Ah, the year 2011... We remember that year with a combination of confusion and frustration.
And that's because we suffered yet another site crash which ultimately led to this archive.
Or how about Nabil's article on changing proof around the world,
or Keith's E-pistle on
the awards logistics - not to mention the MM Awards 2011 themselves for that matter.
Nevertheless, the number of E-pistles has sadly been dwindling for a few years now.
The whole purpose of publishing the contributions of visitors on Malt Madness in 1997
(and the launching in 2002 of our own Malt Maniacs E-zine) was sharing many different
opinions and perspectives on whisky. Now that more and more of that sharing happens
on social media and other websites, I felt it was a good time for me te retire as editor.
And that's it, as far as the first part of my 'editorial comments' on 2011 is concerned.
You can find all E-pistles that we published in 2011 if you scroll down, while I've saved
some 'closing comments' on fifteen years of malt mania for the very end of this page.
Meanwhile, Oliver Kilimek has agreed to take over my position of 'editor' of MM on the
brand new Malt Maniacs site - and there's Malt Maniacs & Friends on Facebook too.
E-pistle 2011-01: Beefing Up or Dumbing Down (by Oliver Klimek, Germany)
Scotch whisky has long been marketed as a very traditional product, emphasising tartans and bagpipes rather than the product.
Today, the emphasis is more on craftsmanship (may it be proper or just on the label) and the image of a quality natural product
with deep roots in history and landscape. But the whisky landscape has been changing, be it by producers issuing new whisky
expressions or be it by redesigning their existing products. Oliver Klimek looks at some trends in Scotch whisky marketing.
E-pistle 2011-02: The Trouble with Tradition (by Davin de Kergommeaux, Canada)
The trouble with tradition is knowing where to start. At one time, tradition meant that Scotch malt whisky was diluted to 37% abv,
bottled, and sent out into the marketplace. A few of these old 37% bottles still surface, but most of the current whisky crowd is
quite unaware that these were once common. Historians tell us that at one time whisky was consumed shortly after it was distilled.
It was probably pretty awful stuff to drink, but adding flavourings and colour made it more palatable. In fact, depending on what
had been added it could be sold as brandy, cognac, gin, or yes, even whisky. So, 'traditional' isn't always what we think it is...
E-pistle 2011-03: The Reverse Angel's Share (by Nabil Mailloux, Canada)
Serge Valentin's statement that "It is well known that some bourbons actually go up in strength with age" got Nabil thinking.
The question that simply would not go away was: How is it that proof will go down in one country while going up in another?
How could Nabil possibly get a good night's sleep now? So, armed with burning curiosity and about 50K$ of university degrees,
he was off to discover why the apparent laws of science differ between Scotland and the US.
E-pistle 2011-04: Guilty Pleasures: Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix (by Louis Perlman, USA)
Guilty pleasures, we all have them. There are a number of definitions, but Louis suggests that a guilty pleasure is something
that you'd rather not have other people know about at your stage of life. Like the TV shows and movies from your youth.
A guy who actually likes chick flicks. Or the Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix - at least according to Louis 'Soft In The Head' Perlman.
E-pistle 2011-05: Whisky in Singapore (by Benjamin Chen, Singapore)
Located at the southern tip of the Southeast Asian peninsula, Singapore has a growing number of foreigners residing there.
A significant number of these foreigners are expatriates from the USA, UK, Australia and France. These expatriates and affluence
amongst locals has started a trend towards appreciation of the finer things in life - including (malt) whisky.
E-pistle 2011-06: Chill Filtration & Cloud Formation in Whisky (by M. Fergusson-Stewart, Singapore)
A double whammy from Singapore! Foreign correspondent Matthew Fergusson-Stewart wrote an E-pistle about the chill filtration
of whisky; chilling matured whisky to between -10° and +4° Celsius, then filtering by adsorption (not absorption), which is the
adhesion of dissolved particles to a surface. In the case of whisky, these particles are things like fatty acids and proteins.
This is a discussion on what chill filtration is, why it is done, why some whisky goes cloudy.
E-pistle 2011-07: Freud Was Right! (by Michael Blaum, UK)
Michael occasionally come across other enthusiasts that begin salivating like Pavlov's dog when their favorite distillery comes out
with a new offering. They begin to dram (Freud was right) of a chilly night next to a coal fire, feet on a stool, with a Glencairn heartily
cradling that ideal sampling of liquid gold from their ideal distillery. Michael delves into his own psyche to find out why.
E-pistle 2011-08: Peter Silver - Whisky Superhero (by Peter Silver, USA)
The nerdness of some of the malt maniacs isn't limited to malt whisky. While fellow New Yorker Louis Perlman discussed some
guilty pleasures recently, Peter Silver now publicly admitted that he has been reading comic books for over 47 years. Some people
might say that comics are just illustrated children's literature - but Peter's ILLUSTRATED article might convince them otherwise.
E-pistle 2011-09: Malt Maniacs Awards 2011 - Taxing Times (by Keith Wood, Germany)
Previous editions of the Malt Maniacs Awards have relied heavily upon the logistical efforts of French maniacs Serge and Olivier,
but in 2011 the task of 'Postmaster General' for the MM Awards went to Keith Wood in Germany. His detailed article illustrates
the magnitude of the task at hand - even with a relatively 'modest' number of 171 bottles in the 2011 Awards.
E-pistle 2011-10: The Hierarchy of independent Whisky Releases (by Ruben Luyten, Belgium)
The last few years a lot of new independent whisky bottlers have entered the market; Malts of Scotland, The Whisky Agency,
Liquid Sun, Kintra, The Whiskyman, Creative Whisky Company, Old Bothwell, Asta Morris, Liquid Treasures, The Whisky Exchange,
Master of Malt, La Maison du Whisky, Whisky-Doris, Whisky-Fässle, etc. Many of them didn't exist just three years ago!
E-pistle 2011-11: Glenglassaugh's Revival (by Ralf Mitchell, Isle of Man)
Our most junior maniac Ralf Mitchell submitted a short interview with Stuart Nickerson, director of Glenglassaugh distillery.
E-pistle 2011-12: The Smokeheads (by Nabil Mailloux, Canada)
For some time now, the scientific community has been debating the effects of tobacco on the human palate. As early as the
1930s and 40s, scientists had been conducting experiments on humans using specific taste markers. Sure enough, they found
that 73% of people showed a decreased sensitivity, while surprisingly, 16% showed an increased sensitivity. Clearly, it is possible
that in certain individuals, and it is hard to know in whom, tobacco smoke can significantly affect the palate's sensitivity.
E-pistle 2011-13: The Cleaning of the Augian Stables (by Paul Dejong, Belgium)
Looking at the 171 sample bottles made Paul realise something. Participating, as a judge, at the Malt Maniacs Awards is really
not unlike a Herculean task. But a nice one! Because Paul noticed that part of the 'controversy' that our Awards generate each
year is based on unfamiliarity with our "procedure". So, the "procedure" of the MM Awards shall be the scope of this E-pistle.
MM was founded on ancient 1990's technology - and this fact finally caught up with us.
Phew... During 15 years of 'malt mania' I've gained a lot of whisky knowledge, for
a large part thanks to the other malt maniacs. However, after working on two large
whisky websites almost every night, I've also gained some 20 kilo's of excess body
weight and a nasty smoking habit. Not to mention a mouse-arm due to the frequent
website crashes of the Malt Maniacs website in particular. So, when my doctor told me
that I really needed a lifestyle change, I retired as editor of MM at the end of 2011.
I will miss the 'maniacal' lifestyle, but for me it has always been mostly about sharing
whisky experiences and the free exchange of ideas - and not so much about festivals
or collecting whisky. I'd like to think that we've produced quite a few excellent articles
over the years - check out Part 1 (1997-2006) and part 2 (2007-2011) of the archives
if you won't take my word for it. However, it seems that has grown increasingly hard
to produce enough interesting E-pistles to satisfy our readers and our own ambitions.
Nevertheless, other maniacs will continue the quest on the new Malt Maniacs site
and the Malt Maniacs & Friends group on Facebook. I wish them the very best - and
I will join the on-line discussions again from an even more 'personal' perspective on my
very own Malt Madness website once I've gained a healthier weight. But not after I've
neatly wrapped up these archives and added a page about the history of the maniacs.
Johannes van den Heuvel
Founder & Editor (1997-2011) of Malt Maniacs
The picture below shows 11 maniacs responding to the 'premiumisation' phenomenon.
From left to right: Serge Valentin (France), Olivier Humbrecht (France), Thomas Lipka
(Germany, but sneakily hidden behind...), Konstantin Grigoriadis (Greece), Pit Krause
(Germany), Michel van Meersbergen (Holland), Bert Bruyneel (Belgium), Rob Karlsson
(Sweden), Peter Silver (USA), Charles MacLean (UK) and Ho-cheng Yao (Taiwan).