Pandora III - Report 001 - 14/03/2003 - 23:05 GMT - Klaus

'Strangers in the night'

Slowly the sun sinks behind the horizon. I rise from the sofa and on my way to the sleeping room I whisper "hey baby, it's time to meet the strangers in the night" into my girl friend's ear. Expectant I lie on the bed. Muffled noises come from the living room. My sensual awareness is put is pushed to the limit. Damned why does she always need so much time.

- Cut -

Three glasses full of amber liquor stand before me.
Yes, the "strangers in the night" are unknown single malts (you didn't honestly believe to read a love story on maltmadness?). Every now and again Marlou, my woman, pours me a blind triple. She can choose from 20 + open malts on my shelves. Sampling malts without knowing what is in the glass has several advantages;
1. You sharpen your sences because you want to find out which malt is in the glass.
2. Infos like pricetag, distillery, age, marketing babble or ratings from other people, - all this doesn't count when you taste blind.

I have discovered that my ratings from blind and known tastings can sometimes differ a lot.
On average I score 50% which means one malt correct right from the start, one with a little help and third one is a blank. Not quite impressive but I think there is still hope for me. Johannes is a trained blind taster. Look here for the game likes to play with his brother. Lately our two single malt heavy-weights, Craig Daniels and Serge Valentin, told us about the difficult task of assigning 4 c/s malts to 4 different regions in Scotland. This event is known as Pandora-Project 2.

I am to participate on the next Pandora-Project, "Find the Lowlander among five Speysiders". My partners are Mark Adams and Michael Wade from the US. The sample bottles from Johannes with the malts have arrived here in Hamburg since several weeks. Everything was ok, but when I sampled some malts together with my friend Michael Fornalczyk at home, I couldn't withstand the temptation. I told him about "Pandora 2", he agreed to assist me during contest and then we sniffed at the bottles.
Don't cry out "Cheaters!", the little sniffing before the time has come will not help you much. And besides, we are both peatheads. Speyside malts are not our number ones and the Lowlanders - well we could easily live without them.

Sample #1: Gold, Michael says Glen Farclas, Glen Livet or something like that,.
Michael is quite sure that he has sampled this malt before. I agree. It must be a well known Speysider.

Sample #2: Amber, is really terrible and stinks. Michael says it is like the new Edradour.
It reminded me of Glendronach 12yo OB traditional.

Sample #3: Amber, Michael says "Pumpernickel = brown bread.
I say sherry monster! Maybe a good Mac or an a'bunadh.

Sample #4: Gold, is very woody, some hints of sherry. I am curious how it will smell in the glass

Sample #5: Gold - the palest malt, this seems to be the Lowlander, citrus aroma

Sample #6: Amber - Again a big sherry monster.
Michael says that it smells like MacBarrens Plumcake pipe tobacco.

I have kept the first impressions very short because it should be only a short flashlight. To find out the Lowlander among the Speysiders seems to be an easy job. Never have heard of a Lowland sherry monster. And if I believe in this fact this excludes at least 3 of samples. To identify the distilleries will be the more difficult job. I have studied the wise books and found that there are more than 50. Having only sampled malts from about half of them will not make the task easier.
Bla bla bla bla - enough of that whistling in the dark to encourage myself.

Come on Johannes. Give the signal and let the games begin.

Klaus
 

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Pandora III - Report 002 - 19/03/2003 - 08:05 GMT - Johannes

OK, Klaus - here's the signal....

Let the games begin!
Just to be on the safe side, here are the details for this third edition of Pandora's Box:

The Clue: I've hidden a Lowlander inbetween a bunch of Speysiders. All are OB's
The Task: Spot the odd one out in the bunch of six (2 points) and guess the Top 3 'likely candidate' distilleries (3/2/1 points).

That's all the information I can divulge at this stage.

Peace,

Johannes
 

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Pandora III - Report 003 - 19/03/2003 - 09:35 GMT - Mark

Tonight I am commencing with the first viewing and nosing of my Pandora Box.

Actually, there are two boxes, and I will refer to them as the 'to box' and the 'from box'. Interesting observation here: if Johannes labeled these boxes correctly (they were taped together - side to side - and mailed as one box), then Americans and the Dutch label parcels exactly opposite from each other. The address labels were in the 'correct' locations for US mail procedures, yet the 'to' and 'from' designations were switched. US: 'from' (called 'return address' here) goes in the upper left of the 'top panel' of the parcel, and the 'to' (called 'addressee' here) goes in the center or lower center of the 'top panel' or the parcel. That is why the box came to me with the address crossed through in pen (I assume, by a postal worker). Interesting ... My guess is that this is what took the East Coasters such a long time with Michael's Pandora Box. So similar, and yet very different!

Okay, the keyboard test is over, everything works, now it's time to begin the fun!
These boxes that Johannes chose for packing are excellent! The whisky minis are wrapped in newspaper, and the box is fully lined with both rigid and soft foam padding. Nothing shook or rattled around before opening -- very tight, and not any loud sloshing either.
Great packing there, Jo!

Unpacking the to box: Wow! I am having a great nosing day (night).
I can smell the newsprint ink and Johannes' tobacco (smoke a cigar within a day or two of mailing, Johannes?).
We'll see if I can identify the Lowlander right away. I probably don't have much chance of more than that tonight, but I need a goal, so there it is. Find the Lowlander. I'll note at this point that the first box I opened was the first I should have opened: the bottles are marked '1, 2, 3', so 4, 5, and 6 are in the 'from' box. If the Lowlander is one of these three bottles, I would say it would likely be Bottle #1, based on color alone; however, we all know how misleading color can be. I think that the from box will have the Lowland whisky. Bottles 1-3 all have great color. #1 is light amber, maybe golden; #2 is quite a few shades deeper, but not very dark, a good medium darkness; #3 is also not dark dark, but ever so slightly darker than #2. After a quick, brief shake to disturb the surface of the liquid and temporarily add air to the liquid, I noted that Bottle #1 created more bubbles or foam. Bottle #2 gave significantly less, and #3 was the least of all, and its foam died almost immediately. Now, if I recall the method correctly, a higher alcohol content will create more foam when shaken. That being the case, I would say that Bottle #1 is likely 50% a.b.v. or higher (cask strength?), and #2 is maybe 43%, with #3 probably bottled at 40%. I could be wrong, and I will surely have a better idea as I begin to nose and taste, but these are my initial guesses.

The smells: nosed from these bottles, briefly, uncapping and recapping immediately prior and following the nose.
Sample #1 smells not too hot (cask strength or not?), and what I would call 'typical'.
Sample #2 was very different from it's subordinate brother. My first thought was that this one is musty.
It also had a Lowland metallic pinch to it. Or, did it? It certainly wasn't citrusy.
Okay, enough for those guys ...
Now Sample #3. First thought: Talisker. If you know Talisker, you know what I mean. But, wait ... these are supposed to be Sherried Speysiders, with the lurksome, loping Lowlander thrown in for funsies. So, what maid me think Bottle #3 could be a Talisker? I didn't really think it was, but it had a similar nose. This one really has me thinking ... definitely some spiciness here. Tough nut.

I'll revisit these bottles again soon and start the nosing all over again. I must start cooking now, and with all of the spices going I doubt I'll be able to sort out the odoriferocities well enough to do any good, so ...

Until then, cheers!

Mark
 

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Pandora III - Report 004 - 19/03/2003 - 12:10 GMT - Johannes

Hiya Mark (& other members of the Pandora III crew),

Hehehe, it seems like you are indeed having a good nose day.
I packed the packages after a meeting of our amateur philosopher's society 'Poly Hymnia' at my place. We had been smoking all night - cigars and other legal smokable substances. Maybe the smell made some US postal workers hang on to it for a bit longer ;-)

Your 'foam' c.q. 'bubbles' remarks are very interesting. I've noticed differences in 'bubbliness' between different malts but I've never thought about any relation between this phenomenon and certain other specifics of the whisky. You're saying the bubblier the whisky, the higher the alcohol percentage, right? Any thoughts on the cause? I wonder if there's a relation between age and bubbliness as well. Since Klaus is a physicist he might be able to shed some light on this...

Anyway - these are my comments for now.
I'll chime in again after the first tasting reports are in.

Peace,

Johannes
 

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Pandora III - Report 005 - 19/03/2003 - 14:14 GMT - Michael

Far shorter notes on my end, I'll take them one bottle at a time. 
Due to time constraints, I'll do 2 bottles a night until the end of the week to catch up after this solitary one.
(Dinner was being prepared after this and got in the way of further evaluation.)

Sample #1 - initial impressions;

Color: Light gold
Nose: Mellow, a bit prickly on the nose.  Light colored. A bit of buttercream, herbal notes. 
After a few minutes a bit of chocolate and wax.
Palate: A bit harsh. Very light. Herbal. A bit Sweet. Somewhat dry.

Notes:
Youngish based on the legs and taste. Not cask strength based on taste and shaking method.
40-46%?  Not very woody in the least. Could be refill or a mix, but the sherry does not come out in this one. 
Somewhat run of the mill and not a standout by any means.

Michael
 

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Pandora III - Report 006 - 19/03/2003 - 21:37 GMT - Mark

Well, I have unpacked the from box containing Pandora Bottles 4-6, and I am so overwhelmed by the tobacco that I need to remove the boxes and packing to another area. Just too much influence and competition between smells. That must have been one hell of a PhilosoSmoke you had, Johannes!

Color notes on Pandora Bottles 4-6: Pandora Bottle #4 matches almost perfectly the shade of Pandora Bottle #1. Pandora Bottle #5 is the lightest of the Pandora III flight - not amber at all, but straw colored, like a Chardonnay wine perhaps. A touch deeper than that, but indeed very light. Likely no E150 in use here. Pandora Bottle #6 seems to match the darkness in spirit of Pandora Bottles 2 and 3. The graduation of color of the Pandora III flight seems to be, from light to dark: Pandora Bottles 5, 1, 4, 2, 3, 6.

Bubble 'test' on Pandora Bottles 4-6: Pandora Bottles 4 and 6 had quicker dying bubbles than Pandora Bottle 5, but again, that doesn't necessarily mean anything. According to a Master Blender myth the more foam or bubbles created on the surface of a shaken whisky would indicate a higher a.b.v., but this is not scientifically based, as far as I know. Regardless, I am restricted to what I can see, smell, and taste. So, guided by what I see here, I might guess that Pandora Bottle 5 would be a good candidate for a cask strength whisky, and Pandora Bottles 4 and 6 might have been bottled at 43 or 40% a.b.v. Pandora Bottle 5 held it's bubbles longer than Pandora Bottle 1, so I would guess that it is a bit 'stronger'. Ranking the samples by a.b.v. guess, I would place them, lowest to highest, like this: Pandora Bottles 2, 3, 4, 6, 1, 5.

So, now where am I? Oh yes ...
I must now nose these little guys - Pandora samples #4-6, I mean.
Okay, here goes...

Sample #4 is very sherried, and exhibiting a floral note.
It's bright too, but the sherry sweetens the brightness quite a lot.

Sample #5 is the Lowlander. Grassy, touch of citrus. St. Magdalene? Rosebank, Bladnoch?
Nosing and tasting in a glass should help here. I'll set up samples #2 and #5 H2H to check, but I think I've spotted the Lowie. Clove. How to miss that smell? Never could.

Sample #6 is telling me that it has clove. Perhaps samples #3 and #6 also deserve a H2H.
I'll tell you now, though, that the spiciness I found in #3 was not as apparent right after smelling #6.
I'll just have to wait to see how all of this develops.

I should sometime write about my thoughts on tastings: tongue prep (clean, scraped, etc.), glass prep, how many glasses, covers/lids, water ... all of these variables. As soon as I begin to pour these samples I will begin the arduous task of cleaning the glass between rounds. I don't yet have multiple glasses of the same style and shape, so to use more glasses but of varying styles will be avoided. I hope to pick up several Glencairn Nosing Glasses this Saturday at the WoW Expo. But for now, I will be using the Riedel taster's glass with the 20ml-well in its stem. The tulip shape of the bowl is good. Along with the Glencairns I would also like to acquire a few monster bowl cognac glasses, to hit the other end of the spectrum. They really bring out the nuances of scent.

Okay. Where to begin? I think I will let this be the end of this segment.
I will compose another installment when I begin the pouring.

Cheers, all! -- Mark.
 

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Pandora III - Report 007 - 19/03/2003 - 23:22 GMT - Klaus

Hi maniacs,

we should carefully listen to the clues Johannes gave us.
He said that there are  five Speysiders and 1 Lowlander in the bunch. All of them are OBs. He never promised that all Speysiders are sherried ones. But the sherry could be a strong indicator for Speyside, or have you ever heard of a Lowland sherry-monster?

The hint that our samples only contain OBs makes our job a lot easier. Especially because IB often are more or less far away from the typical distillery profile. Do you agree that in Speyside there are 51 candidates and in the Lowlands we have 10 distilleries? (I got my infos from the maps of Charles MacLean - Malt Whisky) That is quite a lot.  But we should take into account that Johannes' golden handshake from his ex-company is slowly dissolving. This means we can exclude malts from mothballed or dead distilleries, which are available only at astronomical prices (e.g. Ladyburn).

Mark's method of estimating the abv by shaking the bottle and observing the bubbliness was new to me.
I looked into the Handbook of Chemistry and Physics for different solvent data of air in water and ethanol but was not succesful. Maybe my friend Michael, a chemist, can help, when we do our first serious tasting (possibly at the end of this week).

Finally I have two questions for Johannes. Who is the authority for assigning the distilleries to regions? Can we rely on Michael Jackson Malt Whisky Companion?  I ask because you could be a tricky little devil and count Glengoyne to the Lowlands because it lies just on imaginary border between Highlands and Lowlands. There may also be some doubts with Speyside distilleries. Question 2 is: How do you define OB. Are the United Distillers Flora & Fauna bottles OB's, or do you count them as independent bottlers?

Tschüs

Klaus
 

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Pandora III - Report 008 - 20/03/2003 - 02:05 GMT - Mark

Hi, Klaus,

Cup your hand over the top of the glass and give the spirit a good shake.  If a 'ring of pearls' forms, this indicates the whisky is probably 50% or above.  If no bubbles form and last, then the whisky is likely to be standard strength, e.g. 40 or 43%.
taken from http://www.bruichladdich.com/how_to_taste.htm
More info on http://www.whisky-world.com/words/index.php?azletter=B&viewword=9

I heard this direct from Jim McEwan last year at the WoW Expo.

Cheers -- Mark.
 

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Pandora III - Report 009 - 20/03/2003 - 04:55 GMT - Michael

It seems I have my task cut out for me.  It's time to step up to the plate.

With regard to color, I would say 5,1,4,2,6,3, lightest to darkest. It was a tough call from 6 to 3.
With regard to strength, I usually let my tounge do the guessing. The bubbling method has granted me limited success, but equally it has failed me as well.  Sample #1 seems sweet, mellow and flat. Sample #2 seemed hotter, but not so much so.

Sample #1 revisted:  I really don't think this is cask strength. There's just no prickle.
I pick up bananna on the nose.  Grew more pleasant on the nose but still underwhelming on the palate. 
Probably a run of the mill 10-12 year old OB Speyside bottling?

Sample #2
Color: Light red copper gold
Nose: Sherry.  Rich. Nuts.  Heather, honey.
Palate: Oily, zesty, slightly hot.  Christmas spices.
Notes:  This definitely has significant sherry influences. Macallan? Glenfarclas?
I don't think this is our Lowland suspect. A big malt. Quite a nice dram.  46-50%?

Sample #3
Color: Reddish amber
Nose: Rubber, pear, sherry,
Palate: Musty, stony.  Sherry for sure.
Notes:  Wow.  Like liquid dust.  Very musty, but not in a dingy way.
I don't see the resemblance to Talisker in the nose or palate. I think this is a Speysider too. 
Somewhere in the 40-46 range?  Don't think I've tasted this one before - unlike anything I have previously tasted.

General Notes: I think it's between #1 and #5 for the Lowlander. Although it's not set in stone; I think my mind sees the lighter colors and associate this with lighter, grassy, herbal and citrus notes. Man, a psychologist would have a field day with me!
I'm convinced that Sample #2 and #3 are sherried speysiders.
Any ideas?  Hints?

Well, that's enough damage for tonight.  My head is swimming. 
I hope my words even make sense.  Then again, shrug, it's all for fun anyway.

Michael
 

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Pandora III - Report 010 - 20/03/2003 - 09:45 GMT - Johannes

Hints, Michael?

Are you daft? I'm afraid you'll have to wait a little longer.
How about I send you some additional clues as soon as I've received your scores?

However, Klaus asked some valid questions.
When I said 'Speyside' and 'Lowland' I've used the classifications from the 'Distillery Data' page - as far as I know that's the same classification MJ uses in his 'Whisky Companion'. With regards to the 'officialness' of the bottlings: good question. You should try to interpret the moniker 'OB' as widely as possible. All 'owner' bottlings (for example Flora & Fauna or the UDRM range) are considered to be official bottlings.

Meanwhile, I noticed Mark already did some H2H sniffing. I think that's a smart plan. I can't say the same about his glassware, though. Those Riedel glasses sound like the ones that scored so bad in Klaus' Big Glassware Test in MM#4. Mark, I strongly suggest you save some of the whisky and try it in the big cognac bowls if you can get them. I'll bet the malts will suddenly appear very different!

That's it for now; I'm eagerly awaiting further reports.

Sweet drams,

Johannes
 

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Pandora III - Report 011 - 22/03/2003 - 20:20 GMT - Michael

Well folks, it's Saturday afternoon, the sun is shining and it's spring in New England.
What better way to celebrate than with whisky!

I've been having more difficulty discering "overproof" malts than I thought I was going to. 
I seem to equate the harshness of what I guess to be a youngish whisky into the bite of alcoholic strength.  At this point these are mostly just initial impressions.  Next week I will H-T-H samples and will group them into similar "categories", and finally I will taste the entire flight together.  Of this "flight" I clearly favored sample #5 (the Lowlander) and then Sample #6.  Sample #4 I disliked somewhat, but liked more than Sample #1 which seems to be my least favorite so far, if I recall correctly.
Next week I will  group 1, 5 and 4 together and then 2, 3 and 6 and HTH them, with final notes and scores.

Sample #4 / Color: Slightly darker gold than #1
Nose: Feinty spirits.  Harsh and tinny.  Youngish? Mint oils. Perfume.
Palate: Fruity, a bit of a burn. Higher proof?  I don't get any/much sherry influence in here.  Coconut.
Notes: Reminscent somewhat of Sample #1 in the hotness, but far more pleasant.  This is a good everyday whisky,  It's bold and big.  I don't think this one is a Lowlander.  Not a home run, but a decent everyman's malt.

Sample #5 / Color: The lightest of the bunch.  Straw gold
Nose: Fruity perfume, a hint of medicine, bannana and raisin. Citrus. Vanilla.
Palate: Hot.  This one has definitely got to be higher proof.  Flowers, exotic fruits, lemongrass.
Comments:  Simply wonderful.  I think we have our Lowlander.  St. Magdalene/Linlithgow? 
Well rounded and aged.  My pick of the bunch so far. I would drink barrels of the stuff.

Sample #6 / Color: Dark copper gold (similar to Sample #2).
Nose: Hello Mr. Sherry. Nice to meet you. Prickly, high proof?
Holiday spices, nutmeg, cinnamon, dark nuts.  Bitter chocolate.
Palate:  Cask strength alert.  This one set off a fire deep within my stomach and it kept rising up.
Comments:  A heavily sherried Speysider of decent age?  Wonderful. Farclas?  Macallan?

Michael Wade
 

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Pandora III - Report 012 - 22/03/2003 - 20:33 GMT - Mark

I actually started reading Michael and Klaus' notes yesterday.
At first I thought I would not read them until I had completed my own intial battery of nosing and tasting, but then I figured, why not. Plus I know it's nice to know someone is reading the notes as they are posted! So, hey, Michael -- nice notes! I can't wait to get to the same juncture, though whether or not we'll agree can only be guessed.

I leave for WoW and a face to face introduction to Davin in an hour or so. I'll raise a dram to all of you as soon as possible -- I think inside the 'Laddie class. I'll also get to meet SlurrDave and DrEntropy, and who knows else.

Mellow Dram Addict
(melodramatic?)
Mark.
 

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Pandora III - Report 013 - 26/03/2003 - 00:26 GMT - Klaus

First serious tasting of the Pandora III malts in Hamburg. We, that is Michael (MF) and me (KE), arranged the malts from pale to darker and that is the order in which we tasted them. Previous reports in this transcript contained only reasonable tasting notes from Michael Wade. Michael (MF) and I read the notes when we had finished our own tasting session.

Sample #5: aka the Lowlander. colour: (MF) pale gold (KE) pale gold
nose: (MF) fresh, fruity, malty. (KE) very intensive, flowery, fresh, oranges, citrus zest.
A little bit malty and winy. In a big cognac bowl the citrus note increase in intensity
taste: (MF) burning, bitter, malty, citrus ?, no sherry
(KE) ginger, citrus, candied ginger in bitter chocolate, burns, prickels on the tongue.
score: (MF) 70 (KE) 77 - I like the nose but the taste is only medium
First guesses: (MF) Auchentoshan, Littlemill, Rosebank
(KE) Auchentoshan, Bladnoch, Rosebank, Littlemill. Both - definetely no Glenkinchie 10yo OB
We don't really think that it is an Auchentoshan 10yo OB (although the taste changes a lot with different batches).
But the problem with the other distilleries is that it is difficult to get OBs from them. Furthermore we are quite convinced that this is no overproof malt which excludes UDRMs. BTW: the empty glass developed an unpleasant hodeur after a rather short time.

Comments:  It seems that we all agree that this is the Lowlander (even the first glance notes of Mark indicate it). Michael votes for St. Magdalene/ Linlithgow. Nice idea. I would be willing to agree because the malt is rather good for a Lowlander. But then we have the problem with the OBs. Therefore I placed the Auchi first. Maybe an impression I don't know yet. When Michael F. read Michael W.'s note "I would drink barrels of the stuff" he laughed and said " Well, if I had to decide, he could have all the barrels of it"

Sample #4: colour: (MF) gold (KE) full gold
nose: (MF) fruity and a touch of wood
(KE) less intensive than sample #5 but darker, alcohol, fruity (berries from the woods, peaches, apricots, prunes)
taste: (MF) raisins?, apricots?, peaches?, prunes, no sherry, chocolade in the finish.
(KE) prunes, cinamon, grapefuits.
score: (MF) 75 (KE) 77
For this sample we pursued the problem with almost scientific eagerness. I wrote the names of 61 Speyside distilleries in a list. In addition I had the pricelist of the Weinquelle and Johannes' stock list of malts open on my PC. Michael studied the malt whisky companion. Then we checked: Are there any OBs from the distillery? Do the OBs mentioned by Michael Jackson have a compatible colour? Are the malts still affordable? Are the malts available in Johannes' stocklist? Does sample #4 has any resemblance with Speysiders we know?

Here are the results:  Bad news. Johannes' stocklist did not help in any way. Why? If we would take J's stocklist as the ultimate guide there would often be no valid malt which could be assigned to a sample. Seems that Johannes is no good bureaucrat who keeps his info up to date. Anyway we managed to eleminate 35 malts using the other criterions.  The most probable candidates are: Aberlour (colour problems),  Balvenie (definetely no DW), Cragganmore (we have no memories on this malt), Glen Grant (no experience with various expressions), Glenfarclas (definetely no 10yo, 12yo - but there are so many GF OBs), Glenlivet (no 12yo French oak OB), Longmorn (memories are fading), Miltonduff (never tasted), Tamdhu (never tasted), Tomintoul (never tasted).
We really need help with this sample.

Comments:  I agree with Michael Wade that this is an "everyday-malt".
Mark, where did you get the big sherry nose? I can't
seem to find it and Michael W. has problems too.

Sample #1: colour: (MF) full gold (KE) deep gold
nose: (MF) unpleasant stink, then in the background pears, banannas (KE) unpleasant like the new Edradour 10yo, like the rotten mattress lying in the attic after a damaged rainwater tube had released some water there, mushy bananas
taste: (MF) coffee, toffee, chocolate (KE) citrus, malt + burnt candies
score: (MF) 73 (KE) 63 The nose is really disgusting. I am not so keen to know the truth. Speyburn?
Johannes, it seems that you were fishing in the low budget region with this sample.

Comments:  It seems they Michael Wade and the Hamburg crew seem to agree that this is a (sub)standard malt.
I have one
big problem: do herbs and buttercream stink in the USA?

Sample #2: colour: (MF) old gold to amber (KE) amber
nose: A TYPICAL CASE OF A MALT FROM A BOTTLE WITH A ROTTEN CORK !!!!
Johannes - this is unfair.  Michael and I would swear that this happened.  You are a coward Johannes! You were afraid to bring back the stinkfoot Edradour back to your liquorist. You never brought back the miserable bitch of a Bowmore Darkest. Do you think your liquorist might laught at you? And now you dispose your single malt waste in Germany and the USA. Shame on you Mr. van den Heuvel! A rotten cork can ruin the strongest whisky. We know that from a bottle of Lagavulin 16yo OB.  Even this strong Islay was ruined by a rotten cork. Btw. our liquorist replaced it with out raising a brow. Don't think that we are cowards. We let the malt breathe in its glass for almost 2 hours but when tried it again, it was terrible as at the beginning. Heroicly we dumped the ruined malt (maybe Macallan) into the kitchen sink.

Comments: Have you really drunk a whole dram Michael?
Did you wake up with a disgusting taste the next morning? I know from my experience with rotten corks (containing fungus) that the aftertast is almost impossable to eleminate. Even several beers after a "fungi" dram don't help.

Sample #6: colour: (MF) amber (KE) amber
nose: (MF) sherry, wood, fruits, full and balanced, peaches, prunes, apricots
(KE) sherry, sweet and transparent, furniture polish, pale wood.
With some time the nose gets more organic, a splash of water increases the spicy notes
taste:  (MF) overproof and the same aspects as in the nose
(KE) sherrymonster with spices and a hint of fruit, overproof
score: both 85 points
Our first guess is Aberlour A'bunadh, then comes Glenfarclas, Balvenie, Macallan.
We checked the abv with a dram of Glen Farclas 105 (60%, OB) and verified that sample #6 is indeed a c/s malt.

Comments:  It seems that we agree that this is a c/s malt. Michael why didn't you think at the A'bunadh? Mark also detected some spicyness although he did not drink it yet. I think the spicyness is stronger in the taste than in the nose.

Sample #3: colour: (MF) dark amber (KE) dark amber
nose: (MF) sherry, fruit, cherry liqueur, a little bit stingy
(KE) sherry, cherries, wood, like the Brora Plantinumm  but without peat and smoke, prickling in the nose, fresh
taste: can't read MFs notes anymore,
(KE) fruity, stone fruits, a touch of bitterness, wood. A little bit disappointing after the great nose, lasts not very long
score: both 78 points. No idea what this could be. Benrinnes 15yo F&F?

Comments: I cannot detect connections with Talisker, Mark.
And hey, - Michael, what do you mean with liquid dust. I don't
think that this malt is dry.

Just some final words. This is just the first flight.
We will investigate the malts on wednesday next week.
And then every word we say really counts.
This reports just gives a survey of our first impressions.

Klaus
 

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Pandora III - Report 014 - 26/03/2003 - 01:55 GMT - Johannes

Well well, Klaus...

The reports from Hamburg are colourful as ever ;-)
I quote: 'U
npleasant stink ... like the rotten mattress lying in the attic'.
All I can say at this point is that you might want to give sample #1 another chance.
My own notes confirm the 'fruity' elements you found. I don't think it's that bad, actually.

I'm quite sure sample #2 doesn't suffer from bad cork.
In fact, I recently opened my second bottle of this malt and it smelled and tasted just like the first.
However, while I enjoyed this bottle it did remind me of the Edradour 10yo and Bowmore Darkest, so you're not far off the mark there. When I tried to put words to my feelings for this one the phrase 'It's a thin line between love and hate' came to mind. Sherry, wood and smoke can make a lethal combination... Maybe you should try to forget about your 'bad cork' association with single malts that show this combination - when you check my tasting notes you'll find that some of my favorites have the same characteristics.

To me, sherry is the defining element of sample #3 as well.

With regards to sample #4 (and as a general remark) I would advise you not to take my stock list as a guideline. I did some shopping especially for this Pandora flight and my recourses and shopping skills still allow me to pick up a decent bottle now and then.

You seem to be pretty convinced sample #5 is the Lowlander.
Are you quite sure? Maybe your eyes are deceiving you...

As far as sample #6 is concerned, I have nothing to add at this point.

I hope these observations help you (& the transatlantic maniacs) along.

Sweet drams,

Johannes
 

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Pandora III - Report 015 - 26/03/2003 - 11:45 GMT - Klaus

Hi Maniacs,

Here come some remarks on Johannes hints:

#1 - I opened the sample bottle again and took a sniff. Not a stinker. My impressions are almost the same as stated right at the beginning. I think in our final tasting we will examine this malt very carefully. Different glasses, treatment with water, being patient with the unfolding aroma. I hope that this malt will find more grace in my nostrils and on my tastebuds.

#2 - Michael prepared our drams from a glass with calibration marks (We have to be careful with the malt because 2 persons share the samples). When we sniffed at the then empty "calibration" glass it was very obvious - rotten cork. At this moment I would have taken any bet  (e.g. a bottle of St. Magdalenen UDRM) against someone who said the opposite.  Later on the malt was just a lousy stinker. And the fact that the unpleasant aroma didn't dissolve within 2 hours encourages me in my opinion that we did right to dump it in the kitchen sink.  For me the only advantage in knowing the name of this malt is that I can avoid it under all circumstances.

I asked Serge, if he knows heavy sherried malts with a terrible stinky nose. He didn't help me very much, because he said that this would give me an unfair advantage to my competitors.  That is just like I want I want- I would not want to cheat.
The only usable info I got from Serge was: To me, a "dump in the kitchen sink" malt is ALWAYS a malt that's been oddly treated by quick wood'n'wine finishing (either one time or two+ times). And Speysiders aren't the only malts that have been treated that sneakily...

Suddenly the truth was revealed to my eyes.  The malt was certainly aged in a first fill oloroso (?) sherry cask made from untreated latrine wood.  This explains everything. Ahh, wait, - there might have also been a 6 months swamp water ton finish. Unfortunately I don't know any distillery which is bold enough for such an experiment. Any hints from the USA or from Holland?

#3 - No further hints from you, Johannes? Could that mean that I have hit the bullseye?

#4 - Johannes, - your hints suggest, that I should exclude the low budget malts from my first guess list.
I hope the Americans can give some inspirations.

#5 - It is the Lowlander because it shows typical Lowlandish features. I will not go astray from the right path.

#6 - I interpret your reply as "it is an overproof malt" and "Aberlour A'bunadh is not so bad".

The final tasting on wednesday will be a heavy duty tasting session. Michael will bring his Speysiders with him.
In case of doubt, or just for the cause of fixing landmarks, we will also taste some of his and my Spey's.

Tschüs

Klaus
 

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Pandora III - Report 016 - 28/03/2003 - 02:55 GMT - Michael

Johannes, here are my final Pandora III tasting notes;

Sample #1 / Color: Light Gold
Nose: Restrained.  Yellow fruits.   A bit harsh. Banana and cream.  Odors are trying to come through but there is a lingering, unpleasant top-note I cannot identify.  The nice waxy, creamy notes are muted a bit by this harshness.
Palate:  Mellow.  Very restrained.  A touch harsh, this is not a delicate malt, but the flavors don't explode on the palate.
Score: 70 points.
Notes:  Butter cream and herbs do not stink here.  I don't find a great amount of unpleasantness in this malt; but then again I wouldn't drink it every single day either.  This malt is pleasant, although far from my favorite.
There is that harsh topnote I don't care for.
Guesses: A simple and unassuming youngish Speyside malt, say, Glenlivet? Glenfiddich? 
Could this be a lowlander?  I think it's too broad sholdered but maybe not.

Sample #2 / Color: Red Gold
Nose: Sherry.  Spices.  Dark nuts.  Big Speyside heather honey herbal kisses.  Caramel.
Palate: Sherry zest, the sherry dominates a bit.  Do I detect some smoke? Macallan?
Score: 74 points.
Notes:  Sorry. This isn't rotten to me.  I kind of like it.
But then again I shocked my friends and liked Loch Dhu and the Orange 1979 Talisker.  Go figure.
Guesses: Glenfarclas?  Macallan?  Is this some tragic wood experiment gone awry?  Hints! Hints!  I am lost.

Sample #3 / Color: Reddish Gold
Nose:  Dry. Definitely sherried.  A bit on the musty side.  I didn't detect this originally. 
I still  get dark spices. Must and dust.  Old documents in an attic.
Palate:  Cinnamon, musty cloves, I cannot shake the dusty moniker. 
Like a shaken rug that stirs up a pleasant dust, the feeling right as you are about to sneeze.  Intriguing.
Score: 80 points.
Notes:  Sorry guys, liquid dust is a form of liquid smoke; or rather a nickname for it in the theater tech industry.  I don't think the malt
tastes dry; actually it is quite rich; yet there is a musty, dusty quality to it.  Klaus put it best when he said "stone fruits".  I also don't detect any Talisker connections.  Dust but no smoke.
Guesses: Glendronach? Benrinnes?  Glen Grant?

Sample #4 / Color: Gold
Nose:  Still a bit unbecoming on the nose.  Not much sherry here for me. Fruit.
Palate: Toasted Banana bread.  Oil.  Minty herbs.  Another big malt.  This is nice but mysterious.
Score: 84 points.
Notes:  Yummy.  I don't think I've had much experience here.
Guesses: Longmorn?  Mortlach?  Too big to be a Lowlander I think.

Sample #5 / Color: Light gold
nose: Perfume prickle.  Pear, lavender and grape skins.  Citrus. Ginger spices?
Palate: Fruity, citrus, caramel.
Score: 78 points.
Notes:  I think this is the Lowlander.
Guesses:  St. Maggy?  Auchentoshan?

Sample #6 / Color: Amber gold
Nose: Heavily sherried.  Prickly.  High proof.  Dark grains and spices, nuts, honey.
Palate: Confirmed sherry monster. 
Score: 88 points.
Guesses: Aberlour Abunadh is a good guess. Glenfarclas maybe?

It's been wonderful to participate.  I have a feeling I "did" quite poorly.
I am so lucky sometimes I don't realize I pretty much have access to some of the greatest malts on Earth all the time that I have neglected some of the more common, every day malts right in front of my eyes.  And some of them are quite nice!
It's been a real eye opening experience for me.  Thanks for letting me participate!
 

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Pandora III - Report 017 - 03/04/2003 - 11:45 GMT - Mark

Or, "Whole Lot of Nothin' Goin' On"

Well, here I am, at the ol' keyboard, transcribing notes from my first tasting session of this flight of six malts from Johannes' private scotch cache in Amsterdram. I have a liquid companion at my side -- Glen Ord 12yo ($9.99US!). It seems like weeks have passed since the package landed on my doorstep in sunny California, safe and sound, crying to be opened and examined. Michael Wade and Klaus Everding are my tasting 'partners', but everyone's schedules are so varied that we haven't been online together but one or two times, and we were all at different stages of the 'game'. We thought that we would be able to time our tastings so that the three of us could have more of a teamwork approach to deciphering these coded samples, but alas, we are working independently, and each one eager to read the others' notes. No complaints from me, though -- this is great fun, not matter how it comes out!

Johannes has us trying to guess the distillery of origin for these six malts of varying pedigree.
He has rather generously offered us an easy chance of success by simply identifying which among the six is the stand-alone Lowland malt amongst the five Speyside malts. Easy, right?
Not when tasting blind. Or is it?

Now, on to the tasting notes. On second thought, I'll describe our layout a bit.
On Monday 31 March 2003, my friend David Meckler and I got together at his place for our fortnightly malt tasting. Sometimes we take no paper notes, and sometimes we include a beer or two and dinner. But two nights ago the setting was different. We would nose and taste all six of Johannes' Pandora samples -- no dinner, no beer, no water for dilution, and no whining, crying, or complaining of any kind. Just business. I arrived later than planned, so we had only ninety minutes to sample the samples and make our notes. Our significant others were otherwise occupied for the evening, but we had agreed to curtail our tasting at a specific time, so we were 'on the clock' so to speak.

The glassware of choice was from Glencairn -- their Nosing Glasses, from Riannon Walsh's World of Whisky Expo 2003, which I had attended one week earlier. I find these glasses a bit too small for my taste, and I am not very happy bumping my nose on the opposite lip of the glass every time I want a sip. And yet, these glasses held up to the test, and provided David and me with some basic initial fragrances. I may employ another type of glass before I make my final assessments of these Pandora samples.

We cleaned and dried the glasses between each tasting. We did not engage in any palate cleansing maneuvers or spitting during this tasting. Everything poured went down the gullet, except for one of David's samples, which I will get to later. David and I each took our
own notes, and we shared our thoughts as we went along.

Some background on David might be helpful before reading his notes. David is a music teacher at a junior college in the Bay Area, and a noted composer and choral singer. He likes dogs, cooking, travel, space studies, and is married to a choral soprano chocoholic. Now, David might take exception to this rather cursory description, but it gives you some idea of where he is coming from. For you music nuts, David's first opera is titled, "Apollo 14 -- A Space Opera", and the libretto is composed entirely from the transcripts of that mission, and diary entries of the astronauts. The dialogue is set for tenor and bass soloists, and the men's diary entries, which were words only thought and not spoken, were scored for soprano and mezzo-soprano soloists. David is full of these fun eccentricities, and otherwise appears to lead a quite normal life, whatever that is.

Sample #1 - David
Nose: Light sherry, Palate/Finish: Caramel taste.
A young whisky, 'normal proof, 'not complex, not a Macallan (Since David and I have tasted offerings from The Macallan more than any other Speysider, we thought it might be interesting to see if we could find a Mac among the six samples.)
Score: 70 points.

Sample #1 - Mark
On the nose, some sherry, some spice, and nose prickle (high a.b.v.?).
Palate: more sherry, youngness, a good deal of malt.
Finish: baby powder on the early finish, nice medium-length finish.
This has no Macallan taste, and is probably 43 or 46% a.b.v.  Cask: refill or 3rd-fill sherry.
Score: 70 points .  (I will adjust these ratings throughout the process, as needed.)

Sample #2 - David
Nose: Rotten wood, something died! Smells/tastes like trumpet inhale, very metallic.
Something sweet below the stench. Not a Mac.
Score: 50 points.  (David really reacted badly to this one)

Sample #2 - Mark
Nose: Crushed earwig, musty clothes closet, cloaked spiciness, hidden sherry, some non-candy sweetness.
Palate: More spice, malt -- unlike any malt I have tasted. Not a Mac, probably >46% a.b.v.
Finish: Some sharpness after a minute or so, a longish finish that changes minute by minute.
Cask: Not sure how old, maybe mid 20s to early 30s, if a sherry cask, then it has spoiled, or changed quite a bit in maturation, or is bad wood -- not much sherry evident.
Score: 65 points.  David hates this one, and couldn't even finish his dram,
I think it deserves another chance; something very funky about it though.

Sample #3 - David
Nose: A touch of decay?, grassy, sweet, meadow smells.
Palate: Burnt taste, touch of something bitter, peat?, earthy? Strong alcohol taste, many layers.
Cask: an old bourbon casked whisky?
Score: 75 points.

Sample #3 - Mark
Nose: Some sherry, peat (no smoke).
Palate: Peat (no smoke, no sherry).
Finish: Nice balance on finish, some smoke, like rain-soaked charcoal bits.
Something Macallanish here, probably 43-46% a.b.v.
Cask: Bourbon or 3rd-fill sherry, aged in high teens or low 20s.
Score: 75 points.

Sample #4 - David
Nose: Perfume, citrus, sweetness. Palate: Bubblegum, rose water.
David drew a line shape which he called a 'notch', and said that that's how this whisky tastes to him.
Imagine a horizontal line, notch in it, a la 'tongue and groove'.  Cask: Cognac?
Score: 80 points.  (Got his attention with this one!)

Sample #4 - Mark
Nose: Unique! Candied cardamom, veiled anise, Armagnac(!!)
Palate: More of the same, but not as sweet as the nose. Probably 40-43% a.b.v.
Finish: pleasant, but medium-short, Cognac/Armagnac develops in empty glass.
This reads unlike any whisky I have engaged before, and has a somewhat feminine portfolio without any floral notes.
Cask: not sure, very unique.
Score: 73 points .  (David likes this one more than I do, but I am intrigued just the same.)

Sample #5 - David
Nose: Citrus twist?, vanilla (cask influence?).
Palate: Broad complex flavors. High proof?
A desert malt, and friendly!
Score: 82 points. (He likes this one too!)

Sample #5 - Mark
Nose: Lemon, pinched Lowland-type smell.
Palate: Malt, a.b.v. zing!, meringue, more malt. >50% a.b.v.
Finish: Meringue aplenty, very long finish. Best Lowland I have tasted so far!
Cask: Bourbon wood, aged in the teens to early 20s.
Score: 76 points. (Too low? Maybe, but I am trying to be careful and not overrate.)

Sample #6 - David
D's notes for this sample have temporarily (?) disappeared.
I hope I can locate it and have Johannes edit it into the transcript later.

Sample #6 - Mark
Nose: Sherry, spice, very Macallanish, a.b.v. heat, prunes, figs, rye (?!!)
Palate: Malt, malt, malt! Sherry (Macallan, or Glenfarclas perhaps?)
Finish: very long, gorgeous finish, develops nicely over time. At least 50% a.b.v.
Give me more of this one!!! The winner by far, and most complex too.
Cask: 1st-fill sherry
Score: 85 points.  (May rise before this is over)

Well, that's the beginning, folks. I'm not sure how right or wrong we are with our assessments, but I'm sure that the other Maniacs will let us know their opinion. If I am wrong about Sample #5 being the Lowland, then it must be Sample #4, even though #4 tastes nothing like a Lowlander to me (it is very unusual).

Congratulations on finding so much variation within Speyside, Johannes!

Mark.
 

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Pandora III - Report 018 - 03/04/2003 - 15:22 GMT - Klaus

Michael Wade has already given his final vote. Only Mark and I remain.
I think it would be good to summarize our common grounds and differences before we go into the final round.

Sample #1
Bananas in the nose  (Michael Wade + Hamburg team), Young whisky (all), unpleasant note (Michael Wade + Hamburg team) considering the taste we have very different indicators but I think we all agree that it is no Mac
Score: MW - 70 pt, MA - 70 pt, (DM - 70 pt), KE - 63 pt, (MF - 73 pt)

Sample #2
David and the Hamburg team rated this malt as terrible. Mark and Michael Wade were more diplomatic.
Nevertheless they both indicated that the malt maybe a result of a wood experiment gone awry.
Sherry and spices seem to be the indicators to describe the taste (for those who were able to drink it).
Score: MW - 74 pt, MA - 65 pt, (DM - 50 pt), KE - xxx, (MF - xxx)

Sample #3
All agree on sherry taste, musty seems to be a good indicator too, maybe stone fruits is also good.
Michael Wade insists on dusty.
Score: MW - 80 pt, MA - 75 pt, (DM - 75 pt), KE - 78 pt, (MF - 78 pt)

Sample #4
Seems to be a mystery for all. Fruits is a common nose indicator and the fruit smell shift towards cognac.
Score: MW - 84 pt, MA - 73 pt, (DM - 80 pt), KE - 77 pt, (MF - 75 pt)

Sample #5
We all agree that this is the most probable candidate for the Lowlander.
Citrusfruits (or something similar) is a descriptor used by all.
Score: MW - 78 pt, MA - 76 pt, (DM - 82 pt), KE - 77 pt, (MF - 70 pt)

Sample #6
The winner for all JOLT-participants. Aberlour a'bunnadh or Glenfarclas are the prefered distilleries.
The west coast team also takes Macallan into consideration. We all agree that this is an overproof sherry monster.
Score: MW - 88 pt, MA - 85 pt, (DM - ?? pt), KE - 85 pt, (MF - 85 pt)

My strategy to pin down the distillery names:

1. Does the malt remind me on a whisky I have allready tasted?
If the answer is "yes" I either compare with a dram from a bottle in my shelves (if it is present) or I consult my personal tasting notes.

2. Literature studies  sources mainly: Michael Jackson + whisky price list.
a) I exclude all malts from independent bottlers (UD F&F and UDRM are considered OBs, according to Johannes' hints)
b) I exclude all malts which are difficult to get
c) I exclude all malts with a pricetag of > 100 euros, malts more exprensive then 50 euros are also less probable
d) I exclude all malts which definetely have the wrong colour. (e.g. malt colour is straw, description in M.J.s book is deep amber)

3. If only there would come more suggestions for distilleries from you my fellow JOLTers. And of course I would like to hear explantions why you go for these distilleries. The traffic in that direction has been very poor so far.

Michael (F) and I will have our final tasting on next tuesday.

Tschüs,

Klaus
 

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Pandora III - Report 019 - 03/04/2003 - 19:35 GMT - Mark

BTW, Johannes, I was very intrigued by samples 2, 4, 5 and 6.
I can imagine drinking quite a lot of those before making a final decision on their drinkability.
Samples 1 and 3 did somewhat less to move me.

I have tasted some elements of Sample #2 before, so I am not convinced that it is an experiment gone awry.
Could just be something I am unfamiliar with. Sample 4 now -- that is the biggest surprise in the whole lot to me. I can't recall ever tasting a whisky even remotely similar to it. It is interesting that in my first-day nosing straight from the sample bottles I picked up loads of sherry on that one. I got no sherry from it on Monday. Weird. Also, I am missing the banana element so far.

My Lowland experience is fairly thin, and no full bottle (750ml or so) purchases so far, so, I have my work cut out for me there. I have a pretty good memory for the style as I have tasted it so far, but if this Lowlander you threw in is slightly off the chart for style then I may easily be led into a trap.

Good work, Jo.

Mark.
 

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Pandora III - Report 020 - 05/04/2003 - 11:25 GMT - Johannes

So, you need some more clues, Klaus?

OK, we're still in the Pandora 'Test Phase' so I figure it wouldn't hurt to send you a few more clues.
Next time, I'll make sure to provide all the clues at the start to make it a fair 'game'.
Here are your final clues:

1) Three of the malts are 'Glens'.
2) Two of the malts are 'overproofs' - i.e. 50% or more.
3) One of the malts is from a silent distillery.

That's all I have to say on Pandora III until I've received your final answers.

Sweet drams and good luck,

Johannes
 

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Pandora III - Report 021 - 07/04/2003 - 13:45 GMT - Klaus

Hi Mark,

Johannes' clues are really great. 3 glens - I would swear one is Glenfarclas.
2x overproof - surely #6, will investigate the others - you favour #5.
One silent still - see MM - some distilleries are shut down quite recently.

My final tasting will be tomorrow - the report will be available on Wednesday.

Tschüs

Klaus
 

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Pandora III - Report 022 - 07/04/2003 - 19:20 GMT - Mark

Hi Klaus,

I'm considering Glen Rothes for #1.
Samples
#5 and #6 were most likely to be overproofs (for me).

I still think that #5 is showing its origins too obviously.
I wonder, is there a Speysider that has Lowland qualities?
I mean, it seems that Johannes thinks he has stumped us with that one, so ... has he?
I think he wants to throw us off the track - I'll stay with #5 as the Low'er until I have a reason to shift my thinking.

Other 2 GlenX's? That deserves some thought, and more tasting.
Many Glens to choose from. Not many Glens in my stash. Tough.

I would say that #5 is a Silent Still Lowlander (St. Magdalene) but that is a pure guess, as I haven't tasted that malt, but it exhibits Lowlander elements, and is very enjoyable, which matches Magda's enjoyment by Johannes and Serge. Sample #4 could also be the Silent Still. It is so unlike other whisky I have tasted. What might this one be?

Question A: does "One of the malts is from a silent distillery" mean that the distillery was silent when the bottling was created, or that the distillery is now silent? Any chance that we are being thrown off the track here by masterfully tricky Johannes? Perhaps the silent still fell silent recently, rather than being one of the old-guard silent stills.

Question B: has Johannes said that these 6 samples are from 6 distilleries?
Is there any chance at all that two or more samples are different products from the same distillery?

Lots to think about, Klaus.

Cheers -- Mark
 

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Pandora III - Report 023 - 08/04/2003 - 12:50 GMT - Klaus

Hi Mark,

A few hours before the final tasting. I have already laid out the table (armies of whisky glasses, single malt books, price lists, printouts, tasting notes,  oat cakes, benchmark Speysiders from my shelves). Michael will come with an equally large arsenal. I think we are prepared. Here are some final remarks;

You are considering Glen Rothes for sample #1. I don't think it is Glen Rothes.
I have tasted 4 different impressions so far. All of them were different from sample #1 and I liked them better.

You could be right about sample #5. I think it is possible to find Speysiders with Lowland characteristics. And a Lowlander with Speyside characteristics? More difficult, but still possible. But I believe in truth and friendship. Why should Johannes try to lead us astray?  I don't believe that he is an insidious scoundrel.  The only valid explantion for such behaviour against his young, promising and innocent malt disciples would be to teach us a lesson "not everything is what it looks like".

I don't think sample #5 it is a Magda. I tasted the St. Magdalene 19yo UDRM twice in Amsterdam. Both times I was not in the best condition. (1. bad cold, 2.during the overproof extravaganza in the Woods). Michael remembers the St. Magdalene better and he says #5 is no St. Magdalene UDRM. I have an unopened bottle of the St. Magdalane UDRM. But I will save it for a special occasion. As far as I know the UDRM is the only OB from St. Magdalene/Linlithgow. Tried to get a confirmation from Serge on this point but no answer yet.

I have the same 'too many Glens' problem. Ignored Glen Grant and Glenfiddich almost completely.
As mentioned already yesterday, examination of tasting notes from Glenfiddich Caoran Reserve (finishing in peaty Islay casks) could be interesting  (Serge's and Johannes' remarks concerning sample #2.)

Sample #4 is the malt in which we put a lot of research effort. We compared the sample with M.J.'s tasting notes and rated the hit probability (0 means - not , 10 exactly). The criteria for the ratings were colour, OB?, availability/price. J's final hints and the Ton Overmars malt list were not known when we did the research.

Regarding silent stills: I think all distilleries marked as 'silent' on the Distillery Data page are valid candidates.

Tschüs

Klaus
 

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Pandora III - Report 024 - 09/04/2003 - 20:45 GMT - Johannes

OK - I've just received Klaus' final answers; his full report will arrive shortly.
Scroll down for the report; I've inserted my own answers for every sample in
light green.
(I sent the answers to Klaus but not to Mark - his take on the blinds should follow shortly.)

Johannes

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Pandora III - Report 025 - 09/04/2003 - 21:00 GMT - Klaus

(See http://www.marless.de/maniacs/pandora.htm for the shocking pictures of the event.)

Motto: Practice makes perfect, yes I can prove it, business or pleasure, the more you do it.
Mesdames et Messieurs, ladies and gentlemen, - here are the results from the German jury.
(MF = my friend Michael, KE = that's me, Klaus)

Sample #1
MF (Tomatin - Auchentoshan - Aberlour) 78 points
KE (Tomatin - Longmorn - Aberlour) 75 points

This one has improved for our final tasting. Seems that the rotten mattress lying in the attic has been removed.
But unfortunately they forgot to ventilate the room. We give revised tasting notes for this malt.
Nose: MF - Fruits and some wood, malt, chocolate, banana and pear elements have almost vanished, still a little stinky.
KE - apple brandy, plume cake, a few raisins, some wood, touch of pears, rather robust, still a little bit stinky.
The unpleasant odour seems to be connected with the woody notes.
Taste: MF - starts with Williams Christ pear brandy, then toffee and finally dark chocolate.
KE - spices, ginger, chocolate, brown cakes, a little bit stingy.

My first idea was the Longmorn 15yo OB. I consulted my old tasting notes and discovered that nose as well as taste descriptors matched. Fantastic! Even more because nose and taste descriptors don't harmonize so good at first sight. Then I decided to open my bottle of Aberlour 1990 vintage because Aberlour was also a candidate. It certainly is not the 1990 vintage. Michael and I agreed that this malt is too sweet and flowery. But other impressions of Aberlour are still possible candidates. We also consulted a young Signatory Auchentoshan. I think it was the unpleasant aroma that brought Michael to the assumption that this Lowland distillery was his candidate No.2. TRUMPET BLAST - Luck is with the able.

A bottle of Tomatin 10yo was among the benchmark malts that were standing on the table. Comparison. More than half an hour of thorough sniffing and tasting. Several different glasses were in action including the heavy duty cognac bowls. The result: We are 98% sure that sample #1 is the Tomatin 10yo OB. The differences are marginal and can be explained by batch variation or different times in the bottle. Michael Wade goes for Glenlivet or Glenfiddich. None of the distilleries is among our first 3 ones. We only agree with the young age. Mark and David also vote for a young Speyside. Right! And it is obviously no Macallan. I heard that Mark plays with the idea of Glen Rothes as a possible idea for the distillery. No - I say. All four impressions of Glen Rothes were more delicious, I think.

OK, get ready... Sample #1 was the Singleton of Auchroisk 10yo (43%, OB).
You rated it 75 points - when you check
the matrix you'll see that's my score as well. We seem to have the same feelings about these Auchroisks - our scores for the Port finished Chieftain's 1989 bottling were similar as well. Personally, I think your best guess was Aberlour - to me, it has a similar fruity quality to it. The Tomatin and Longmorns I've tried seemed maltier.
Michael Wade described it as 'A simple and unassuming youngish Speyside malt'. Very accurate, I think.
You've earned no points here, I'm afraid.  (I have to admit this was a tricky one...)

Sample #2
MF (Glenfarclas - Glen Stinker - Glen Iraq) 5 points above diesel oil
KE (Glendronach - Glenfarclas - Glen Iraq) 7 points above diesel oil

This malt is simply terrible. It was the last we tried in our session. We armed ourselves with big cigars to withstand the stink. I managed to consume a full dram but Michael gave up after the first sip. Both Michael and I are still quite sure this malt suffers from a bad cork. The stench is so typical. Finally some tasting notes I managed to dig out. I think I should receive a medal for this for services above and beyond the call of duty.
Nose: you can survive a while smoking a big cigar.  Sherry and mint, burnt.
Taste: fungus and rotten bodies, sherry, mint and peat.

The fact that the majority of the participants (David, Michael F., I) were scared by this malt restores my faith that the world is not lost. Mark and Michael W. are more diplomatic but they too didn't seem to be great fans of that malt.

Well, the Auchentoshan NAS Three Wood (43%, OB) is something different, that's for sure.
To me, the profile of the Three Wood is quite similar to that of the Bowmore Darkest, Edradour 10yo and Loch Dhu 10yo. They all have a potentially lethal combination of sherry, wood and smoke. Strangely enough, I have a very strong physical reaction to this combination in the three malts I mentioned - but in this case it works for me. My score is 82 points. I can't really explain why I like this particular expression, while I dislike the 'Evil Three' (and the standard Auchentoshan 10yo) so much.
From his description, it seems
Michael Wade's 'Orange Goblin' Talisker falls into the same category.

I'm quite sure it's not bad cork - do you remember the Edradour 10yo you had during DrAmsterdam 2002 last year?
You thought about bad cork then, but after receiving a sample from another Edradour bottling from Serge I can confirm that it smelled more or less similar to my own bottle. All I can say is: 'It's a thin line between love and hate'. You and Michael Wade were very much on the right track when you mentioned 'wood experiment' - this was aged in three different casks. I picked this one because I needed an a-typical Lowlander for the composition of this Pandora batch. This is the most a-typical Lowlander I've ever sampled - even more so than the Magda 1979. After all, the challenge was to find the 'hidden' Lowlander. If I had picked a standard Bladnoch or Rosebank it wouldn't have been much of a challenge, now would it?.
 

Sample #3
MF (Glenfarclas - Benrinnes - Glendronach) 78 points
KE (Glenfarclas - Glendronach - Benrinnes) 78 points

On our second tasting this malt has lost the distinct cherry aroma among the sherry. In contrast to sample 3 it is very peaceful. Maybe some hints of wood and peat. The taste is sweet sherry, lasts not very long. We compared this one with Glenfarclas 10yo OB, Glenfarclas James Watt edition, Glenfarclas 105 and Glendronach 15yo OB. Comparison of the colour gave a good match with Glendronach 15yo and the similarity in the nose was also impressive. But alas, after several minutes the aromas of the Glendronach 15yo OB and sample #3 had drifted apart. We are quite sure that none of the malts we used as benchmark is in sample #3. Nevertheless Glenfarclas seems to be a good choice (and we need some glens to keep up with Johannes' hints).
The other two distilleries are also good candidates for sherried Speysiders.

Michael Wade shares two distillery candidates with us - Glendronach and Benrinnes, but he doesn't agree with our No.1.
Well, maybe that is because Johannes had not given his last clues when Michael wrote his final report.

You've got one! Sample #3 was the Glendronach 15yo '100% Sherry Casks' (40%, OB), the duty-free litre bottling. Cherry and sherry indeed. To me, this bottling is more sherried than any Glenfarclas I've tried so far. (Did you have a litre bottling of the Glendronach 15yo as well?) Your nose and tongue were in good shape; your score is similar to your 80 points in the matrix.
Michael Wade got this right with his first try, you scored two pandora-points and Michael F just one.
Cangrats!

Sample #4
MF (Glenkinchie - Glenfarclas - Tamnavulin) 75 points, (80 points for the nose)
KE (Glen Keith - Cragganmore - Tamnavulin) 78 points

Great difficulties with that malt. Michael smelled a lot in this malt and loved it. This is also the reason why he went for Glenkinchie as his No.1. He said when he tried his first Glenkinchie he was also busy with the nose for half an hour. On the other hand I had difficulties to get something in the nose I could really describe. The same is true for the taste. The distillery names we chose are more or less wild guesses. The only help was the colour of the malt, which allowed us to eliminate some distilleries by careful literature studies. With Glen Keith as my No.1 I have a candidate for a silent still (and it is a glen too).
Btw. Sample #4 could also be the Lowlander.

Michael Wade goes for Mortlach and Longmorn. No accordance with our guesses.
Mark has not given distillery names yet.

Sample #4 was the Glenglassaugh 1973 (40%, Family Silver)
Yep, that was a tricky one - the silent distillery in the batch and one of the three 'Glens'.
Too bad there are no points to be earned for getting this right. Its funny to see how your score for this bottling matches your score for the Glendronach 15yo - my own scores are identical as well; both scored 86 points on my Hit List. I agree with Michael F that the nose performs better than the palate - although Michael Wade seems to feel otherwise. You mentioned cognac somewhere and I can see why - deep fruits and wood in the nose, yes. Michael Wade thought it might be Longmorn or Mortlach and I can see why - most of their bottlings strike me as deep and luxurious, sherried, nutty and malty.
No shame in missing this one, I'd say.

Sample #5
MF (Rosebank - Littlemill - Auchentoshan) 70 points
KE (Bladnoch - Auchentoshan - Rosebank) 75 points

We will name this malt as the Lowlander. It shows all obvious Lowland features. Fresh - citrus - summer. Mark told me that Johannes might have chosen this malt to lead us astray because it is so obviously Lowland. Could be possible, but I believe Johannes is a nice guy and not a mean scoundrel. We also believe that this malt is one of the overproofs.
The whole pandora crew believes this is the Lowlander. St. Magdalene is often mentioned among my co-JOLTers. But as far as I know there is only the 1979 19yo UDRM that can be considered as an OB. Michael F. swears it is not Johannes' No.1 malt and I tend to agree. I am quite sure that it is not the 20 yo 1979/99 Rosebank UDRM because I have a sample of it from Serge. But there are other Rosebanks UDRM available. That's why it is my No.3 and Michael F's No.1. Good news, - it is also a silent still.

OK, Klaus - hold on to your trousers; sample #4 is NOT the Lowlander.
It's a Speysider; the Glenfiddich 15yo Cask Strength (51%, OB). Does than make me a mean scoundrel? Hardly, I even tried to warn you in report #14. Why did I choose it? First of all, I needed a 'light' Speysider opposite sample #2, which was a 'heavy' Lowlander. When I say 'light', I mean light in character but light in colour as well. Second of all, I wanted to make a point about the dangers of trusting your eyes too much when judging a malt. Yes, it was meant to lead you astray - but I honestly thought you would have come to the conclusion that the lightest malt would be the obvious choice for the Lowlander - and therefor wrong. I like this stuff quite a bit more than you do, it seems - my rating is 81 points. Best 'Fiddich I ever tried, that's for sure.
(I also included it in the
Pandora II flight; Craig gave it 86 points, Serge 82.)

Michael Wade was fooled by my tricky trickery as well.
I'm very curious about Mark's final impressions; his current rating for the Glenfiddich 15yo C/S in the matrix is 86 points, but his preliminary score during this Pandora session is 76 points - a difference of a cool 10 points. Mixed emotions indeed. Is that because he also seems to think he's drinking a Lowlander? Are some of the maniacs prejudiced against Lowland malts?
Well, no shame there - I know I was biased against Lowlanders myself in the past...

Sample #6
MF (Aberlour - Macallan - Glenfarclas) 85 points
KE (Aberlour - Macallan - Glenfarclas) 88 points

The great winner!  It is a sherry monster, it is an overproof malt and it is most certainly an Aberlour a'bunadh. Michael Wade also agrees to that assumption. Mark doesn't mention Aberlour, he thinks at Macallan or Glenfarclas instead. I know that Mark has an open Aberlour a'bunadh bottle. This means he can verify it by comparison. But on the other hand even when sample #6 doesn't match with the contents of his bottle there is no need to bury that idea. The different batches of the a'bunnadh are quite different.

Hurray! Two more points for both of you. Sample #5 was the Macallan 10yo Cask Strength (58.8%, OB) instead of the A'bunadh, but as the maniacs observed before these malts are very much alike. Re-reading the transcripts of our Aberlour and Macallan JOLTs could be interesting. Last time you tried this Mac 'disclosed', you gave it 91 points - not a big difference with your 'blind' score. Too bad Michael Wade only 'used' two of his three choices - After Aberlour and Glenfarclas the Mac seems like a good 3d choice.

Although we'll have to wait for Mark's final report we already received some preliminary ratings.
This allows us to sketch the preliminary results of Pandora III, as far as the ratings for
the matrix are concerned;

Sample #1 (JH=75, KE=75, MA=70, MW=70) - Singleton of Auchroisk 10yo (43%, OB)
Sample #2 (JH=82, KE=07, MA=65, MW=74) - Auchentoshan NAS Three Wood (43%, OB)
Sample #3 (JH=86, KE=78, MA=75, MW=80) - Glendronach 15yo Sherry (40%, OB)
Sample #4 (JH=86, KE=78, MA=73, MW=84) - Glenglassaugh 1973 (40%, Family Silver)
Sample #5 (JH=81, KE=75, MA=76, MW=78) - Glenfiddich 15yo Cask Strength (51%, OB)
Sample #6 (JH=88, KE=88, MA=85, MW=88) - Macallan 10yo Cask Strength (58.8%, OB)

It's interesting to compare our ratings for the Pandora III blinds; we seem to agree on some of these malts (the Mac in particular) while other whiskies produce more mixed feelings - especially the Auchentoshan Three Wood.
No question about the overall winner; that's the cask strength Macallan.

These were my notes so far; we'll have to see what Mark comes up with next.

Ok, - that completes our work.

Thank you Johannes for this JOLT. It was most enjoyable.

Klaus
 

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Pandora III - Report 026 - 10/04/2003 - 20:45 GMT - Klaus

Hoi Johannes,

You are a tricky fellow - so many traps for the poor followers of the path of single malts...
Here are some comments.

Sample #1: Auchroisk 10yo.
I never detected anis and liquorice in the Singleton.
Has it changed so much? Anyway I have tried the Singleton only once.

I think you tried the Singleton of Auchroisk 1981 (43%, OB, 100cl) at my place, didn't you?
Well, I have to admit I don't like this 10yo version as much as the 1981 - and none of the maniacs scored it above average either. The 1981 had lots of liquorice, which made it really stand out. This 10yo bottling doesn't show much personality in comparison, but that's why I chose it - I wanted to start this Pandora flight with an 'average Speysider'.

Sample #2: Auchentoshan Three Wood.
Never tasted that malt before and I guess I never will do it again.

Well, opinions are divided on this one.
Craig and I quite like it (82 points) but all the other maniacs that sampled it so far scored it below average.
I can't really explain why I like it, but I do. No high flyer, but a very intruiging diversion from mainstream malts.

Sample #3: Glendronach 15yo.
I have no explantion why the nose was so different after several minutes when we had the same malt in the glasses?

Maybe the 'history' of the bottles was different?
I've taken these samples from a bottle that was opened a few months ago; it was 3/4 full.
If you had a freshly opened bottle or one that was a lot older, oxidation may have influenced the malts differently.

Sample #4: Glenglassaugh 1973.
Holy cow, a real exot. And why is family silver an OB?

Well, a.f.a.i.k. this 'Family Silver' series is released by the owners of the distillery.
In that respect, it's similar to the 'Flora & Fauna' and UD Rare Malts series for example.

Sample #5: Glenfiddich 15yo c/s.
You tricked us with this. But we are not to blame. Never tasted it before.

Yes, I admit some degree of trickery was involved here. Just to keep things interesting.
I thought I made it so obvious you would dismiss this and dig a little deeper.

Sample #6: Macallan 10yo Cask Strength
Shame on us that we didn't compare sample #6 with the Mac 10yo c/s.
I have done this now. But  I have no Pandora 6 sample anymore.
Nose and taste are quite similar but if I remember right there are detectable differences.
I have no explantion for that behaviour.

Agreed, Klaus. I think you should have been able to earn 3 points here.
The Aberlour A'bunadh and 100 Proof are very similar but a tad fruitier, I think.

Greetz

Klaus
 

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Pandora III - Report 027 - 30/04/2003 - 01:52 GMT - Mark

This final report from Mark arrived a few weeks after the other reports.
Obviously, I didn't publish the identity of the mystery malts before Mark sent this report.

I have been experiencing some difficulty in getting my free time and dramming ability to converge, but at last I have found a minute or two to finish up my 'final guesses' for the Pandora III JOLT. 'JOLT' has meant for us many things, and not least is the element of lightning-quick tasting and equally quick responses from other tasters, driving a reader forward through our samples at such dizzying speed that they can do nothing but get out a malt or three and join the melee! ... Well, this time out, I have not been able to be there with my co-JOLTers, and that has somewhat lessened the JOLT feeling of this tasting. I liken this delayed-reaction to static electricity, verses pure high-voltage shock. Nevertheless, Johanness has chosen some beauties here, and I have been having a great time trying to detect their identities.

My main thought is, I may not have tasted all of these before.
I believe that one or two of these do not show up on my Matrix listing, but time will tell. As I have heard Serge, Craig, and Johannes before me say, blind tasting isn't for the fainthearted! It almost always looks easier than it is.

Sample #1:

I finally got the banana note that the other guys mentioned -- but, with a twist.
I didn't detect raw banana or banana peel, but banana walnut bread.
So, cooked banana with a nuttiness to it.
Now, I was looking for banana this time, so it could have been the power of suggestion.
I am not much moved by this malt, but it isn't really bad.
I still rate this at 70 points.

Distillery guesses:
1-    Glenrothes
2-    Glen Grant
3-    Balmenach ... 4th guess: The Singleton. (No 4th guesses? Well, okay)

Sorry, no dice, Mark - but if we would have had 4 guesses you would have earned points here.
It's indeed the Singleton of Auchroisk - the 10yo OB. I wanted to start this flight with a 'typical' Speysider.
Based on my own experiences, I'd say Gen Grant and Balmenach are lighter in style than the Auchroisk.

Sample #2:

This malt is most similar to Sample #3, in this bunch, which I liked very much. The crushed earwig smell (an organic sourness associated with crunchy, gooey, bug death) is still there, but not really unpleasant to me, oddly enough. That odor is more subdued than in the first tasting. Could this be the young Macallan OB from the Italian market? Perhaps -- I have never tasted that. This malt has merit -- though I am still not quite sure what it is.  Aaaarggghhh!!! Johannes ... you shall be repaid for this!!!
I have upped this one to 75 points, based on tastiness, and complex nose.
A finer and tastier finish would easily place it in the eighties.

Distillery guesses:
1-    Mortlach? Not tasted this version.
2-    Glenrothes -- many versions; not familiar with all.
3-    Macallan -- yikes! that guess will get me in trouble! (Glenfarclas might be a better guess), or my 4th guess -- Brackla.

Once again no points. This was the hidden Lowlander, Mark - the Auchentoshan NAS Three Wood.
Looking at your guesses, it seems I've done a decent job hiding its identity. Astonishing character, eh?
It's a far cry from your typical Lowlander, but I have a soft spot for this malt. Complex nose indeed! You're right about the finish, though - it really falls short in that respect. My score is mainly based on the intriguing nose. I was pleased to see you've increased your score from 63 to 75 points. That means you like this better than the standard 10yo Auchentoshan. So do I.

Sample #3:

This one still smells musty. H2H against Sample #4, Sample #3 has sour notes on the nose.
There are burnt grasses on the tongue. Is this one getting a lot of cask influence? I mean, a lot of wood? Could be.
This could easily be the oldest of these six samples. With a bit of water the musitiness takes a back seat position to the sherry and peat on both the nose and palate. This is a nice dram. Score raised to 80 points. Again, Johannes has stumped me.
I can't swear that I have tasted this before, so my guesses are really guesses.

Distillery guesses:
1-    Balvenie Founder's Reserve (match on MJ's notes), or other Balvenie FF
2-    Glenfarclas (25yo, or other unfamiliar 'farclas?)
3-    Glen Garioch?

Close, but no cigar. I'm pleased that you cranked up your score - 75 points seemed a bit stingy.
I think the Glendronach 15yo is a very decent alternative for Aberlour and Macallan if you're looking for a heavily sherried dram. Looking at your guesses I think the profile of the Glen Garioch 15yo comes closest, although it's more fruity than sherried.

Sample #4:

Though I said before with this sample that I hadn't tasted another Scotch like this, I do detect something familiar ... I just can't yet place it. I get fennel ... something else ... ahh! Cotton candy! And taffy, both on the nose. With some water added I get caramel on the nose, and a sense of soft, just-powdered skin. This sample and Sample #3 will keep me the busiest. I find them to be extremely different from each other, but far ahead of the others (except sample #6) in their complexity of smell and taste. I could drink lots of each and still be as confused as ever. If Sample #5 isn't the Lowlander, then this one gets my vote.
This gem gets raised to 81 points.

Distillery guesses (in alphabetical order, alas):
1-    Glenkeith
2-    Glenkinchie
3-    Linkwood ... (4-) An Cnoc

No shame in missing this one, Mark - Glenglassaugh is an obscure distillery.
This 1973 Family Silver bottling only made it to
the matrix because I've been busy sending samples all across the globe. Michael thought this might have been a Longmorn or a Mortlach and I can see why. Klaus guesses were Aberlour, Longmorn and Tomatin. I have to say they were not far off the mark; many features that popped up in this Glenglassaugh 1973 were present in these other Speysiders as well. Your Linkwood guess came closest, I think. I'm very glad you've raised your score from 73 to 81 points.

Sample #5:

Not quite sure that this one is an overproof, but it sure feels hot to me.
I still believe that this is the Lowland, although it could be an unsherried Speysider with which I am unfamiliar.
As a Lowlander I give it high marks. I raise this to 78 points -- I rated it too low before.

Distillery guesses:
1-    Bladnoch
2-    St. Magdalene
3-    Rosebank

So, here we have the 'Lowlander' that's not really a Lowlander.
This is the Glenfiddich 15yo Cask Strength, an a-typical and unsherried Speysider. You increased your score from 76 to 78 points, but that's still a long way from the 86 points you awarded this malt in the matrix. Don't sweat it - blind tastings can really screw with your mind. The funny thing is that I also included the 'Fiddich 15 C/S in the
Pandora II shipment and Craig gave it 86 points when he sampled it blind, as opposed to a disclosed rating of 80 points. It seems this Glenfiddich is a bit of a chameleon.

Sample #6:

This one shouts breeding!
It has lots of sherry, good strength (overproof for sure), and lots of spiciness and fruitiness to it.
This is my favorite amongst the six. This sherry monster gets a bump to 87 points.

Distillery guesses:
1-    Aberlour (a'bunadh from a batch I haven't tasted?, or 'Antique'?)
2-    Glenfarclas (21yo or other)
3-    Macallan (EU's 10yo CS version, or untasted vintage of 18yo, or ... ?)

Yes! You've earned yourself a point with your last guess!
Indeed, it's the Macallan 10yo Cask Strength (58.8%) bottling we get in Europe.
You've increased your score from 85 to 87 points, which fits nicely with the 88 points the rest of us gave it on this Pandora occasion. I was eager to find out how you and Michael liked this version. As soon as you've sampled the USA version (NAS, 58.6%) we'll know how these two bottlings compare. Actually, I was a bit surprised you put a Glenfarclas at #2 - in my experience their house style is not quite as sherried as that of Aberlour and Macallan. Or Glendronach for that matter.

I have raised the point values of almost every malt tasted here.
Perhaps the air has helped, or perhaps I am in that kind of a mood. Regardless, there isn't a dud here, and I must yet again commend Johannes on his ability to choose within a region and still give us something to write home about.

Cheers, all!

Mark.
 

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Pandora III - Report 028 - 30/04/2003 - 14:30 GMT - Johannes

Thanks, Mark,

I have collected the 'final' scores of the Pandora III team and calculated the (unweighed) average scores;

Sample #1 (JH=75, KE=75, MA=70, MW=70) - 73 points - Singleton of Auchroisk 10yo (43%, OB)
Sample #2 (JH=82, KE=07, MA=75, MW=74) - 60 points - Auchentoshan NAS Three Wood (43%, OB)
Sample #3 (JH=86, KE=78, MA=80, MW=80) - 81 points - Glendronach 15yo Sherry (40%, OB)
Sample #4 (JH=86, KE=78, MA=81, MW=84) - 82 points - Glenglassaugh 1973 (40%, Family Silver)
Sample #5 (JH=81, KE=75, MA=78, MW=78) - 78 points - Glenfiddich 15yo Cask Strength (51%, OB)
Sample #6 (JH=88, KE=88, MA=87, MW=88) - 88 points - Macallan 10yo Cask Strength (58.8%, OB)

Four out of six of these average scores are identical to those in the matrix - which proves that the system works. The only exceptions are the Auchentoshan (shifted out of whack by Klaus' horror score) and the Glenfiddich 15yo (78 points against a matrix score of 82). Overall, these results aren't too bad. The Auchroisk was average at best and there were some mixed feelings about the Auchentoshan, but most of the other blinds did OK - especially when you look at their prices. Klaus already guessed that my limited budget might have influenced my selection. He was right; only two bottles were priced over 50 Euro's - the Glenglassaugh 1973 and the Macallan C/S. Most of these were litre bottles as well, so I think this was a 'bang-for-your-buck' Pandora flight that proved you don't have to spend loads of cash to experience the wonderful variation in the world of single malt whisky.

And that pretty much concludes the Pandora III notes.
Pandora IV will be a 'live' event in Scotland, with (Deo Volente) Craig, Davin, Krishna, Serge and yours truly.
We're all keeping our fingers crossed about the SARS-craze, but if that doesn't screw up our plans we will meet in July for some serious dramming. I'm already busy composing a menu of obscure whiskies and I can hardly wait! Good times a'coming...

Sweet drams,

Johannes
 

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After Craig & Serge's 'Double-Blind JOLT' we turned things
up a notch for our second JOLT of 2003. For this so-called
'Triple-Blind JOLT' I sent three 'Pandora's Boxes' all over the
world. One box went to
Klaus Everding in Germany, the others
 to
Mark Adams and Michael Wade in the USA.
Each box contained 6 'blind' 125ml samples; five Speysiders
and a Lowlander thrown in for good measure. The challenge:
Try to spot the Lowlander, try to identify the distilleries that
produced these whiskies and score all the samples.
Sounds easy enough, eh?
We'll see...

The line-up in Hamburg, Germany

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E-pistle #06/01 - Pandora III JOLT
Transcript by
Johannes van den Heuvel, Holland

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