Black Book
Blind Test

In the year 1991, my disgust for Jacques Chirac, 'Le Frog Majeur', had grown so bad that I had to take some form of action. My conscience forced me to make a drastic decision in order to hurt 'Duke Nuke-Em' where it hurts most; his wallet. 

Perhaps as a result of those last few drinks, I don't seem to be able to recall the name of the cafe, and now it's gone forever. Since that fateful night, however, I've become a great fan of Scotch Single Malt Whisky. It was the beginning of the search for my personal Holy Grail: The Perfect Single Malt.

That very same night we sampled three other single malts he had on stock (Glenmorangie, Glenfiddich and Bunnahabhain, if memory serves) and the differences in taste and character truly amazed me. The barkeeper was either extremely drunk or he liked my cocktail recipes very much, because when I finally stumbled to the door to find my bicycle and get some sleep, he put the half-empty bottle of Lagavulin in my trembling hands.

I sniffed the glass suspiciously and the rest is - as they say - history.
As it turned out that I had my first whiff of a
16 years old Lagavulin.
It wasn't like anything I've smelled or tasted before, but when I had finished my glass I knew I had found my alternative for cognac and armagnac. Apart from Glenfiddich, it was my first Single Malt experience and Lagavulin is still my favorite.

I will never forget the flash of wistful contempt that -only for a moment- crossed his fat face. He explained to me that I was about to experience a Single Malt Scotch Whisky; something completely different from a blended whisky. He argued that single malts were a class of whisky on their own and these bottles shouldn't even be allowed in the same drinks cabinet with a Johnnie Walker Red Label.
Of course he was right...  

He poured me a finger of the unknown drink, pathetically trying to hide the label from my curious eyes. Being of a somewhat suspicious nature, I feared an attempt to poison me, so I kept bugging the bartender until he finally admitted the amber liquid before me was Scotch. I told him I already had a whisky that evening and that it would be a shame to spoil my interesting little experiment.

Around midnight I developed a sudden urge for fresh air. Perhaps I just had too many intelligent conversations for one evening... I went outside and just sat there for a while, enjoying the last spasms of summer. After a while, I felt ready to resume my duties and went back in there. The bass line of Bruce Hornsby's "The way It Is" was overloading the speakers and everything seemed wonderful and laid back. When I reached the bar, the bartender - who knew of my experiment - grinned benevolently and shoved a cognac-glass in my direction. When he reached for a mysterious green bottle I told him of my boycott, but he assured me my next drink wouldn't be French.

a Chateau Margot (erm... Well at that time, my boycott didn't include French wine yet...)
an Absolut Wodka (with ice)
an Absolut Peppar Wodka (with lots of ice - heavy stuff)
an "Oude Jenever" (a revolting Dutch drink; Old Gin)
a "Beerenburger" (another revolting Dutch drink)
a Tawny Port
a Ruby Port
a Johnnie Walker Red Label (
with ice, which isn't really a big sin with this stuff...)
a Southern Comfort (again, with ice)
a "Kamikaze" (a cocktail by the fat bartender- I forgot the ingredients)
a Cointreau (liqueur, with ice)
a "Niagara" (One of my own creations, it makes you piss like you wouldn't believe...)

It was a hot summer night in August and a very small cafe near the Uilenburgersteeg in Amsterdam was to close down forever.
I had visited the place a few times before, and had exchanged some cocktail-recipes with the barkeeper; a very fat guy in flowery shorts.

With tears in my heart and pain in my eyes I started my "Grande Boycotte de la Cognac et Armagnac". It goes without saying the first few weeks were hell. I deeply missed these liquid poems from France I had enjoyed so innocently before, and it wasn't long before I desperately started looking for an alternative.
And this is how it all began...  


When the cafe was forced to close down, I was invited to the Great Booze-Up on it's final night; All Night Free Drinks, absolutely free.
(Apparently, the owner wanted to minimize his stock). Of course, this was an offer I could not resist. Because the drinks were (I have to stress this) absolutely free, I decided to not drink the same drink twice that evening. I tried to persuade my friends to join me in this interesting experiment, but they just laughed and laughed and laughed....

Parts of the evening are vague, but I remember the following drinks;
(consumed not necessarily in that order...)


After nearly losing my keys in the canal I managed to unlock and mount my bike. Have you ever driven dead-drunk through Amsterdam in the summer, desperately trying to protect a half-filled bottle with "the water of life"?  Probably not, but I can assure you: It's a wonderful experience...


My Amazing Discovery

Lagavulin 16
Aqua Vitae

French president Jacques Chirac

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