The biggest news from my perspective was probably the shut-down of the
site after 20 years - and the subsequent rapid resurrection in August 2015.
Nevertheless, the full reconstruction of Malt Madness will me a matter of years,
so please be patient. For now, the Beginner’s Guide is the only site section
that has been fully refurbished. Follow me on Twitter for other whisky updates.
Enjoy 2016 - and remember to NOT drink and drive...
The press and the whisky industry can have their heads up their own asses.
Not everything that was sent out as ‘news’ in 2015 was actually newsworthy,
So, while my old blog is out of commission I’ll try to struggle through the stream
of information and collect a few of the highlights and low points of the year here.
My ‘tweet feed’ at the left is the most active ‘news’ stream on Malt Madness.
At times I amuse myself with Facebook as well, in an effort to keep up with the
times (which are a-changing). I’d like to think that I’m quite selective when it
comes to the news that I feel is worth sharing. However, please let me know
if there is any stuff I’ve missed that would be of interest to the readers of MM.
John Dewar & Sons (a subsidiary of Bacardi) have released a new version of
their Aberfeldy 16yo expression with a suggested retail price of +/- GB £62.00.
That price might explain why the makers themselves call it ‘The Golden Dram’.
According to the press blurb, the new Aberfeldy 16yo is “entirely finished” in
“premium” Oloroso sherry casks, I don’t want to be a spoil-sport, but It would
seem to me that a ‘finish’ is a PARTIAL maturation by definition. This makes
the statement slightly misleading - or just dumb. And given the scarcity of
Oloroso sherry casks, I’m sure all of them are at a premium these days...
On the bright side, the press release also mentions an interesting
technical detail. The Aberfeldy distillery in Perthshire employs an
unusually long fermentation time of 70 hours. Supposedly, this
produces more esters, which give a whisky a more fruity character.
The new Aberfeldy 16 Years Old is bottled at 40% ABV, just like its
12yo and 21yo siblings. Apparently, Dewar’s plans to expand their
Aberfeldy portfolio to five ‘regular’ expressions, but at the moment
there seem to be just three. The new 16yo expression is available
in 11 markets around the world: Belgium, Canada, Germany, France,
Japan, Lebanon, Netherlands, Russia, Sweden, Taiwan and the UK.
I’ve sampled both a younger and older official bottling in 2009.
The 12yo OB didn’t appear particularly fruity to me at the time; it
actually seemed mostly sweetish like nectar or honeysuckle to me.
The 21yo OB was much more complex and did indeed show fruits.
The Aberfeldy distillery was founded by the Dewar family, starting
production in 1898. It’s one of just a few remaining in Perthshire.
The Tomatin distillery chose Waverly station in
Edinburgh as the location to proudly present their
rebranded range. It now includes a ‘Legacy’ and
‘Cask Strength’ without an age statement, a 12yo,
a 14yo, an 18yo and a 36yo - and some vintages.
According to the press release: “The new look
aims to refine the current branding to create a
fresh, contemporary identity which better
reflects the product inside, whilst still retaining
the quality and tradition of the brand.”
Fair enough - but perhaps the ‘refinement’ that
is provided by a white poodle is a little bit TOO
much for some people? On the other hand, they
manage to give the presentation a surreal twist
by having the stars of their promotion posters
available for interviews and autographs...
My sincere apologies for the lack of updates on Malt Madness lately. My previous employer never really
learned to appreciate my honesty and sarcasm, so after eight years we decided to part ways. I should try
and find some steady income before I get back to the reconstruction of the Malt Madness website.
I’ve published a Distillery Fact Sheet because some profiles in the Distillery Data section are outdated.
The Distillery Fact Sheet 0.9 should be about 99% correct. I’m going to verify and update all data over the
coming months while I’m refreshing and expanding all Schotch malt whisky distillery profiles.
Olivier Humbrecht: I had a little adventure in Switzerland last Saturday….. Saw a new release of Laphroaig 1991
and didn’t check properly the price. I candidly assumed it would be around 150€, well, it was 490CHF
(so almost the same in Euros….). Jesus! Didn’t purchase it!"...
Johannes: Yep - there still seems to be a bubble. I must say that the fact that I had so much of my own modest
'capital' tied up in overpriced whisky bottles always made me feel a little uneasy, so I’ve now said goodbye to more
than half of my stock. Nevertheless, according to some sources everything is still bubbling along quite happily...
Olivier Humbrecht: Well, I’ve heard from reliable sources that the Scotch whisky industry (Diageo mostly) aren’t as
happy anymore. They suffered significant sales drop and they may still hide behind a ‘we are not affected by this’ attitude,
they do have big worries. However, it seems that they continue to bring out super expensive OB bottlings. OK, a vintage
25yo OB becomes a rarity nowadays, and their prices are usually well above 200€, but still, I am shocked at the
quality/price ratio of these bottlings. For 450€ you can get superb old 10 or 15yo Laphroaig with a much higher score...
Johannes: I recently opened a few favourite oldies like Laphroaig 10yo C/S Green Stripe & Macallan 10yo 100 Proof
for comparisons and the difference with even current releases is amazing. I paid around 50 Euro's (in guilders) for
those in 1999 and now I sold a few of my last bottles for 250 Euro's a pop. The buyer felt he made the deal of his life.
(And I tend to agree, since he told be his last amazing discovery was a collectible single cask Glenfiddich ;-)
The relation between prices and 'quality' (as perceived by people in the know) has grown paper-thin...
Ho-cheng Yao: Indeed, heard from several sources that the scotch industry growth is not as expected.
But the luxury bottlings are going well and it seems to me that this money game won't stop in the near future.
Krishna Nukala: This does not seem to be true to India. People who are newly introduced to Malts are acquiring
stuff at crazy prices and I sincerely wish it to continue to dispose of my stuff (whatever little I acquired) before it crashes
which I don't expect in near future ( 2-3 years). Recently I held a tasting session for a 12yo 100 Pipers whisky and the
people who came for the session looked down upon this whisky and 90% told that they are now into Single Malts.
It has now become a fashion on India to say that he or she is a Single Malt drinker....
Johannes: I haven’t blessed a liquorist with my patronage for a few years now (still working my way through my
reserve stock), so I was wondering if the whisky bubble is still bubbling. Have whisky prices come down yet?
Johannes: Hah! I should send the people at Zurich airport that nude selfie I took this morning for my resume.
That will show them what 'full bodied' really means... ;-) But at least their portfolio includes Lagavulin 16yo - which
offers even better value today than it did 20 years ago, at least in comparison to the rest of the field.
Thanks for the feedback - I guess I can leave my shopping bags in storage for a while longer...
Olivier Humbrecht: It seems that new scotch whisky drinkers take a basic NAS bottle for a luxury item, therefore are
ready to spend more for what it's worth. Clever marketing which is apparently working. In Zurich airport right now and
looking at the 'full bodied' section, a whole wall, the only two non NAS bottling are the old faithful Laga 16 and Caol Ila 12.
On a more practical note, the recovery of the
old website has now begun in earnest with a
brand new version of the Beginner’s Guide
(10 chapters with advice for whisky novices).
In some countries, people that were not even
conceived yet when MM was launched in 1995
have now reached the legal drinking age.
I guess that should make me feel old, no?
Well, it doesn’t - perhaps because I took care of
my mid-life crisis in my thirties. Just in case...
Meanwhile, a lot of work still needs to be done
on the other site sections of Malt Madness.
This old Malt Madness website has found a new sponsor in Bartels Whisky - an independent bottler
and on-line whisky store from the UK. They sponsor a single page on Malt Madness for the next few years.
Being bottlers themselves, it’s only appropriate that they sponsor the Scotch whisky bottlers overview.
When Malt Madness was launched in 1995 I didn’t think I would
ever need advertisers to support the website. During the early
years I was able to do literally EVERYTHING required to keep
a website running myself. So, the site didn’t cost much money.
In the new millennium, the malt maniacs helped things going
for over a decade with articles and input, but after I retired from
the collective I had to keep myself motivated and informed.
This meant that I would have to pay for suitable hosting out of
my own pocket. Unfortunately, I’m looking for another job at the
moment and I’m trying to avoid all costs that are avoidable.
I’ve even gone so far as to sell off part of my precious ‘reserve stock’...
My strength was already severely sapped by a massive crash
of the site just before Christmas 2014 - and then it turned out
that my trusty provider Canvas Host who had been hosting
MM for free couldn’t solve the the SSL issues I struggled with.
This seems like a fitting moment to shut down Malt Madness - after the 20 year jubilee.
At the moment I can’t afford to invest money on necessary stuff like new tools and hosting, so the public
will have to rely on other on-line information sources in the future. I’m still thinking about that book though...
I am very happy to report that Malt Madness is back-on-line! My previous cries for advertisers didn’t
bring forth any candidates, but when the site went ‘dark’ three days ago Serge from Whiskyfun came to
the rescue. He will be Malt Madness’ “shirt sponsor” for the next few years, ensuring a full reconstruction.