Malt Maniacs #5

Malt Maniacs E-zine

Malt Maniacs #005

Bagpipe Bladder & Chocolate
prE-pistle #1999/01 by Davin de Kergommeaux, Canada

The first prE-pistle of 1999 is from our fourth and freshest malt maniac; Davin de Kergommeaux from Canada. Those kids get up to the craziest things, like eating chocolate with their whisky...

Chocolate & Whisky
prE-pistle #1999/02 by Johannes v/d Heuvel, Holland

We still weren't thinking about an E-zine in 1999, so we just posted questions and responses on our 'low tech' forum. The mere fact that we had a forum was pretty novel at the time ;-)

Summertime & BFYB
prE-pistle #1999/03 by Craig Daniels, Australia

Craig chips in with some comments about the weather and an interesting 'attached document'. Rereading it I feel that I may have lost part of it in a computer crash, but it's still interesting ;-)

More Ramblings from Canada
prE-pistle #1999/04 by Davin de Kergommeaux, Canada

Wine, coffee and chocolate - that's about all for this post.
They would grow longer over time, though ;-)

Best Buys in Duty Free in 1995
prE-pistle #1999/05 by Craig Daniels, Australia

As promised in an earlier post, Craig sent in his own personal version of my 'Bang-For-Your-Buck List' on the Malt Madness site.

The L&B's Session in Amsterdam
prE-pistle #1999/06 by Johannes v/d Heuvel, Holland

Because my Liquid Log is temporarily under construction I posted my most recent addition to the forum. Not a lot of spectacular events this time I'm afraid - but some 'malt mileage' progress...

You Were Right!
prE-pistle #1999/07 by Davin de Kergommeaux, Canada

Oh, those foolhardy youngsters... Despite my well intended warning Davin did try chocolate with his whisky. Tears were soon to follow...

Powerhouse Malts
prE-pistle #1999/08 by Johannes v/d Heuvel, Holland

Davin asked me which Laphroaig expression he should go for.
Unhindered by my lack of experience I offered some advice.

Sayings That Should Be on Buttons
prE-pistle #1999/09 by Craig Daniels, Australia

Obviously in a good mood, Craig sent in a bunch of funny sayings for buttons and bumper stickers - along with another useful document.

Next IssuePrevious Issue

Malt Maniacs #005 - February 1, 1999

So, are we an E-zine yet? Erm... No, not quite I'm afraid.
But we're making progress. For one thing, we've received the first reports from a new proto-maniac: Davin de Kergommeaux from Canada. We now have four malt maniacs on board...

The prE-pistles are growing longer and longer as well.
I could fit all the contributions for 1997 in a single issue and in our issues MM#002, MM#003 and MM#004 there was plenty of room for all the articles from 1998. This year we'll need five pages - and that's still without any proper pictures. If you are one of those people who like their pages rich and flashy, I suggest you skip a few years ahead and jump directly to 2002 or 2003.

Because these messages were posted to our forum / mailing list some are quite short compared to our future 'E-pistles' - and I had to 'trim a lot of fat'. I hope most of it is still intelligible...

A few casual visitors of Malt Madness started to post longer messages as well. Although it would be salve for my ego to post all the positive comments here, the 'nutritional value' of many of them was too low to re-post them on the reconstructed web site. However, I felt a few exceptions were too interesting or entertaining to simply throw them in the digital dumpster.

And I guess that were all my comments for this issue of our E-zine (or at least the reconstructed, 'prehistoric' version of what would eventually become our E-zine).

Sweet drams,

Johannes van den Heuvel
Editor Malt Madness / Malt Maniacs

prE-pistle #1999/01 - Bagpipe Bladder & Chocolate
Submitted on 03/01/1999 by Davin de Kergommeaux, Canada

Your Malt Madness site is great! Scotch whisky has been my preferred drink for many years now, but I only recently started drinking regularly and paying attention to the flavours.  Drank mostly Glenfiddich and Glenlivet, (and Black Label) though I do have a Glenmorangie 10yo official bottle in the basement, but I really don't remember it.

You must not have been keeping notes when you tried that Mortlach 1984/1995 from Gordon & MacPhail on your list (it's greyed out).
It's not that common here in Ottawa, but my wife bought me a Mortlach 9yo Signatory bottle that ranks right up there and was the source of my amazing discovery - and unfortunately is now empty. I've heard it described as 'tasting like a bagpipe bladder'. That reference comes from a book by Bernard Poirier called Whisky With Dinner. He believes that with the assortment of single malts available, there is really no reason to drink wine before, with or after dinner.  He also recommends single malts for cooking and goes on to match up the various brands with assorted meals. Perhaps you know this already. Bernard Poirier also describes that Mortlach it as "musty".

You found it a bit too sherried, and that was more my impression of Glemorangie Port Wood Finish, but as I mentioned, my taste buds are far from educated. Something I really have enjoyed though is to follow the Glenmorangie Port Wood with a Talisker 10yo.  Wow does the iodine hit you!! I have read on a few web sites about eating chocolate with single malts. Have you tried this? 

I'm drinking daily now, on doctor's orders.  Guess I know why my doc is always so busy. 
If only I could figure out a way for my health insurance to pay for it. 

Keep up the site; it's fun and informative. I'll keep watching your page for updates. 

All the best,

Davin de Kergommeaux, Canada

prE-pistle #1999/02 - Chocolate & Whisky
Submitted on 04/01/1999 by Johannes van den Heuvel, Holland

Hello Davin,

A Bagpipe bladder??? Hmmmm...  I've never tried that - and I'm not in any hurry to do so either ;-)
Another thing I've never tried (and that's not high on my list of priorities) is combining chocolate and whisky - or at least not SINGLE MALTS. I like to keep my experiences as pure as possible. That also means: no chocolate! I've never tried it, but the taste of chocolate is so overpowering that I can hardly believe it would improve the tasting experience. It could be enjoyable, but I wouldn't be able to make useful tasting notes because I would most likely miss all subtleties. (If I do need to eat in between drams, I generally use plain white bread or crackers.) That being said, I might want to try combining bourbons or blends (or bourbons) one day...

By the way, as far as combining whisky with other stuff goes...
Some people seem to think it's 'cool' to smoke a cigar with a glass of whisky.
That's fine when you're drinking blends or bourbons and not paying attention, but if your serious about tasting and nosing a whisky, cigars (or pipes) are a bad idea - they burn out your tongue and usually completely overwhelm the delicate flavours.
Best to enjoy them separately, I'd say...

I don't enjoy most wines myself (except port & 'dessert wines'), so I think combining whisky with dinner instead of wine is an excellent idea. I don't know the book by Poirier you mentioned, but I like his train of thought. Finding out which single malts go with which meals could be a voyage of discovery by itself. I have to admit that I've only bought a few books since I've discovered the miracles of the world wide web, but I do own Michael Jackson's Malt Whisky Companion - an excellent resource.

Following Glenmorangie Port with a Talisker 10yo sounds like a great combination!
If you like the iodine in Talisker you should try Laphroaig 10yo - one of the most extreme malts I know. I definitely found iodine in that one, but for me the main impressions with the Talisker were smoke and pepper - and maybe some peat, but not quite 'Islay' peat...

And last but not least: I wish I had a doctor like yours... ;-)

Sweet drams,


prE-pistle #1999/03 - Summertime & BFYB
Submitted on 05/01/1999 by Craig Daniels, Australia

Hello Johannes - and happy new year. It's very hot here at the moment - 38.8C and climbing.
I've just been to an auction buying up office furniture (and not malt worse luck) and its lovely to be back at work in the air conditioning. Not the best weather for malts, but last night I dropped an ice cube in a dram of Glenfarclas 12yo (room temperature was 27C) and it was quite pleasant, so I can't really chastise someone who admits to liking Malibu ;-).

I like your 'Bang-for-your-bucks' list on Malt Madness
I agree that the Glen Ord 12yo is a damn fine drop at a damn good price.
We can get it for less than $45 which I think is about 53 guilders. Can't argue with Lagavulin 16yo or Talisker 10yo either in the great value stakes. This is a topic close to my heart, coz I can't abide some of the single malt name droppers with their references to 30yo Glenfarclas, Bowmore, Springbank etc.  If I can't drink it or can't afford it they can keep their boasting / bignoting to themselves.

In a few weeks I will send a list of 'Best Duty Free Buys' I've compiled around 1995 - when you wrote your 'BFYB' list.
Hope you find something of interest in the "stuff" I've attached with this report.

Regardez Vouz,

Craig Daniels, Adelaide, South Australia

- - -



All Scotch Whisky enthusiasts and afficionados, when pressed, would admit to having their favourite malts.
For some it may be one or two, for others with more eclectic tastes it might be ten to a dozen. When making a decision about favourites many different factors are likely to impact. Some of these will be purely practical, like price and availability, some ephemeral, dependent on personal taste and some more sentimental. Other issues which need to be considered include consistency. Authorised distillery bottlings can vary slightly from year to year, but the variations in the official offerings are miniscule compared to the differences between "unofficial bottlings".

While many fine and occasionally exceptional malts are marketed by independent bottlers, such as Gordon & McPhail, William Cadenhead and more recently the Scotch Whisky Association, inconsistency & limited availability virtually prohibit including any malts released by these bottlers in any representative and consumer oriented list of the best malts.  The independents tend to release malts at different ages than the proprietory offerings and they are always limited production runs.  In most cases they are only imported into Australia on a one-off basis, so that even if you find one you particularly like it may be impossible to get any more.

Even if we stick to readily available commercial malts is consensus about what constitutes the best desirable and ultimately possible in such a genuinely subjective area.  And in any case what criteria should be addressed. 
Popularity?,  Total Sales? and whose opinion matters in the final analysis.


I have tried to assemble a list of malts that have stood the test of time, and have been rated as excellent by one or more authors and are widely regarded amongst connoisseurs and Malt Tasting Clubs.  I have tried to make the list representative of the classic regions, Highlands, Islay, Campbeltown and Lowland and the widely recognised sub-regions of the Highlands: Speyside, Northern, and Island.

To make this list of use to both enthusiasts and novices I have included the standard distillery bottling where this is of sufficient quality to warrant it.  The younger whiskies tend to be more representative of the district or region of origin because the longer a whisky matures, the greater the impact of the wood in the eventual flavour profile.  As a general rule older whiskies tend to be better than the "normal expression" ie the standard distillery release, but the downside is that they are always more expensive and only in exceptional cases does the extra expense represent good value.


A fair number of books have been written on the single malts and each author has a different way of alerting the reader to their particular favourites or those they consider to be of the highest quality.  Before the 1970's single malts were little known outside the United Kingdom and very little pot-stilled malt whisky was available anywhere.  In this period the literature tended to focus on the malt distilleries and their role in the blending industry.  It must be remembered that the reputation of Scotch in the world market and the profitability of the industry was built on blended whiskies such as J & B Rare, Johnnie Walker "Red Label", Vat 69, Teachers "Highland Cream", Dewars "White Label", Black & White etc.  These particular products are a mixture of grain whisky and lots of different single malts, made to top secret recipes, with the total malt content somewhere in the vicinity of 25-40%.. 

Before the 1980's, the big companies had little interest in trying to market single malts.
World demand for blended Scotch had grown consistently since the end of the Second World War and the major distillers where continuing to expand productive capacity.  The world recession in the early 1980's left a lot of the big concerns with an oversupply of malt and a need to try and shift it.  Malt whisky is a very valuable commodity and the older it is, the more valuable, however too much capital tied up in stocks can prove financially ruinous, not to mention vulnerable to predatory takeovers.  Even today the single malts only represent 6% of total sales of Scotch Whisky and yet because of the predicament of the major suppliers the malts are becoming more affordable all the time.  The more recent literature tends to concentrate more on the individual whiskies and not worry so much about production issues.

Craig Daniels, Adelaide, South Australia 

prE-pistle #1999/04 - More Ramblings from Canada
Submitted on 14/01/1999 by Davin de Kergommeaux, Canada

Hi Johannes,

I'm not a wine drinker either, although it is almost 10 years since I visited family in Paris and was served a very unusual wine at dinner. It was thin, watery, but seemed to have a lot of sediment in it. I quite enjoyed it and - surprise - no headache. In school we had a weekly competition (trivia etc.) with the loser buying a bottle of wine to drink Friday afternoons in the lab. This one joker brought in a bottle of Retsina, which I found quite pleasant in a sort of turpentinish way. My dad is a painter so I grew up smelling turpentine. Maybe it was the association. In any case it's been years now since I had wine and why would I start again having discovered sms?

Same with coffee.
I go for the really strong flavoured stuff like "French Roast". All this to say I do seem to prefer strong flavours.
Next bottle will be Laphroaig 10yo as you so kindly recommended.

As for the chocolate, I have read about this on a few web sites.
I think the idea is to use the whisky to make the chocolate penetrate your sinuses and give you a rush of chocolate.
Sounds orgiastic, but so is a good Scotch alone. Have you encountered Torbjorn Olausson in your surfing? He has quite a few comments on the website. Seems knowledgeable and recommends the chocolate business. Any way I'll give it a try some day and let you know. I agree with you though, a good Scotch hardly needs a chocolate enhancement.

Anyway, live and learn.

All the best,

Davin de Kergommeaux, Canada

prE-pistle #1999/05 - Best Buys in Duty Free in 1995
Submitted on 15/01/1999 by Craig Daniels, Australia


Whether you are a frequent traveller or only get to go overseas once or twice in your life, one of the things you ought to know is what Scotches represent the best value in Duty Free Stores. While the ubiquitous Glenfiddich is a Single Malt Scotch it is neither the highest quality Scotch nor does it represent particularly good value for money. Because the duty free stores tend to sell all their single malts at very similar prices, some on offer represent much better value than others. This guide is provided for the traveller in that it indicates the relative merits of the Scotch from both quality and 'value' perspectives. The Malts and prices are those on offer in July 1995. A quick ring around is highly recommended because the malts on offer do change and availability across outlets should be confirmed.


Bowmore 12yo OB - Islay Malts often provide the defining character of commercial blends.
The malt in Islay whiskies is kilned and dried using peat dug from beds of ancient seaweed. This peat, usually in combination with heavily peated water imparts a smoky, salty and often distinctive medicinal tang to the whiskies. The Islay whiskies range from light & delicate drams, with little obvious peat to huge fire breathing peaty monsters. Bowmore sits squarely between these two extremes in both nose & palate.  Colour is an amber brown and the nose is quite complex with some smoke, sweetish sherry and a dusty floral top note. On a rounded, slightly oily palate, the defining iodine and phenol of the classic Islay are apparent but not overwhelming and are very well integrated with good quality sherry wood. The finish is of medium length with lingering sweet smoke and spiciness with peppery notes.
A good, relatively mild introduction to Islay malts.

Glenfiddich NAS 'Special Reserve' OB - Best selling single malt in the world. 
This is more a result of brand recognition due to extensive and effective marketing and availabliity rather than the quality in the bottle.  Glenfiddich is bottled relatively young at 8 years old and it shows. Very pale straw in colour, it has a light, youthful nose with cereal grain characteristics, a light, slightly sweet palate and a touch of fruitiness. Finish is clean with some astringent notes but little length.  By no means a great malt but not a bad introduction to Single Malts and certainly smoother than commercial blends.

Glenlivet 12yo OB - Very well known in America and is owned by the Canadian Company, Hiram Walker.
This is perhaps the most famous name in single malt Scotches and is certainly a step above the Glenfiddich. 
The extra time in wood shows on both the nose and the palate. A light, bright gold in colour, The Glenlivet is renowned for the complexity of its nose with traces of many different perfumes, herbs and spices. As preferred in the US market it is definitely at the softer, lighter end on the palate but it is a very smooth, well balanced & integrated whisky.  Overall it is soft & smooth, a tad bland and has a clean, if fairly short, finish.
Good anytime but best suited as a pre-dinner drink.

Glenmorangie 10yo OB - Best selling single malt Scotch in Scotland, although the Macallan is catching up.
Glenmorangie is a Northern Highland whisky that has definite resonance with and resemblances to the better and classier Lowland and Campbeltown Malts. The colour is the lightest blonde gold.  The nose is of sweet lifted spirit, very clean and fresh and uncomplicated to start which becomes more interesting over time. Clean, sweetly aromatic (vanilla and citrus) and delicately perfumed : hints of spice, warm cinnamon & cloves with creamy honeyed malt coming through. Very pleasant palate: clean, smooth, creamy and slightly sweet. Light, clean dry finish, some length.

Laphroaig 10yo OB - One of the fire breathing peat monsters and the most distinctive of all Islay whiskies.
Philip White, the Advertiser wine writer described Laphroaig as one of the "the pirates' boots, seaweed-and-peat monsters".  Colour is a dark amber/reddish brown. The nose is heavily sherried, but is almost buried by full-on iodine and phenol, redolent of hospital corridors and the palate is explosively smokey, with good sherry and a huge finish with a lingering salty tang. 
Not for the fainthearted but very appetising.

Macallan 12yo OB - Widely regarded as the Rolls-Royce of Scotches, Macallan is a classic dram, best suited as an after-dinner Malt.
The colour is a dark rich amber with a reddish tinge. The nose is redolent of big oloroso sherry, with honeyed malt & mint toffee. 
Definite hints of "Cherry Ripe" & "Old Gold" chocolate and ripe berry fruit.  The palate is very smooth & warm, full and silky with luscious smooth caramel:  mouth filling, without being sickly or cloying.  Slightly sweet finish.  Very well integrated with excellent balance.

Craig Daniels, Adelaide, South Australia 

prE-pistle #1999/06 - The L&B's Session in Amsterdam
Submitted on 16/01/1999 by Johannes van den Heuvel, Holland

Wow, Craig - very inspirational stuff!

So far, this forum is just a tiny appendix to Malt Madness, but I'd like to show off more opinions about more different topics.
In fact, I've been thinking in secret about setting up an e-zine with articles like this. With new recruit Davin, Louis and yourself we already have four people willing to spread the word about single malt whisky internationally. More and more people are discovering single malts and I guess some could be helped a lot by some accessible information. There are some nice websites like that of the PLOWED folks, but they are focused mostly on 'live' dramming in the US. With a few more people from Europe and Asia submitting articles now and then we could offer a truly international perspective. For example, I see the occasional Japanese whisky on the shelves of liquorists here - and I wonder which Scottish 'brands' are popular in Japan. If we had a correspondent in Japan I could just ask...

But I guess I'll just have to keep improving the website until enough people have joined our little 'on-line community'.
I have a completely refurbished version of the site in the works that uses more dynamic HTML. Meanwhile, not a lot of dramming, except a tasting last week at whisky cafe L&B's in Amsterdam. Here's a quick report...

Five ex colleagues from the Dutch Yellow Pages publisher joined me on a dramming tour.
Over the years they have tasted almost all the malts in my collection, so I invited them for a tasting session at L&B's whisky cafe in downtown Amsterdam. L&B's has a wonderful collection of single malts, and they are conveniently located near the central "Leidseplein". We started off with a head-to-head of Linkwood 15yo and Laphroaig 10yo official bottlings. I had a very bad nose-day, so I could only pick up some vague impressions. The Linkwood 15 seemed to have a little more smoke in the nose than the 12yo 1984/1996 from Signatory Vintage I have at home; it seemed very flowery as well. The Laphroaig 10yo was as always salty, smoky and with a lot of iodine - I picked the whisky that was produced at Laphroaig distillery to introduce the malt-novices that were present to one of the extremes of the malt spectrum.
They seemed suitably impressed, but most preferred the Linkwood.

The Laphroaig proved quite an assault on my bladder, so I had to visit my porcelain friend.
When I returned from the toilet my colleagues challenged me to do a complete blind test. I failed miserably. Only after they reduced my choices to five malts I managed to dispose of three of the five options, and was left with the choice between a Glen Ord or a Dalmore. I thought I detected bitter peanuts and guessed wrong - It was the Glen Ord 12yo OB instead of the Dalmore 12 OB.
In my defense I have to say that both malts are quite similar, and both have the same score (80) in my rating-system.

Around 11.00 a very attractive lady with a deep décolleté took position on a barstool directly in my line of sight.
That meant that it was getting more difficult to concentrate on the matter on hand: single malts. The line-up of the next head-to head managed to get my attention back where it belonged, however. It was the Johnnie Walker Blue Label against the Talisker 18yo Cask Strength. The JW Blue was very nice, but no more than that. Clearly better than the JW Black, but certainly not worth the 40,- guilders per dram. The Talisker 18yo Cask Strength by Cadenhead's , however, was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! - A lot of wonderful wood; More like the Macallan 18yo OB than the Talisker 10yo OB. Perhaps a bit early to say, but we might have a new number two malt here! Somewhere in the neighborhood of 94 points, I should say. I'm not sure I can afford a whole bottle to conform my findings, though...

The bartender seemed to appreciate my extensive knowledge of single malts and charming personality.
He poured me a few drops of Springbank 1969 - on the house. Great stuff! Apples and pepper? After a disappointing first encounter with Springbank (in the form of a 1979 version some three years ago; see my Black Book) I wasn't too crazy about it, but after tasting this I'm starting to understand what all the fuss on the web is about. We're talking mid-to-upper 80's here.
At U$ 200,- a bottle, I don't think I'll have a chance to taste it again anytime soon, though.

We finished with a Glenfarclas 105 (no age statement), a Longrow 8yo, a Suntory Hibiki from Japan and an older Auchentoshan (can't remember the age). By that time my tongue and nose were so numb I couldn't say anything worthwile about it, except that the Longrow seemed more smoky than the Springbank, which comes from the same distillery in the Campbeltown area. Another session that left me with the feeling that I've somehow failed to capture the magic of the evening on paper. I have to remember to drink a little less and make a little more notes at my next session.

Sweet drams,


prE-pistle #1999/07 - You Were Right!
Submitted on 17/01/1999 by Davin de Kergommeaux, Canada

Johannes, why didn't I listen to you?

I just killed a large glass of Glenmorangie Port Wood by eating chocolate with it.  Actually, I enjoyed the first few sips virgin, but once the chocolate was introduced the whisky became bitter.  I didn't get the chocolate head rush, although the Glenmorangie began to taste decidedly more of alcohol.  Eventually I rinsed my mouth out with water after which the whisky became very salty.  Continued to drink Glenmorangie PW until the flavour returned to normal, then treated myself to a Talisker explosion.

You recommended the Laphroaig 10yo to me. Have you tried the 15yo?
In the part of Canada where I live, all liquor is sold through a government owned retailer.  Unexpectedly, they have excellent service and knowledgeable staff.  In any case they told me they have the Laphroaig 15 on order for delivery in the next week or so.
Should I wait for it or just go for the 10?

You rate the Talisker 18yo cask strength as a potential number 2 on your list (making Talisker 10 number 3?).
In taste, how does it compare with the Talisker 10 which I love so dearly?

Davin de Kergommeaux, Canada

prE-pistle #1999/08 - Powerhouse Malts
Submitted on 20/01/1999 by Johannes van den Heuvel, Holland

Hello Davin! Choose between Laphroaig 10yo and 15yo? if you can afford it: try both!
Despite glowing praise from Craig I haven't 'seriously' tried the Laphroaig 15yo myself yet - but I did enjoy a few glasses at a friend's place over the last two years. I can't say anything 'definitive' about it yet but some of the sharper edges of the Laphroaig 10yo seemed to be shaved off. Given the outspoken character of the 10yo, it seems another 5 years in wood improved the balance; a more harmonious result, perhaps a bit more like a Lagavulin or Ardbeg. Give it a chance, I'd say - I plan to buy a bottle for next winter. But if prices in Canada are similar to those in Holland, the Laphroaig 10yo would offer better value, I think. Even for a 'peat freak' like myself who has been enjoying Lagavulin 16yo in large quantities for almost a decade the Laphroaig is at the very extreme end of the spectrum.
I guess the only thing that slaps more slabs of peat in your face would be a cask strength version.

As far as peat monsters are concerned, my favorites come from the south shore of Islay it seems...
Bunnahabhain from the north didn't seem all that peaty and that was also true for Bruichladdich. I don't have tried many Caol Ila's yet. Bowmore used to be a favorite, but I suspect that was more because of the beautiful bottle. Now that my nose and palate are slowly developing I find Bowmore more 'smoky' than 'peaty' in style.

But of course, there's another type of 'powerhouse malts' besides peat monsters.
We see more and more 'cask strength' whiskies and a personal favourite is the Glenfarclas '105'.
Quite rough, but I LOVE the character and it offers exceptionally good value with a liter bottle at 60% ABV.

That Talisker 18yo C/S by Cadenhead's you asked about has the power of the 10yo OB combined with an almost Macallan-like complexity and balance. I love the 10yo for it's individuality and character, but when an island whisky like Talisker or Lagavulin spends some more time in the barrels the peat and smoke (and even seaweed?) are joined with sweeter, more woody tones. This generally makes for a better balanced and harmonious malt. Most island whiskies I've tasted so far were at their best at 16 - 18 years of age. The few older ones I've tasted had gotten too bitter and woody for my tastes. Sadly, I haven't been able to find a full bottle of that Talisker 18yo yet.

Anyway - I've learned quite a bit since I published my 'Beginner's Guide' on Malt Madness three years ago, so I think it's time for a thorough revision. I've been busy at work over the past few months, working with (or rather against) some petrified brains in middle management at Dutch telecom provider KPN (not the most flexible minds around) so it's nice to work on some personal projects in the evening ;-)

Oh, and by the way, Craig... I think it's pretty daring to have a Glenfarclas in the temperatures you described.
Shouldn't you try and keep your head cool with a Tamnavulin or Tamdhu? And do you know that Cadenhead's Talisker 18yo C/S? It was absolutely fabulous, but I guess I should have taken notes on more details because without vintage or ABV this could be any bottle...

Sweet drams,


prE-pistle #1999/09 - Sayings That Should Be On Buttons
Submitted on 24/01/1999 by Craig Daniels, Australia

Hi Johannes, I find Tamnavulin a bit too thin and spiritty for me.
While Tamdhu is a good distillery, all we get here is the 10 & No Age, which doesn't turn me on and the 10 is too hard to find. The interesting thing about putting ice in a robust malt like Glenfarclas is that it "thins" and smoothens the taste and for some strange reason boosts the peatiness.  I've never thought the Glenfarclas 10 or 12 to be that peaty but I figure that the ice seems to subdue the spirit and wood slightly allowing the peat to peak through.  I've sort advice from seriously obsessed maltsters but haven't got a better explanation yet.

Ah the Talisker.  It sounds exactly the same one that I brought back from Edinburgh for another maltster.
My delivery fee was a sample. One of the best 3 malts I tasted in 1998. The other 2 were Signatory Bunnahabhain 17 CS and Cadenhead Dailuaine 27 CS.  With the Talisker, I was most impressed with the cleanliness of the peat and wood.  I suspect 100% bourbon wood too, so no sherry there to muddy the waters. I went malt hunting last night, looking for an Isle of Jura 10 for a couple in Queensland.  Didn't find any (at any price) which was strange as its not that rare.  What I did find was 2 bottles of Balvenie 15 Single Barrel for $55 each, which had to be a mistake coz the normal "Special" price here is $90+ and RRP $108. 

So I was quite happy that I went out looking for Isle of Jura.


GREAT SHERRIED SPEYSIDES (The quintessential after-dinner malts):

Aberlour 10yo OB - Early on there is warm bread and forward cream sherry in the nose.  After a while the nose opens up to reveal toffee & definite fruity notes, (some berries and maraschino cherries).  A generous, smooth palate with sweet and sour notes & quality minty wood treatment.  Finishes clean and drying with lingering toffee & sour cherries.  For a ten year old the Aberlour is a complex and challenging malt with excellent balance.  A very, very good scotch that grows on you - a genuine all-rounder.

Tamdhu 15yo - Very straightforward big sherry.  Displays a bright lifted nose with plenty of spirit, pronounced sherry and nice creamy vanilla wood.  Palate is slightly smoky with rich dark chocolate and more than a hint of mint.  Heavily sherried with an excellent wood treatment.  A little bit two dimensional  but nevertheless a very classy malt.

Glenfarclas 15yo OB - Widely regarded as one of the premium Speysides. 
Excellence balance with an unusual depth of dark toffee character that take a long time to develop.  Good smooth, well rounded palate.  The extra time in wood adds to both its character and smoothness.  More complex than the Aberlour and the Strathisla.

Balvenie 10yo "Founders Reserve" OB - A great after-dinner malt that deserves to be much better known.  Early on the nose is subdued with soft dry and dusty citrus notes.  After a while the apparently simple caramel toffee nose opens up to reveal definite orange liqueur & leatherwood honey highlights.  A very luxurious and silky smooth palate with hints of honey and cointreau.  Finishes quite clean and dry with a lingering malty creaminess.  Made by the same people who produce Glenfiddich but in a completely different and much superior class.

SPEYSIDE'S LEADING LIGHTS (Perfumed, light bodied pre-dinner malts)

Knockando 12yo - Very clean well balanced nose with some peat and clean piney notes. 
After a while the nose opens up to reveal definite mandarin notes.  Palate is clean and straightforward.  Finishes clean and drying with a lingering citrus tang.  Much better than Glenfiddich and a good alternative to Glenmorangie.  A very, very good scotch that grows on you - a genuine all-rounder.

Glenlivet 12yo - Perhaps the most famous name in single malt Scotches and is certainly a class act. 
A light, bright gold in colour, Glenlivet is renowned for the complexity of its nose with traces of many different perfumes, herbs and spices.  It is at the softer, lighter end on the palate but it is a very smooth, well balanced & integrated whisky. Very well behaved it is soft & smooth if a tad bland, with a clean, fairly short finish.

Cragganmore 12yo - Very, very volatile and changeable nose.  The amount of development in the nose over time is exceptional.  Starts with sherry and hints of icing sugar and marshmallow. Sherry gradually fades and the nose dries out and clean lifted spirit with fresh piney character shines through.  Intriguing and interesting.   An excellent aperitif.

Longmorn 12yo - Benchmark pre-dinner malt.  Nothing is overstated and all components are beautifully integrated. 
Very well balanced with lovely cream vanilla nose and smooth slightly sweet palate and clean if slightly short finish. More interesting than the similar Glenlivet and definitely in the same class.


Highland Park 12yo - In the very top echelon of commercial single malts.  Probably the greatest chameleon of all whiskies.  Has all the best characteristics of the other regions.  Very good wood, nice sherry character and excellent peat treatment with a long clean and smoky finish.  Always rates highly.  Truly a great all-rounder.

Talisker 10yo - One of the very best of the West Coast "pirate boots brigade".  Full on seaweed and peat monster par excellence.  Heaps of flavour, superb balance and a huge peppery dry and lingering smoky finish.  Not for the fainthearted yet addictive stuff.  In the same class as Lagavulin and Laphroaig.

And I just thought you could do with a laugh...
Well, with all those in America and Britain and Holland freezing their butts off and us in Oz, cooking in the heat.
Here's some sayings for buttons....

 1. Well, this day was a total waste of makeup.
 2. Make yourself at home! Clean my kitchen.
 3. Who are these kids and why are they calling me Mom?
 4. A hard-on doesn't count as personal growth.
 5. Don't bother me. I'm living happily ever after.
 6. Do I look like a freak'n people person?
 7. This isn't an office. It's Hell with fluorescent lighting.
 8. I started out with nothing & still have most of it left.
 9. I pretend to work. They pretend to pay me.
 10. Do i look like i have money?
 11. If I throw a stick, will you leave?
 12. You! Off my planet!
 13. Therapy is expensive, poppin' bubble wrap is cheap! You choose.
 14. Practice random acts of intelligence & senseless acts of self-control.
 15. Bottomless pit of needs & wants.
 16. I like cats, too. Let's exchange recipes.
 17. Friendly checkout clerk. Thanks for keeping me that way!
 18. If I want to hear the pitter patter of little feet, I'll put shoes on my cat.
 19. Does your train of thought have a caboose?
 21. Did the aliens forget to remove your anal probe?
 22. Errors have been made. Others will be blamed.
 24. Let me show you how the guards used to do it.
 25. And just how may I screw you over today?
 26. And your crybaby whiny-assed opinion would be...?
 27. I'm not crazy, I've just been in a very bad mood for 30 years.
 28. If only you'd use your powers for good instead of evil...
 29. See no evil, hear no evil, date no evil.
 30. A PBS mind in an MTV world.
 31. Yeah, right! Like I'm going to put that icky thing in my mouth.
 32. Allow me to introduce my selves.
 33. Sarcasm is just one more service we offer.
 34. If you want to please me just whisper my favorite words: "I'll buy it for you."
 35. Better living through denial.
 36. Whatever kind of look you were going for, you missed.
 37. Suburbia: where they tear out the trees & then name streets after them.
 38. Adult child of alien invaders.
 39. Do they ever shut up on your planet?
 40. I'm just working here till a good fast-food job opens up.
 41. Are those your eyeballs? I found them in my cleavage.
 42. I'm not your type. I'm not inflatable.
 43. I'm trying to imagine you with a personality.
 44. A cubicle is just a padded cell without a door.
 45. Stress is when you wake up screaming & you realize you haven't fallen asleep yet.
 46. Mall whore: I can suck the numbers right off your credit cards.
 47. After I cook the vegetables, what do I do with the wheelchairs?
 48. Here I am! Now what are your other two wishes?
 49. Back off! You're standing in my aura.
 50. I can't remember if I'm the good twin or the evil one.
 51. Don't worry. I forgot your name, too!
 52. Adults are just kids who owe money.
 53. One of us is thinking about sex... OK, it's me.
 54. How many times do I have to flush before you go away?
 55. I have a computer, a vibrator, & pizza delivery. Why should I leave the house?
 56. I just want revenge. Is that so wrong?
 57. It's sick the way you people keep having sex without me.
 58. I work 40 hours a week to be this poor.
 59. You say I'm a bitch like it's a bad thing.
 60. Can I trade this job for what's behind door #2?
 61. Okay, okay, I take it back! UnF__ you!
 62. Macho Law forbids me from admitting I'm wrong.
 63. Nice perfume. Must you marinate in it?
 64. Not all men are annoying. Some are dead.
 65. Too may freaks, not enough circuses.
 66. Chaos, panic, & disorder -- my work here is done.
 67. A woman's favorite position is CEO.
 68. Ambivalent? Well, yes and no.
 69. You look like shit. Is that the style now?
 70. Everyone thinks I'm psychotic, except for my friends deep inside the earth.
 71. Earth is full. Go home.
 72. Is it time for your medication or mine?
 73. Does this condom make me look fat?
 74. Did I mention the kick in the groin you'll be receiving if you touch me?
 75. I plead contemporary insanity.
 76. And which dwarf are you?
 77. I refuse to star in your psychodrama.
 78. I thought I wanted a career, turns out I just wanted paychecks.
 79. How do I set a laser printer to stun?
 80. It ain't the size, it's... no, it's the size.
 81. Meandering to a different drummer.
 82. I'm not tense, just terribly, terribly alert.
 83. I majored in liberal arts. Will that be for here or to go?

There were about 300 bumper stickers on the list. I've whittled them down to ones that made me chuckle.
Its just stuff that floats around in the ether-net, which people who know my sense of humour (satiric and cynical) send me.
Mind you too many of the bumper stickers were too obviously ethno-centric american and those were the ones I deleted.  My two favourites in this lot were: 'JESUS LOVES YOU - everyone else thinks you're an asshole' & 'I don't have time to insult you now. Your humiliation is important to me. Please hold.' Am I some sick and sorry bastard or what? Viva sad and sick bastards!

 * Lottery: A tax on people who are bad at math.
 * It IS as bad as you think, and they ARE out to get you.
 * Where there's a will, I want to be in it..
 * He who laughs last thinks slowest.
 * Some people are only alive because it is illegal to kill.
 * Pride is what we have. Vanity is what others have.
 * There are 3 kinds of people: those who can count & those who can't.
 * If Ignorance is Bliss, You Must Be Orgasmic...
 * Artificial Intelligence usually beats real stupidity.
 * Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy.
 * Better to understand a little than to misunderstand a lot.
 * "JESUS LOVES YOU! ...everyone else thinks you're an asshole!"
 * Have You Flogged Your Crew Today?
 * My Karma just ran over your Dogma.
 * If you don't like the way I drive, get the fuck off the sidewalk.
 * Open your mind, not a bible
 * I wonder if you could drive any better if that car phone was up your ass!
 * Hope you don't screw like you park, you'd never get it in!
 * Constant change is here to stay
 * CAUTION: I drive like you do.
 * Sorry, I don't date outside my species.
 * Sex on television can't hurt you unless you fall off.
 * Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.
 * I didn't fight my way to the top of the food chain to be a vegetarian.
 * I'm too busy to insult you, but your humiliation is important. Please hold.
 * Depression is merely anger without the enthusiasm
 * FIGHT for the RIGHTS of bacteria! - it's the only culture some people have
 * People who read the tabloids deserve to be lied to.
 * Education is the progressive discovery of our own ignorance
 * Better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.
 * I've had a perfectly wonderful evening . . . but this wasn't it.
 * Me a skeptic? I hope you have proof.
 * Friends come and go, but enemies accumulate.
 * Personally, I'm not gifted, I'm weird.
 * If at first you don't succeed, to hell with it.
 * Never put off until tomorrow what you can avoid doing altogether.
 * Don't you just hate rhetorical questions?
 * Life is God's way of preserving meat.
 * Everyone has a right to be stupid. Some just abuse the privilege.
 * I don't live in fantasy; I only work there.
 * Someday we'll look back on all this and plow into a parked car.
 * To err is  human, to forgive is not company policy!
 * To succeed in politics, it is often necessary to rise above your principles.
 * The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard.
 * If at first you don't succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.
 * Two wrongs are only the beginning
 * I have not yet entered geezerdom, but I can see it from here
 * A mind is a terrible thing not to mess with.
 * Everyone has a photographic memory. Some don't have film.
 * Multitasking - screwing up several things at once.
 * To some its a six-pack, to me it's a support Group
 * I'm only driving this way to piss you off.

Keep on chuckling,

Craig Daniels, Adelaide, South Australia

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