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Malt Maniacs #108

Malt Maniacs E-zine (this time also about beer)

MALT MANIACS #108

The Best Whiskies of 2007
E-pistle #2008/01 by Krishna Nukala, India

Krishna kicks off the first issue of 2008 with a review of the ten best single malt whiskies he sampled in 2007 - or at least his personal favorites. He starts and finishes with Talisker (a favorite at many editions of our annual Malt Maniacs Awards so no big surprise there), but manages to visit a few surprising locations along the way - like Balblair, Ballindalloch and Tamnavulin.

Olivier's Travels; Inverness
E-pistle #2008/02 by Olivier Humbrecht, France

Inverness was one of the first cities in Scotland where maniacs from all over the world gathered for a 'live' meeting of Alcoholics Unanymous. After dramming along the river Ness, the town (with a rich distillation history) holds a special place in our high spirited hearts. Olivier found several malts that scored in the 90's at Glenmoriston Town House.

Book Review: Broom's Handbook of Whisky
E-pistle #2008/03 by Davin de Kergommeaux, Canada

We've tried to put it off for as long as possible, but we couldn't avoid reviewing another book by one of the certified malt maniacs.
This time a useful whisky handbook by Dave Broom.

Xenomaltology; Charbay, California, USA
E-pistle #2008/04 by Lex Kraaijeveld, UK

In his 'Xenomaltology' articles Lex Kraaijeveld investigates the distillation efforts in 'alien' territories. In our narrow minds that term means all whisky that is distilled in countries other than Scotland and Ireland. After all, that's where the drink was invented...

Ardbeg Double Barrel - Tasting Report
E-pistle #2008/05 by Mark Gillespie, USA

A lot has been written about the ludicrous price and packaging of the Ardbeg Double Barrel (suggested retails price 10,000 GBP), but few have actually tasted it. But then again, more people have actually tasted the ADB than have actually bought it...

A Minion's Muse
E-pistle #2008/06 by Dave Wankel, USA

The explorations of the malt maniacs has lead them to area's that might not seem all that relevant for relative beginners. That's why I started the 'Malt Minions' on-line whisky school on Malt Madness. One of the first 'students' reports on a dramming experience in Asia. 

Ports of Call
E-pistle #2008/07 by Louis Perlman, USA

Glenmorangie was the first brand to release some 'mass market' finished malt whiskies. Since the 1990's, many whisky producers have followed. Especially port casks are widely used, so Louis decided to investigate a few expressions from various distilleries. His personal favorite turned out to be a BenRiach.

An interview with Moritz Kallmeyer
E-pistle #2008/08 by Joe Barry, South Africa

There are many links between whisky and beer. In fact, whisky is basically distilled beer - but without the hops. Joe Barry dove a little deeper into the topic and interviewed the South African micro-brewer Moritz Kallmeyer from Drayman's Brewery. Along the way he managed to collect some interesting factoids about whisky production as well.

My Most Memorable Visit to Scotland
E-pistle #2008/09 by Konstantin Grigoriadis, Greece

We wrap up our first issue of 2008 like we wrapped up the first issue of the year 2007; with a richly illustrated report on a visit to our spiritual motherland: Scotland. Your reporter: Konstantin Grigoriadis. And if you think this report is long - Konstantin had even more material.

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Malt Maniacs #108 - February 29, 2008

It's a paranoid existence, being an opinion leader...
You always feel like you're being followed ;-)

In the 1990's Malt Maniacs wasn't the first on-line whisky community (the Malts-L mailinglist and the PLOWED forum come to mind), but we like to think we are among the first with the ambition to share our passion for single malts with the whole world. Well, maybe not the whole world, but at least the whisky drinking part of the world...

At the time, the (malt) whisky drinking part of the world consisted mainly of countries with a British colonial history (the UK, the USA, Canada, Australia, etc.) and Western Europe. That meant that the 'lingua franca' of the international whisky world was English (well, some would say it was Scotch ;-). However, over the past decade the world has changed dramatically. Nowadays, it's just as likely that an in-depth discussion on malts takes place in Chinese or Spanish. The whisky world is growing, but it's also becoming more fragmented.

Reaching all those fragments via traditional mass marketing advertising campaigns has become very difficult for the whisky industry. Many of the online communities were independent efforts by enthusiasts that didn't rely on advertising revenues from the industry. This made them difficult to 'control'. Fortunately (for some control freaks within the industry, that is), new online communities are emerging that DO rely on advertising and advertorial revenues or are otherwise uncomfortably close to the industry. At the same time, many websites are desperate for large amounts of fresh content on a regular basis - but they don't have the time or resources to write it themselves. Fortunately, it's cheap and easy to cut and paste press releases - or let the visitors write their own 'user generated' content. One can always manipulate that later ;-)

In the late 1990's you could stay up-to-date by checking two or three whisky websites once every few weeks. We now live in an ever more fragmented whisky world with thousands of relatively small 'communities', often regurgitating the same spoon-fed information. Within the flow of public feedback there always are quite a few nuggets of wisdom and refreshing perspectives - but they are spread across dozens of different platforms and websites.

Is that good or bad? Well, for one thing I need to spend more time surfing - which means there's less time left for dramming. I'm sure my diminished personal consumption won't put a significant dent in the overall consumption of Scotch malt whisky - but what if more people exhibited similar behaviour? I guess the SWA should start working on a campaign to promote drinking while websurfing...

Sweet drams,
 
Johannes
Editor Malt Madness / Malt Maniacs

War on Whisky Fakers

Oh, and by the way...
Needless to say all maniacs heartily support Serge's valliant
efforts in his war on the whisky fakers on WhiskyFun. As it
turns out, the rabbit hole has grown much deeper in the few
years since we published our modest 'Fake Alert' page on
Malt Maniacs; faking whiskies has become a cottage industry.

E-pistle 2008/01 - The Best Whiskies of 2007

Icons of Whisky India 2008Year 2007 has been quite an eventful and a kind year for me.
In some sense it was like 2003 when I had met four fellow maniacs first
time during a classic tour of Scotland in May followed by an adventurous
journey in late November from Amsterdam to Turckheim with Mark Adams,
our alumnus American Maniac. I was fortunate to taste some of the best
whiskies in my decade and half of dramming this year, thanks to Diageo
and Sukhinder Singh. And finally, the recent Malt Maniacs Awards 2007,
as usual, contributed some more stunners. As a result of these events,
my malt mileage shot up by about 300 and now fast nearing a respectable
1000 mark. Having tasted about 300 whiskies, I thought why not list out
a personal list of best ten in the year? Well, here is a brief account my
best ten whiskies in 2007. The rating is from bottom to top.

10. Talisker (30 yo, 53.9%, OB, Bottled in 2007)
Charlie Smith the distillery manager who had spent 40 years of his life in
the industry was retiring as Distillery Manager on the day and it was a
special honour for me when he poured this little dram of Talisker 30 yo in
his office. Dave Broom, our fellow Maniac was along with me during the
dramming. This is a special bottle available for sale only at the distillery.

Colour: Golden yellow.
Nose: Bold- typical of a Talisker but with subtle hints of coastal notes. Lots of sweet and fruity notes, more of which appear later on the palate- you get some smoke, beeswax, peat and pepper. An excellent array of complexities on the nose.
Palate: Lots of sweets, round, full bodied and syrupy stuff. Ripe apples, raisins, and resinous with salty hints. Excellent and emphatic finish.

9. Aberlour A'bunath (60.5%, OB, Bottled +/- 2007, Batch # 20)
Lying just below the Ben Rinnes and fed by the waters flowing down, Aberlour was one of the distilleries the five maniacs visited during the maniacal tour of Scotland in 2003.  The burns flowing down the peaty fields ultimately feed to river Spey giving the region its name-Speyside, where one finds the highest density of distilleries per acre anywhere in the world. A'bunath (in Gaelic meaning "of the origin") is a special whisky created to honour the founder, James Fleming and according David Boyd, the distillery blender, "if he (James Fleming) were alive today, this is how he would have liked Aberlour to be". There is no age statement on the bottle but the youngest whisky in the vatting, I think should be at least 10 years old. This has won the Supreme Sherry Cask for daily Drams Category in Malt Maniacs Awards 2007.
Colour: Old oak with red tinge. Nose: heavily sherried, dried fruits, prunes and figs, beautiful woody notes from rear, some coffee and oriental spices. Palate: very sweet, heavy and oily. It is like drinking something heavenly!

8. Glenfarclas (1969/2007, 56.2%, OB, Family Cask # 3184, 148 Bottles)
Glenfarclas (Valley of the Green Grass), also lying just beneath Ben Rinnes is another Speyside distillery, visited by the five maniacs during the tour of 2003. I still remember our tasting in the room modeled like saloon of the ship "The Spirit of Australia". This is another Awards 2007 participant that won a Gold Medal.
Colour: Almost like treacle. Nose: Rich sherried nose, good oak wood, complex fruits, fragrant with nail polish notes, rich oiliness and grapefruit juice. Palate: lots of tannins, dried fruit extract and mild bitters. Although a bit rough on finish, this is quality stuff.

7. Tamnavulin (35 yo, 52.6%, OB, Single Sherry Cask, circa 1966)
A pretty recent distillery established in 1960s in the Livet valley of Speyside. One finds more of standard 12 years old versions of this whisky and this 35 year is a special find by Sukhinder Singh and it appears that he has bought entire lot of this particular series. If you are in London next time, make sure to visit The Whisky Exchange to get one of these from Sukhinder- i.e. if it is still available.
Colour: Dark Amber. Nose: Plum cake with lots of dried fruits. Nutmeg and Camphor.
Starts on lots of freshness and sherry in all elegance with a little sulphur note.
Palate: Very classical, rounded but still quite vivacious with lots of fruits. Very long finish that makes you utter … "yummy…"

6. Balblair (40 yo, 47.7% OB, Anniversary Selection, Matured in Hogsheads, 215 Bottles)
One of the oldest distilleries of Scotland, Balblair keeps surprisingly a very low profile. Situated in Northern Highlands, the name of the distillery derives from the small river flowing down the surrounding hills. Balblair is one of the less tasted whiskies by me and this one swept me off my feet.
Colour: Deep amber. Nose: Very woody! Lots of dried fruits, nuts and interplay of varnished wood with sherried fruity notes. The longer you play on the palate, the longer it develops into complexities. Long Spicy finish much like Talisker.

5. Bowmore (30 yo, OB 43%, Black Ceramic, Sea Dragon Bottle)
Bowmore in Islay needs no introduction. Islay is the Mecca of all whisky lovers and a must visit at least once in a life time. This Bowmore series has been specially bottled for Asian market by Suntory and I am not sure whether any of these are still available.
Colour: Deep amber. Nose: well balanced, with quite a bit of peat and some green chilies. Quite unlike those perfumed series of Bowmores! Some passion fruit and hints of organics. Complex nose. Palate: Very oaky initially becomes sweetish and gradually displays licorice and dark chocolates. Very long, peaty and smoke finish typical of any Islay malt.

4. Ballindalloch (40 yo, 1966/2007, 51.3% Whisky-Doris, First Fill Sherry, 165 Bottles)
This is Awards 2007 contribution from Whisky-Doris. According to Ho cheng it could be a traditional Linkwood, which the House of Ballindallochs usually bottle. I strongly felt that this could a Glenfarclas and Luc, our Mr. Glenfarclas agrees with me. Whatever it is, I strongly felt that this could have been one of the over all winners, but in the final run it narrowly missed a Gold Medal.
Colour: Old oak. Nose - heavy Fino sherry, nice sandalwood and prunes. Exuberant! Plum cake. Actually I don't feel like drinking this stuff. Simply go on enjoy the smells emanating out of this. Palate - Rich concoction of dried fruits extract. Round and fantastic body. Superb sherried finish with lots of Asian spices. Only Angels are capable of crafting this kind of whisky!

3. Springbank (35 yo, 1971/2007, 59%, The Whisky Fair, Sherry cask, 239 Bottles)
This is another Awards 2007 participants contributed by The Whisky Fair and Ho-cheng thought this was a Longmorn.  It was so pale and the tasting notes, in fact corresponded with that of a fine bourbon cask. I truly felt that this could be the over all winner of Awards 2007, but it ended up with a respectable Gold Medal high in the list.
Colour: Lemon yellow. Nose- instant beautiful maltiness. Lemon oil, nectarines, thick oily notes followed by orange marmalade. It is like mountain air coming over a bed of fresh flowers and heather. Now you get some thick coconut milk laced with vanilla. Just a whiff of peat and smoke and leafy organics. Palate - The sweetest whisky tasted in the entire year. Highly viscous, goes down the throat without any edges- Silky smooth. This is magical stuff, made by some Druids in the desolate Scottish woods. Spectacular!

2. Longmorn-Glenlivet (1971/1999, 58.6%, Scott's Selection, Sherry wood)
Longmorn is another low profile Speysider which ranks in the same league as Glenfarclas, Macallan and Aberlour. May be it is not marketed as much and the owners have left it to the concept that the true connoisseur would find it any how and any way.
Colour: Such dark Colour! Nose: Splendid rich sherry, bold fruity notes with lots of dried fruits and nuts and something very meaty about it, like rich beef soup. Palate: First sip makes you utter Oh, my god! What a matching mouth feel with nose. This reminds me of last year's MMA winner Yamazaki. The dried fruits in the form of sultanas, figs and prunes keep coming back in hoards. Splendid body without any repulsive hints of tannis that you expect in an over aged sherry cask whisky. Smooth, velvety finish and after it goes down the gullet you make that sound with the roof of your palate. Umm….. A perfect after dinner dessert whisky.

1. Talisker (38 yo, 1955/1993, 53.6%, Gordon & Macphail)
No matter what I do and what ever whisky I comment upon, when it comes to naming my favourite whisky of the year, Talisker is the first name that comes to my mind. There are several reasons for this. I tasted some of the best Taliskers in the desolate islands in the Inner Hebrides during this year's Classic Malt Cruise, visited Skye and drammed at the very distillery with Charlie Smith and most importantly, this 1955 Talisker (courtesy Sukhinder Singh) comes from the same year I was born.
Colour: Mahogany. Nose: Quality sherry with whiff of sea breeze, woody- akin to cedar and some camphor from rear. This Talisker is more or less same as the 1957, 53.5% Gordon & Macphail's licensed bottling which is an all time favourite of all the Malt Maniacs.  Excellent fruits with subdued peat and aromas coming from fresh prawns grilled on charcoal. Palate: The typical Talisker explosion inside the mouth. Very sweet and chewy with lots of power. An array of dried fruits and nuts. Absolutely satisfying and mouth watering finish that lingers till next day.

Slainte!

Krishna
 

E-pistle 2008/02 - Olivier's Travels; Glenmoriston Town House, Inverness

Whisky in InvernessInverness - 'Capital of the Highlands'
 
There are many ways to reach the Northern Highlands and Speyside, but at some point, your journey
will make you travel through Inverness. The longest and somehow most tiring is to take the A9 from
Glasgow/Edinburgh (except if stopping at Pitlochy/Aberfeldy is part of the plan, you know…, Blair Athol,
Edradour, Aberfeldy, Andrew Simington's new tasting room…. But that is another story for later).

Flying from London to the small but well managed Inverness airport is the fastest.
The taxi ride from the airport to Inverness will actually take you past the old Millburn distillery, or,
sadly, what is left of it, as it was closed in 1985 and later transformed into a pub/hotel. It is located
right at the entrance of Inverness on the left side of a dual carriage way, in the middle of an industrial
zone. The old chimney, watermill, and typical warehouse style buildings that must have used in the
past for floor malting are a giveaway. In the past, there used to be a few distilleries within Inverness
(Glen Mohr, Glen Albyn, Millburn), but both the bad economics of the 1970's/80's and the crazy
expansion of Inverness later on must have killed the distilling activity. Today, the closest distilleries
to Inverness are on the West: Glen Ord, with its magnificent visitor centre and also Diageo's malting
activity, North: Dalmore and Glenmorangie, East: Benromach in Forres and the rest of Speyside and
South/East: Tomatin on the A9.

From Glasgow or the South, my preferred way to reach Inverness is by train.
There aren't many tracks in the Highlands, and they all go through the most wonderful scenery you
can imagine, especially once you hit the Highlands. Whenever I take the Glasgow/Inverness train
(about a 3h30 journey) I make sure I have one of those cute 20cl Dalwhinnie 15yo and I make a
point to open it as the train pass the distillery about mid journey… Not a powerful dram, but actually
a perfect fruity aperitif style and just the right size for the end of the journey!

Inverness station is right in the middle of town. It's only a short 15 minutes walk that will take you along the river Ness, or even quicker taxi ride, to reach Glenmoriston Town House, along the riverbank (http://www.glenmoriston.com). This hotel was completely refurbished a few years ago. It is set in old stone buildings, with modern, comfortable and very stylish atmosphere, which manages an excellent compromise between contemporary decoration and Highland welcome. Glenmoriston has two restaurants. 'Contrast' is ideal for a quick lunch or casual meal, especially if the weather is nice and you can enjoy the view over the river. 'Abstract' is the gastronomic restaurant, with an excellent wine list and superlative food menu. The menu combines the best local ingredients prepared with great delicacy. I had the occasion to eat there twice now, and each time was amazed by the quality and inventiveness of the food prepared by the Belgium chef (I can hear the Lindores laughing...). Very highly recommended.

What makes Glenmoriston an ideal stopover for the whisky lover is not just its location, but also its great bar. The setting is modern, but extremely comfortable, and once you've set yourself in one of those leather sofas with the list of whisky, there's no escape possible…
On my first visit, I participated to a dinner organised by the hotel, featuring only biodynamic wines, very well combined with the 7 courses menu by the enthusiastic and competent sommelier Joel. In keeping with the theme, the dinner was followed by coffee served with a Benromach 'Organic' 43% OB (I am still waiting for Bruichladdich to produce their first biodynamic malt whisky…). In the past, I never thought much of this light style whisky, but that evening, it appeared very fruity and elegant with a decent enjoyable finish. I would gladly raise my score to 80 pts from 73 for previous versions. Later on that evening, I managed to order a dram of the Glenfarclas 1969/2003 (40.7%, OB Old Stock Reserve for Germany, Sherry cask #2895, 205 Bts.) which I spotted earlier on and intrigued me, first because it is a bottle for the German market, secondly, because Mr Glenfarclas himself (Luc Timmermanns) didn't taste it yet and thirdly, because it looked really good! Well , I got what I expected: a soft, round, toffee flavoured, extremely aromatic delicious after dinner dram. Pure Glenfarclas heaven in a medium powered but highly complex style. Well worth 92 points!

During my second stay with friends, we experienced the exact same quality of service and food, but had even more time to study the long whisky list, to my great pleasure! Having driven past Dalmore a few hours before and not being able to stop by, I was very keen to start with a Dalmore 28yo (45%, OB, Stillman's Dram). I was surprised to see how this version is so different from the classic Dalmore modern range: no trace of wood/finishes, very pure herbal/hay nose and quite powerful dry palate. It appeared as a serious dram, but perhaps not the kind to finish a dinner with, this explains my perhaps more conservative rating of 87 points. Kindly, Joel let us taste the previous version (not on the list anymore) head to head: Dalmore 30yo (45%, OB, Stillman's Dram). I did taste this version previously and rated it 89 points, but compared to the 28yo, it appeared so much more aromatic, intense and round, that I would have scored it 90 points.

I've only rarely tasted the Vintage Cask Balvenie selections in the past, so when I spotted the Balvenie 1967/1999 'Vintage Cask' (49.7%, OB, C#9908) I couldn't resist ordering it. It appeared very powerful, aromatic and grassy with lots of fresh herbal aromas and hints of flowers. The palate was surprisingly intense for Balvenie, quite dry with strong emphasis on the hay/heather character. Very compelling and attractive, the kind of malt you really want to drink in big gulps to appreciate its power and length. 93 points! This Balvenie must have opened up our appetite for something sherried, so naturally we went towards Speyside with a Glenfarclas 1954/2000 (43%, OB, 1193bts) and got what we asked for! It showed a delicious round toffee/butterscotch aromatic nose, quite intense and powerful, completely erasing the Balvenie from our memory. The palate was creamy, sweet, long and felt actually quite powerful, again, not giving an inch to the previous malt. There was no ABV indication on the label that I could spot, so at the time, I assumed that it wasn't that high due to the age, but nonetheless cask strength. Later on, I learned from our useful monitor, with great surprise, that it only has 43%. This is the kind of malt which one can drink slowly an entire evening. It almost replaces dessert. I am sure that some people might find it perhaps a pity if it has been reduced from a higher ABV, but that evening, after a delicious meal, it was just perfect!  93 points.

Olivier Humbrecht, France
 

E-pistle 2008/03 - Book Review: Handbook of Whisky

Handbook of Whisky by Dave BroomHandbook of Whisky (Broom, Dave),
London:  Hamlyn, London, UK, 2000.

 
Probably the best way to understand whisky is to tour Scotland, as Dave Broom has done, stopping
at distilleries, sampling a dram or two, and chatting with the workers.  Sure, you can build a collection
of bottles and sit in your study – well – studying them; tasting, sniffing, writing careful notes, until
you've analysed every scent and flavour.  But it's people who make whisky, and as Broom illustrates
in his Handbook of Whisky, though scientists and accountants can explain how whisky is made, it
takes a bit of a magician to actually make it.  Broom uses his extensive vocabulary and light hand to
paint vivid pictures of the towns and people he visits on an extensive tour of Scotland's traditional
malt whisky regions.  Many myths are questioned along the way, beginning with the much-honoured
theory of regional styles.  His Scottish encounters are followed by enthusiastic confabs with the folks
who make blended Scotch, Irish whiskey, American, and Canadian whiskies.
 
There are hundreds of whisky books and dozens of new ones every year.
Most are derivative editions, recycling earlier authors' thoughts & perpetuating marketers' fantasies.
Broom's avoids this trap. His approach is original, intelligent, and highly enjoyable. Unlike so many
others, Broom has actually written a new whisky book.  More than a compilation of facts, Handbook
of Whisky is simply loaded with anecdotes, characters, and information, all hinging on the question:
Is mechanisation changing whisky? Taking a balanced approach, he lets distillery workers tell us why
and why not. It's an easy read, more authored than written, and merits careful attention by the
serious whisky aficionado. Why are some whiskies nutty, for instance while others are fruity? 
Well, according to Broom it all starts with fermentation times.

Broom devotes nearly half the book to Scotch single malts, before pushing on to reveal some of the secrets behind blends and blending.  "What's often difficult for an outsider to grasp about blending," he writes, "is that there is no fixed recipe."  As Diageo's production director, Turnbull Hutton, explains:  "If you've got the Walker building blocks right:  Lagavulin, Cardhu, and Heavy/Medium Highland, the fact you might be replacing Aberfeldy with something else isn't an issue."

Whisky-makers love to claim title to the oldest, highest, smallest, or most something-or-other, as if this somehow translates into better whisky.  Those making such claims would do well to remember the Irish who likely were the first to distil the cratur.  Their whiskey, once in demand world wide, suffered near extinction through a series of blunders and events, Broom sees clearly in hindsight.  So confident were Irish distillers of perpetual demand, they simply dismissed the cost-effective continuous still invented by Robert Stein and Irishman, Aeneas Coffey.  To them, the pot still would rule forever.  The thrifty Scots though, quickly adopted the much less expensive continuous still, mixing its product with powerful malt whiskies to make flavourful but inexpensive blends that soon gained a stranglehold on the market. 

American prohibition and Irish independence eliminated Ireland's major markets, then heavy taxation by the Irish government sounded the industry's death knell.  Being first meant nothing as Irish whiskey's dominance ended, likely forever.  By 1973 only a single distiller operated in Ireland, although it continued to produce dozens of familiar brands. 

Identifying whisky by brand rather than distillery may seem strange to single malt drinkers, but in America as in Ireland, it is flavour, not provenance, that determines the whiskey in the bottle.  As Barton chemist, Bill Friel, told Broom:  "If I have to modify a still I can, so it's not impossible to replicate a product at a different distillery."  Similarly, when Heaven Hill lost its aging whiskey in a devastating fire it missed not a beat on the market.  It simply shifted production to Early Times distillery for three years then moved on to a third plant in 1999. 

When this book was first published, in 2000, Japanese whisky was not enjoying its current popularity, and Broom did not include Japan in the Handbook.  Given his considerable knowledge of Japanese whisky this would be a logical addition to an updated edition, as would comment on recent industry trends such as the current fascination with finishes, the progress of mechanisation, and more conversations with the people who make our daily dram.

Handbook of Whisky provides a substantial introduction to the whiskies of the world. 
It's a page-turner, but once you've raced through it, buy a map of Scotland and mini bottles from each of the Scottish distilleries included.  Then, night by night, visit one distillery, sample its whisky, and plot its location on the map.  Soon patterns will appear as you follow Broom across the regions, and learn about their individual whiskies.  Thus educated, you are then ready, in Broom's company, to appreciate the whiskies of Ireland, America and Canada as well.

Davin de Kergommeaux, Canada
 

Charbay whisky, USAE-pistle 2008/04 - Xenomaltology; Charbay (California, USA)

When it comes to alcoholic drinks, California's Napa Valley is best known for its wines.
Not the first place in the world that comes to mind when you're looking for a whiskey distillery, but there is one!
Charbay distillery is situated in St Helena, Medocino County, two hours north of San Francisco. For more than 20 years
they have been distilling a range of spirits (from flavoured vodkas to rum, apple brandy, pastis and grappa) and in 1999
they turned their attention to single malt whiskey.

Charbay uses a 25 gallon Charentais still, a still type that is normally used for distilling cognac, and which you would
expect to find especially in France. Use of a Charentais still makes Charbay one of only two distilleries in the world
using this type of still for malt whisk(e)y (the other one is located in Australia, and we'll visit them in a future issue
of Xenomaltology).

Charbay distillery is very much a family business. Responsible for the spirits themselves is a father-and-son distilling
team: Miles and Marko Karakasevic. Mother-and-daughter team Susan and Lara are involved in the sales and
marketing side of the business.

The barley used for Charbay's single malt is two-row European barley, grown and malted across the border in
British Columbia. The spirit is distilled twice, but before distillation takes place, freshly-dried hop flowers are added
to the wash. This makes Charbay a truly unique single malt whiskey. Maturation then takes place in newly charred
American white oak barrels.

The first Charbay bottling, 'Double Barrel Release One', consists of only 840 bottles (from two barrels produced,
hence the 'Double Barrel'). It is a 4 y.o., bottled at cask strength of 64.7% and without chill-filtration. The high price
of $325 for a bottle won't make this single malt easily available to every whisky enthusiast. Still, if you have a chance
to taste this whiskey, grab that opportunity, because Charbay's single malt is a whiskey that refuses to let itself be
pushed in one of the usual categories. It has notes of raisins, chocolate, cream, vanilla, biscuits and macaroons.
A blackcurrant-fruitiness combines with a hint of pickled gherkins (?). The mouthfeel is luscious and velvety and the finish is quite dry.
There is a clear bourbon dimension due to the use of newly-charred barrels, but this is by no means a bourbon. It's a pretty complex whiskey, which straddles the established categories of the world's whiskies. 'Double Barrel Release One' is now sold out, but 'Release Two', taken from five barrels and bottled at 55%, is expected to be released in Spring 2008. Don't  miss it …..

Lex Kraaijeveld, England
 

E-pistle 2008/05 - Ardbeg Double Barrel; An Actual Tasting Report

Ardbeg Double BarrelMuch has been written about Ardbeg's moves into the "ultra-premium"
single malt market, as offerings like the Ardbeg 1965 and the "Mor" 4.5
litre "party-size" bottle are well out of the price range for mere mortals
like the Malt Maniacs. Now, Ardbeg and its corporate parents at LVMH
have gone all out with the $20,000 "Double Barrel" release. While the
customer base for the "Double Barrel" is limited to hedge fund managers,
Russian oligarchs, and anyone else with money to burn, the fact remains
that this offering has two of the finest whiskies I've ever tasted.

First, let's get the marketing details out of the way. The two 1974 cask
strength bottles come in a shotgun-style leather case hand-made by
the craftsmen who make Purdey gun cases, and the collection comes
with eight silver cups from Scotland's Hamilton & Inches. Just 250 were
made (apparently counting the ones used for marketing purposes, such
as the private tasting I was granted at LVMH's New York office), and
the suggested retail price is a whopping $20,000 USD.

One caveat that's not been widely discussed...
Tthere were actually SIX casks used to make the 250 sets.
Two casks went into sets bound for Asia, two for mainland Europe, and two for the sets destined for the UK and USA. The whiskies I tested, obviously, were from the UK/USA casks. Ardbeg hasn't said what happened to any extra bottles that came from the casks, but has admitted that a truly obsessed collector could try to get a set from each of the regions. Now... to the whiskies...

Cask #3524 (bottled at 44.9% ABV)
At first nosing, one would not suspect this as an Ardbeg. The usual (and much-loved) blast of peat is much more subtle and balanced with a fruity sweetness. It also has a slightly yeasty aroma that reminds me of bread baking in the kitchen, with just a hint of vanilla. Taste it, and the whisky immediately shows its true colors, exploding in a peaty blast. As the initial taste subsides, I found notes of citrus, particularly lemons and limes, along with the spiciness of cinnamon and even a touch of pumpkin. With a few drops of water, the nose reveals grassy notes reminding me of an autumn field, along with dried leaves and gingerbread. The yeasty notes from the undiluted nose return in the taste, with the smell of rising bread dough. This leads to the classic Ardbeg finish, long, smoky and chewy with hints of chocolate and marzipan that left my tongue tingling and begging for another taste.

Cask #3145 (bottled at 49.9% ABV)
The second bottle has a warm, amber color, and is slightly less viscous than #3524. Nosing it leads to a different sense as well, with hints of eucalyptus and pine. There's not as much peat as in #3524, but there are more notes of leather that remind me of an old baseball glove. As for the taste…Holy S***! The two words I can best use to describe the taste are "thermonuclear peat". This dram made my tongue stand at attention – and as the peatiness drifted off, notes of hazelnuts and walnuts came out, along with a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg. Adding water brings out hints of seaweed, iodine and salt water in the nose, with the spiciness lurking underneath. Water also mutes the peat explosion on tasting, releasing a smoother smokiness much like that of a candle just blown out. This continues in the finish, with notes of fresh bread as well.

Final notes: If I were to taste these again, I'd repeat the same order and start with #3524 followed by #3145.
The first cask is slightly more delicate and sets up the second one well. Reversing the order would likely overwhelm the nose and taste of #3524. As for the scores; both rate a 94 in my opinion. While each one is unique, they are both among the best malts I've ever tasted and deserve their high ratings. Are they worth $20,000 for the pair? No... not even with the case and the cups.
Are they great whiskies? Yes.

It's hard to describe a $100 whisky as a "best buy" but compared to the "Double Barrel", that label would apply to either the Ardbeg Uigedail or the Airgh Nam Beist. The "Oogie" warms the stomach and the soul with the classic Ardbeg charcoal and barbecued pork nose... a touch of honey in the taste, and a long, lingering finish with a bit of chocolate. The "Beastie" is less refined, as the name would indicate, and is perfect for a chilly night. I rate the Uigedail an 88, and the Airgh Nam Beist an 84. For the $20,000 one could theoretically spend on the "Double Barrel", said peat freak could get 200 bottles of the Uigedail or the Airgh Nam Beist... and be the most popular person at Ardbegeddon!

Mark Gillespie, USA
 

E-pistle 2008/06 - A Minion's Muse

Hong Kong by NightBeing a Malt Whisky neophyte has been difficult for me. 
 
I have found a new love in my life and far too much information to
digest in time to satisfy my urgent desire to dram with the best of
them. Not long ago I really had no clue that whisk(e)y was anything
other than Jack Daniel's mixed with whatever made it tolerable.
 
Friends had suggested I try some other American bourbons on the
rocks only to find that the taste was equally unappealing to me. 
 
It was not until I was offered a version of the classic Rob Roy by
my father one night that I discovered that whisky can be enjoyable.
 
Having received the recipe from my father (1 part blended Scotch,
1/2 part sweet vermouth, 1 1/2 parts lemon-lime soda, Cherry) I
set out to tend my home bar and enjoy one myself. Having found
no Scotch in my cabinet, I made the same drink with the only whisky
I had; Jack Daniel's.  The result was less than pleasant and almost
cured me of my desire to re-create the concoction. 

To remedy the lack of proper stock in my cabinet, I set out to make a purchase of a bottle of Scotch. 
I discovered that I was entering a wing of the store I had not recognized before.  The selection was overwhelming and I had no idea what to look for. I felt some internet research was in order.

Upon using the search engines to seek some proper information on Scotch, I was hit with a plethora of sites wanting to sell me something liquid in a bottle.  All I really wanted was a site dedicated to information so that I could learn what to look for in a bottle.  I soon stumbled upon the Malt Madness website where I found precisely what I was looking for; The Beginner's Guide to SMSW.

Not only did I learn what to look for in a blend, but I found that I was intrigued by the Single Malt information I had been reading. 
I followed the advice and I set out to spend the appropriate amount of US dollars on a beginner's collection of Malts.  This is where I discovered my newest love. I have a voracious appetite and I desired more and more information.  I began to converse with people who knew Malts (or so they thought).  I even began to seek out new samples at restaurants and bars in my regular travels.  Upon seeing a posting on the Malt Madness website for an Advanced Beginner's guide forthcoming, I joined the mailing list and checked back regularly for updates on publication.  This brought me to conversations with the Malt Master and when the concept of a Malt Minions Whisky School was developed, I jumped at the idea as this was just up my alley.

I am a 37 year old attorney living in Orange County (the OC for all you TV watchers out there), California where the weather is rarely is harsh, the summer lasts for 9 months of the year and beauty dominates the landscape.  I rarely get the opportunity to travel for business but recently I was asked to stand in for a client who was conducting some commercial transactions in Hong Kong.  As I had never been to Asia and Hong Kong had never even made my list of places I would desire to visit, I thought the opportunity would allow for a new perspective on a locale that I would not otherwise experience.

I must say, I was pleasantly surprised.  Hong Kong is a vibrant and bustling city of commerce. 
Having stayed in two hotels during my eight-day stay, both on the Hong Kong island, I found that a five mile stretch of road can produce profound differences even within the same general city.  Being from Los Angeles, where the City is spread out over a vast geographical area, it is rare to experience such change within walking distance.

The food in Hong Kong was absolutely marvelous and I am likely ruined on what we in America call Chinese food.  Nothing I have ever eaten here can do justice to what the Chinese people eat every day.  Being of Welsh descent and rather large by Chinese standards (6 foot, 240 pounds) I stood out everywhere I went.  I am an adventurous eater and I sought eateries that had no western patrons and a line of Chinese guests.  These are the places where you find the authentic food that best describes a people and their culture.  The sea food was spectacular and the prices were unbelievably cheap by American standards.  If ever you have the chance to be in Hong Kong, seek out the Spicy Crab or the baby conch in spicy sauce.  The Rice Pots with your choice of meat was a new experience that I know will be difficult to repeat here in the states.

The City is beautiful....... at night. 
During the day, the shiny new glass office buildings and hotels are marred by the black and dirty high-rise apartment buildings that fill in the gaps between the grandeur of the skyscraper corporate monuments to capitalism.  The streets, while not specifically garbage filled, had a dirty, dingy feel to the entire region.  Getting around is simple and also amazingly cheap.  The tram, bus, and underground metro system were fantastic.  Never did I feel out of reach to any part of the city.  In Los Angeles, the transportation system consists of your own vehicle.  Without it, your are alone and perhaps afraid.  Not so in Hong Kong.

My last evening in Hong Kong I sought the touristy experiences that most westerners partake in while visiting a foreign land. 
According to National Geographic Magazine, crossing Queen Victoria Harbor (the waterway that separates Hong Kong Island from Kowloon Peninsula [all still a part of Hong Kong City]) is one of the top 50 experiences that one should enjoy before he dies.  I made a trip by metro to Kowloon Peninsula and walked the waterway for hours to take in the view.  As the sun was setting, I arrived at the ferry terminal for a boat -ride across the harbor at night while the holiday lights adorned the sky-line across from me.  Having seen the city brighten with beautiful lights and a panoramic view that only a ferry boat can provide, I completely understand why National Geographic made the recommendation.  The experience was inspiring.

From a different vantage point, the City can be viewed from above at "The Peak" at the top of the mountain directly behind and above the city on Hong Kong Island.  I took the Peak Tram to the top of the mountain and found a lovely bar with a platform perched over the side of the cliff and an enormous glass wall where one could sit and view the beauty of Hong Kong at night while enjoying their favorite dram. 
Of course I had found what I had been looking for all week.

Hong Kong is not by any means a Scotch paradise.  Most of the bars had a blend or two to offer and usually had one or two single malts for the special desires of a customer.  Glenfiddich 12 year and Glenlivet 18 year where the most one could expect.  However, upon sitting down in "The Peak Bar" over looking the city, I was pleasantly surprised to find a selection of single malts with some older age statements.  It is not often that I enjoy spending the high prices that older drams command at drinking establishments.  I usually prefer to purchase an entire bottle of good whisky for the same amount that a dram of older whisky costs at a bar or restaurant.  In this case, the prices were so reasonable (40% of American norms) that I decided to enjoy a few.

As a Malt Minion, my most recent task has been to sample several whiskies head-to-head for comparison and to contrast the flavors and distinctive tastes.  My home bar was a fine source for the average dram and the everyday names that you can find on the Bang-for-your-Buck List.  At "The Peak Bar" I had the luxury of ordering a head-to-head sampling while perched atop Hong Kong city on an amazingly clear night with the Glenmorangie 18 and a Macallan 18 and no distractions.

I found that my head-to-head samplings at home between the Glenfiddich 12 vs. Glenmorangie 12 year Port Finish; Speyburn 10 year vs. Glenlivet 18 year; and the Aberlour A'bunadh Batch 18 vs. Balvenie 15 year Single Cask produced striking results that a relative newbie like myself could not adequately describe.  The taste differences were dramatic and the idea of the assignment was to relate the experiences.  Each of the three H2H samplings produced the same general notes and descriptions; The lesser wood finished drams (Glenfiddich, Balvenie, Speyburn) produced what I refer to as a sharper, crisper mouth feel with more of an alcohol nose.  The wood finished or aged drams were darker, deeper, sweeter flavors with a longer warmer sensation.  The A'bunadh produced a taste that for the first time, I was able to relate to a "meatier" flavor that I have read so much about from the maniacs.  The Glenmorangie had a distinct wood taste that although I have tasted it before, was definitely more pronounced when sampled immediately after the Glenfiddich.  Having recognized the value in these H2H assignments, I have taken it upon myself to enjoy my drams in twos as opposed to single pours.  I find that only an H2H can give me the relative distinctive tastes to allow for any description.  As my training progresses and my samplings widen, I am sure I will come to determine words that will describe just what my mind tells me I am experiencing.

I imagine I will find it difficult to replicate the sense of joy I experienced while conducting the H2H at The Peak Bar. 
It was a moment I will recall for the rest of my life.  The beauty of the lit city and the water reflecting the lights from the skyline buildings together with the relative calm of the corner table against the glass where I sat was all I could ask for.  The experience was simply amazing.  As to the drams, I found the Glenmorangie 18 to be quite citrus with a distinct orange/tangerine taste (I still wonder how that gets in there).  The Macallan 18 was a much deeper and darker sweetness version of the 12 year expression I have at home.  Macallan has always been a favorite of mine and I tend to prefer the wood finishes to straight oak.  I have never been a big fan of peated malts as the medicinal flavors are a turn off (reminds me of childhood injuries).  The two 18s together were clearly superior to their younger counterparts.  By superior I mean smoother with less sharpness and bite.  It has been my experience that when I sample a malt and I forget, even for the slightest moment, that alcohol is present, I have sampled what to me is a fine dram.  While Hong Kong would still not make my list of desired places to visit if given a weeks time and an open ticket, I am grateful that I have had the chance to experience such a vibrant and interesting city.  If you have the chance, take advantage as you will not be disappointed (leave the younger ones at home).

As a Minion, I clearly have much to learn as I eagerly await each and every Liquid Log and Malt Madness Entry. 
The Malt Minions Whisky school has taken a bit of a break to allow the holidays to pass smoothly and to allow the Maniacs to conclude their awards drams without undue interruption.  I can say that I await my next lesson with enthusiasm as I have learned not only what to drink, but how to drink it in my short time as a Malt Minion.  It is my sincere desire to stand with the Maniacs one day and be able to keep score with those that have such enormous experience.  Until that day arrives, I shall follow orders and do my homework as a good minion should.  After all, where else can I find that my professor requires me to have a dram or two (or sometimes more!) as my assignment.

Malt Minion Dave Wankel, USA
 

E-pistle 2008/07 - Ports of Call

Approximately ninety percent of scotch whisky is aged in bourbon casks.
Approximately ten percent is aged in sherry casks. Falling in the cracks of
the approximatelies are a variety of casks ranging from Madeira to rum, but
more than likely port. It wasn't my intention to do a survey of port aged
or finished malts, but since I have a bunch of them in my open stock, the
opportunity presented itself. The fact that I am a lefty doesn't hurt either.
 
Port aging usually adds red fruit and/or berries to the palate.
This can work with or against the underlying flavors of the malt, so the
results can be quite variable. These bottles are not generally available
any more, so the main point is going to be see what can be learned from
each particular expression.

The good

86 - Benriach 12yo 1994 Port (59.5%, Signatory Vintage)
On the left side of the top of the label, it says 'Heavily Peated', and on the
right side it says 'Port Wood Finished'. The end result is right down the
middle. The peat and the port dovetail nicely with each other. I would call
the final product moderately peated, with just enough of the fruit and
berries from the port to keep things nicely balanced.

There isn't really much of the distillery character present, but that doesn't seem to be the idea behind this dram. My wife likes it too, and she usually has little use for peated malts. Lesson learned: Creativity done properly and with restraint, can be a good thing.
(Available at www.binnys.com)

84 - Macallan 16yo 1989 Port (46%, Vintage Malt Whisky)
The color is bronze, without the telltale pink tinge usually found is a ported malt.
There isn't any port in evidence on the palate, and it doesn't taste much like a Macallan either. Obviously a refill cask, but while the port is long gone, the wood wasn't used up. This is a pretty decent generic Highland/Speyside, but it is easily worth the $50 I paid for it

Lesson learned: Whatever isn't in the cask, isn't going to make it into the whisky.
 

The 'why did they bother?'

83 - Bruichladdich 14yo 'Turnberry Links' (46%, OB 'Turnberry Links')
This Links edition has been finished in both sherry and port casks. It seemed pretty decent when I tried it at Whiskyfest 2006, so I bought a bottle. The only problem is that it was less good than the 100% refill sherry cask Augusta Links, and that was with just a tiny bit of the Augusta left in the bottle. And I liked the Augusta less than the 15 year old (first edition) which I paid the least for of the three. In fact, I like the 10 and 12 year olds better as well. The worst part was the $70 price tag, just $2 less than the spectacular Infinity, which was also bottled at cask strength. Now that Jimmy McEwen and company are deep into the Additional Cask Enhancement (ACE) program, grab any bottle of their original releases upon sight, if you liked the originals.

81 - Springbank 14yo 'Portwood Expression' (52.8%, OB 'Port Wood Expression', Bottled 2004)
This also seemed pretty good when I tried it California back in 2005. So I bought a bottle to replace the 15 year old, figuring it was a better deal, with higher ABV for the same price. Bad move. Under normal drinking conditions, as opposed to in the middle of a mass tasting event, it tastes essentially like a cherry lollipop. And this is not what I really want out of ANY malt, let alone a Springbank.

Lesson learned for both of the above: If you are distilling really great whisky, don't mess with it!!
 

And the truly ugly

78 - Glenmorangie 12yo Port Wood (43%, OB)
The GM Port Wood expression was one of those Amazing Discoveries for many novice SMS lovers.
With a pinkish tinge compared to the standard 10 year old, a few drops of water really opened up the nose, with all sorts of fragrant aromas. With experience, this little trick became tiring, and I have come to really appreciate the 10 year old over the years. This bottle belonged to a friend of mine, and was purchased duty free around the beginning of 2006. Instead of the pinking tinge, it was quite dark, close to purple. And it was way too heavily ported, it isn't worth describing whatever it tasted like. Hopefully, this was a bad batch, and the Port Wood finish has recently been replaced by the Quinta Ruban, bottled at 46% without chill filtering. But there is still plenty of the PW in the distribution channels, so stay away if the color is on the dark side.

Lesson learned: Wretched excess is, well, always wretched excess.
 

Conclusion

While the effects of port aging shouldn't be any different than sherry aging, in practice, that is not the case.
It would seem that each distillery that uses sherry aging has a target result in mind, while port is more of a gimmick. Some new and exciting expression designed to attract drinkers from the cocktail world, or something like that. So if you are attracted to a port aged malt, make an effort to try it first, or find a review from a reviewer whose ideas on this type of whisky match yours. Caveat emptor...

Louis Perlman, USA
 

 
 

E-pistle 2008/08 - Interview with Moritz Kallmeyer of Drayman's Brewery

A visit to a whisky distillery in Pretoria South Africa – and an interview with Moritz Kallmeyer of Drayman's Brewery

Drayman's beer breweryThe existence of Draymans Brewery and its owner Moritz Kallmeyer first came to my attention in
a MM g-mail from Lex sometime in 2007 advising he had been contacted by Moritz who needed
some help with a single malt whisky he was distilling in his micro brewery situated in Pretoria,
South Africa. He may even have sent a tasting sample to Lex and this was the result of a
meeting with Dave Broom at Whisky Live in Johannesburg in 2006.

Now as far as I was concerned there was only one distiller in SA and that was Three Ships
and I had already interviewed their Andy Watts so as you can imagine this info was of great
interest to me. There are not that many micro breweries here as our national brewer SA
Breweries is massive, it owns Millers in the USA amongst many other overseas breweries,
but a few do operate and are popular as they usually specialise in draught beer which SAB
does not do in a big way. Moritz specialises in Bavarian type beers as well as some English
style ones and also produces his own Solera Blend whisky and his single malt which will
probably only be released in 2010 to co-incide with the soccer world cup. (For more info
visit www.draymans.com)  Anyway, I decided I needed to see the operation so in August
I flew to Johannesburg, visited Draymans, interviewed Moritz and here is the result:

JB - You started this brewery in 1997 and then you went onto Whisky.
Now you are a Whisky drinker yourself?

MK - Yes I do enjoy quite a few whiskies.

JB - Do you have any preferences as to the style?

MK - I think the first whisky that I sipped was actually one that my cousin bought me, a bottle of Laphroaig and that was 15 years ago, so the first whisky I tasted was Laphroaig. So I didn't go into the low flavour blended whisky I immediately started with full flavoured whiskies and Scotch whiskies. That made me like the idea later on to make it myself.

JB - Yes we all have that defining moment when we taste that malt whisky and go WOW, this is something I want.
Now what made you actually decide to bring whisky into your production schedule?

MK - I think beer didn't make it on its own being on the front doorstep of one of the biggest major breweries in the world.
Being a craft brewer and brewing unique styles of beer didn't bring in enough money to survive in this business on its own and I was constantly looking at ways of changing the finances around; and one of the wine guys that actually did a brewery course with me mentioned that they distil all the old left over portions of wine that are not good quality wine but are perfect for making potstill brandy and they sell that to Distel, so I thought if wine makers can do that it made me start thinking, and I could never pick up that amongst brewers.

JB - Your barley you are getting from the George area?

MK - Yes my barley is a mixture at the moment called malted at this stage because it is already malted when I receive it. I don't have the option of malting it myself, that is a job for the maltster nowadays; I get the bulk from either Caledon or from a source that Caledon imports itself, so Caledon malt is not only locally made, they import Canadian, European, English and you can buy a combination of malt from Caledon. It is not all locally grown.

JB - Now you also talk about your peated malt, you get that from where?

MK - Yes I get that from Fawcett's. Fawcett's – a maltster in the UK – only stock light peat malt (about 12ppm phenols). But unfortunately the peat malt supply worldwide is a big problem and I can't import. Bairds is the best peated malt supplier and they supply all the Scotch distilleries with excellent and graded peat malt; if you want 10ppm, 15 or 20ppm and I want the heavy 20ppm phenol heavily smoked peated malt and they can't supply me because they have standard contracts they have to stick to.

JB - How are you solving this problem?

MK - Well I'm looking at the contacts that I've picked up now via a friend that toured Islay and Laphroaig so they might be able to help me; in the meantime I might need to add to the buying list casks of Laphroaig to convince them that they should sell me some peated malt, I think I'll do that. This lead proved fruitless in the meantime.

JB - Moritz the water that you use here you say is local water – where does it come from?

MK - Local municipality water is what we call Vaal dam water, the big catchment area at the Vaal River and the reason why one of the biggest breweries in the world chose to be in Pretoria is that the water is excellent brewing quality. It is soft to medium, not hard water and our chlorine levels are (because the water travels from the Rand Water Board which is in Jhb) to local reservoirs before we get it, the chlorine level in the water is already low once it gets to the brewery or the distillery. All I have to do is to remove the remaining chlorine and the sediment which is picked up in the lines and to do a very small softening portion of the water before I can use it and it makes excellent quality brewing and distilling water.

JB - How do you soften it?

MK - I soften by heating it up to about 90 degrees Celsius and by removing some of the carbonates overnight.
Now you can drop the carbonates out of the water by adding a small amount of phosphoric or lactic acids and then the carbonates separate and the water softens. It is an acid softening system.

JB - Now you do your own mashing by hand with a paddle; now what becomes the pot ale, what percentage of the liquid in your tank eventually ends up as useless pot ale?

MK - As pot ale? Bear in mind that there is spent lees which is the portion after the low wines have been distilled which cannot be used as anything, that goes down the drain; it is just flavourless water – the alcohol has been separated and all the flavouring or the congeners have been separated; but the first distillate that you do with the wash, bear in mind that the wash contains about 8-9% alcohol, when that is pumped into the pot, the portion that remains is very high in nitrogen, high in acids, nutrients, proteins and carbohydrates, so that is excellent cattle feed. That I pump into drums and sell as cattle feed.

JB - What percentage is that?

MK - Percentage? Well if you take a batch at say 1000 litres, then 8% of 1000 litres is pure alcohol.
The low wines average out at 40% alcohol so pot ale is the remaining 600 litres.

JB - Your still is heated indirectly?

MK - Yes with water jackets.

JB - On your website you mentioned that your whisky was reduced to 45%.
You've changed your mind now – you're not doing that anymore?

MK - I've done an experimental batch to see what the wood influence would be at 45% alcohol; other than I thought I've got enough wood influence as it is so I don't have to go into low alcohol storage of my end whisky and I've reverted back to the original Scottish practice of 68 to 72% alcohol.

JB - You also mention an interesting fact that the alcohol percentage in SA, because of the climate and height where we are, increases rather than decreases in the barrel.

MK - Yes we are in a lucky situation that I'm not losing any alcohol I'm losing water from the barrel; the level drops in the casks but that is not alcohol. In Scotland the reverse happens, the level in the cask drops but that is alcohol and there is a touch and go situation after about 25 years in the cask it drops below legal selling strength – so they release it or they have to monitor the cask quite carefully so that you filter and bottle it just in time before the alcohol drops too low.

JB - Now your barrels you get from the Cape; they are French barrels?

MK - French Oak – quercus alba which is American and quercus robur is the French Oak.
This is quercus robur and a very, very good quality oak which first has a life of a storage container for red wine.

JB - Have you ever thought of using Brandy barrels?

MK - Yes, I was trying to get hold of Limousine (brandy) barrels which is also French Oak, called Limousine barrels when they contain the brandy, but brandy and whisky have the same situation you can use the barrels for 50 years so they never get thrown out; you have to pull separate strings with friends to be able to get them.

JB - When you get your brandy barrels that's the reason for a different name on your labels.

MK - Yes that's an idea – a different finish – this guy Lex asked me what type of finishes or expressions I would be aiming at.
I'm too small at this stage to go into those delicate fancies but yes hopefully I will have a heavily peated expression somewhere in the future and also a low peated expression.

JB - When you talk about Lex do you mean Lex Kraaijeveld and how did you come across his name?

MK - Yes he was put onto me by Dave Broom at the last Whisky Festival in Johannesburg.
I was sitting drinking whisky and Dave Broom walked right up to me and my friend and offered us a whisky (can't remember the name of it at this stage) and after quite a few I then said you look familiar aren't you the guy that writes in the Whisky Magazine and he said yes and we started chatting; the next moment we started talking about my venture here and the next day I ended up giving him samples of my new make of my very young whisky at that stage; he said let's speak to Lex and I sent Lex some samples of whisky across in very sturdy packaging so they did arrive in one piece.

JB - Your storage, well it's a combination it's not actually dunnage, it's not an earth floor and it's not very high racking.

MK - I suppose I'll go 3 up because I don't have a high building, it's just convenient; if I go up 3 then I'll have more space because my place is very small and space is a real problem.

JB - They are stored horizontally and not vertically.

MK - I store Scottish practice, horizontally which might become a problem because working in Africa you might end up having someone opening the bung and helping themselves to a wee dram. I'm thinking of a method of locking it up in the horizontal position or by at least getting the bung in so good that there is no leverage to get it out.

JB - Moritz, tell me about your first release of single malt whisky.
When is it going to be and how many bottles will you be putting on the market?

MK - It's due in January 2010 to coincide with the soccer World Cup in SA and will probably be in the range of 4-6000 bottles of one expression so it won't be single cask bottlings. I initially had this vision of single cask bottlings but since my distillery is so young and I don't as yet have a defined distillery character which I can relate to I'll probably dump all the casks and then blend it together and finish it as one expression of single malt which will be Draymans Single Malt or whatever name I choose at that stage, but it won't be single cask and it won't be cask strength so it will be at 43%.

JB - Your solera process – what is the base – what whisky is your favourite there?

MK - On the solera process you've got what you call packing whiskies, you got character whiskies which comes in ever diminishing qualities so your packing whisky will be a high grain based whisky meaning whisky containing at least 80% Scottish grain whisky and 20% malt, and then diminishing into smaller quantities I especially like a 5 year old whisky which is a pure malt whisky, which is the character-giving whisky and then your final flavouring whisky which really gives it it's defining character before the wood influence becomes prominent is Laphroaig, although there are some other single malts in there as well, I probably have about 50 different whiskies in the solera process but the whisky which is most prominent from a cost prospective is Laphroaig 10 year old.

JB - Moritz a final question – have you ever thought of distilling grain whisky so that you can make your own blend – because you would then be one of the few distilleries to do both?

MK - Yes that's an interesting point because there is a guy in Ventersdorp of all place in the Western Transvaal, who distills grain mielies from maize using the same type of maize as the Americans in this instance which is the yellow maize kernel or they call it corn in America but he uses yellow low-grade mielies. He first makes malto syrup from it, he actually has an in-between step because then he can also sell it as malto syrup – it's an enzyme process thing. Whereas the grain distillers boil the whole maize kernel then release the pressure and then it pops and releases the starches. You need very expensive equipment to do that so the intermediate step or cheapest step the way he's doing it, make the syrup from it and then ferment the syrup so it's pure grain whisky. So I've been in discussion with him to get the grain portion from him and I can buy aged 3 year old grain from him but the next step would be – yes you're right I'll make some grain portions here but I need a larger store room. I need more space.

JB - Moritz thank you very much. It's been a pleasure meeting you.

Joe Barry, South Africa
 

E-pistle 2008/09 - My Most Memorable Visit to Scotland

ScotlandWell..., let me think for moment, ...
 
Oh yes, now I remember all the details :-)
(who said that while getting older memory degrades… )
It was the Year of our Lord 2004; beginning of May and we
had a Beautiful Spring Weather with lots of blue Sky & Sun.
The Planned route would led us from Glasgow over Glengoyne
to the Speyside region, up to the Highlands, to Oban, with
the Ferry from Kennacraig to Islay, from there back to the
Mainland, to Campeltown, with the Ferry to Arran and
back again to Glasgow and then back (sniff) to Vienna.

To be honest, I don't know exactly why this Trip is the most
memorable for me. Was it the fact that it was my 2nd one at
all (the first one was to Islay in Sep 2003), was it the great
Route through so many regions of Scotland, or was it the
fact that Scotland & whisky was something quite new to me?
I think that it was combination of all the above, that made
this trip so Special for me. Well, the 'why' is not important,
fact is that this trip will stay the most outstanding experience
I had in Scotland and will bear the most positive memories in
my mind, from all my trips to Scotland until now. Only my Islay
Festival 2007 Trip with Heinz and Walter, where I had a great
time together with the fellow maniacs Serge, Olivier, Thomas
and Luc (yes the Oyster Eating, yack…) can cope with it.

OK, enough sentimental bla bla, lets start the journey through "My most Memorable Visit in Scotland".
 

Day 1:
 
We started our journey from Vienna Airport, very early in the morning (brrrr, I hate that), arrived in London Heathrow where we had 2 hours between our domestic flight to Glasgow. At the Glasgow Airport we finally touched Scottish soil (Hallelujah!!), where we picked up our rental Car. Oh well, not the biggest one, it fitted exactly us 4 and our luggage, not much room for other goodies… The journey started from Glasgow Airport through the beautiful Lowlands (where I had to admit, that I took a nap…) to our first stop, at the Glengoyne Distillery.

At Glengoyne we met Antony McCollum from Chieftains, who introduced us to The Distillery Lady (who's name I'm afraid I forgot).
With The Distillery Lady and Anthony we walked through the Distillery and the warehouses, where we had a few Cask Samples (It was the first time I drunk whisky from my hands, cause we didn't had any glasses with us. The Distillery worker just poured the whisky he drawn from the Cask with a Valinch to the inner side of our hands. After that we smelled all over of EAU DE Glengoyne Sherry Cask. After that Single Cask baptism, we had a very interesting Chieftains and Glengoyne Cask Samples Tasting with Bottles Anthony brought with him, some of them very Old, it was also the first for me I tasted a Single Cask Grain the Caserbrigge 42yo 1960! (Was like good Bourbon…) That was my Breakfast, wow !!!

After that extensive breakfast (ehh.. Tasting) a quick visit to Tormore including a Fotosession, and straight to our Speyside Hotel (the Delnashaugh Hotel) for a DINNER (Fooood…) & a few further Drams and Cohibas, after the Malts of course (Good old Times...) The Hotel had a nice Bar with mostly 'Mainline' Bottlings, but I discovered there a few Old Bottlings from the Hotel owners Collection, waiting to be opened for the appropriate Price ;-) and as you can imagine we opened them,

He, he.. from Glasgow Airport to our first stop, at the Glengoyne Distillery, where we had a nice tasting with Antony MacCallum and a walk through the Distillery & warehouses. After a quick visit to Tormore including a Fotosession we went to our Speyside Hotel for a Dinner & a few Drams. The Hotel had a nice Bar with many 'Mainline' Bottlings, but i discovered there a few Old Bottlings, from the Hotel Owners Collection, waiting to be Opened for the appropriate Price ;-) and as you can quess we opened it, he, he...
The following Malts were tasted this Day:

Carsebridge 42yo 1960/2002 (41.6%, Chieftain's, C#15010, Dd:02.60/10.02, 135 Bts., Single Grain) 2002 Chft (92 points)
Glen Scotia 29yo 1975/2004 (43.3%, Dun Bheagan, Rum, C#689, 210 Bts.) 2004 DunB (50 Points)
Brora 23yo 1980/2003 (50%, Dun Bheagan, Ian McLeod, C#821, 324 Bts.) 2003 DunB (90 Points)
Glengoyne 19yo 1984/2004 (58.2%, OB, C#1464, 576 Bts., 'Winter') 2004 0B (86 Points)
Glengoyne 15yo 1989/2005 'Duncan's Choice' (55.7%, OB, C#1204, 350 Bts.) 2005 0B (90 Points)
Glengoyne 19yo 1985/2004 (52.6%, OB, C#608, 'Summer') 2004 0B (89 Points)
Glengoyne 31yo 1972/2003 (56.0%, OB, C#2970, 510 Bts.) 2003 0B (88 Points)
Glengoyne 1969 (47%, OB, Vintage Reserve, 2742 Bts.) c1996 OB (90 Points)
Glengoyne 1971 (48.5%, OB, Vintage Reserve, 2100 Bts.) c1996 OB (86 Points)
Glengoyne 26yo 1970/1996 (48.5%, OB, Vintage Reserve, 1200 Bts.) 1996 OB (88 Points)
Springbank 35yo 1969/2004 (50%, Dun Bheagan, Refill sherry, C#148, 516 Bts.) 2004 DunB (91 Points)
Caol Ila 21yo 1968/1989 (58,5%, G&M for Intertrade, 297 Bts., 75cl) 1989 G&M (92 Points)
 

GlenfiddichDay 2:

Day two started with the most beautiful rainbow I
ever saw & a great full Scottish breakfast, after that
we visited Glenfiddich and Balvenie. Never been at
Glenfiddich the distillery which made Single Malts
popular around the world. A Big Distillery… (11 wash
stills & 18 spirit stills), but beautiful. The Still Room is
very impressive, so many Stills and so hot in there.

From the beginning of my Whisky "Career" I wasn't
a big fan of Glenfiddich, till I tasted the marvellous old
(and expensive ) Single Casks. I love the (94 Points)
40yo 1960/2000 (43.6%, OB, 600 Bts.) 2000 0B.

Glenfiddich managed to keep an Industrial grade
distillery traditional and a beautiful place to sit an
relax , the clear pool water, the green grass around it
and these old almost black stone build houses around
it. Of course the good weather helped a lot with
these impressions. We stayed quite long at
Glenfiddich walking around and exploring every
closed door...

But it was time to go on further north to Huntly to visit Duncan Taylor and meet Euan Shand and Kirsty McLeod (wow, what a name, it reminds me of the Film "Highlander" with Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) and Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez (Sean Connery), I love that film. I met Euan for the first time in Austria in 2004; Euan was in Austria because he would be hosting a DTC Tasting in Steyer (Upper Austria). The day before that tasting, he joined us and attended at our monthly Club Tasting. Euan is a great Guy and a Connoisseur, he loves everything that's is good, including good Cigars (Cohibas Pyramido Limited Edition) and (not only DTC) good drams, so we had plenty about we could talk. Driving through the Highlands with the many dramatic sceneries was great; I could watch out of the window, while driving (not me of course) all day and wouldn't get enough. But Scotland is not that big, so we reached Huntly and the headquarter of Duncan Taylor.

We visited first the Shop where we check on which Bottlings we didn't knew and waited for Kirsty to join us.
Kirsty welcomed us and showed us the Bottling facilities and the tasting room in the (at this Time) newly moved into house behind the shop. The Tasting room (where all the Cask Samples are) was of course the more interesting place for me. While tasting the Cask samples Euan joined us too, the time passed very pleasantly with tasting, talking and joking (here I found out that Kirsty hates Spiders.. ;-) and the ABV in the blood of our drivers was increasing…., so it was time to drive back to our Speyside Hotel for a good Dinner, more great Drams and a few good Cuban Cigars :-)
 
Following Malts where tasted this Day :

79 Glenfiddich 21yo Havana Reserve (40%, OB, +/- 2003) c2003 0B
83 Glenfiddich 30yo (40%, OB, +/- 2000) c2000 0B
90 Benriach 34yo 1968/2003 (50.4%, DT Peerless, C#2593, Dd:11.68/01.03, 137 Bts.) 2003 DT
92 Bowmore 33yo 1969/2003 (42.5%, DT Peerless, C#6085, 238 Bts.) 2003 DT
91 Bowmore 34yo 1968/2003 (41.7%, DT Peerless, C#1426) 2003 DT
78 Bunnahabhain 36yo 1966/2002 (40.1%, DT Peerless, White port) 2002 DT
86 Bunnahabhain 36yo 1966/2003 (40.7%, DT Peerless, C#4874, 222 Bts.) 2003 DT
88 Bunnahabhain 36yo 1967/2003 (40.1%, DT Peerless, C#3327, 203 Bts.) 2003 DT
82 Bunnahabhain 36yo 1967/2003 (40.2%, DT Peerless, C#3326, 234 Bts.) 2003 DT
85 Glen Grant 32yo 1970/2003 (53.6%, DT Peerless, C#810, 98 Bts.) 2003 DT
88 Invergordon 36yo 1965/2002 (51.8%, Peerless, 1stfill bourb, C#15539, 252 Bts.) 2002 DT
 

StrathislaDay 3:

After a good Scottish breakfast, we started the day by visiting Strathisla
and Glen Keith. Strathisla, ohhh, one of my favourite Distilleries, isn't she
a Beauty? When you look at that Distillery it's like watching a Thomas
Kinkade Painting, the colourful flowers, the fat green of the grass in
combination with that marvellous old stone build Distillery, with the
waterwheel and the beautiful pagodas, makes this distillery (for me)
the most romantic one in the Speyside almost kitsch. Well, the kitsch
continued while we entered the Distillery shop and the tasting room,
with the open fireplace and the pink and purple sofas…the violet colour
shirt I was wearing at that day matched perfectly the room.
Anyway, liked it... does that mean I like kitsch? Perhaps…

A few meters apart is Glen Keith, hidden behind trees like a middle age
castle, looks a little more like an Victorian times industrial building that
has he own flair. The beauty of Glen Keith is behind the distillery where
a small river flows surrounded with trees and an old bridge. Everything
was green and the water so fresh, a place to relax and dream of good
Drams . Lovely Place a little bit like the Magic Forrest...

Time to get back to reality, so we drove to Elgin where we visited Gordon & McPhails at their Headquarter.
There we visited the botlling facilities and had an Extensive tour through the Warehouses, where we had to wear a Helmet, I case a Butt falls down from the Shelf's, on our head's....

I can assure you there are many, many good casks there, lying around or stacked in the high steel shelves, which I would love to taste :-) Seeing all that liquid Gold in these thousands of Casks, tells me that we will have plenty of good stuff to await in the future in our glasses.
Next step was Benromach, where Derek Hancock welcomed us and where we had a private Tour through the newly opened (at this Time) Distillery, after that we tasted the not yet bottled Benromach Malts in the Distillery's Shop. From Benromach to Dallas Dhu, which unfortunately was closed in 1983, but reopened as a visitor attraction in 1988 in form of a Museum. Dallas Dhu was one of the many Distilleries closed during the 1980's… It was getting dark and started to rain, but it had to be one more for the road and that was Longmorn! Well, nothing special to about the look of that distillery, quite industrial, luckily the Malts from Longmorn are much better than the Distillery looks (the most of them). Now back to the Hotel for the usual Dinner, Drams & Cigars :-)

A few of the Malts we tasted that day (or at least those I remember..  ) :

70 Strathisla 8yo (57%, G&M Licensed, early 1980's, 75cl) c1982 G&M
75 Strathisla 1972/1994 (62.1%, G&M Cask, C#7510-7512) 1994 G&M
87 Ledaig 1974/1992 (56%, OB, White Label w. Red & Black Letters, Red Paper Box) 1992 OB
94 Longmorn 14yo 1964/1978 (45.7% 80 Proof, Cadenhead's Dumpy, Black Label, Dd:10.64/10.78, 75cl) 1978 Cad
85 Longmorn 15yo 1974/1989 (46%, Signatory Dumpy, C#85/194-101, Dd:09.74/08.89, 1000 Bts.) 1989 SigV
77 Longmorn 1969/1993 (61.2%, G&M Cask, C#3721,5297) 1993 G&M
86 Macallan 1974/1999 (46%, Murray McDavid, Fresh Sherry) 1999 MMcD
90 Macallan 1980/2002 'Exceptional Single Cask' (51%, C#17937, Dd:11.80/05.02, First release, Sherry Butt) 2002 OB
80 Port Ellen 1977/1991 (59.7%, G&M Cask, C#2017, Dd:04.77/08.91) 1991 G&M
 

At GlenfarclasDay 4:

Good Morning... with a visit to Glenfarclas, where John L. S. Grant and
2 members of the Management welcomed us. Ian McWilliams at that time
quite new at Glenfarclas took us to an extensive private tour through the
Distillery and the Warehouses. I liked the Still room and mostly the shiny
Sample Spirit Safe No2. The Weather was ideal (Rainy and chilly) for a
Cask Tasting in the Warehouse and that's what we did after the Distillery
Tour, so we visited Warehouse No1. We tasted there a few younger
ones, Vintages 1989 and 1990 as a warm-up before we had an 

Rare Drams session in the Glenfarclas VIP Room, with the green
Chesterfield sofas and a wonderful Nicolas Visscher Scotland Map from
the 16th or 17th Century (I collect old Maps). After a good dramming
session we where invited to lunch at the nearby Dowans Hotel, a beautiful
old Scottish Hotel. 

After the lunch with Ian we continued to the Aberlour Distillery where I
hand filled a Bottle of each a 13yo Sherry and a Bourbon Cask, directly
from the Casks (something like the Valiches at Bruichladdich), of course
we tasted the stuff too.

We didn't stay long at Aberlour.
We had a longer schedule for this day, so we drove north trough the Highlands, through beautiful landscapes to the Ben Nevis Distillery and the remainings of the Glenlochy-Distillery. The scenery at Ben Nevis seen from the Distillery is breathtaking, seeing the in a pyramid stacked dark casks in front of the white Distillerry the trees with pink and white blossoms and behind it the mountain of Ben Nevis with its white snow top! Strange, this scenery, the absolute clean air opened my appetite for a dram of a good Ben Nevis, which we had in the Distillery.
But time was short and we had quite a journey to archive, because our last step for that Day was Oban!

We reached Oban later in the evening and checked in the Caledonian Hotel, then out to discover Oban!
Oban is a beautiful little town at the sea with a Distillery (Owned by Diageo and part of the Classic Malts) and the only town in Scotland with its own Colosseum, the McCaig's Tower, more usually and descriptively called McCaig's Folly. After waking through Oban and visiting the local Tartan and Whisky shop's, it was time for Food, so being near the sea we had a fantastic dinner with grilled scallops, that was good ! Next day we had to take the Ferry to Islay from Kennacraig early in the morning, so we went back to the Hotel earlier, where we had few nightcaps in the Hotel Bar :-)

A few of the Malts we tasted that day (or at least those I remember..  ) :

71 Glenfarclas 15yo (46%, OB, +/- 2004) c2004 0B
78 Glenfarclas 21yo (43%, OB, +/- 1999) c1999 0B
83 Glenfarclas 25yo (43%, OB, +/- 2003) c2003 0B
89 Glenfarclas 30yo (43%, OB, +/- 2004) c2004 0B
85 Glenfarclas 1969/2003 (41.1%, OB, C#2899, 215 Bts.) 2003 0B
92 Ben Nevis 19yo 1972 (58%, OB, 75cl) c1991 0B
89 Ben Nevis 19yo 1976/1995 (56.3%, OB) 1995 0B
91
Longrow 9yo 1992/2001 (57%, Cadenhead's, for Switzerland, 342 Bts.) 2001 Cad
78 Macallan 12yo 1990/2003 (57.6%, Signatory Dumpy, C#8747, Dd:05.90/03.03, 634 Bts.) 2003 SigV
84 Port Ellen 21yo 1978/2002 (50%, DL OMC, Dd:01.78/05.02, 474 Bts.) 2002 DL
90 Port Ellen 24yo 1979/2004 (56.8%, Signatory Decanter, C#6773, Dd:11.79/10.04, 541 Bts.) 2004 SigV
 

At GlenfarclasDay 5:

From Oban to Kennacraig to take the ferry to Islay. I love being on a ship, I love
the sea and the salty wind on my face, therefore the 1:45 hours long boat trip to
Islay is always one of the highlights of each visit to Scotland and Islay. To sail to
Islay, feel like a Viking and not to open a Special Bottling to taste, no,no,no, that
would be like a "Soup without Salt" ;-) so we opened a Bottle of a Brora 26yo
1976/2003 (54.9%, DL Platinum, 288 Bts., Japan) 2003 DL (Rated it 93 Points).
Heaven, the sea breeze, the quite medicinal sherryed Brora and the Cigar
afterwards, for this single moment I was Satisfied :-) The time at the ferry was so
relaxing, watching the seagulls fly with the ship and the waves is like meditation
for me. After arriving at Port Askaig on Islay we visited Caol Ila with the dramatic
view on the Paps of Jura and draw directly to the Bridgeend-Hotel to unpack our
luggage and to visit Bowmore afterwards. Did I tell you that I love Islay, no?
Well I think you can imagine that .

Walking on the central road in Bowmore, reaching the harbour and taking a look
back up to the round Church of Bowmore (it's rounded, so the Devil doesn't have
nowhere to hide) you see the picture that is on almost all Postcards of Bowmore.

We took a long walk through Bowmore and a few Pub's and settled finally at the Lochside Hotel, where we had a Heavy dramming session, tasting many old drams (35 Pounds for 2cl Laphroaig 40yo, that was cheap!....) I was such a wonderful experience, sitting at the Lochside Hotel outside, tasting all that great malts, having fun and watching the Sun go down with the Orange light over Bowmore and the Bowmore Distillery. Life is Beautiful! And thank God I have the possibility to enjoy these sceneries...  The Sun was gone and we got hungry, so we reserved a table in the Harbour Inn Hotel, where we had a wonderful Dinner. But the day was not over, back at the hotel we tasted the whole range of old screen printed Bowmores and had our obligatory Cigars.

Following Malts where this Day tasted:

93 Brora 26yo 1976/2003 (54.9%, DL Platinum, 288 Bts., Japan) 2003 DL
90 Longmorn 30yo 1973/2003 (55.8%, G&M Cask, Dd:04.73/05.03, C#3240) 2003 G&M
81 Macallan 1974/1996 (46%, Murray McDavid, fresh sherry) 1996 MMcD
82 Port Ellen 23yo 1975/1998 (43%, Hart Bros) 1998 HB
94 Port Ellen 25yo 1976/2001 (50%, DL OMC, Dd:03.76/04.01, 522 Bts.) 2001 DL
75 Bruichladdich 1965/1991 (53.5%, G&M Cask Strength, C#5525/5530/5531, Dd:12.65/09.91) 1991 G&M
65 Bruichladdich 31yo 1969/2000 (52.5%, G&M Cask Strength, C#2973-2977-2979, Dd:07.69/07.00) 2000 G&M
79 Bunnahabhain 22yo 1980/2002 (55.6%, Berry Bros & Rudd, C#9064) 2002 BBR
92 Laphroaig 30yo (43%, OB, +/- 2000) c2000 0B
88 Laphroaig 40yo (42.4%, OB, +/- 2001) 2001 0B
95 Ardbeg 18yo 1974/1992 (57.7%, Cadenhead's, 150th Anniversary) 1992 Cad
94 Ardbeg 1976/2002 (53.5%, OB, for Italy, C#2396, Sherry Butt, Dd:11.76/02.02, 492 Bts.) 2002 OB
91 Ardbeg 15yo 1975/1990 (46.0%, Cadenhead's) 1990 Cad
91 Ardbeg 1978/2000 (56.9%, G&M Spirit of Scotland, C#1999 & 2000) 2000 G&M
92 Ardbeg 1990/2001 (48%, G&M Spirit of Scotland, C#2765) 2001 G&M
83 Ardbeg 23yo 1974/1997 (50.9%, Signatory, C#1045, Dd:03.74/09.97, 180 Bts.) 1997 SigV
96 Ardbeg 27yo 1972/2000 (50%, DL OMC, Dd:11.72/07.00, 144 Bts., 75cl, USA) 2000 DL
63 Bowmore NAS 'Darkest' (43%, OB, +/-2001) c2001 0B
82 Bowmore NAS 'Dawn' (51.5%, OB, Port finish, +/-2002) c2002 0B
82
Bowmore NAS 'Voyage' (56.0%, OB, +/-2002) c2002 0B
85
Bowmore 15yo 'Mariner' (43%, OB, +/-2000) c2000
66
Bowmore NAS 'Cask Strength' (56%, OB, +/-2000) c2000 0B
 

Day 6:

Port Ellen……. My long awaited visit to Kildalton and Ardbeg :-)
The Kildaltog Cross is another Highlight of each Islay visit for me, the Place is so full of Energy & so peaceful. Being full of Spiritual Energy we continued to Ardbeg where we tasted some Barley Energy :-), then some energy from Lagavulin & Laphroaig. At the end of the day I couldn't sleep with so much Energy :-)

Following Malts where this Day tasted :

Port Ellen 1980/1995 (64.7%, G&M Cask, C#5088-5089 & 5091-5093, Dd:11.80/02.95, 35cl) 1995 G&M (82 Points)
Ardbeg 21yo 'Committee' (56.3%, OB, 2500 Bts., 2001) 2001 0B 92 (Points)
Ardbeg 1977 (46%, OB, 2002) 2002 0B (90 Points)
Ardbeg 1980/2004 'Kildalton' (57.6%, OB) 2004 0B (84 Points)
Ardbeg 25yo 'Lord of the Isles' (46%, OB, 2001) c2001 0B (92 Points)
Laphroaig NAS 'Quarter Cask' (48%, OB, 2004) 2004 0B (89 Points)
Laphroaig 10yo (43%, OB, +/- 1980, 'Unblended') c1980 0B (92 Points)
Laphroaig 10yo Cask Strength (57.3%, OB, Green stripe) c2000 0B (89 points)
Laphroaig 1976 'Vintage' (43%, OB) c2000 0B (90 Points)
Lagavulin 12yo 1988/2000 (56.2%, Hart Brothers) 2000 HB (91 points)
Lagavulin 25yo (57.2%, OB, Bottled 2003, 9000 Bts.) 2003 OB (84 Points)
Bunnahabhain 12yo (40%, OB, +/- 2004) 2004 0B (75 Points)
Bunnahabhain 34yo 1968/2002 'Auld Acquaintance' (43.8%, OB) 2002 0B (90 Points)
Laphroaig 15yo 1988/2003 (55.6%, Signatory SftC, C#3599, 890 Bts.) 2003 SigV (88 Points)
Pulteney 34yo 1967/2002 (54.9%, DL Platinum, 259 Bts.) 2002 DL (81 Points)
 

Day 7:

Visit to Bruichladdich where I filled the obligatory Valinch, then to Loch Indaal and the remainings of the Loch Indaal-Distillery. Next we took the Ferry to Jura where we met Mickey Heads (now Manager at Ardbeg), taking a long excursion at the Jura Warehouses, tasting the Islay festival Bottling 2004 and the 1965 Special Bottling among many others. Back to Islay to Bunnahabhain where we had a very friendly welcoming from John McClellan and a few Drams, then to Finlagan and the "Lord of the Isles" and to Walter Shoberts Micro Brewery. Then at the Pottery and straight to the Bar at the Bridgeend-Hotel :-)

Following Malts where this Day tasted :

Bruichladdich 1990/2003 'Valinch Flora McBabe' (55.2%, OB, C#3666, Dd:09.90/12.03, 700 Bts.) 2003 OB (82 Points)
Isle of Jura NAS 'Superstition' (45%, OB, +/- 2003) c2003 OB (84 points)
Isle of Jura 5yo 1999/XXXX (59.9%, OB, C#21, Peated) c2004 0B (89 Points)
Isle of Jura 19yo 1984 'George Orwell' (42%, OB) c2003 OB (82 points)
Isle of Jura 21yo (40%, OB, +/- 2000) c2000 0B (80 Points)
Isle of Jura 16yo (40%, OB, +/- 2003) c2003 OB (82 points)
Isle of Jura 30yo 1973 (55%, OB, C#3155, 466 Bts.) c2003 0B (89 Points)
Isle of Jura 36yo  (44%, OB, C#590, 449 Bts., 2001) 2001 0B (90 Points)
Bowmore 15yo 'Mariner' (43%, OB, +/- 2000) c2000 0B (85 Points)
Bowmore NAS 'Darkest' (43%, OB, +/- 2001) c2001 0B (63 Points)
Bowmore NAS 'Claret' (56%, OB, 12000 Bts.) c2002 0B (83 Points)
Bowmore NAS 'Dawn' (51.5%, OB, Port finish, +/- 2002) c2002 0B (82 Points)
Bowmore NAS 'Dusk' (50%, OB, +/- 2002) c2002 0B (82 Points)
Bowmore NAS 'Legend' (40%, OB, +/- 2004) c2004 0B (79 points)
Bowmore NAS 'Surf' (40%, OB, +/- 2004) c2004 0B (75 Points)
Bowmore NAS 'Voyage' (56.0%, OB, +/- 2002) c2002 0B (82 Points)
 

Those were the reports of seven days in Scotland and the trip continued for a few more days.
The Complete Picture Album of the Described Scotland Trip can be found on my Homepage www.grsnet.net, under the following Link:
http://www.grsnet.net/trips-events/mario-2004/index.htm (ca. 500 Pictures)

Cheers,

Konstantin Grigoriadis, Greece
 
 
 

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