Ah, the year 2010... We remember it with the taste of disappointment in our dry mouths.
And that's because we only managed to produce 11 E-pistles this year. And one of the
articles was submitted by a foreign correspondent. When we started our E-zine in 2002
we had just 12 members, but we published dozens of articles each year. We now have
well over 30 members, but less than a third of them submitted an E-pistle. Granted, a
few of us have been very busy with repairing website crashes of developing the brand
new Malt Maniacs Monitor database, but the trend seems to be away from long articles.
The good news is that the Malt Maniacs & Friends group on Facebook is still growing.
And I guess the cloud has another silver lining - now that we publish the E-pistles
as separate PDF files, a few maniacs were inspired to submit even heftier articles.
And that's it, at least as far as the 'editorial comments'
for 2010 are concerned.
We used to start with some of our most popular articles at the top of these
'annual' pages, but with just 11 E-pistles in 2010 I guess we can get right to it;
I guess this goes against the trend of shorter and quicker, but I'm old-fashioned.
E-pistle 2010-01: Peak Whisky (by Nabil Mailloux, Canada)
'Peak oil' is a phrase from the oil industry. It refers to the year 1970, when a geologist from Shell Research Labs correctly predicted
that oil production in the United States would peak, never to rise again. Later, other petro-geologists have used improved Hubbert
models to correctly predict that North Sea production's would peak in 2004 and that the global peak in oil production is happening
as we speak. What does that have to do with whisky, you ask? Well, oil is the biggest energy input of whisky production.
E-pistle 2010-02: My Laphroaig Quest (by Lawrence Graham, Canada)
The world-wide availability of single malt whiskies has improved greatly over the past decade. But there still are some faraway
corners of the world where things are more 'primitive'. Nevertheless, it is our responsibility to report on all things whisky, so our
investigator Lawrence decided the rest of the world needed to know about the availability of Laphroaig om the isle of Maui.
E-pistle 2010-03: Whisky and Grumpiness (by Louis Perlman, USA)
Louis has noticed quite a bit of 'grumpiness' in some of our maniacal discussion about stuff like the Macallan Fine Oak range and
the whisky prices that are always too high. Louis argues that a price of $2000 for a bottle of whisky need not be unreasonable.
E-pistle 2010-04: So, Does Age Matter? (by Serge Valentin, France)
Chivas Bros' new campaign claims that "age counts" and suggests that "the older the whisky, the better it is." As expected, those
statements fuelled some passionate debates on whisky blogs and forums, where both experienced and inexperienced whisky
lovers plus various industry types started to cross swords – usually without any evidence, only global feelings.
E-pistle 2010-05: Whisky and the World Cup (by Joe Barry, South Africa)
2010 was the year of the football world cup in South Africa. Not many of the malt maniacs are actually football fans, but in the
modern world it's almost impossible to avoid an event like this. And it so happens that we have a local reporter in Joe Barry.
E-pistle 2010-06: Whisky taxes in the EU (by Keith Wood, Germany)
Or: The European Union - a Single Market; Can we have one please? Even in this modern day and age, many on-line whisky shops
and distilleries don't deliver their whisky abroad. This awoke the Sherlock Holmes within Keith and he felt the urge to start digging.
Keith discovered that the laws concerning Excise Duty and taxes in the European Union are not as 'unified' as one would hope.
E-pistle 2010-07: Fresh from Kavalan Distillery (Charles MacLean, Scotland)
There was global press interest in January 2010 under the general headline "Taiwanese Whisky Beats Scotch in Blind Tasting",
inspired by an article which appeared in The Times. Charles MacLean happened to chair the whisky tasting panel in question.
That makes him the perfect person to tell us a little more about the blind tasting in question - and the Kavalan distillery.
E-pistle 2010-08: Four Facts about Whisky Casks (by Oliver Klimek, Germany)
One of the first lessons that every aspiring whisky lover learns is the fact that "All casks are different." This often remains a fairly
abstract concept until you have sampled a few expressions from independent bottlers. This highlights the importance of casks.
E-pistle 2010-09: The Chemistry of Whisky (by Kasper Valentin, Denmark)
Inspired by Nabil Mailloux's 'Whisky & Water' E-Pistle from March 2009, Kasper Valentin from Denmark (not related to Serge ;-)
decided to write an article about the underlying chemistry that defines 'aqua vitae'. A chemist can easily dissect whisky in all
its glorious elements and tell you exactly what makes your favourite dram tick. But of course, it's not quite that simple...
E-pistle 2010-10: Whisky Satori (by Nabil Mailloux, Canada)
Our 'junior' maniac from Canada acted as a 'shadow judge' for the Malt Maniacs Awards 2009 to hone his nose and palate.
His E-pistle, very nicely written as always, gives us some interesting insights into the troubles to get 'the good stuff' to a malt
maniac living in a developing whisky nation like Canada - and into how nerve wrecking the blind tasting can be.
E-pistle 2010-11: Scotch versus Bourbon & Whisky Buying Guide (by Louis Perlman, USA)
One of Louis' favorite single malt scotches is the Springbank 10 year old, 100 Proof. And one of his favorite bourbons is the Four
Roses Single Barrel, which is also bottled at 100 proof. So the obvious thing to do was a scotch vs bourbon showdown.
Extra: also included in Louis' E-pistle: a Holiday 2010 Whisky Buying Guide.
So, that's it for 2010 - at least as far as the PDF E-pistles are
concerned. But of course we do more than write whisky articles.
For example, we've organised the Malt Maniacs Awards 2010
where the Glendronach 38yo 1972/2010 (49.5%, OB, C#700)
was the overall winner, but 11 other whiskies won gold medals
as well. They were virtually all single cask bottlings - most of
them from Scotland, but Japan also picked up 4 gold medals.
If you're interested in more of our 'whisky work' between 1997
and 2011, check out the archives. If you want to know what the
maniacs are up to these days, check out the new MM website
or the Malt Maniacs & Friends Group on Facebook. Last but
not least, there are 2 other websites to the MM/MM/WF trinity;
Malt Madness (by yours truly) & Whiskyfun (by Serge Valentin).
Let's see, what else? Well, the 'members' page provides some
of the most basic information on every member of our whisky
collective. Clicking on the name of one of the maniacs will take
you to his or her 'Facebook Profile' - which should give you some
idea about his/her background. If a malt maniac has a personal
whisky-themed website as well, the URL is included.
Johannes van den Heuvel
Editor Malt Madness / Malt Maniacs
And there's one big advantage of PDF's for people that are even more old-fashioned
than I am and prefer to print articles before reading them. Well, If you don't mind
that trees are needlessly killed for your reading pleasure, you can go right ahead. ;-)