are
a few other pages you might find useful. The sitemap offers a more extensive
guide through this site while the brief personal introduction tells you about
yours truly and the history of the site. If you have any questions that are
not answered here you can get in touch with me via the contact page or
follow one of the liquid links to the very best whisky websites in the world.
Esteemed members of the press can find some more information and a
few high resolution digital images on the 'press' page on this website.
The sitemap offers a complete overview of the available information on Malt Madness, but I'd
like to point out just a few pages that might be of interest to you. Take my Little Black Book for
example - it contains brief tasting notes on more than 500 single malt whiskies. When my Little
Black Book ceased being little I replaced it with my Track Record - an A-Z overview of the more than
2000 single malts I've tried until December 31, 2006. There are no tasting notes in the Track Record
itself, but the name of each malt whisky is linked to an entry in my 'Liquid Log' with with the full notes.
When I write this, the Advanced Beginner's Guide isn't finished yet, but when it's done it should contain
loads of useful information as well. If you want to know when it's done, just join the mailinglist...
Do you have any questions about this website? Or about life in general, perhaps?
Well, not to worry, you may be able to find some of the answers on this page. I've
tried to answer some frequently asked questions about Malt Madness - as well
as a few additional questions that I've just made up myself...
Please note that this page does not answer any questions that you might have
about whisky - those are addressed in another part of the Malt Madness site.
The Beginner's Guide to single malts features ten chapters filled with most of
the information you'll need to bluff your way through any casual conversation
about single malt Scotch whisky. And, who knows... You might even become
inspired to sample a few different single malt whiskies - and then some more.
Before you know it, you could become 'hooked' on malt whisky just like I was.
With that in mind, it might be wise if you check the questions above first. Alternatively, you might receive a quicker response (as well as several perspectives) by posting your question in the Malt Maniacs & Friends group on Facebook.
As far as navigating through this web site goes, I hope that the focus of the five site sections is clear;
Alternatively, you could follow one of the Liquid Links to other websites about single malt whisky - and some of the other
'finer things in life'.
But enough about all that, it's time for the 'meat'; the FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS. Please check out the list of questions at the top of
this page for an overview - or pour yourself a stiff dram of malt whisky and leisurely feast your eyes on the answers below....
Johannes - Who do you think you are?
You are Dutch, why is the MM website in English?
What is the background and history of Malt Madness?
Is the Malt Madness site commercial or independent?
How do I navigate through this website?
What are the 'browser specifications' of MM?
Why do some pieces of text on MM overlap?
I want to try some SMSWs. Where do I start?
What is the best single malt in the world?
What is the worst single malt in the world?
How can I find info about whisky in general?
How can I find info about a particular whisky?
How can I find info about a particular distillery?
I found / inherited a dusty old bottle; what's its worth?
I don't like this website. Am I crazy?
What's the meaning of life?
(Check out Malt Maniacs & Friends on Facebook for more...)
Are you still here? That probably means that
you have a question about the Malt Madness
site. If that happens to be the case, you have
found the right page. I've collected a number
of frequently asked questions at the right.
Click on the question to read the answer...
Please feel free to contact me if you have any
other questions. However, it might take me a
while to respond. I receive dozens of e-mails
with questions almost every day, and I'll try
to answer every message I receive... Well,
most of them anyway. I have to admit that, if
it's one of the frequently asked questions at
the right, I might not even bother, actually...
Together with the sitemap and a few other
'special' pages, this page was designed to help
you find your way around the steaming pile of
content about single malt whisky on this site.
Apart from following the navigation structure of Malt Madness, you could also use the Google search
box at the top of this page to look for specific information about malt whisky. After you've entered the
word(s) or phrase you're looking for, the search results will show which pages on Malt Madness have
the most relevant content. And even if your query doesn't produce any results, there are alternatives.
Malt Madness is just one of thousands of websites about whisky. The other sites in the online trinity
of whisky sites are Malt Maniacs (an international collective of malt whisky lovers) and the Whiskyfun
website by Serge Valentin. Other related destinations are the Malt Maniacs Monitor (a database with
details, ratings and notes for more than 15,000 different whiskies) and the Malt Maniacs & Friends
group on Facebook. Within this 'cloud' of whisky sites, you can find different perspectives on whisky.
A - Well... the short answer is that I'm an E-strategist living in Amsterdam, Holland. I'm an aquarius,
vintage 1966, and discovered single malt whisky (in the shape of a 16 years old Lagavulin) in 1991. I quickly became 'mad about malts' and started
the Malt Madness website in 1995. Two years later Craig Daniels, Davin de Kergommeaux and Louis Perlman started contributing to the web site; this collective effort eventually evolved into the Malt Maniacs web site. Around 2004
fellow malt maniac Serge Valentin added his WhiskyFun website to the collective. If you really want to know more about the man behind the malt madness, you should check out my personal introduction.
I obviously can't guarantee that you'll like me very much after I've exposed all my flaws, but at least you'll know who I am ;-)
- When I wrote the first pages of this site in 1995, single malt whiskies were not quite as trendy as they are today.
After converting my circle of close personal acquaintances to single malts, my preaching seemed to reach mostly deaf ears here in Holland. At the same time, there was an international malt community forming on the world wide web. What's more: most Dutch people speak English, but few English speaking people actually speak or read Dutch - and that's probably just as well... You're not missing much ;-)
Besides - my English needed improvement anyway, so I decided this could be a useful learning experience...
A - The Malt Madness site started out as an article in the English version of my 'Weird Planet Magazine' website in 1995.
Maintaining both an English and a Dutch version of Weird Planet proved too time-consuming, so the English version of WP is no longer available. In fact, Weird Planet Magazine has been off-line for a few years now as well. Because I received so many reactions on my article on single malt scotch whisky I decided to add a few pages and transform it into a genuine website; Malt Madness. In 1997 people from all over the world started to submit articles for the website as well - almost a decade before 'Web 2.0' and 'on-line community' became buzzwords.
The Malt Maniacs section gradually attracted more contributors and readers. After 'a decade of heavy dramming' the section was upgraded to a separate website (cunningly titled 'Malt Maniacs') in 2006. At the same time the WhiskyFun website that French malt maniac Serge Valentin launched in 2004 was integrated into our 'on-line whisky trinity'. Together the websites offer thousands of pages dedicated to single malt Scotch whisky - and some of the other 'finer things in life'. The sites now attract more than 5,000 unique visitors each day.
A - Purely and passionately independent
- I still haven't gone all 'commercial' on you ;-)
Malt Madness remains as independent and (sometimes painfully) honest as ever. However, after the traffic to MM exceeded the limits on my personal hosting account around the year 2000 I was confronted with a choice; I would either have to start paying money so that all visitors would be able to read MM (and not even I am that mad) or find a sponsor who was willing to accept our full 'editorial' independence. That sponsor turned out to be www.scotchwhisky.com from the UK. After the ownership of Scotchwhisky.com changed in 2005, Sukhinder Singh from The Whisky Exchange kindly agreed to host the site for a while on his servers in exchange for a credit at the bottom of every page.
That was pretty 'low key' compared to the flashy banners on some other website, but I eventually chose for a 100% ad-free site.
At the moment technical wizard Tom Craig is keeping Malt Madness 'in the air' until we've found a permanent solution...
A - Quite comfortably I would imagine, as long as you understand that Malt Madness is part of an 'on-line trinity'
of whisky sites.
With the three 'tabs' at the top of each page you can jump between the three main segments, Malt Madness and Malt Maniacs (founded and maintained by yours truly) and WhiskyFun by Serge Valentin. The second row of tabs on MMadness and MManiacs provides access to the five main sections of each website - most of them filled with an overload of Scotch whisky information. The 'Big Crunch' in 2006 may have damaged some text links on the various pages, but the tabs should always lead you to the most recent version of a page.
Meanwhile, here's a quick guide to the main sections and pages on Malt Madness;