Edinburgh, Scotland, UK






23. viii. 51

Discovered SMSW in:


Malt Maniac since:


Other memberships:

Keepers of the Quaich, SMWS, IWC, An Quaich, etc.

Malt Mileage 1/1/'05:

1000+ single malts

Favourite single malt:

Don't be ridiculous!



Also drinks:

Everything alcholic

Favourite food:


Favourite music:


Other passions:

Shooting, fishing, stalking (deer, not women), etc.

Claim to fame:

Often described as 'Scotland's leading whisky writer'

Charles MacLean

Malt Mileage - number of sampled single maltsCurrent Top 10 single malt whiskiesArticles published on Malt ManiacsA Brief Personal Introduction

I arrived on Islay the day before my life changed forever...

I had been invited by Anthony Wills to give a talk on the origins of distilling in Scotland on the site of his proposed farm distillery at Kilchoman, west of Bruichladdich. Later in the day I went up to Caol Ila to meet Dr. Nick Morgan (Diageo's Marketing Director, Malts) and chew the fat with Billy Stitchell, the distillery manager. A few drams of C-I led us to a couple of pints in Bridgend Hotel, where Nick was staying, and it was here that he asked me whether I knew anything about the Malt Maniacs. 'No', says I.
'I monitor them closely', says Nick. 'They are a small group of very knowledgeable malt whisky enthusiasts, scattered across the world. We take their comments and tasting notes seriously. There are three of them on the island at the moment - Serge, Olivier and Davin - watch out for them: they're good guys - dangerous; your types. You will recognise them by Serge, who has a Frank Zappa beard.'

Next morning I went early to Laphroaig and did a tour. Claiming my dram at the end was difficult, since the bar was blocked by three tall men buying very expensive bottles and requesting samples. I caught the profile of one - more Charles I than Frank Zappa, I thought. It must be them... Before I could speak, Davin turned and asked whether I was the real Charles MacLean.

As soon as introductions had been made, I dragged them outside for a cigarette, then we had some coffee (with excellent free sandwiches!) and I suggested lunch at Ardbeg, where I knew my friend Dave Broom would be. He turned out to be sitting with Robert Hicks (Master Blender, Ballantines and Teachers) and Mark Hunt (Marketing Director, Allied Distillers), so we spent an interesting couple of hours asking these gentlemen tricky questions...  They left us around 3pm and I suggested we go and visit Donald Renwick, manager of Lagavulin, a distillery which is a second home for Dave and I - we go there every other month as part of a malts training programme. Donald was out, but Pinkie was persuaded to look after us.

Pinkie - Ian McArthur, to give him his proper name (he has a brother called Treacle, but History does not relate why) - is one of the characters of Islay. A small man, he runs a successful farm and various other enterprises, so far as I can ascertain, but also works at Lagavulin, where he in charge of the filling store. He has a quick wit, and specialises in teasing people and pricking pomposity. No better guide, but before we started he insisted we have a couple of 'Islay measures' of 16YO and the same of Distillers' Edition.  In the still-house we were joined by Donald Renwick who invited us back to blind taste some unusual single cask samples... By the time we left Lagavulin Distillery we were well primed for the day's major event: a drinks party on board a large private yacht at Port Ellen pier, hosted by Glengoyne Distillery.

A quick word with the owner, Hugh McCaig (with whom I went on a very wet camping trip to Brittany in 1969 - another story), secured a warm welcome for my new found friends and Mr. Broom. Large Glengoynes were thrust into our hands, but before we got started Stuart Hendry, from the distillery, asked us to give our opinion of four sherry-cask samples he was thinking of bottling. As I recall, we all agreed which sample we liked best, although they were all very good. But by this time recall is a problem. I remember only snatches of conversations and have no idea when my new-found friends left the ship.
Perhaps they stayed as stow-aways...

And now I am a member of that very same distinguished circle.
Life will never be the same...

E-pistle #10/08 - Scottish Life: In The Parish of Peats
E-pistle #11/01 - The Classification of Malt Whiskies
E-pistle #11/11 - Anoraks Ahoy!
E-pistle #13/02 - Direct Firing of Stills

Not that many 'full' E-pistles published yet - but many contributions to 'Ask an Anorak' discussions...

Top 10 not submitted - and that makes sense, I guess...

Malt Mileage not submitted - and that maskes sense too, I imagine...

Surf to The Whisky ExchangeDrop me a note...Malt Maniacs
Serge Valentin, FranceRoman Parparov, Israel Peter Silver, USAThomas Lipka, GermanyUlf Buxrud, SwedenOlivier Humbrecht, FranceMichel van Meersbergen, HollandMartine Nouet, FranceMark Adams, USALuc Timmermans, Belgium Luca Chichizola, ItalyLouis Perlman, USALex Kraaijeveld, EnglandKrishna Nukala, IndiaKlaus Everding, GermanyJohannes van den Heuvel, HollandHo-cheng Yao, TaiwanDavin de Kergommeaux, CanadaCraig Daniels, AustraliaCharles MacLean, ScotlandAlexander van der Veer, HollandDave Broom, EnglandLawrence Graham, CanadaRobert Karlsson, Sweden
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Alexander van der Veer, HollandCharles MacLean, ScotlandCraig Daniels, AustraliaDave Broom, EnglandDavin de Kergommeaux, CanadaHo-cheng Yao, TaiwanJohannes van den Heuvel, HollandKlaus Everding, GermanyKrishna Nukala, IndiaLawrence Graham, CanadaLex Kraaijeveld, EnglandLouis Perlman, USALuc Timmermans, BelgiumLuca Chichizola, ItalyMark Adams, USAMartine Nouet, FranceMichel van Meersbergen, HollandOlivier Humbrecht, FrancePeter Silver, USARoman Parparov, IsraelSerge Valentin, FranceThomas Lipka, GermanyUlf Buxrud, SwedenRobert Karlsson, Sweden
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