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Malt Maniacs #9

Malt Maniacs E-zine

Malt Maniacs #009

Off The Booze
prE-pistle #1999/40 by Davin de Kergommeaux, Canada

Because Davin was temporarily 'off the booze' he had plenty of time to browse around the brand new Malt Madness website in dynamic HTML.

Big Plans for Malt Madness
prE-pistle #1999/41 by Johannes v/d Heuvel, Holland

With the second millennium winding down, I have some ambitious plans for the site from the year 2000 onwards. For one thing, I'd like to share more different perspectives to the ones already offered.

Overproof Night
prE-pistle #1999/42 by Craig Daniels, Australia 

Cask strength or 'overproof' whiskies have become more readily available in recent years - and Craig tested a few of them.

Soap Box Preaching
prE-pistle #1999/43 by Louis Perlman, USA

Louis does some preaching from his soap box before getting off it again to share some recent single malt whisky experiences.

Ode to Independent Bottlers
prE-pistle #1999/44 by Craig Daniels, Australia

Although, technically speaking, this article should have actually been titled 'Ode to Gordon & MacPhail. But they deserve it...

Tasmanian Whisky
prE-pistle #1999/45 by Johannes v/d Heuvel, Holland

I closed down the 'Public Warnings' section of Malt Madness some time ago, but I still receive regular comments and new submissions.

Sullivan's Cove & Chuckles
prE-pistle #1999/46 by Craig Daniels, Australia

You wouldn't always tell from the serious tone of some of his messages, but Craig has a very well developed sense of humor.

Old & New Business
prE-pistle #1999/47 by Louis Perlman, USA

Another fresh report from Louis. He managed to sample an impressive variety of both well known and obscure bottles this time, including Millburn and Convalmore. Those Americans have it good!

Is Lagavulin 16 quality changing?
prE-pistle #1999/48 by Davin de Kergommeaux, Canada

With all the recent talk about the 'classic malts', more and more people seem to detect changes in old favorits. Are they right?

Changing Times
prE-pistle #1999/49 by Johannes v/d Heuvel, Holland

Now that the second millennium is winding down, we may have to face the fact that the whisky world is changing.
But is that a bad thing?

Next IssuePrevious Issue

Malt Maniacs #009 - December 31, 1999
 

As the second millennium is winding down, the whisky market is gearing up. As long as they can keep the prices for most single malts at the current reasonable level, that's a good thing.

Here in Holland it wasn't easy finding a decent assortment of malt whiskies until +/- 1995, but since then things have improved considerably. Around 1995 the average Dutch liquorist might have Glenlivet, some Glenfiddichs, some Balvenies and of course Diageo's 'Classic Malts'. If you were lucky you could also find some Bowmore or Glenmorangie. Apart from the relatively regular stuff, the number of different malts on offer was quite limited.
Only a few specialised stores carried a wider range.

A lot has changed in five years. Bottlings from distilleries like Macallan, Springbank and Highland Park became more widely available. An average liquorist in Holland would now easily have malts from two or three different distilleries on his shelves.
And judging from the reports I've received from Craig, Louis
and Davin the situation is improving world-wide.

Anyway - with the malt whisky market now booming, perhaps it's time to invite some more of my virtual whisky friends to submit articles for the website. Until now we've managed to publish an average of three issues of our rudimentary E-zine each year.
Let's see if we can bring that to five or six in the future.

And that's it for now - there are still a few rough edges to polish on the brand new Malt Madness site (in Dynamic HTML) - once that's finished (hah! like it ever will be) I will focus my efforts on recruiting some fresh correspondents. I enjoy sharing my own opinions about whisky with the word, but want to offer some alternative perspectives as well...

Sweet drams,

Johannes van den Heuvel
Editor Malt Madness / Malt Maniacs

prE-pistle #1999/40 - Off The Booze
Submitted on 23/08/1999 by Davin de Kergommeaux, Canada

Hi Johannes,

I have been off the booze pretty much since I got back due to conflicting medication. Will be back at it in a week or so! 
I managed to find 2 bottles of Lagavulin 1979 at a small liquor outlet so when I'm up and at it, I'll compare with the 1980 and let you know.  Have found a small group of Balvenie fans here ion Ottawa and will go tasting with them in a few weeks - my first Balvenies.
I read in Whisky Magazine about a bar in Amsterdam called De Still.
Have you tried it?  They highly recommend it.

As for the Beta version Malt Madness in Dynamic HTML...

I just spent 20 minutes on your site. Will give it a go again tomorrow.
The new site is great. While surfing through the links section, I wondered if you might want to add links to real live drinking places.  When I travel, I often try to use the internet to find whisky stores or whisky bars, but other than England and Scotland there isn't much available.  Why not list (and rate) the better liquor outlets and bars in your neck of the woods?  You could invite some of your fans to contribute their own favourites.  I don't think there is a non-commercial whisky site that lists places to drink or purchase malts so you could start a trend.  My favourite search engine (hotbot) gives nothing useful when I search for Malt and Amsterdam or Whisky and Amsterdam.  How about filling the void? Just a thought.

I re-read your ratings and am glad to see you rate the Macallans above Glenmorangie Port Wood. 
I like both, but the Macallan wins by far and is similar enough that I won't buy the PW again. I'm also delighted that the Lagavulin 1979 has turned out to be a hit.  I still haven't tried it, but when I do, I'll compare it to the 1980 and give you the word. I haven't opened the Ardbeg yet either.  Actually I've done very little drinking since I got back.  I tried a Chivas Regal 12 yo a couple of days ago. It's a definite addition to your world's worst whiskies listing.  Started out bitter then faded into bland, alcoholic nothingness.

...

Just did a bit more surfing and I'm very enthusiastic about your new Malt Madness site
I love the map.  I like a satellite photo as it shows everything, not just the "important" stuff. 
I like being able to relate the areas to each other. Now I know where Speyside is in relation to the others. 
Excellent work!  I look forward to more browsing. My favourite site just got better.

As for the tips for good whisky bars (and shops) your geopgraphic location could be an asset. 
Who better to provide links for travellers to Amsterdam? I'm forever noting people on bulletin boards asking where to buy or drink whisky in some city or another.  Maybe if you told the local shops and bars about this you could convert mention on your site into a few free drinks.  As long as you don't go commercial and really do recommend just the best of the best.

As I continue to browse your site I'll send more comments, but so far it's better than ever.

Thanks for a great site and good luck with your other projects.

Davin
 

prE-pistle #1999/41 - Big Plans for MM
Submitted on 24/08/1999 by Johannes van den Heuvel, Holland

Hiya, Davin,

At this moment I'm having an unofficial tasting session with (of course) the wonderful Lagavulin 1979 Ximenez...
I've had three tastings now, and it should rate around 90 - 91 points. Whiskycafe De Still in Amsterdam used to be my favorite malt hangout - untill I discovered L&B's. Well, actually - even now that I know that there are two whisky bars in Amsterdam De Still is still my favourite. Regulars all have their own little malt safe there, where they can store their favorite bottle. It's located near one of the funnest squares of Amsterdam (Spui), and a good place for a few relaxed malts. But only during the day - I think they have less than 30 seats and bar stools, so it gets crowded quickly.

How is your bottle of Ardbeg 17 progressing? This is one of those rare malts that seem to improve after opening.
My advice: Open the Ardbeg 17 a.s.a.p. - but take your time finishing the bottle. This one clearly improves after it has been opened.
Try to take six months or more before you completely finish the bottle, and keep track of the changes.

About Glenmorangie Port and Macallans: I like them all a lot, but compared to the Macallans the Glenmorangie just has a little less 'depth' and harmony between the different taste components. Very nice, but it's just too darned expensive. I don't think the Chivas Regal 12 blend is too bad, but for that kind of money you can get a good quality single malt like Glen Ord 12 or Glen Moray 12.

Good thinking on the "real live drinking places".
I've already toyed with a similar idea - Tips for good whisky bars - but my personal geographic location was a problem.
I'll keep working on your idea - using guest editors might just prove to be a great solution. I'll get back to you on that one.

About your "Bar" idea: I could perhaps use the experiences of external "Foreign Barfly Correspondents" like yourself to cover more ground. I have e-mail contacts all over the globe, so I could invite some people who's judgment I trust to add their favorite watering holes to the list. About "Going commercial"... As a matter of fact, I have been thinking of a way to incorporate some kind of advertising in the site to help pay for the hosting costs. But I only want to do it if it doesn't interfere with the current style and structure of the site - and my very personal opinions. As a matter of fact, I get a lot of requests from whisky shops to add them to my link list, but I won't do that until I've had a chance to test them out - either by visiting the shop or buying one or more malts online.

Anyway - loads of BIG PLANS for the future - just hang on for a few more weeks...

Sweet drams,

Johannes
 

prE-pistle #1999/42 - Overproof Night
Submitted on 25/08/1999 by Craig Daniels, Australia

'"I get a kick out of you" or "Brother, here we go again!"

For those of you who haven't been around the club that long, you may not be aware that our illustrious Laird has a more than passing fondness for the especially spirituous amongst the malt fraternity.  To humour him we always programme an overproof night.  This one is it for 1999. Report Cards - August 25th Overproofs (OP Night);

Glenfiddich 15 - I've tried this malt a few times now and think it OK but not worth going out of your way for.  Better than the young and ubiquitous one by at least one whole point, especially in the first few minutes after it has been poured.  Nose starts fresh with some obvious sherry, but without a lot of depth.  Exhibits straw and a light floral perfume initially, then becomes typically speyside yeasty over time.  Palate was pleasant with drying wood in the finish.  Developed some scone dough yeastiness in the palate and finish as well.  Got typically soapy after 20 minutes or so. On this occasion I just couldn't get enthused.  Solid but ultimately stolid too.  Score: 7.5

Springbank 12 100 proof - This is a whisky to come back to and frequently. Wafting this under the snozz was 'bliss'.  Big sherry, herbs and moss with floor wax and earthy forest floor undertones early on.  Nose settles down with lovely vanillan cream, a big dollop of caramel mint toffee and an intriguing hint of eucalyptus/menthol.  The palate is very long with lots of woody herbs and sherry in the finish.  Maybe it was the company but I liked it a quantum better than when we had it in 1997, when I thought it unsubtle.  Maybe my olfactory gear is in decline, but I found lots of nuances and better balance this time around.  The coconut and vanilla from the bourbon wood dovetail with the mint toffee of the sherry beautifully.  A  malt that ensures Springbank a deservedly good name.  Score: 8.6

Hillside 25  - Another in the UD Rare Malt series and one to suffer ever so slightly from a general malaise evident in a lot of them: long time in fairly ordinary bourbon wood.  The resultant malts are dominated by vanilla and stripped pine aromas without much of anything else especially when the malt is very lightly peated.  My tasting notes show a better than average nose; minty, piney resin, clean and alpine like Mosstowie 12 with some unexpected and unusual (almost Islay) sterile gauze bandages.  The palate was a bit on the raw side considering the age and had a bitter, almost hopsy edge.  Watered down the woody notes became darker and more earthy.  Both the palate and finish were inferior to the nose.  The Hillside was similar to the Clynelish and Caol Ila's that we have tried from the series but not as underwhelming as the Clynelish.  Got extra points for reminding me of Mosstowie 12 & a squeaky clean nose.   Score: 8.2

Blind – Glenkinchie 10 - Like July,  I didn't get close to guessing this one either.  Thought it was Glengoyne 12 mainly because while I got some woody phenols I didn't find any peat.  Plus I got syruppy sherry and sour cream which said Southern highland to me.  Oh well more practice needed.   I didn't score it as high as I usually score Glenkinchie but thought it serviceable none-the-less.  Score 7.6

Craig
 

prE-pistle #1999/43 - Soap Box Preaching
Submitted on 15/09/1999 by Louis Perlman, USA

Hello Johannes,

First of all, Congratulations on the new 'dynamic' Malt Madness site.
I say that with conviction, because I know how much work it takes to put out a quality site, and I am somewhat lazy myself for things that do not really need to get done. We both seem to come from the same direction when it comes to SMS, but we obviously have some different ideas about certain things. This is one of the nice things about this hobby, that there are plenty of different things to enjoy, and enough room to enjoy them side by side. This is as opposed to 'since I am right, you have to be wrong, and I am going to post it everywhere on the internet, and send letters to the editors of various magazines'. See the 9/99 Stereophile for an example.

Well, now that I've gotten of of my soap box, I'll start thinking of what to compose.
Here is a roundup of my summer SMS acquisitions, somewhat surpsising, since I am supposed to be broke.

First of all, the Ardbeg 17yo you reviewed caused quite a stir over here. First because it is all but unavailable anywhere, and also since the distillery was silent from 1980-1990, so it was either sitting around in the bottles for a few years, or there was some activity that no one knew about. Which quite might be the case, since Park Ave. has it on their price list, and they told me that it is being bottled right now!!
What IS available now, is a 9yr Signatory, which is quite cheap at $35-45 depending on where you shop. This one has a kick like a mule, and takes no prisoners. It obliterated the distillery 17 in a comparison, and elso sent the 1978 wimpering back to the cabinit. The finish is actually pretty decent for such a young offerring. I would imagine/hope/guess that Signatory has some more casks that they will release over the next bunch of years, so we can see how it ages.

Sorry to hear about your RSI condition. Since you can't type, I'll do my best to send you stuff to read, it's only fair considering how much enjoyment I have gotten from your site. Speaking of which, one thing I especially enjoyed was the top/middle/bottom shelf. If I ever get my personal SMS database up and running, I'll try to do the same. While some people have truly great collections, assembling one really involves a great deal of cash, which is difficult to do if there are other priorities, which both of us have. The shelf approach as you have it, nicely sidesteps some of the issues/problems. I know from my audiophile side that it can be a bit tricky to find one's own place in the overall pecking order.

Meanwhile, I still owe you the write-up of my summer acquisitions. I was expecting a much needed raise in July, but I wasnt looking at my pay statements, and discovered that it actually came thru in June. Since the extra money hadnt been put in the budget, the only appropriate thing to do was to place a W&L order.

Arriving a few days later were:

Caol Ila 19yo Signatory - When I ordered the Ardbeg Signatory that my wife gave me for my birthday, this one was shipped by mistake. I returned it, but still had remorse over sending back a nice bottle. Back then I needed every dollar for the house, but this one stayed on my want list. These notes are only provisional, since I have been caught not allowing for break in a few times recently. It is a bit Bowmore-ish, but not with a full blown Islay assault like the L Islays, and similar to my Bowmore 22yr Signatory. There is some peat, some smoke, and very pleasant. Once the weather gets cooler, I will take a fuller measure of it.

Highland Park 12yr Adelphi. After the disappointment with the HP Signatory, I still wanted a cask strength HP. This one certainly fits the bill. It is not as rich as the distillery 18, but all of the HP components are there. Meanwhile, after six months, a hint of honey has shown up in the Signatory. Its a lot of fun to drink both of them side by side with the 18.

Bruichladdich 15. Acquired simply because the distillery is silent, and before it all disappears. As advertised, so no additional comments necessary.

Moving on, I notice a Glenhaven Macallan 16 in Park Aves window on sale for $95, down from $125. On the label, it said matured in an oak cask. I have always wanted to try an un-sherried Macallan, but the price was too rich for me, especially since Glenhavens are cheap and I suspect profiteering at work. So I called W&L, and got their last bottle for a more reasonable $60. It tastes like, well, an un-sherrid Macallan. I like it very much, and I think that the sherry isnt even such a major contributor the character of this malt. If you are interested in this one, buy it on sight if the price is reasonable, since Howard at W&L said that Glenhaven is a flaky company.

Once Ive got one bottle on the way, it pays to add a couple more to amortize the shipping, so along came:
Bruichladdich 12yr Murray McDavid. This one is bizarre, it is totally invisible. Like I hadn't drank anything. And I have two confirmed reports about a MMcD Auchroisk that is exactly the same. This is really surprising, because the tasting notes on The Whisky House page got me onto it. I did get a suggestion that it could be used to water down/up a favorite bottle to make it last longer. I am certainly going give it a try.

And finally, a Benrrines 17yr Adelphi. The 22yr old sounded good on the Adelphi page, where it said that it was a fine summer dram. I am just getting to it tomorrow night, with only three days left to summer, but that is another story. It certainly smells nice, and Ill give you an update if I note any differences. By the way, the lower priced Adelphis run in the $60 range, and come it at high proof (=>120). Adjusting the price for alcohol content, they end up in your top shelf range, so you might want to investigate a couple.

One 'sobering' note to close. Back in August, I had a wisdom tooth removed. It was a difficult procedure, as the roots were within a millimeter or so of the nerve that runs along the jaw, and the oral surgeon prescribed Vicodin for a pain killer. Vicodin is a synthetic opiate and is the last thing prescribed before morphine, and was very  effective, but if I took two in a row (every four hours), I started to get strung out. Fortunately, I didn't need as many as I could have safely taken, although I still had an evening's worth of withdrawal symptoms when I got down to one, and then zero pills a day. I also missed a weeks worth of dramming too. I'll say this though, I'd rather be an SMS drunk that a heroin addict any day. At least it's behind me now.

Louis
 

prE-pistle #1999/44 - Ode to Independent Bottlers
Submitted on 13/10/1999 by Craig Daniels, Australia

Ode to Independent Bottlers - Gordon & MacPhail's "Connoisseurs Choice"

While the proliferation of independent malt whisky bottlers over the last decade is an edifying example of resource allocation under capitalism the purpose of this meeting is to salute one of the pioneers in the field.  Of the two that have been around the longest, Gordon & Macphail have produced the most consistent high quality range in their Connoisseurs Choice.  The other main reason that malt lovers should raise a glass in honour of the independents is that they are often the only source of malts from distilleries where the proprietor has decided not to market a single. This was especially true in earlier times (around 1981) when less than 60 distilleries had a single on retail shelves. 

It is also interesting to note that of the sixty or so that quite a few were not bottled by the proprietors but under license by Gordon & MacPhail.  For example "offical" bottlings of Balblair, Scapa, Mortlach and Old Pulteney up until the very recent past were only by G&M.  One other reason, which was quite unforeseeable at the time, is that the independents are now almost the only source of malt whiskies from distilleries taken out of production during the recession in the 1980's.  One of the more lamentable occurrences in the industry was when United Distillers shut down 15 distilleries between 1983 and 1986, quite a few with no hope of reprieve.  As luck would have it, we have examples from two of these rarities for this meeting, Port Ellen and Glenlochy.

I don't remember the Glenlochy at all and don't even know whether we've had this expression before, but Michael Jackson's words are encouraging "a good example of a peaty, firm bodied western highland malt"  The Edradour we have had before and I distinctly remember that the club liked it a whole lot more than the proprietary 10 year old.  The port ellen should prove to be the star as we've had it before and found it more than acceptable.  Bob perry managed to slip one of thes in as a blind last year and I thought it was Talisker.  So I guess that if you want to know what I think of Port Ellen, its very good, because I love Talisker, especially the 12 year old.

October 13th  "Last of Club Stocks from 1995" - Ode to Gordon & Macphail - Report Card

Here's the latest musings. With any luck i'll be getting my hands on some Cradle mountain and their vatted malt called Antipodean (vatting of Springbank and CM) soon, so i can let you all know if I think they are any good.

Port Ellen 16 1979 (G&M) – Early on the nose had a forward hint of acetone and a whack of dry peat, along with the classic ointment and bandages smell of good medium peated Islays.  The attack was sweet and smoky with a long and sweetish reprise.  The sterile bandages and ointment stay solid with a strong sensation of burning leaves in the finish.  Medium bodied with a good mouthfeel.  Some thin metallic notes developed after a long time, but overall stayed pretty solid in the glass.  A nice Islay malt. Score 8.0

Glenlochy 13 (1974) –  In the absence of any preconceptions or memory of this one, it was a very pleasant surprise.  Nice friendly nose with moss and a hint of mint toffee.  The nose stays lovely and clean with herbs and pine woodiness emergent.  The palate was clean and herby without any obvious peat; maybe a hint in the finish.  Woody notes get stronger throughout the nose and palate and the mint/menthol notes develop a typically highland sour edge.  Reminded me most of the 8 and 15 year old Glen Mhor but not quite as soft in the mouth.  Very solid malt.  Score 7.8

Edradour 13 (1973)  - Almost a mirror image of the Glenlochy, the Edradour started a bit flat and sour, but improved in leaps and bounds after 10".  The nose gets fruitier and friendlier.  The palate was noticeably nutty with hazelnut and marzipan.  The nose developed the roasting pan aroma and becomes very obviously sherried with deep fruit chutney notes and a hint of woody herbs (rosemary and thyme).  Good sherry wood is evident throughout.  Was a bit too "all over the shop" to be called great, but hell, a roller coaster ride can be a lot of fun.  Score 7.8

Blind - Cragganmore 12 – Finally got one right.  Was beginning to think that I was losing it after not even getting within a bull's roar of the last two blinds. On this occasion I was pretty sure it was a Speyside from the first waft, so that narrowed it down to four fairly sharply (I left the Oban 14 in there as an "honorary" Speyside and didn't discard it as a possibility until much later).  Upon repeated cogitation I didn't think it was quite fruity sweet or yeasty enough to be Balvenie, so that left An Cnoc and Cragganmore. Now while I didn't find the giveaway Cragganmore markers of acetone and japanese paint stick, it didn't have the rough edges and faintly astringent wood that I find in the An Cnoc.  I did find some aniseed & liquorice which probably nudged me toward An Cnoc, but in the end I just thought it too good, smooth and refined to be the An Cnoc so settled on the Cragganmore.  Some early correct decisions led to a good guess.  I also liked its refinement and ability to last in the glass.  Score 8.0

Craig
 

prE-pistle #1999/45 - Tasmanian Whisky
Submitted on 08/11/1999 by Johannes van den Heuvel, Holland

Hiya, Craig, I thought you might be interested in this message, because it refers to your "Public Warning" about Sullivan's Cove.
David Crosswell wrote:

'Hello there, Thought you might be interested in visiting www.tasmanianwhisky.com.au, the website for the Small Concern Whisky Distillery in Tasmania, Australia. Our Cradle Mountain Single Malt Whisky is made from Franklin barley, a superb strain of barley, and water taken from a remote mountain stream.  The quality raw materials, coupled with the determination and skill of our team and triple distillation results in one of the smoothest whiskies you'll ever taste.  The whisky has a pale straw colour with a faintly honeyish nose. It has a smooth palate and is clean tasting with a lingering afterglow.

Our Antipodean Double Malt is an extraordinary blend of two distinctly different single malt whiskies, originating from opposite corners of the globe.  Springbank Single Malt from Campbelltown, Scotland has been combined with Cradle Mountain Tasmanian Single Malt to create a unique blend with a full malt flavour, just a hint of peat, and a subtle honey afternote. We hope that you will try this fine product and be among those who have had the chance to appreciate our whisky.

P.S. We are a small distillery that is in no way connected with Sullivan's Cove. 
I thought your review on your worst whisky page was rather apt.  It is disgusting and has tarnished Tasmania's reputation. 
That venture was run by several sleazy entreprenuers in for a quick buck.  Ours is run by people who love whisky foremost and simply want to make a delicious single malt.

Kind regards,

David Crosswell'
 

prE-pistle #1999/46 - Sullivan's Cove & Chuckles
Submitted on 09/12/1999 by Craig Daniels, Australia

Johannes,

Thanks for that.  Ulf Buxrud is very keen to get his hands on some Cradle Mountain and I'd like to talk to David about getting a sample for my two malt clubs and maybe leveraging some rare malts from Ulf in exchange for a bottle of CM.

Interesting to see David's comments.  I suspect that the distillery owner has been in trouble with the authorities ( the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission) for mislabelling some of his blended product as SMW. Sounds like David's assessment of them as "quick buck merchants" is pretty spot on.HelloNext Meeting - 24 November 1999 – Xmas Show  'Seasonal Spirits Smorgasbord'

The Christmas show this year will be a little different, having a less formal ring to it than the previous three years.  There will be 10 different spirits including 7 malts to choose from accompanied by a selection of up market finger food courtesy of Pat and Dooley's restaurant.

MENU:

Glengoyne 10
Auchentoshan Select
An Cnoc 12
Glenlivet 12
Glen Rothes 1984 11
Hennessy Cognac VSOP
Yalumba Pot Still 20 Brandy
Macallan 12
Baker Beam 7 (Bourbon)
Laphroaig 10

It's going to be a great night. 
Where else can you sit down to a choice of 10 different spirits and a decent feed for $35.

Also had my first encounter with Highland Park 18 43% today. 
Us poor schmucks in the far flung corners of the erstwhile empire seem to get the decent stuff 10-14 months after the rest of the world. Thought it very good, if a tad dry for my taste. The main things I noticed about it were that the nose took along time to settle down, being dominated by an astringent woodiness and spirit prickle before the honey and tobacco leaf started to emerge. The best thing about it was the mouthfeel.  Lovely and round and velvet smooth. The finish was dry with something like green olives and more (slightly bitter)  tobacco leaf. I didn't detect much overt peat, probably not as much as the 12 yo, where smokiness really clobbers you in the reprise.

Didn't rate it as wasn't benchmarked against anything known. Probably would've scored 8.3-8.6. Has enough complexity to keep me interested but once again, can't really equate this with a MJ score of 92.

And here's something to keep you chuckling;
 

Business Vocabulary:

 1. Assmosis: The process by which some people seem to absorb success and advancement by kissing up to the boss. You will all be measured on this at some point in your career.

 2. Blamestorming: Sitting around in a group discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed and who was responsible.
This one will be particularly valuable to those of you who have projects going right now.

 3. Seagull Manager: A manager who flies in, makes a lot of noise, shits all over everything then leaves.
Another word for consultant.

 4. Salmon Day: The experience of spending an entire day swimming upstream only to die in the end.
We've had these before (and will again).

 5. Chainsaw Consultant: An outside expert brought in to reduce the employee headcount, leaving the brass with clean hands.
Nope, we do our own dirty work.

 6. CLM: Short lingo for 'career limiting move'. Used among microserfs to describe ill-advised activity.
Trashing your boss while she is within earshot is a serious CLM. (Related to CLB, career limiting behavior)

 7. Adminisphere: The rarefied organizational layers beginning just above the rank and file.
Decisions that fall from the adminisphere are often profoundly inappropriate or irrelevant to the problems they were designed to solve.

 8. Dilberted: To be exploited and oppressed by your boss (not me!).
Derived from the experiences of Dilbert, the geek-in-hell comic strip character. "I've been Dilberted again.
The old man revised the specs for the fourth time this week."

 9. Flight Risk: Used to describe employees who are suspected of planning to leave the company or department soon.

 10. 404: Someone who's clueless.
From the World Wide Web error message "404 Not found", meaning that the requested document could not be located.
"Don't bother asking him...he's 404, man."

 11. Ohnosecond: That miniscule fraction of time it takes to realize that you've just made a BIG mistake. (See number 6.)

 12. Percussive Maintenance: The fine art of whacking the crap out of an electronic device to get it working again.
 

Variations On Murphy's Law

 1. The Law of Common Sense
 Never accept a drink from a urologist.
 2. The Law of Reality
 Never get into fights with ugly people, they have nothing to lose.
 3. The Law of Self Sacrifice
 When you starve with a tiger, the tiger starves last.
 4. The Law of Volunteering
 If you dance with a grizzly bear, you had better let him lead.
 5. The Law of Avoiding Oversell
 When putting cheese in a mousetrap, always leave room for the mouse.
 6. The Law of Motivation
 Creativity is great, but plagiarism is faster.
 7. Boob's Law
 You always find something in the last place you look.
 8. Wailer's Law
 Nothing is impossible for the man who doesn't have to do it himself.
 9. Law of Probable Dispersal
 Whatever hits the fan will not be evenly distributed.
 10. Law of Volunteer Labor
 People are always available for work in the past tense.
 11. Conway's Law
 In any organization there is one person who knows what is going on.
 That person must be fired.
 12. Iron Law of Distribution
 Them that has, gets.
 13. Law of Cybernetic Entomology
 There is always one more bug.
 14. Law of Drunkenness
 You can't fall off the floor.
 15. Heeler's Law
 The first myth of management is that it exists.
 16. Osborne's Law
 Variables won't; constants aren't.
 17. Main's Law
 For every action there is an equal and opposite government program.
 18. Weinberg's Second Law
 If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs,
 then the first woodpecker that came along would have destroyed civilization.
 

Truth is stranger than fiction?
Even the sickest standup could'nt come up with these.
The following are a sampling of REAL answers received on exams given by the California Department of Transportation's driving school. Anyway I got a good laugh out of these, especially the first one and the third to last one ( I definitely needed chemical assistance driving in Dublin, scariest motoring experience of my life bar none!) so I thought I'd spread the joy!
 
 Q; Why do you stop if you see a blind pedestrian crossing the road?
 A: What for? He can't see my license plate.
 
 Q: Who has the right of way when four cars approach a four-way stop at the same time?
 A: The pick up truck with the gun rack and the bumper sticker saying "Guns don't kill people. I do."
 
 Q: When driving through fog, what should you use?
 A: Your car.
 
 Q: What problems would you face if you were arrested for drunk driving?
 A: I'd probably lose my buzz a lot faster.
 
 Q: What changes would occur in your lifestyle if you could no longer drive lawfully?
 A: I would be forced to drive unlawfully.
 
 Q: What are some points to remember when passing or being passed?
 A: Make eye contact and wave "hello" if he/she is cute.
 
 Q: What is the difference between a red traffic light and a yellow traffic light?
 A: The color.
 
 Q: How do you deal with heavy traffic?
 A: Heavy psychedelics.
 
 Q: What can you do to help ease a heavy traffic problem?
 A: Carry loaded weapons.
 
 Q: Why would it be difficult to be a police officer?
 A: It would be tough to be a d---head all day long

Craig
 

prE-pistle #1999/47 - Old & New Business
Submitted on 11/12/1999 by Louis Perlman, USA

Hello Johannes,

This was supposed to be a quick follow up, but things got a bit out of hand. Old business first:

The Caol Ila 19yr Signatory turned out to be a wonderful dram.
A middle of the road Islay, with not too much peat reak, On the palate, there are gentle clouds of warming smoke. I tried it outside on one of the first cool nights, and it was a magnificent experience. I also compared it to the Ardbeg Signatory. An interesting Contrast. The Ardbeg hasn't been my favorite, but it had more body than the CI. It is interesting to see how some malts work out differently in comparison as opposed to when imbibed by themselves.

Benrinnes 17 Adelphi. It started out  more or less as advertised, but after less than an ounce, I began to get the impression of a lot of alchohol. I peeked at the label, which said 64.6% YIPES!!!! I reached for the water, but it was too late for that evening. A followup tasting revealed that it was indeed as it seemed.

Cooper's Choice Millburn 18. We were having company, and I realized that I didn't have anything appropriate to serve, namely not Islay, regular strength, and not too old. I visited a local liquor store, and found the Millburn. It is rich and flavorful, with a bit of smoke. A good value at $38, as are all of the CC's.

Budget malt roundup - We have been invited out a couple of times recently (the move has done wonders for our social life), so I have gotten a chance to sample some things that I don't have at home. Of course, what we call low end is everybody else's high end, but that is another story.

Glen Ord. A killer malt for the money, even at 40%. Very smooth, and typical of the Highlands. Richer and more fullbodied that Glenmorangie 10 (although I wouldn't necessarily prefer one over the other).

Cardhu. OK, it is on your worst malts list, and a bottle I bought many years ago tasted like Glenfiddich-lite. But I saw a tip that the newer version is much better, so I kept an open mind. It is quite decent, actually. A flowery nose, and rounded palate. A bit feminie, perhaps. I have had Cardhu two or three times in the last year, and it does indeed seem to have improved.

Speyburn. Well, two out of three ain't bad. The 'burn' was quite appropiate, they should have used it to clean the tables with, if not the floor. In all fairness, this was at a party, so breakin obviously was not a factor, and I have actually seen two positive comments about Speyburn recently.

At this point, I was going to try to make it thru the end of the year with only a holiday W&L order, but that wasn't the case.
My want list got too long, so I caved in, and cleared off some of the low end items.

Glenhaven Bowmore 15, Nice, with not too much peat reek. There was an element of rubber at first, but that all but disappeared after a month or so. Glenhavens seem to be quite smooth at cask strength, and this one is no exception.

Signatory Caol Ila 9yr 43%. KILLER MALT ALERT!!!
It captures most of the 19yr mentioned above, but at less than half the price. It is a fine sibling to the Sig. 8yr Ardbeg.
You should snap these 2 up, if you can find them.  There are very few <$40 malts this good.

Cooper's Choice Convalmore 17. A honeyed malt, in contrast to the Millburn. A lot of people like this one, but I think that it is very similar to the Balvenie 12 and 15 SCS. So not bad, but it goes on my Bottom Shelf. Maybe it will improve ith break in. Speaking of the Balvenie 15 SC, I dug it out just to be sure. While I liked it last summer, it did need a splash of water to remove some harshness. But after nearly a year, the harshness was gone.

And finally, we went out for our anniversary (15!) last week, so I used the opportunity to sample a few items not on the shelf.
The Glen Rothes 15 was OK, but I can see why the 1982 isn't getting all of the raves that the 1979 did. I can think of better ways to blow the $50 a bottle goes for, and I have the 12yr Adelphi which is pretty much as good.

Balvenie 21 Port Wood. Something happened here.
Noth of us were singularly unimpressed. I suspect that the 12 DW was substituted, since it wasn't as dark as I assumed it was.

With the year coming to a close, I've only got the holiday order, and maybe a couple of odd bottles.
The budget is looking good, so I can probably afford the two plain oak Macalllans, the Murray McDavid 21and the Adelphi 12.
I will definitely get the Laphroaig 12yr Cadenhead too.  It is supposed to be the ultimate form of Laphroaig!!

That's all for now.

Louis
 

prE-pistle #1999/48 - Is Lagavulin 16 quality changing?
Submitted on 28/12/1999 by Davin de Kergommeaux, Canada

Hi Johannes,

Hope you are well and well oiled.  Just surfed through your beginners' section on Malt Madness again. 
Still stuff there to learn. Had another birthday, and some new, previously unsampled malts arrived.  It's great to have someone else do the selection.  Otherwise my taste buds would never get off Islay.  Anyway I have gone surprisingly quickly through a 12 yo Tamnavulin.  Quite enjoyable - almost Cragganmorish to my palate.

I noticed that you rank Glen Ord 12 fairly high on your list.  I just discovered Glen Ord in New York a couple of weeks ago and really like it.  It was a pleasant surprise to get home and find it is the least expensive malt available at the LCBO – ($35 compared with $65 for Lagavulin 16, $45 for Laphroig 10 or Glenmorangie 10). My next venture will be into the Balvenies, so I was checking out their UK web-site and saw that you're getting even more famous.  I followed their link to your site.  May send them my own tasting notes in a few weeks.  Anyway congratulations on being recognized yet again.

About three months ago, the price of Lagavulin 16 rose from $54.00 to $65.00 Canadian. 
At the same time I have heard reports that recent bottles are less extreme in flavour so as to make it more of a mainstream whisky. 
Since I don't drink it regularly I thought I'd write to you, the Lag man of Amsterdam.  Have you noticed any changes in flavour?  If so I'll run out and buy a couple of older bottles from the low volume liquor stores.  Hey!  I just found an advantage to the government having the monopoly to sell liquor. They have to serve all communities, so there will be stores in the boonies, with old stock! Looking forward to more Malt Madness, and in the mean time wait for you take on recent Lagavulin 16.

All the best,

Davin
 

prE-pistle #1999/49 - Changing Times
Submitted on 29/12/1999 by Johannes van den Heuvel, Holland

Yep, I'm afraid Lagavulin 16 is indeed changing, Davin - if my senses don't deceive me, that is...
Although it is quite natural for minor differences to appear between different batches of 'commercial' bottlings, the changes I perceived over the last 18 months (four or five bottles) pointed in a specific direction - that of the 'Distiller's Edition'. The differences are small, but Lagavulin is consistently becoming 'friendlier' and 'more accessible' - more Bunnahabhain and less Laphroaig, to put it very simply.

Of course, we have to watch out - we don't want to turn into old farts, complaining about the good old days.
Or at least - we don't want to turn any older and farter than we have to. When we cancel out the emotion factor (and perhaps factor in the fact that our senses may have gotten used to the things that excited us in the past), it still seems that some of the old favorites are drifting. The differences between consecutive batches are often negligible, but it's a possible long term trend I'm worried about. Lagavulin still kicks arse, mind you - and it still ranks number one on my personal Hitlist. But I think I prefer the more uncompromising version I first tried almost a decade ago. I just hope the trend doesn't continue...

But even if it does, we can't escape... the new millennium!!!

See you on the other side of Y2K!

Sweet drams,

Johannes 
 
 

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Malt Maniacs Issue 009 - Whisky writings for 1999 (Pt. 5)

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