Subject: Greetings & Favourite Malts
Date:  Monday, 19 January 1998

Hello,

Love your page (and agree with more of your ratings than those of Michael Jackson).
I am a serious maltster living in Adelaide South Australia.  I belong to two Malt Clubs here which meet every third and fourth Wednesday of each month. My favourite commercial Speysides are Tamdhu 15, Glenfarclas 21, Macallan 18, Tormore 10 and Glen Elgin 12, but my FAVOURITE MALTS are Caol Ila 17, Port Ellen 16, Bowmore 17, Lagavulin 16, Laphroaig 15, Talisker 10 and Ledaig (when I can find any).  I also like Bruichladdich 15 and Bunnahabhain 12 a lot. I think the latter is actually a better balanced malt than the Highland Park, although most would damn this heresy.
Here's some stuff from my Club and my own personal records.

Regards

Craig Daniels - Treasurer, Earls of Zetland Malt Tasting Club

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Subject: Comments Michael Jackson
Date:  Friday, 23 January 1998

Greetings,

Here's a list of Michael Jackson's overrated / underrated malts scores as I see them.

MICHAEL JACKSON - OVERRATED MALTS SCORES

Malt                     MJ's       CD's

Aberlour 10               83         78
Bladnoch 8                85         68
Blair Athol 8             75         65
Cragganmore 12            90         76
Edradour 10               81         68
Glenfiddich               75         63
Glenlivet 12              85         70
Highland Park 12          90         79
Linkwood 12               82         71
Littlemill 8              83         70
Macallan 12               91         84

MICHAEL JACKSON - UNDERRATED MALTS SCORES

Malt                     MJ's       CD's

Benrinnes 15              79         85
Bruichladdich 15          78         85
Bunnahabhain 12           77         82
Glendronach 12            77         83
Glen Elgin 12             76         82
Glenkinchie 10            76         79
Glen Mhor 8               64         78
Glenmorangie 18           80         86
Tamdhu 15                 76         85
Tormore 10                76         80

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Subject:  David Grant / 26 June 1996
Date:  Thursday, 12 February 1998

I just thought I might record the bits and pieces that I gleaned from the night some of us spent with David Grant of Glenfiddich and Balvenie fame. Maybe it was the occasion, or the august company but the Glenfiddich was better than I remember it.  Not by much mind you, but better none the less.  The yeasty notes were not so forward and the main impression was of mown hay and a fresh perfume.  It is still characteristically soapy after 30+ minutes in the glass.

The Glenfiddich is a vatting of spirit from 8 year old plain wood (1st fill bourbon barrels), 12 year old plain wood (1st fill bourbon barrels) and 8 year old oloroso wood (1st fill sherry barrels).  These components are not available individually and were only provided for instructional purposes.  The exact amount of 12 year old and even older spirit was not revealed, but a couple of interesting things did crop up:
(1)  The exact amount of 8 yo sherry in Glenfiddich is 8%, & 10 yo sherry in Balvenie Founder's Reserve is 9%.  This doesn't sound like much of a difference but as Mr Grant pointed out it does represent an increase of over 10% in the sherry treatment &
(2)  The malt used to make both Glenfiddich & Balvenie is identical including the amount of peat.  We didn't manage to find out to what extent the malt is peated, but if Highland Park (at 8ppm/phenol) is any guide it must be 6ppm/phenol or less.

One comment that Mr Grant made that was interesting was that, without mentioning the distillery by name, but obviously referring to The Macallan (they don't mention the competition directly), was that while the Macallan is matured exclusively in sherry wood it is not all put into 1st fill sherry wood. Judging by the Glenfiddich 8 yo sherry that we tasted this has to be true as 12 years in this type of sherry wood would completely hide the malt and the spirit.  The Glenfiddich 8 sherry is dominated by sulphur (as in dried apricots) cordite/gunpowder and is like an even more emphatic and unbalanced version of Glendronach Sherry.

Another interesting comment to emerge was that the Balvenie Double Wood (12 year old) is designed to replace the Balvenie Classic.  The differences between the Double Wood and the Founder's Reserve are greater than just the extra two years in wood.  The 10 yo is a vatting of same aged spirits from different woods (91% bourbon wood matured and 9% sherry wood matured).  The Double Wood is treated differently.  If I understood the story, all of the Double Wood spends a minimum of the first ten years in bourbon wood, then all of it spends the next 3 to 4 months in "new" sherry barrels then the whole lot gets put back into bourbon barrels to settle down and marry prior to bottling.  This sounds like a lot of bother but if you can get a similar effect to the Classic without having to have the stuff in bond for the extra six years it makes a lot of economic sense: less capital tied up and you can sell it cheaper.

Bottling younger spirit is not new for William Grant & Sons as the Glenfiddich used to be bottled as at least an 11 yo with the age on the label (although I'm not 100% sure of my facts here).  Whether or not the older version of Glenfiddich was better than the new, younger model is a barren argument but very few serious maltsters would today say they prefer Glenfiddich to Balvenie, which was the opinion of Professor McDowall when Glenfiddich was a 11 year old in the late 1960's.

The Double Wood is nice and at around $65 to $70 retail it is a more economic proposition than the Classic (which used to sell for between $90 & $110 depending on who had any left).  Of interest as well was the information that the malt that ends up being sold as the Single Wood is chosen from the very best of the 10 year old bourbon barrels and given an extra 5 years in the same cask: hence the name and the exclusively bourbon treatment shows in both the colour and the nose.

As an aside, nosing a big sherry treatment like the Glenfiddich 8yo sherry was very instructive as their are definite smoky notes as in cooked/burnt smells (dried apricots/chutney etc) rather than the burning leaves/garden bonfires that comes from lots of peat a la Laphroaig or Talisker.  This helps explain the mystery of a malt like Glengoyne, which while the barley is unpeated, the spirit has a significant sherry treatment.  According to the books I have read, roughly a third of Glengoyne is matured in sherry wood.  I think this explains why people including experts (as in Winestate Magazine) get some peatiness out of Glengoyne.  The smokiness of most Scotch comes from both peat and sherrywood.  (I think this is a useful thing to know come the malt tasting competition as it should help sort out the likes of Glenkinchie, Glengoyne and Tullibardine.)

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prE-pistle #1 - EoZ 1997 Annual Roundup
Date:  Fri, 13 Feb 1998

Hi Johannes,

Here's the roundup of the Earls of Zetland tastings in 1997;

January 29th 1997 "Laird's Choice"  -  Report Card

Glen Mhor 8 - For most present, the pick of the night.  A quality, smooth malt which develops a nice woody complexity.  The nose is fruity, with some sherry and the distinctive dry mintiness of good oak.  The palate is fruity and creamy and the finish is surprisingly long and smooth.  David LeCornu made the interesting and intriguing observation that it tastes too good to be made of only 8 year old malt and it probably has some older material in it.  This is a possibility because after David Grant's visit last year we know that Glenfiddich has some 12 year old plain wood matured malt in its composition.  Whatever the contrivance, a very classy result. Score 7.9

Old Pulteney 8 -  This was definitely lighter than the "old" bottling, with lots of candied citrus peel dominating both nose and palate.  The orange & lemons tended to become more citronella like with a thinning palate.  The palate and finish fell away slightly.  Considering its youth, an interesting and likeable malt.  Better suited as an aperitif than its darker & bigger predecessor.  Score 7.6

Isle of Jura 10 -  Lots of honey, toffee and biscuits in the nose at first.  Caramel becomes stronger and the palate develops more earthy fudge characters.  Seemed to hold together OK but did not excite many of those assembled.  Overall, a middle ranking highland.  Score 7.4

The Blind - Bunnahabhain 12 - Selected by Bob Perry and guessed right by a few, including his Dad and me.  There was a little sherry initially with a distinct & pleasant whiff of brine.  The colour and the hint of the seaside helped narrow it down to about three possibilities and the fact that it held together with an increasingly toffee nose suggested Bunnahabhain rather than the Oban 14, which is a bit lighter, more variable over time and not quite as salty.  Most people ranked this one either first or second on the night, which is a pretty fair assessment of its claims in the company.  A lovely, well balanced malt, despite the fact that its flavour profile suggests a coastal highland rather than exhibiting classic Islay traits.  Score 8.2

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February 26th 1997 - "Old Versus New"  -  Report Card

Balvenie 10 (New Version) - Quite spiritty with a bit of citrus early on, develops some nice toffee and a clean maltiness. Smooth palate with quite a soft, fading finish.  Pleasant, undemanding and hangs together pretty well.  An adequate quaffer.  Score 7.9

Balvenie 10 (Old Version) - Again, quite spiritty to start, with more honey than citrus.  Citrus notes became stronger over time and this one showed a bit more complexity  with good wood coming through after a while.  Palate thinned out after a long time.  Score 8.3

Aberlour 10 (Old Version) - Most of us have had a more or less intimate acquaintance with the 10 year old Aberlour over the last 6 to 7 years and I don't recall any of them tasting like this one.  The most distinctive aroma was a faint "shitty wood" note : a less than gallant simile was "like someone farted through Adelaide water" and some dried apricot sulphur and sour fruit in the nose accompanied by a bit of yeastiness and an appreciable peat treatment.  Quite a complex malt with sherry and old wood, but not like any recent bottlings.  This one, although inferior, had more in common with the Aberlour 12 (which had to have been in the bottle for at least nine years) that we had last year with some broad similarities to Glenfarclas and Glendronach.  I dont think any of us would have guessed it as a commercial release Aberlour if it was the blind at a normal club night. Score 7.2

Aberlour 10 (New Version) - A mainstream malt particularly after the older "sport".  Sweet & fruity nose, sweet clean palate although not as sweet as either of the Balvenies.  Over time there is a hint of mint and some sour fruit develops in the tail.  No warm bread which used to be the give-away trait of Aberlour.  A good, well balanced quaffing malt.  Score 7.8

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March 26th 1997 "Old Favourites" (Mull & Campbeltown)  -  Report Card

Tobermory - A very pleasant surprise, being markedly more attractive than I remember it.  I now know why it was a club favourite back in the mid-80's.  The style of  the whisky in the glass reminded me most of a youngish Bowmore with very good fruity wood.  There were hints of citrus and candied peel, a bit of spirit and tropical fruit punch.  Peat is there but quite shy and takes a long time to emerge.  The flavour profile lies somewhere between Bowmore and Isle of Jura and I think a "Fruity Island" night is in order to test the thesis. Score 7.8

Ledaig 1974 18 -  While the rare releases of Ledaig are eagerly awaited, this one lacked the peaty punch of the Gordon & Macphail 11 year old and the smoothness that 18 years in wood should produce.  It had a dry fruity nose, with some chewy wood.  The palate was initially quite dry and the characteristic dry smoke was there with a peppery catch in the back palate.  The spirit prickle increased over time and there was a bit of bite in the palate and finish.  A firm dry whisky with a few too many rough edges to justify the price.  Score 7.6

Springbank 21 - Well, well, well.  What can one say?  The first sniff was bliss and the malt didn't look back.  I only score good whiskies at 8.5 or better and this one made the grade.  To start the nose had the lovely lifted minty notes of great wood.  This particular 21 had more sherry accents than the one we tasted last year, yet the creamy coconut still shone through.  Gradually the sherry dries out in the nose but never quite develops the chutney & dried apricots of Speyside sherries like Glenfarclas & Tamdhu 15.  The other thing that impressed most assembled was the length of the finish.  Amazingly long and up there with the great Islays like Bowmore 17.  Encore!  Score 8.6

The Blind - Selected by Tom Perry and guessed right by Geoff Jarrett, who used the impeccable logic that if it tastes like the Tamdhu 10 he's got at home then it probably is the Tamdhu 10. This is one of the pre-European Union bottlings which means that it has been in the bottle since 1991 at least and is not the current release.  This is a shame because based on a lot of responses around the table a few shopping expeditions are in order.  Very nice toffee nose with some citrus.  Lovely sweet palate with some sour fruit and bitter marmalade.  I narrowed it down to four (including the Tamdhu), was pretty sure it wasn't the Highland Park (not enough peat) or the Oban (not enough salt), settled on the Dalmore 12 and was wrong.  In the words of Joseph Furphy & Ned Kelly "Such is Life."  Score 7.9

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April 23rd 1997 -  Finos of the Malt World  -  Report Card

Aultmore 12 - This was an interesting malt, yet unlikely to become a club favourite.  Many dismissed it as thin and watery, but I found a lively lemon and green apple note in the nose which developed into something that another taster described as apple cider.  The palate was indeed a bit thin and the finish had a touch of orange blossom, cream & citronella.  Quite nice but a bit light.  Score 7.6

Glendronach 12 "Original" - Sometimes I agree with Michael Jackson's tasting notes, but this is not one of those occasions.  This malt turned out to be a lot more sherried than the literature would have us believe.  Forward sherry initially, which became less obvious as the creamy vanilla of bourbon oak developed in the background.  The palate was quite firm and there was some grip.  Overall, quite a classy malt with excellent balance.  I, for one think it a shame that this malt has been consigned to the dustbin of history.  Score 7.8

Glengoyne 17 - A nice whisky.  Starts with a lively mint nose.  This develops more fruit character and the fruitiness grows over time.  The fruity character continues through the palate and finish.  Smooth with very good wood and a drying finish.  Score 8.3

The Blind - Selected by Geoff & guessed right by Steve Graham and Tom Perry.  It was the Glenfarclas 10.  I don't know if the club has tried it before but I have had it on four or five occasions in the past and the thing I remember most, ironically, was that it didn't seem to have any identifying individuality and lacked the sherry of other older Glenfarclas.  After 30" I had narrowed the choice down to the Benriach and the Glenfarclas and gone the wrong way (again!!!)  Lots of caramel early on with typical Speyside sweetness and a faint creamy taste.  Overtime the nose shifted around a little too much and became a little unbalanced, suggesting youth.  Not great but not bad either.  Score 7.5

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May 28th 1997 - "Ne'er Trod Roads" (New Speysides)  -  Report Card

Tormore-Glenlivet 5 -  Light & slightly floral, bit of smoke up front and a wee touch of peat in the front palate.  Sweetish throughout and a bit rough around the edges.  There is a curious oily/estery effect with a hint of perfume and something anisettish in the finish.  Middle of the road malt, shows its youth.  OK for a five year old but I wouldn't go out of my way to try it again.  Score 7.0

Glen Keith 1983 - I have tried this malt about 6 times in the last year, (twice as a blind) and my initial impression hasn't changed.  Occasionally quite spiritty, always lots of yeasty notes, with "scone dough" there in spades.  Develops a big toffee & fairyfloss sweetness, gets quite syrupy.  On the plus side it does have a good mouthfeel.  Too sweet for my taste.  Score 6.6

Mannochmore 10 - Very unusual nose early on.  Sweet & sour notes with salt & vinegar & gravy?  There was a impression of scorched nuts and something like burnt honeycomb which indicated some sherry wood but not particularly high quality.  Seems to hang together pretty well.  The weirdness subsides and the medium sweet palate is quite smooth.  Certainly has character., but the consensus on the night was that it had to be an independent offering as it was too left field for a commercial release.  Intriguing if a little bizarre.  Score 7.4

The Blind - Not being absolutely sure what was arranged for the blind, I decided to play safe and take one along just in case.  Being tricky to the point of duplicity, you can bet I was going to make it tough.  As the list included 6 Islays and two peaty islands, I was gratified that all but two people thought that it was an Islay as it confirms my belief that the Earls actually know something about malts.  Those that are aware that I have a particular fondness for Bowmore 17 & Caol Ila 17 may have been influenced but only Bob Perry guessed it was the Port Ellen 16, even though he thought there wasn't any left.  And the whisky? - in a word - beautiful.  And I have another two bottles at home! Lucky me.  Score 8.5

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June 25th 1997 -  "Treasures from the Vault" -  Report Card

Balblair 10 - I think the general consensus was that this was a nice malt.  Plenty of aromatics in the nose with a bit of estery paint thinners to start which became a nice creamy (almost herby)  perfume after a while.  The palate had a touch of fruit & nuts, virtually no peat & a bit of cinnamon, nutmeg type spice and a little sherry in the background.  Reminded me most of cognac.  Hung together very well for a 10 year old.  I think G&M still bottle it so we might have to hassle David to get some newer examples in for us.  Score 8.0

Glencraig 16 - An approachable malt, considering none of us had any idea what it would be like.  The nose was quite subdued & light considering its age.  Started with straw and something like musty wood.  It seemed to have some curious flat spots in both the nose and palate which got appreciably thinner and a bit watery but didn't turn nasty at any stage.  Not great, but worthwhile for the curiosity value.  Score 7.5

Talisker 12 - Hooly-dooly, a big mutha.  Pretty typical Talisker with a bigger punch than the 10 year old.  The smokey bacon and almonds much more forward than in the ten year old.  Was drier, smoother and rounder than I remembered.  Yum! Yum!  Score 8.6

The Blind -  It was the Glenordie 12 which has been reincarnated as United Distillers' new price point malt Glen Ord which represents the best value Highland around.  John O'Flaherty was the first to get it right (and wasn't he chuffed?)  This particular bottle has so much dust on the top of the box that it must have been sitting on the bottle shop shelf for at least a decade.  A deep, complex nose with lots of rich toffee, some dark burnt notes and a bit of salt.  I thought the best description was "solid".  Those who thought it might be the Inchgower 12 or Glenury-Royal 12 got close.  Those who picked the others need more practice.  Score 7.8

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July 23rd 1997 - OP Night  -  Report Card

Springbank 12 (57% ABV) - Hoo-ee!  The nose really takes your breath away.  Very forward and spiritty.  Digging past the spirit, there is lots of sherrywood with some attractive menthol, eucalyptus and alpine forest scents early on.  Hangs together pretty well although it becomes sourer and more earthy after 30 minutes.  David likened it to an out of tune V8: lots of grunt, no particular finesse.  Score 8.0

Clynelish 12 (57% ABV) - Very subdued nose compared to the Springbank.  Some musty hay/ straw early on and a fair bit drier than my recollection or my competition notes suggested, but the quality wood shows through.  Very good balance between the spirit, the salt and the peat.  Bit flat in the company, lacking a bit of zing, yet pretty classy for an overproof.  Score 7.9

Macallan-Glenlivet 19 - (56.1% ABV) - Again a fairly nondescript nose early (the Springbank overpowered all but the blind).  There was quite a bit of sherry in the palate and it eventually began to emerge in the nose.  I expected it to be more emphatic, so I was a tad disappointed.  Got some attractive nuts and beeswax.  Other company would probably show it to better advantage.  Score 8.3

The Blind -  John O'Flaherty had a lot of fun going through the Earl's list of Overproofs and chose the Glenfarclas 105.  Yours truly was one of the few who got it right.  One of the few commercially released and marketed overproofs, it has deservedly developed a bit of a cult following, yet funnily enough it doesn't show its true colours in a Glenfarclas vertical, mainly because the older standard strengths are quite sherried: the youth of the 105 means that the sherry treatment is less pronounced.  The nose starts off with lots of toffee, develops some honey notes which evolve into golden syrup and demerara sugar, even butterscotch.  For me this is the dead give away.  If it is medium amber, sweet & spiritty and shows rum butterscotch toffee then it's the 105.  Score 8.2

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August 27th 1997 - Four Blinds - Competition Malts -  Report Card

Royal Brackla 10 - Very light colour, pale yellow/white wine.  Lots of hay/straw, not too sweet.  Bit of spirit in palate.  Not too bad, bit smoother than the Linkwood, but somewhat non-descript.  Not dissimilar to Glen Moray or Glengoyne.  Score 6.6

Linkwood 12 - Light colour.  Pale gold.  Light nose with lots of perfume.  The volatile esters & eau de cologne really obvious to me, light palate - not much guts.  Okay but I'd much rather drink Knockando or Glenmorangie. Score 7.0

Bunnahabhain 12 - Medium amber brown.  Nice toffee notes & touch of salt.  The salty toffee was really obvious for me and quality sherrywood was revealed in growing depth of honey & toffee.  Very nice malt indeed.  Score 8.0

Highland Park 12 - Medium amber gold.  Sweet, well balanced with some obvious peat.  Long clean finish, with lingering peaty tail.  Didn't appear to have the citrus as much as my notes suggested.  This time I got ginger (a first).  Easy drinking.  Score 7.8

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September 24th 1997 - Smok'n - Seaweed & Peat Monsters  -  Report Card

Signatory Caol Ila 21 -  Lightish golden colour, no sherry evident there or in the nose.  Nice dry nose - lot drier than any of the others.  Not hugely peaty early on but something like smoked bacon & liniment.  Definite spirit prickle and I detected the tobacco leaf that I identified the only other time I tasted this one.  Smokiness more obvious in palate & finish.  Some dry wood, pretty clean, long smoky & very dry tail.  Still reminds me of Ledaig.  Interesting and pretty good value at around $73.  John O'Flaherty loved it.  Score 8.0

Laphroaig 15 - Medium/Dark amber - colour of OP rum.  It pains me to admit it but even marketers occasionally get it right.  Don't know about the holy grail of Islay malts but pretty damn impressive anyway and I can see what the fuss is all about.  Lovely, well balanced malt, initially very smoky with a faint hint of pastel bon-bons or at least something slightly floral (like Jen Kirkwood's Japanese paint stick).  Lovely rich, smooth palate. Excellent mouthfeel, almost unctuous.  Obviously the extra time in wood has smoothed the rougher edges and tamed the wilder peaty excesses evident in the 10yo.  Very worthy competition for the Lagavulin, but the price premium may scare away the more parsimonious among us.  Nice for a special occasion but!  Score 8.9

Lagavulin 16 - It has all been said before.  Didn't lose any fans despite the quality of the opposition.  Lots of tar, seaweed and leather up front.  After about 30 minutes the nose reveals something like irish moss cough lollies and dry herby/floral notes (lantana?).  Generous malt with lots of flavour, great depth and layers of complexity.  It also has a very good sherry treatment & great balance.  Very long classy finish with characteristic garden bonfires lingering in the tail.  Not quite as smooth as the Laphroaig, bit more idiosyncratic.  Score 8.8

Blind - Talisker 12 -  Tom Perry was supposed to bring the blind, but told Bob he wasn't intending to turn up, so Bob did the honours, however Tom was enticed by the promise of the Laphroaig.  Only Allan May got it exactly correct, but I claim a minor moral victory in that I thought it was most likely a Talisker but not the 10 yo and I didn't think that anyone could track down another bottle of the 12 yo.  Given the almost mythical status of the competition on the night, this particular malt performed exceptionally well.  Smoke & sherry early on - nice toffee in rich, smooth palate with strong suggestion of smoked almonds - palate quite sweet and a bit peppery (trademark Talisker).  While the Talisker 10 can become a bit cloying after 30-50", this one didn't which suggested an older malt.  Very nice and the smoked almonds really hung around.  I promise to include one of my Talisker 12s on next years programme.  Score 8.5

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October 22nd 1997 - "Ah! Sherrywood" Back to Basics - Report Card

Strathisla 12 -  A tad disappointing in the company.  Lacked any of the BIG characteristics of the others, so seemed a bit bland.  Pleasant nose with malt and some sherry.  Bit of salty toffee and a hint of sour wood on the palate.  Quite acceptable but not as clean as I remember.  I think it would fare better amongst the likes of Glen Keith, Glenlivet and Balvenie.  OK  Score 7.4

Glendronach "Traditional" 12 -  Very spiritty to start, but settles down to become quite classy.  Solid sherry in the nose with  discernible dried fruit in the palate and a bit of Christmas pudding & chocolate after a long while.  Good complexity.  Score 7.8

Macallan 18 (1977) - Like all the previous vintages this one was ultra-smooth.  A lovely enticing nose with honey and beeswax.  Nice and clean with lots of lifted minty notes and  a suggestion of honey ice cream in the palate.  Gets more appealing with each sniff and each sip.  Very moreish.  Stacks up well against last month's fabulous quartet.  Score 8.6.

Blind - Glendronach "Traditional" 12  - Allan May has well and truly cemented his place in the blind bringer's Hall of Fame or maybe it should be Hall of Shame!  He insists it was a mistake, nevertheless he managed to fool everybody with the exception of Bernie Glover.  Well done Bernie!  Your turn to bring the blind to the first meeting next year.  I must admit in my own defence that I couldn't detect a lot of difference between number two and the blind, but figured this was because I was a bit tired & emotional and the palate was anaesthetised.  Thought it might be the Macallan 12 and although mistaken had plenty of company.   I suppose this is a backhanded verification of my contention that the Mac 12 and the Glendronach aren't a long way apart.  Score 7.9

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Subject:  Prized Malts
Date:  Monday, 16 February 1998

Clan Drummond - "Adventures in Single Malt Whiskies" - Prized Malts

SINGLE MALT   Year   Bottled   QTY   SIZE(ml)

Bowmore        17     1994      1     700
So its a commercial bottling, but only very special guests with good palates get to sample.
Caol Ila       17     1996?     1     700
A recent addition to my top ten. Incredibly lively for its age. Lovely restrained Islay traits. Mahler rather than Wagner. Special. Only hope I can track down some more.
Dallas Dhu     15     1984      3     750
Very rare - very delicious. Luscious, rich and fruity, mildly peated -excellent balance and finish.
Glen Albyn     20     1983      1     750
Most would consider this a " sport" - over-the-top bourbon oak wood.  Like an aged bourbon only much smoother.
Glenfarclas    23     1985      1     750
Simply superb.  Best 'farclas I've ever tasted.
Glengrant RW  1960    1986      2     750
A vatted malt, but the best Glen Grant I've tasted.
Glenrothes      8       ?       4     750
Not too many 8yo score over 8.0 points. This is one.
Ledaig 11      1972   1983      1     750
One of my bargain hunting finds of 1992. A delight. Drier than Talisker, sweeter than Longrow and more lightly peated than both.
Lochside 17    1965   1982      1     750
Smells for all the world like an old Macallan or Glenfarclas but with a huge choc-mint palate. Fun.
Macallan 18    1967   1986?     1     750
Closer to the best 18's. Newer ones 1974, 76 & 77 have all been lighter bodied.
Miltonduff 14  1973   1991      1     750
Lighter Speyside at its best. Exceptional balance.
Mosstowie 12   1971   1984?     2     750
Rare and fun! Lifted piney scent, pine needles and Norsca gel."Norwegian Wood" in a bottle. Big unctuous palate.
Mosstowie 19   1975   1994      2     700
Lovely, but nothing like the younger one. Lots of fruit in the nose and palate. More sherrywood.
Port Ellen 16  1979   1995      2     700
Similar to but better than Talisker. Couple of marks shy of the Caol Ila - almost as great.
Royal Brackla  1969   1984      2     750
Rare - lots of very pleasant traits. The kind of malt which completely justifies the independents, if they ever need it.
Talisker 12    1986     ?       4     750
Big & bold! Pepper and smoked almonds. Yummy.
Tamdhu 15      1992     ?       2     750
A Speyside exemplar.  Commercial release but not available anymore.  Almost as good as Glenfarclas 21 or Macallan 18, better than Glenfarclas 15.


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prE-pistle #2 - EoZ Report Card January 1998
Date:  Thursday, 19 February 1998

Greetings fellow Maltsters,

After the dust had settled and I had a chance to reflect on the night, I realised that our first meeting was a classic example of why most of us belong to a malt club in the first place: it allows you to sample very diverse whiskies you either couldn't normally afford or wouldn't be game to shell out the hard earned on the off chance that the whisky might actually be worth the asking. Vive la difference!

Macduff 27 53% - As suspected this was an independent bottling, in this instance from James MacArthur.  This company is fast building a solid reputation because this whisky (along with their exquisite Caol Ila 17) is one of the nicer malts I have tried in a goodly while.  It starts with a big spirit hit, an early whiff of peat and the distinctive dry mintiness of good bourbon oak. (Considering the age, there wasn't a lot of sherry evident)  The palate is distinctly fruity, with a curiously attractive sherbet like zinginess and a dried apricot sulphuriness.  The fruity tingle lingers in a long, distinguished finish.  Started off as a seriously good whisky, but lacked the depth and roundness needed to achieve greatness.  Quite yummy and moreish just the same!  Score 8.4

Loch Dhu -  I'm still not really sure what to make of this one. A black whisky , the colour of stout, with some of the other peculiar characteristics of stout.  A curious nose with lots of burnt notes.  Lots of lifted estery, sweet Speyside perfume hovering apparently disconnected above a scorched toffee pan base.  It even had some of the burnt malt/bitter herbs that one detects in Guinness.  Don't know how they did it or why!  Despite the marketing job, was it any good?  Not many of us thought so.  Too many flat spots.  Score 6.8

Gillies Club Bowmore "Legend" 57% -  This is one of the "sports" that the Gillies Club bring in every so often.  They vary from great to ordinary: this particular one was good.  They have obviously secured one of the better barrels as the commercial  "Legend" is a nine year old and not much chop.   Although not a close relative of the ripsnorter of the mid 80's, this one had the added distinction of being unmistakably Bowmore with a tropical fruitiness in the nose and palate. This one had it in spades.  Bonzo neatly captured the mood when he commented that it was a "fun" malt.  This whisky started out as an 8.0+  but the increasingly strong violet, lavender and geranium aromas became too much over time.  In the washup, lacked balance, but a lot of fun!  Score 7.6

The Blind - Strathisla 12 - Selected by Bernie Glover and guessed right by a few.  I had it narrowed down very early on to Cardhu and Strathisla.  Early on it had the slightly salty toffee of Strathisla, yet the perfumed peat of Cardhu.  It fell apart pretty quickly: went thin and watery which screamed Cardhu to me.  Oh. Well! I now know that Strathisla also disintegrates after 30+ minutes.  Score 7.0

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Next Meeting: 25 February 1998 - Time to check out some of the new releases on the market. There are new expressions (or instantiations) appearing from distilleries all the time.  The usual trend is for the new release to replace an older expression being withdrawn from the market.  The Glengoyne 10 fits this mould.  Very occasionally a malt gets rebadged to create a consistent naming reference (Glenordie to Ord to Glen Ord) or establish a point of difference (Knockdhu to An Cnoc) to distinguish from Knockando. Very occasionally we get a completely new malt such as Alt'a'Bhaine from a new distillery and even rarer is one from a new non-Scottish distillery.  Australia now has its own single malt whisky in the Sullivan's Cove. For educational purposes, this meeting we have one from each group.

Glengoyne 10 -  Malts from this distillery are often underrated and tend to perform better as blinds.  I thought the 12 yo which you used to be able to get for around $40 was excellent value, bearing in mind that its main competition in this price bracket was Glenfiddich, Glenlivet 12 and the execrable Glen Parker.  It was always a clean, slightly sweet & creamy whisky which managed to avoid the excessive yeastiness of some of the cheaper Speysides like Glen Keith and Glenfarclas 10.  Its unpeated, so if you smell smoke it must be the wood.

Sullivan's Cove - Australia has its own single malt.  While this whisky is young and has a lot of curious burnt notes in the palate and nose its not obviously very peated, (in the early part of this century, the application of peat was used to try and hide a lot of distilling faults in island and Campbeltown malts).  I think the burnt notes must come from the barrels.  Still very young but well made: shows promise.

An Cnoc 12 - The rebadged Knockdhu 12, which was rare in Australia anyway.  I don't recall tasting either at a club meeting since I joined in 1991.  I've had this one quite a few times and find it relatively easy to identify from the nice fennel like notes.  This characteristic indicates a bourbon oak/plain wood treatment.  Likeable and acceptable, but a tad fiery in the nose to be really good.

Come along and see what you think.

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Reply by Johannes: I've just read your previous four reports. What a great idea to divide the ratings of MJ in underrated and overrated. It is weird, but a lot of people let me know they agree with me on the way my scores differ from MJ's. Of course, I compared your ratings to mine and they are indeed very similar with one MAJOR exception - I recently re-tasted the Tormore 12 and I thought the initial score of 71 points was too generous. Spot on with the Macallan 12 and Glenfiddich, though - two touchstone malts. It was funny to see how a lot of my scores (Cragganmore, Highland Park, Glenlivet) were just in between your scores and MJ's. By the way - while I share your dislike for the Glenfiddich "Special Old Reserve", I really like the Glenfiddich 15 yrs. C/S. Absolutely wonderful! Great idea of the "theme" tasting sessions, too - like the Macallan Vertical. If I could afford the bus-fare I would join your club!

Thanks for sending me the info on your next tasting session. I think you'll have a great evening on the February 25; An Cnoc is one of those malts that may not be a real challenge to nose and tongue, but it gets nicer with every glass. It's just SO easy on the tongue, a nice summer malt. Please make sure to inform me of your findings on the Glengoyne 12 yrs, because although it has been on my shelves for half a year now it still manages to elude me. I quite like it, but I'm not sure why.

I also noticed you mentioned a lot of older malts in your Prized Malts Report #4. Due to the nature of the Dutch tax-system, most older malts (18 and more) are unaffordable or simply not available over here. (A Macallan 18 is about US $ 150,-, I don't know how much that is in "aussie" money). Most distillery bottlings around 10 and 12 years, however are readily avaiable and usually very reasonably priced between $25 and $40,- This means my journeys in malt-land have thus far been confined to the "younger" and cheaper area's. Nevertheless, I have done some great discoveries there. Here's a theme for a future session of yours: Johannes' "Low Budget" Suggestions: Glen Ord 12, Singleton 1981, Glenmorangie Port Wood finish, The Dalmore 12 and Longmorn 15. (And excuse me if I seem like an idiot and you already know these malts and found them not worthy mentioning in your documents...)

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prE-pistle #3 - Tormore 10 / Balvenie 10 / Other stuff...
Date: Wed, 25 Feb 1998

Hello, or as us Aussies are supposed to say: Yeah Gidday, I like your page, your obvious enthusiasm and your willingness to be delighted.  I think your comments are much closer to my impressions of malts than most, (Jackson, Malt Whisky File etc.)

I may be a bit left field liking the Tormore 10.  The ones I have are fairly old bottlings (bottled about 1988-90) so they may be completely unlike the current commercial releases.  Whatever I like it a lot: Tormore 10 is quite fruity with a touch of clean, faintly herby/metallic peat and a curious hint of hot machine oil - like industrial sewing machines, which is unusual because the other whiskies I think smell industrial (Bowmore Legend and Cameron Brig) I really don't like.

The Balvenie 10 is very good, although the older one (in the brandy shape bottle with the long skinny neck) was even better and I've salted away a half dozen. The distributor in Australia decided to clear the decks of old stock about 3 years ago and the retailers were selling it for A$35-40 a bottle.  At US$23 it was such a great bargain I bought about 16 of which I've sold/given away/drunk 10.  The Balvenie 12 is one of those malts where the nose is better than the palate, probably because of the short time actually in first fill sherry barrels. But its a lovely malt to sniff.  Like you, I think more than half the fun is in the nosing and allowing the whisky to develop and change in the glass over time.  by the way, I normally drink whisky out of medium brandy balloons, but I have recently purchased some tulip clear crystal glasses (like the Glenmorangie tasting glass) and these seem to make any whisky appear drier and more floral.  I will conduct more extensive experiments and keep you informed.

I am spoilt in Adelaide with 4 malt whisky clubs. For a city of less than 750,000 this may appear overkill but it reflects strong Scottish heritage.  I belong to two and put the theme tasting programme together for one, which I genuinely enjoy doing.  It's a challenge to come up with ideas that are going to excite the seriously analytical maltster (like me) as well as the yuppies and dilettantes.

I think the An Cnoc is OK.  I like the dryish, herby hints of thyme and fennel, but there's a little too much spirit prickle in the nose to score higher.  The slight roughness in the palate may indicate some indifferent or immature wood: would be better as a 14yo. We're tasting the Glengoyne 10, not the 12.  The 12  (score 73) was one the malts which I used to benchmark other malts.  I always found it a clean and creamy malt and very similar to Tullibardine 10.

On prices . A Macallan 18 costs about A$90-100 (US$ 60-66).
Most commercial (10-12yo) malts cost between A$50 & 60 (US$33-39). The Classic Malts go for ~A$56.   Sounds like we get a worse deal on the young ones and a heaps better deal on the older ones.  Anyway, I don't think the older distilleruy bottlings are worth the asking price.  I have no desire or intention to shell out A$250 for a Macallan 25, when the 18 is just as good.

Your 'Low Budget' Suggestions: Glen Ord 12: Tad too yeasty and floral for me (score 76) nevertheless a lovely dram, excellent value. Singleton 1981 haven't tasted this one.  Last Singleton I had was a 1976.  Lots of class, very good wood. Glenmorangie Port Wood finish - hasn't reached our shores yet (and won't be cheap) (Glenmorangie is seriously overpriced in Oz.). Longmorn 15 - I acknowledge the quality, the class and theelegance but find it almost inditinguishable from the Cragganmore which I have mixed emotions about. The Dalmore 12 - Excellent isn't it? One of my personal/business recommendations. I've attached my promo material for the Dalmore.
Cheers for now,

Craig

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Attached Document:  'DALMORE 12 - Recommended!'

Dalmore 12 year old is an big and assertive old-fashioned Northern Highland Malt best suited as an after-dinner digestif.  It has a well rounded warm caramel toffee nose with some bitter marmalade fruitiness and evident sherry character.  A warm, generous palate with an astringent nuttiness balanced by good peat in the finish.  A robust malt most accurately described as noble or aristocratic.

Tasting Notes: Nose - Big, yeasty and malty at first, with warm caramel toffee becoming dominant.  Nice warm & complex sherry notes develop in the background along with some interesting and not unattractive astringent notes reminiscent of marmalade and rubber.
Body - Medium to full.
Palate - Big, sweet and very well rounded.  Starts sweet and stays that way with very pleasant warm toffee.  Some clean smokiness and burnt nutty toffee in the aftertaste.
Finish - Still sweet, but drying considerably. Long & satisfying.

Summary: Dalmore 12 is a big, generous and assertive malt with loads of character.  Obvious malt and sherry in the nose with some burnt notes.  Big, full and moderately sweet palate with warm caramel toffee dominant.  An old-fashioned, hearty & well-crafted malt which thoroughly deserves the noble/aristocratic tag.  An approachable, fun malt and one worth making a regular acquaintance.

Copyright: CLAN DRUMMOND / CRAIG DANIELS 1995

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Reply by Johannes: Gidday, Craig. Or, like we say in Holland - Goejjedagdan!
--- On: 'I may be a bit left field liking the Tormore 10':
"A bit left field", Craig? - More like an extreme radical! :-) I re-tasted the 12 a few nights back and discovered that time had not been kind to this one.
--- On glasses:
Interesting - I always make sure to use the same type of glasses when I set out to compare two or more malts, but this is more like a habit than a conscious decision. I HAVE noticed that, for me, the balloon-glasses "give the best nose", so to speak. The Glenmorangie glasses are quite OK to, I think.
--- On 'I am spoilt in Adelaide with 4 malt whisky clubs':
Well, Amsterdam (pop near 1.000.000) has no official malt societies at all, so indeed, you're spoilt, Craig. That's why internet is such a wonderful invention - It gives me the opportunity to exchange thoughts on single malts with other dilletantes or even serious maltsters like yourself.
--- On prices:
Yes indeedy - A liter of Lagavulin 16 (my top malt) is under US$40,- overhere, so that partly explains why I haven't obtained a big bottle of the macallan 18 or 25 yet - I tasted the 18 on a few occasions, though, and preliminary scores indicate that it should rate just a little over the 12. I found that I usually find the 18+ versions a bit too "woody" for my taste. The Glenmorangie 18 was another bit of a disappointment at first. The Port Wood Finish is amazing, though. Almost worth the price.
--- On Longmorn 15 vs Cragganmore:
Well, I sympathize with your mixed emotions about Cragganmore - Very hard to define, although I have grown to like it more and more over the years. I would have no trouble distinguishing between them, I think - The Crag' 12 was "lighter" and less "woody" and "nutty" that the Longmorn 15 - Both scored the same, though - 81, which is quite OK in my book.

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prE-pistle #4 - EoZ Report Card Februari 1998
Date:  Monday, 23 March 1998

Greetings,

Here's the Report Card for the February 1998 'New Release Malts' tasting.

Glengoyne 10 -  Pale gold colour.  Quite a pleasant gentle quaffer.  Clean, slightly sweet & creamy, indeed quite like its older sibling the 12yo, but without the sweet & sour wood complexity.  Bit of spun sugar/marshmallow in the nose, not a lot of sherry except for a burst in the finish..  In a group with other inoffensive light malts like Brackla 10, Linkwood 12.  Not too bad.  Score 7.0

An Cnoc 12 - Almost a light bronze colour.  Nose is a bit more astringent and dry than the Glengoyne.  Some dry woody, herby grace notes.  Not a lot of length with quite a clean, dry finish.  I quite like it and except for that characteristic prickly spirit at the top back of the nose would score quite highly.  Too fiery in the nose: suggests immaturity, despite the disclosed age  Score 7.3

Sullivan's Cove -  Australia may have its own single, but its not anything to be proud of yet!  I was curious to see what others thought so I paid particular attention, which was very hard as I was struggling to think straight let alone record faithfully the "dissipate maunderings" (apologies to Stephen Fry) of other wordsmiths (aka bullshit artists) in the room.  I think the consensus was: EXECRABLE.  A "Viktor' (most unattractive) nose: pickling vinegar, synthetic beef booster, vegemite, off caramel & acetylaldehyde.  Palate was better, but with a very grainy, slow burning fuse.  Left spirit etching on the old oesophagus.  David LeCornu, who gave it 3.0 (and is faced with a moral dilemma, coz he's a distributor), hinted darkly that it might have been fiddled with because you can do things under Australian law that you wouldn't get away with in Scotland.  I was surprised I scored it this high.  Reserve the right to lower it next time.  Score 6.0

The Blind - Benromach 12 - Selected by David LeCornu and guessed right by Steve "Death or Glory" Graham.  David reprised his erstwhile partner in crime (Steve Matthews) by bringing a blind which the club has not tried before.  Naughty, Naughty!  Nevertheless, as a club we are invariably more honest in our appraisals of blinds than the disclosed malts and I think the assessments around the table were very honest and pretty close to the mark. Alex (the new Mrs Keegan) gave a spot on description of the Glenlivet 12: to me it smelled like a Glenlivet but not THE Glenlivet, (not quite enough peat).  It had a typically Speyside, sweet estery nose, but with some pretty classy honeyed depths, which was why I picked the Dalwhinnie 15.  Best of the night.  Score 7.8

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prE-pistle #5 - EoZ Report Card March 1998
Date:  Wed, 15 April 1998

Here's the latest musings from me downunder. I don't know if you are far enough down the path of malt addiction to readily submit your palate to the test, but if you want a very stern test indeed, trying to pick the difference between masked bottlings of same age malt from the same distilleries comes close to the edge of malt lunacy.  Anyway next month I'll let you know whether there was a discernible difference or whether it was all in my (deluded) olfactory imagination.

The Macallan Vertical was a huge hit.  Even with a couple of regulars missing, we managed to attract 19 tasters and one guest. My records show this was the biggest ever rollup to a regular Club Meeting. Warmed the cockles of my Treasurer's heart and makes September 1997 (poor turnout for all those luvverly Islays) an aberration, thank the stars.  Such a fulsome response included a couple of newcomers, the new licensee of the Earl's Tavern Sam Lamissa and Geoff Jarrett's cousin, John Morton.  John was destined to discover what we already knew, that with a few drams under the belt, Geoff tends to get a tad voluble and garrulous.  We hope he recovers from the effects of Geoff's bravura performance: a'stream of consciousness' worthy of Henry Miller or J.P Donleavy rather than James Joyce.  I reckon that describing the Macallan 18 as the "Sex in the Afternoon" Malt is going to take some beating in the annals of club folklore.  Tom Perry's Bullshit-o-meter suffered overload and now needs to be re-calibrated.

March 25th 1998 - "Marvellous Macallan"  -  Report Card

Macallan 12 -  I don't know if it was me, but I wasn't overly impressed.  May have been a rogue bottle as I usually score it higher.  I'd like to see the scores for this one up against 12's we've had in the past.  Lots of forward sherry and possessed of the typical nice mint, but there were some sulphury and sour wood aromas which I wasn't expecting nor welcomed particularly.  Still had a nice mouthfeel and a long drying finish.  Very similar to Glendronach and Glenfarclas, but sweeter with more emphatic sherry.  Score 8.0

Macallan 18 (1977) It was a delight getting reacquainted.  Nose starts kicking goals straight away: smooth, creamy and enticing with honey and something nutty and waxy (like macadamia?).  Nice and clean with lots of lifted minty notes and a suggestion of honey ice cream in the palate.  Tends to reach and hold the summit readily; stays solid in the glass.  Stacks up well in any company  Score 8.5

Macallan 1874 Replica -  Very special treat.  Took a while to warm up (nose was a little shy to begin with a lot less obvious sherry than the usual Macallan offerings), but really started humming after 10-15".  More like the citrus/apricot fruitiness of Glenrothes or the Macduff 27 we had a couple of months ago, but altogether more refined, subtle and rounder, hence higher scoring.  It was remarkably lively on the tongue for such a mature malt and it sang a subtle variation on a theme every couple of minutes.  One to savour.  Score 8.7

The Blind - Bunnahabhain 12 - Selected by Steve "Death or Glory" Graham and guessed right by a motley crew including a couple of ex-World Champions.  I will be very interested to see the final scores for the night, because given the quality of the company I thought this malt held up very well.  Excellent, understated sherry treatment and lots of lovely briny toffee notes in the nose & palate.  Confirms my strong belief that this is a much underrated malt.  Tricky blind coz it's the best highland malt made on Islay.  Score 8.1

Those with even a passing acquaintance with SMS can tell a Lagavulin from a Glenlivet, but it takes an educated palate (and plenty of practice) to distinguish between two similar Speysides, say, Glenfarclas & Strathisla in their standard 12 yo guise.  On a completely more refined plane are the variations in bottlings from the same distillery.  These minor nuances are the very grist to the mill of the malt aficionado: integral to their charm and capacity to delight (and disappoint), but most importantly are critical to the "bluff" involved in the general camaraderie of malt tasting.  My twisted idea of fun: put everyone's assumed knowledge of malt to the test and possibly their putative reputations to the sword (hee hee!).

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Next Meeting: 22 April 1998 - "Old Versus New"

Last year we pioneered this concept with Balvenie and Aberlour and only Tom Perry and Allan May got them all right.  Mind you, last time the "old" Aberlour was a sport and I doubt whether anyone disagreed with Allan when he gave his reasons for choosing the "odd" one as the "old" one: "I hope it's the old one as otherwise we don't have much to look forward to."  It made me wonder whether malts can be affected by light strike.  Any experts out there who can set me straight?  Anyway, the night proved that it takes a fair dollop of luck and no little skill to detect the variations in malts, at the same age, from the same distillery.

This time we going to do it with Longmorn and Bowmore.  Longmorn has been a significant distillery in the history of single malt distilling, having a reputation for fine, well rounded malts with malt enthusiasts and blenders alike.  All the famous whisky writers put in their very top echelon, and along with Glenlivet, it is Seagram's flagship distillery.  Longmorn is included because of my disappointment with the 15yo recently released as part of the Heritage Selection.  An Old Grey Mare if ever there was one: ain't what she used to be!  David LeCornu, au contraire contends that the two versions are very similar being significantly less sherried than the sublime G&M 12 yo.  So I guess this means that one of our olfactory memories is faulty but which? The reason for Bowmore is much more straightforward.  As a particularly favoured distillery of our Club, I would hazard a guess that malts from Bowmore have been subjected to closer scrutiny than those from any other distillery and very rarely found wanting, except for the occasional 12yo and the first release of the Legend.  Lots of experienced maltsters (JR and myself among them) reckoned that Bowmore 12 used to be really good then went through a rough patch then improved again.  Being charitable, I think Morrison-Bowmore got stiffed with some ordinary barrels in the late 70's early 80's and this showed in the commercial releases between 1989 to 1991.  I am really quite excited about this particular pairing coz it will either reinforce or explode my prejudices.

I promise not to make it too hard.  A & B will be Longmorn and C & D will be Bowmore.  It should be a lot of fun and a fair challenge, firstly to see (1) if you can you pick a difference, (2) which is which and (3) which version is better.  My bet is the Bowmore's will be easier to sort out.  Come along and see what you think.

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prE-pistle #6 - EoZ Report Card April 1998
Date:  Tue, 5 May 1998

Greetings fellow Maltsters,

The "Old Versus New" night went OK, even though the turnout went from the sublime to the ridiculous with only 8 tasters. Nevertheless it was an instructive exercise with some interesting results.  The two Bowmores were markedly different and the Longmorns less so. Opinions were divided over the new Bowmore, with some thinking the nose over the top with too much lilac and lavender perfume for comfort, but at least you could tell it was an Islay, which was always my beef about the commercial bottling circa 1991, not that it was a bad malt, but that it wasn't obviously an Islay.  My thoughts about the Longmorn were proved right, at least to me and my previous reservations about Seagrams and wood seem to be reinforced.  The older one was richer and rounder with a better mouthfeel.  The new 15 (the Heritage Selection) is thinner and a lot drier : not to my liking at all, at all.

April 22nd  "Old Versus New"  -  Report Card

Longmorn 15 (New- 1996) -  A little spiritty to start, a wee touch of toffee and some dry woody notes.  Only the merest whiff of peat, but I may have been imagining this.  Bit thin and if the age was not stated I would've thought it younger.  Another pretty boring offering from Seagrams.  Bit of a shame, because they had a chance to release something worthy of the title "flagship" malt.  OK, but too much like Cragganmore 12 to score better.  Score 7.6

Longmorn 15 (Old - 1988) This one had more of the Longmorn traits I remembered with fondness.   Nice buttery, toffee nose.  Richer bodied and smoother than the new version with a rounder mouthfeel.  Slipped down a treat.  Malty and distinctly nutty - good generic Glenlivet traits.  Smoother, richer and longer lasting than the new.  Score 8.1

Bowmore 12 (Old - 1991) -  Slightly smoky, some dry fruity notes, bit of burnt marmalade.  Not overly sweet.  Got a lot better in the glass, which I kind of remembered it doing the other times I tasted this batch in 1994 and 1995.  Not bad stuff and no obvious wood faults, so that theory has been put to the sword.  The serious lack of early obvious peat makes me wonder if there was experimentation with the water supply around the time it was distilled or the peating of the malt changed although that would be a longer shot.  Score  7.9

Bowmore 12  (New - 1997) - I've always got hospital corridors, tropical fruit, lavender and lilac out of Bowmore so this one was typical in that sense, but there was something else there as well.  I now know exactly what some WWW acquaintances of mine mean when they talk about air freshener in Bowmore, coz I finally detected the disinfectant notes of which they speak.  This Bowmore had an awful lot in common with the cask strength Legend we had in January, which was over the top as well.  I think that the best idea would be to mix the old and the new bottles together.  Not the greatest 12 yo but at least you could tell it was Bowmore!  Score 8.2

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Next Meeting - 27 May 1998 - Good Glenlivets, By George!

I've always been mystified by the infatuation of serious malt writers and historians with "The Glenlivet" as an exemplar of Speyside as the offerings I've tasted since I started this caper have been clean, lightly peated and nondescript to the point of boredom. Half the reason I belong to a malt club is that I want to be excited by the individuality of single malts and The Glenlivet, like Cardhu and Glenfiddich, might be considered fine drinks (in some quarters) but most would stop short of describing them as exciting.  Come along and check out my conception of what Glenlivet could and should be!

In the early phases of my induction into the arcane world of malt appreciation, I kept wondering why over 20 distilleries in Speyside bothered to try and ride on the coat tails of G & JG Smiths' "The Glenlivet" and why history books and even relatively recent literature made such a big deal about the definite article as I'd always found the Seagram's 12 year old pretty nondescript, insipid and boring.

Obviously the real answers to the first question lie in commercial imperatives, but one wonders what The Glenlivet 12 was like 4 or 5 decades ago to gain such a fantastic reputation.  I began to get an inkling of what a superior Glenlivet might taste like when I came across a nicely sherried Miltonduff 14 from Gordon & MacPhail and a couple of really nice older Glen Grants.  But, I hear you cry, Glen Grant and Miltonduff aren't Glenlivet!  That's true, but there is a family similarity amongst a lot of those Speyside distilleries.  The final proof really came with the first sniff and sip of the G&M Glenlivet 15.  Seriously good stuff and what the definite article must have tasted like back when it deserved a fabulous reputation.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.  The Tormore and Longmorn are in the line up because I think they display similarities and consistency of style that can be classed as "Glenlivet".

By the way, I finally got my domestic e-mail to work.
My E-Address is clandrum@picknowl.com.au

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Subject:  Loch Dhu / Visit to Amsterdam
Date:  Wed, 6 May 1998

Hello,

I wanted to post a Public Warning - Bad Whisky.  I think its a bit unfair to single out cheap (and lets face it ) nasty blends in your Public Warnings. The reason most of us drink single malts is that blends don't turn us on or show enough character.  Now, if anyone comes across a decidely disgusting single malt then that's a true public service for the likes of me.

I concur with the posting of Loch Dhu, not because its particularly revolting but because the greedy sods want $A100 for this advertising driven junk.  I haven't tried Drumguish (and am not in any hurry to do so) but my nomination for the PUBLIC WARNING: SERIOUSLY BAD SINGLE MALT (and it pains my basically chauvinistic heart) is the new Aussie offering "Sullivan's Cove".  It is bottled at somewhere between 2 & 3 years old and its yucky.  Maybe it will be OK with 5 to 10 years in oak but I won't be paying to find out.  I wonder if the owners know the damage they inflict on their own reputation with serious connoisseurs when they release aqua ordinaire at a premium price.  No palate, no integrity or simply cashflow problems. Take your pick.

But the real reason I wanted to get in touch was to tell you that I'm going to be in Amsterdam on 29 & 30 August 1998 and wondered if we could meet.

Keep in touch!

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Reply by Johannes: Great Idea, Craig.

I checked my agenda and I'm free on the 30th of August, so I can show you some of the best kept secrets in Amsterdam. I'm affraid I have to admit a lot of the city has turned into a foul-smelling tourist-trap, but you can still have some decent fun - and most of it is perfectly legal! Are you coming over on business or just for the fun of it?
Speaking of business: My new webdesign business is still going strong; as we say in Holland "We zien wel waar het schip strandt". (Which means something like: we're sailing blindly ahead and fate will determine where our ship will be wrecked - due to our naval past a lot of of our sayings and expressions have got some vague connection with the sea - See, You're learning about Holland allready!)

When you visit Amsterdam you really should take a trip by boat through the canals - You get to sea a totally different side of Amsterdam, of course you could go on one of the touristic "150 people in a glass boat" trips, but the most fun is of course renting your own boat and explore the canals on your own accord. Water-bikes are also a lot of fun, especially because some bars have terracces at the water where you can park your bike and have a nice malt (or two) before you pedal along in perfect happiness. Especially on a summer-evening, this is a magical experience.
As far as restaurants are concerned: Culinary speaking, Amsterdam is a megapolis. We have over 100 different national and regional "kitchens" here - from traditionally French to Shezuan, from Bulgarian to Thay. Perhaps we can discuss your culinairy preferences when we meet in Amsterdam, so I can advise you to the best of my abilities.

Before I go I leave you with three vital Dutch sentences you should learn by heart to make the most of your stay in Amsterdam:
1 - Mijn fiets is gestolen (My bicycle has been stolen)
2 - Verkoopt u ook drugs? (Do you sell drugs? - And can I have some?)
3 - Pardon, maar wilt u even aan mijn neus voelen? (... You'll find out...)

Gottago... My work beckons...

(P.S.: I'm sipping from the last glass of Laphroaig 10 - It's allmost summertime for us northern hemisphere-people, and laphroaig is - for me - strictly a winter malt. To prepare for the coming season I stocked up on Balvenie 10, Glenmorangie Port and Macallan 12. And I'm on the lookout for a Balvenie 21 yrs Port Wood Finish I've heard about. And that was all the news from these parts up untill now.)

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prE-pistle #7 - Malt News from Australia
Date:  Thu, 18 Jun 1998

Hi Johannes,

Had a Streah Malt Tasters club meeting last night and I had to bring the blind (Glenfarclas 15).  The disclosed line-up was:

Bowmore Legend - not as nasty as when I first tasted it back in 1996 and at about $45-50 an acceptable dram, but still not one I'd recommend (7.6 points),
Port Ellen 1980 Gordon & MacPhail - superior dram.  Nice candied citrus & scone dough yeast in the nose with nice clean peat building in the background - (8.5 points),
Lagavulin 16 - couldn't believe it was a Lagavulin - didn't have the trademark 'garden bonfires'/aromatic hydrocarbons in the nose.  Barely had any more obvious peat than the Port Ellen, which is strange and I would've thought it was just me except that about four other guys noted the same lack of grunt.  Might have been a "sport" coz I'd hate to think that UD are mucking around with an awful lot of people's very favourite malt. Anyway - still identifiably an Islay but more in the mould of Caol Ila or Port Ellen than the "old" Lagavulin (8.2 points).
Glenfarclas 15 - Just yummy.  When guessing what it was, most people plumped for the Balvenie 12 Doublewood and a couple thought it might be Macallan 18, so they thought it pretty good.  It's funny but I think the serious sherrywood treatment in this malt was more obvious and shown to advantage in the company of Islays rather than up against a trio of sherried Speysides. A hell of a nice dram and well worth seeking out (8.5 points)  My advice is if you see the Glenfarclas 15 anywhere for $65-70 that you buy a bottle or three.  The best ever price I've seen it for was $63 back in 1996.

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Reply by Johannes: Thanx again for your input, Craig. Here's another idea: When you visit Amsterdam I could of course organize a little tasting-session at my place in the outskirts of Amsterdam - I have a collection of around 40 different malts right now, so there may be some things here that even you haven't tasted yet.
Whaddayathink?

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Subject:  Great Idea
Date:  Tue, 30 Jun 1998

Gidday Johannes,

Great idea!  When you say tasting, would it be a social event, ie will you have friends there?  If you're interested I can tell you how I set everything up for my little events, both at the club and at private functions.  Anyway I'd love to be a part of it, ( I can always pretend to play the part of malt expert) all in the interests of good international relations of course! I'm still waiting for you to tell me which bottle you want me to bring!  If you don't specify (I can't get the Balvenie 21 Port Wood by the way), I'll bring a Longmorn 1963.
By the way, I e-mailed a guy in Scotland on 17 June where I opined that Holland had a real good chance of winning the World Cup. I don't expect you to believe it, but I picked them to win!  Are you a soccer fan?  I'm more into Aussie rules and cricket, but the World Cup is just fantastic.

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Reply by Johannes: Yeah - I was planning to invite a few whisky-enthousiasts over. The Longmorn 1963 will be just fine - I like the 15 a lot, so I'm curious as how a version twice as old tastes - We could even have a head-to-head session of the 15 against the '63 - and I may even be able to pick up a third version in the next two months. Every once in a while I organize a "tasting", but the main object of those evenings is FUN. I usually reserve the more serious tasting and rating for my private sessions where I don't have to concentrate on "hostmanship". The presence of a true malt expert will be greatly appreciated - You can always check on my site for malts that are perhaps not available down under - so I make sure not to empty them before the end of August.

I'm one of the three or four Dutchmen that don't like soccer - I personally think it's a bit of a child's game. Rugby (Union and League) is my sport, partly because it involves true sportsmanship. I do'nt know too much about Australian Football, but from what I've seen it's a lot more fun than soccer - nearer to rugby than to soccer, perhaps. Union Rugby is my favorite version - and it's the only version played in Holland anyway. Rugby is very small in Holland - less than 10.000 active players. Due to a tricky shoulder I haven't played this year, I might pick it up again in september. Depending on our adversaries I play either the hooker or wing positions.
At the moment, I'm still working at the Dutch Yellow Pages - I start at my new job as Internet Specialist / Marketing Consultant at IQ3 on August 1. Just before that, I'm off to the woods of "De Veluwe" to make arrangements for our annual forrest-party there, so I'll be out of contact for a while.

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Subject:  Rugby / Visit to Amsterdam
Date:  Thu, 2 Jul 1998

I'm not a big soccer fan but like watching any sport played at the very elite level.  Loved watching Roger Milla from the Cameroons in 1990, now there was an enormous talent, especially considering he was 38 at the time.  I live in an Aussie Rules state.  In Australia for winter codes, the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and Queensland are rugby states (league is professional here) and Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia and Northern Territories are AFL states.
One of the more memorable quotable quotes on rugby (I don't know who made it) is in the form of a definition; "Rugby Union - a game designed for thugs and played by gentleman, Rugby League - a game designed for gentleman and played by thugs".  I must admit I much prefer Union.  League is a bit too much like mobile unarmed combat for me.

29 August is the day. I'm getting quite excited about the big adventure and meeting various e-correspondents. I, my wife and the Longmorn await the meeting! Re the malts for tasting - I've had a look at your web site and if you've got any left I'd like to sample the Ardbegs, the Macallan 10 57% and the Miltonduff 12, mainly because I've not spotted them in Oz at all and I have a soft spot for Miltonduff.

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Subject:  Hi from Downunda
Date:  Mon, 27 Jul 1998

Gidday,

Back from communing with the Forest?  Sounds fascinating and slightly risque; faintly sinful. You must tell me what you actually get up to! Anyway, the time to leave for foreign shores looms rapidly from the scudding mists of the unravelling future.  Thought I'd drop you a line just to see if you're still around and whether the Evening of the 29th is still OK. I'm really looking forward to seeing your fair land and catching up.  Getting all nervous and excited at the same time. The Longmorn 1963 33yo is packed and ready.  Tell me what's on the menu for the 29th so I can bring any relevant tasting notes with me.  Always happy to share my thoughts with fellow Maltsters.  Are there any Whisky Clubs in Amsterdam? (I know there is at least one in Stockholm).

Reply by Johannes: The forest party was a big success - what I can remember from it, that is. We're still on for the 29th. I don't know of any whisky-clubs in Amsterdam. but there are two nice whisky-bars, 'De Still' and 'L&B's'.
Just a quick question: Do you have the Balvenie 21 yrs Port 'down under'? I know we discussed this malt, but I can't remember if it was available in Australia I just saw it at a shop, and if you don't know it, it would be nice to get for August 29th.

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Subject:  Balvenie 21 and other musings
Date:  Fri, 31 Jul 1998

Regarding the Balvenie 21: No, and I don't know whether and when it will turn up down here. Based on what you tell me about the Dutch tax system, the Balvenie 21 must be over the odds (price wise) for you. I also think there may be other reasons for not outlaying a big wad of cash on this particular malt. I have a theory about the capacity of malt to carry wood aging based on the relative heaviness of the original distillate. I quite like Balvenie, but wonder whether it has the weight to carry such wood age. I also suspect the motives of William Grant & Sons, in that I think they are probably cashing in on the twin fads of "different" wood finishes and the price premium associated with extra age. I suspect a bigger (higher specific gravity) malt like Glenfarclas or Macallan might perform better given the same treatment.
If you do get a chance to try the 21, put it up against something you know and like, for benchmarking purposes.  If it doesn't seem significantly better than the Doublewood or the Macallan 12, don't buy it.

Reply by Johannes: Quite right, Craig. Come to think of it - I liked the Doublewood better than the 15 yrs - which could suggest that Balvenie doesn't age very well. Still - the 21 was "only" about U$ 70,- - which is quite cheap given it's age. I'll put it on the "reserve' list. As a matter of fact, I received a bottle of Doublewood from one of my collegues as a going-away present - as well as some nice bottles of Vintage Port wine.
Which was very nice.

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Subject:  Balvenie & Other Stuff
Date:  Mon, 3 Aug 1998

Hi Johannes,

I didn't mean to turn you away from the Balvenie, just to advise caution. I'm a great believer in trying the local cuisine wherever I go, particularly in Western countries, because I figure only a very timid gastronaut or rampant chauvinist would insist on eating continental, Chinese or French or Italian in a Scandinavian country. Anyway I kind of like Northern European food anyway. (I make a Scandinavian inspired salad of smoked barracouta, light sour cream, dill and capers which goes down well at white wine tastings) and if you came to Australia you would be most suprised to see the range and quality of international foods available and get to try an awesome array of modified cuisines and some great fusion dishes, like local meats with asian treatments (kangaroo and plum sauce) and local seafood with middle eastern influences (Tommy ruffs (local herring) stuffed with fennel and orange). There's a couple of great restaurants in Adelaide, which sort of belies the reputation of Aussies as culinary primitives.

There's a deep seated national predisposition to experimentation and innovation in Australia in a lot of spheres, but especially food and wine which (I contend) can be rooted home to the youth of the country, the rapid influx of many cultural groups and a lack of cant and arrogance in the national psyche.  The lack of arrogance is the flip side of the cultural cringe.  We don't believe we're better than the English or the Americans, we are more likely to believe we are not as good.  This leave us striving to prove we're as good as anyone else and hence looking for continuous improvement in all things, hence why we're soooo competitive at sports. (Go the Wallabies!  Did you know that the latest test victory over the All-Blacks is the first time in 49 years that the All-Blacks have lost three tests in a row. This is probably the only country in the world where a statistic like that would be known, let alone cared about!)  The opposite to us, I think are the French (not the Americans, who are more similar than both nationalities would care to admit), who know they're perfect and thus have no reason to improve!  Anyway that's my take on this case of gross stereotyping.

I'm looking forward to meeting you, settling down to a few congenial drams and chatting about malts, the weather, national stereotypes etc.  You said that you don't own a car. Is that usual in Amsterdam?  It's certainly not in Australia, as most of our cities tend to suburban sprawl (its cheaper to expand out rather than up as land is not scarce) so our urban culture is pretty tied up with owning cars.

Keep in touch, your missives inspire me to intellectual flights of fancy.

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Reply by Johannes: Ah, The French! As long as we're talking stereotypes, I have to say that from my point of view you're absolutely right about them. I visited France a dozen times or so, and was impressed every time again by their collective rudeness and ethno-centricity. The only three things I like about France is the wonderful skiiing, the landscape and their quisine. What a waste of a beautiful country.
There is no real "classic" Dutch quisine - most of our kitchen is "inspired" by the French quisine, as a result of the Napoleon occupation at the end of the 17th century. Furthermore, there are a lot of influences from Indonesia, which has been a Dutch colony for a long time. Nevertheless, I think we can find a nice restaurant that serves "Dutchish" meals.

I picked up a bottle of Longmorn 1989 yesterday - So we can compare it to the '63 and the 15 yrs. old I've got already on my shelf. Oh, what fun we're gonna have....

In Holland, space is a severely limited commodity. Not owning a car is not considered so unusual when you live in the city. When I lived in the countryside I drove a car, but I'm living only a few hundred meters from the subway-station now, so I don't really need a car. I can reach the centre of Amsterdam by bike or subway within half an hour and I can reach any part of Holland within 3 hours time by train - which means no parking hassle, which is really a problem in a city like Amsterdam.
And it's a little kinder on the environment too.

I won't have my new "Malt Madness" website on-line this weekend, so you'll have an exclusive opportunity to see the new site in it's pre-natal stage. That way I can also show you some other stuff I've done.

BCNU!, Johannes.

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Subject:  EoZ August Meeting
Date:  Fri, 21 Aug 1998

Greetings fellow Maltsters,

Our next Club meeting is on 26 August 1998, right before Craig and Rosemary jet O/S, bound for more congenial climes and the lands of the Celts, hopefully with a list of contact names and a list of malts to hunt and retrieve for any interested Club members. On the Agenda for this month is a trio of Speyside 15 year olds along with the usual mystery blind. The disclosed trio are : Knockando 15, Cragganmore 15 and Glenfarclas 15. Based on my recollection of them that seems like the most appropriate tasting order as well.  I've always thought the Knockando 1979 is a nice, light malt with a prototypical creamy bourbon wood treatment, almost an exemplar of the type along with Glenmorangie and Glenturret.  If you want to know what bourbon wood smells like, try any of these. The Cragganmore 15 is a Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice (distilled 1970, bottled 1985) that the Club picked up at THE Auction in 1995.  It's a rare one, but if my memory serves me right, it's rounder, more sherried and less peaty than the commercial 12 yo. The Glenfarclas 15 - It's amazing just how nice and well balanced this one is.  Should show its true colours in this company. 

Come along, send me off in style and find out just why Glenfarclas 15 is so well regarded.

Craig Daniels - Treasurer - Earls of Zetland Malt Tasting Club

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prE-pistle #8 - Longmorn Vertical
Date:  Tue, 01 Sep 1998

Hi,

Sorry about not getting back to you sooner, but finding an internet cafe has not been easy. Am in Dublin now, just about to head off to chase a feed and then go on a literary pub crawl.  I like WB Yeats, Sean O'Casey and FlannO'Brienn but couldn't ever get into James Joyce. I must be one of the few people who did an arts degree and never read Ulysses!

Thanks very much for welcoming us into your home so readily. It was nice to meet you and your brother Frank.  Rosemary was a bit leery of the idea of meeting a stranger, when the only contact was over such an unreliable medium as the net, but she enjoyed herself too. Bye for now, Remember to polish off that 1974 Port before it goes off!

Attached Document: Longmorn Vertical

Hi, Y'all

I'm in Dublin now, about to hit the pubs, but two days ago Johannes and I met up and found out we had some other interests in common, (like cinema) and sat down to three Longmorns, one of which I carried all the way from Oz with me.  We tasted an Ultimate 1989, the distillery 15 yo and the G&M 1963 33yo I brought. The first one was pure plain wood and not very good wood at that, with a really fiery finish, not real good (68 pts). The Distillery offering was quite nice, better than I remember it with toffee and malt and a little sherry shining through (79 points) and the old one had a really great nose but the palate was a big disappointment. Didn't match the nose and finished quite short with no particular grunt. Smooth but disappeared too quickly (81pts).

Anyway, more from me when I hit Scotland.

Bottoms Up!

Craig

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prE-pistle #9 - Scotch Report (from Scotland)
Date:  Wed, 09 Sep 1998

Hi, Fellow Maltsters.

Made it to Edinburgh and have had the time to do some serious searching for whisky. Rosemary and I have come up with a motto for our Clan Drummond, Celtic World Tour : "Give use bounty not beauty"! Bit materialistic heh? on the malt front, been to about 5 serious establishments.
(1) The Whisky Heritage Centre.
Verdict: Great place to taste (non-smoking tasting area and little tasting slips to fill out), especially new and unfamiliar ones, BUT lousy place to buy.
(2) Royal Mile Whiskies.
Verdict: Reasonable range, prices a bit on the fancy side, I didn't hang around.
(3) Oddbins (on the Royal Mile).
Verdict: great Range & very good prices. Very friendly staff (managed to sample a Dailuaine 1980 (recommended by Jeff Daniels) and a wee drop of the Talisker Double Wood, but really didn't have enough to deliver a solid decision, but am going to go back and buy a couple of the Dailuaine anyway. I figure Jeff's panel's recommendation is worth the outlay.
(4) Cadenheads (on the Royal mile too)
Verdict: Lots of stuff and the Manager was friendly (Craig Clapperton, whose brother Neil just happens to be MD of Springbank so maybe I'll the connection may pay off when I get to Campbeltown.  Spent quite a long time in the office, watching him in action (he spent a lot of time boosting the Braes of glenlivet 10 (which I didn't sample), so I won't offer an opinion on whether he was acting as a salesman or not) but I did taste a Ledaig 23 (very nice), but none left for purchase (shame) and a Glenury 25 (seriously nice but with a price tag to match and a Dailuaine 27 (very brandy-like with a big winey finish - good).  Put aside one of those and a Talisker 18 for (Paul Rasmussen) if he wants to part with the ~$140 its going to set him  back. So in the washup - taste at the Whisky Centre, buy at Oddbins and Cadenheads.

Tasted 5 new ones since here, first was the Connemara Irish Peated whisky. Not too foul at all (for those of you not Australian this means I was quite impressed). The peatiness was in the nose but especially obvious in the palate.  Could easily be mistaken for an Island (ledaig or Talisker) but not an Islay, at least I don't think so. Second was the Tomatin 10, which while around in Oz hasn't been sampled by either of my malt clubs to my knowledge. Nose was sweet hay and peat and the palate was a tad peaty as well. Got a bit of psirit prickle but not too bad, certainly better than a lot of the Glen Nothing whiskies. Dailuaine 16 - fantastic nose with toffe, roses and some sherry, but the palate was very peaty. Nice but!  Millburn Cask Strength 18 - OK but too much stripped pine. Old Fettercairn 10 - Much like the 8 yo but with less of the gamey, yeasty characters. Having a good time, got to go now. Please send mail if you get the chance. Would love to hear from anyone with secrets of Scotia to share!

Bye for now
Craig

Reply by Johannes: Hiya, Craig! It sure seems you are having fun out there in Albion. You could have tasted the Tomatin 10 here, but none of the other Scotch malts you've tasted have passed my tonsils. Some of them I haven't even heard of yet. I did taste the Connamara, however. In fact, it has been around in Holland for some time now. Allthough I'm not a big fan of Irish whiskies this was one of the best I've ever tasted.

Further news: Quite a few new acquisitions since you left Amsterdam. Among them the LAST bottle of Macallan 10 yrs. cask strength Menno Boorsma had on stock. Judging from the amount of dust on the box it had been there for quite a few years - and my liquorist didn't think he would not be able to deliver it in the future, because it was intended for the American market. If this one ages as good as the former bottle (which you've tasted), I think I will have to adjust my rating upward. Also a bottle of Glenrothes 1985 and the blackbottle, that has finally reached our shores.

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Subject: prE-pistle #10 - Adventures / EoZ October Meeting
Date:  Mon, 26 Oct 1998

Hi Everybody,

For all the Earls, I'm back from Scotland with the odd picture or sixty and a few war stories.  Come along and checkout the malts (Glenmorangie 12:  Sherry, Port and Madiera Expressions) and my scrapbooks.

Craig's mis-adventures in Scotia:

Islay Distilleries:   Go to Laphroaig - the tour is free, but you do have to book.  Another plus is that the guide knows lots on the technical side and doesn't fudge anything.  Laphroaig doesn't use any sherrywood at all.  They only use bourbon oak for all their distillery bottlings including the older ones. (From observations of the barrels in the yard, the nomenclature bourbon wood must be applied loosely, as clear as day were Jack Daniel's barrels from Lem Otlows which even I know is a Tennessee Whisky and not a bourbon.)  There have been sherried Laphroaigs in the past but only as contracted runs for blenders. Laphroaig was also the only distillery that had distillery product cheaper than Oddbins. The 15yo was 26 at the distillery and 28.99 on special at Oddbins. (the 15 is a personal favourite but they also had a 30yo for sale at 61, which sounds a lot, but if I hadn't loaded up previously I would've invested in a couple.

Ardbeg is worth a look as well. I didn't go on a tour, but they've put their tasting and sales area in the old kiln house.  Walk through the door and about 30 years of peat smoke accumulated in the rafters really hits you with an incredibly big and caustic carbolic catch at the back of the nose.  They also sell proper nosing glasses (with glass lids) for 1.50 which is incredibly good value as most of the other distilleries charge 3-4 times that. I bought 4 at Ardbeg.  They also have their own tartan wool scarves, designed at the Islay Woollen Mill and very good quality and value at 8.95, which is about 3 quid cheaper than the same type of scarf elsewhere. Oh and the malt is not bad either, although the 17 is nowhere near as gutsy as some independent bottlings from the 70's and 80's.  Mind you, they are the stuff of legend.

Caol Ila is a MUST.  Best view, best pictures and a really knowledgeable old hand on deck called Alistair.  He appears to be in his late sixties (but could be older) and he was a maltman there for 20 years.  Full of fascinating information including the tip that the UD Cask Strength Flora & Fauna 1981 (I didn't see any in Edinburgh) is better that both the UD 15 and the Rare Malts 22yo.  He also revealed that Caol Ila does contract runs for mainland blenders including Hiram Walker (I think) and that for about 5-6 weeks every year they do a Highland and/or a Speyside: ie they mill, mash, ferment and distill a highland/speyside recipe malt using the Caol Ila stills.

Morrison Bowmore was good too.  The tour cost but I got to try two malts: the 12yo and the Mariner 15 which I had not tried before.  The guide also reckoned that the Surf and the Legend are the same thing.  I don't know whether this is true or common knowledge, but may be of interest to the malt trivia buffs.  Talisker  Long way to drive and while the scenery is occasionally awe-inspiring, not altogether worth it.  All the buildings look new and lacks the sense of history of a lot of them.  Nice and clean if a bit sterile, but the washbacks had a really strong poached smoked haddock smell.  I know I find smoked almonds in the 12yo but never anything fishy.  Anyway its a fine dram regardless.

Alcoholic Miscellany:

Beers (limited selection) Best - Asahi Dry Export (Japan) - Fresh & hoppy and clean as a whistle, Kilkenny (Ireland) - cross between Guinness and a bitter, Beamish Red (Ireland) - good quaffing stuff.  Worst - Theakston (UK) - less than impressive, but maybe the tap hadn't been used for a while.  Sapphoro (Japan) - came a bad last amongst Asahi, Heineken and Fosters (all sampled at 35,000 feet).

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Next Meeting - 28 October 1998 - Barrels of Fun  - Glenmorangie 12's

The scotch malt industry has its fair share of scandals and rumours, mostly as fringe players, not altogether dissimilar to some of our corporate heroes of yesteryear (I'll leave you to fill in the names) get their hands on idle funds from banks with idle funds to turf about.  One of the more persistent (and certainly true) involved some transatlantic entrepreneurs who figured there was a way to speed up the aging process of American Oak (by kilning green wood) to hold bourbon and subsequently, the humble malt.  Needless to say, they were proved wrong, but the odd distiller in Scotland (and none of them are "fessing up") got burnt.  Concurrently, there were some unpleasant rumours floating about that Glenmorangie was having some problems with their American Oak supplies and that this lead to the experiment with the different woods.  Now of all distillers this rumour was most likely to be wrong about, it was Glenmorangie, who have been meticulous in their securing of wood supplies, by buying bloody great stands of the stuff in the Ozark Mountains and looking after it assiduously until it hits their shores.   So the explanation for mucking about with sherry (been done before), port (why not) and madiera (why bother) must, I repeat, must lie elsewhere.  My monie's on the accountants or the fevered, desperate machinations of the marketing bods after a particularly trying and exceedingly long lunch.  Nevertheless, the trio is a lot of fun, especially tried together.

Different wood treatments have become a teensy bit passe lately, with mega-monolithic player United Distillers releasing double wood versions of all their Classic malts, but Glenmorangie were amongst the pioneers.  On the plus side, the products are interesting and instructive, especially when you start with the same base (Glenmorangie 10) and whack it into three different woods for an extra two.  Whether they're worth the coin is another matter.

Come along and be a part of a genuine night of malt discovery!
"Praying for Inspiration, Looking for Ideas, Hunting for Volunteers"

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Reply by Johannes: Right about the Bunnahabhain - I'm still not sure wether I prefer the Bunnahabhain 12 or Bowmore 12 in the "soft" Islay section. Alas - no further malt news at the moment - perhaps the fact that I've emptied my third bottle of blackbottle in 2 months - great stuff at a great price.

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Subject:  Thought you might like this...
Date:  Thu, 26 Nov 1998

Found this on a web site called "the bug".
Its by a sydneysider called Wayne Watson.

THE 20TH CENTURY DOLPHIN

A 20th Century dolphin
Sat beside me in the park
He took a swig of whisky
And he lit a long cigar.

"You know," he said,
"What dolphin's dread
When we are out at sea?
Getting too much water
In our single malt whisky.
Yep. Getting too much water
In our single malt whisky."

I thought, at first:
"There's something strange
About this scenery -
This whisky-sodden dolphin
Should be swimming in the sea!"
But, as we sat and chatted
On that early evening watch
I could clearly see his point
About the water and the scotch.

As he elaborated
On the wetness of the sea
The need for him to come ashore
Made perfect sense to me!

So, let's ponder for a moment
As we're sipping on our rye
On what poor dolphins must go through
To keep their whisky dry.

They have the fins
To pour it, in
The finest style and class
But, once the whisky's poured
They've got
Nowhere to put the glass.
And if they like it chilled
Well, although that would be nice
It's a trip to the Antarctic
Just to get the ice!

Oh, I know we've got our problems
Empty glass and empty purse
But think about those dolphins
And you know things could be worse
We could be lying on our backs
In the vastness of the sea
Striving to keep water
From our single malt whisky.

Craig Daniels
Downunda

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Also available: Craig's prE-pistles from 1999, 2000 and 2001.
Check out
Craig's Personal Profile for an overview of all E-pistles or Click HERE to jump to the latest issue of Malt Maniacs.
 

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Copyright © Johannes van den Heuvel & the Malt Maniacs
Malt Maniacs is hosted by those friendly people at
Scotchwhisky.com
 

Author:  Craig Daniels

prE-pistles #1 - #10

Covering: 1998

Also available: prE-pistles over 1999, 2000 and 2001

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