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Malt Maniacs - Issue 0 (1997 - 2001)

This first issue of Malt Maniacs contains all reports that were
written by the foreign correspondents for the previous version of
this site, i.e. before the team expanded and transformed into the
Malt Maniacs that roam the face of the whisky world today. Since
these articles were written long before the E-pistles that are
published on Malt Maniacs we decided to call them 'prE-pistles'.

Johannes van den Heuvel
Certified Malt Maniac

While the site grew larger and larger, Craig Daniels, Louis Perlman
and Davin de Kergommeaux started to share their experiences with
me. After I decided to include their reports on the site we quickly
grew into a virtual collective, exchanging experiences, ideas and
opinions - just like a 'proper' whisky club.

Malt Maniacs #0, 1997 - 2001

Before we officially launched 'Malt Maniacs' in 2002,
our international congregation of certifiable madmen
had been growing organically for a number of years.
It all started in 1996, when I published a few pages
about my very personal experiences with single malt
whisky on the world wide web. It wasn't long before
the first 'E-pistles' dropped into my virtual mailbox.

prE-pistles by Craig Daniels
Between 1997 and 2001 Craig has been our most prolific correspondent. He has been sending us monthly reports of the adventures of the 'Earls of Zetland' - perhaps Australia's noblest whisky club.

prE-pistles by Louis Perlman
During the larva-stage of Malt Maniacs Louis from the States produced 35 prE-pistles, covering a wide variety of topics. Louis focusses mainly on independent bottlings.

prE-pistles by Davin de Kergommeaux
Severely handicapped in a government controlled whisky market like Canada, Davin still manages to keep up with the other maniacs.

prE-pistles by Klaus Everding
Klaus from Germany is the no-nonsense maniac.
He likes his malts strong and cheap. But that doesn't mean he avoids a good analytical discussion.

prE-pistles by Krishna Nukala
Indian maniac Krishna is the pilgrim among us.
He has made several pilgrimages to Scotland and written colourful reports about them.

prE-pistles by Patrick Whaley
Until the team transformed into the twelve certified malt maniacs, Patrick from the USA was 'the new kid on the block'. Then he moved on to bigger and bolder malts.

prE-pistles by Roman Parparov
As a self-proclaimed 'whisky tourist' Roman is one of the few people in Israel promoting the consumption of SMSW.

Next Issue of Malt Maniacs
First Issue of Malt Maniacs

Malt Maniacs #0

Before things evolved into the 'Malt Maniacs' format the site also contained a forum.
Much of the public contributions to this site section were lost during a crash of my hard drive, but here are just a few messages from 2000 and 2001 I managed to save. Some of them are very informative and/or funny...  You'll notice that I've included many messages from people who are not members of the team of 24 'certified' malt maniacs. These days most of the articles on MM are written by the maniacs themselves, but you can still become a
foreign correspondent and write a contribution.
 

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Subject: A 'Dram'
Date: Sat, 1 Apr 2000
From: Tom Spencer

Sir, may I congratulate you on an excellent web site! It is well-designed, amusing, interesting and unusually comprehensive. I understand that the 'whisky' 'whiskey' issue is largely to do with a legal argument concerning methods and place of production  (much like the 'Champagne' 'sparkling wine' issue). Somewhere on your site you describe a 'dram' as meaning 'a glass of whisky'; I know I'm just being pedantic but a dram (or drachm) is a precise measurement equal to 1/8th of a fluid ounce or 60 minims. Since metrification and the Weights and Measures Act of 1985 it has been illegal (in the European Union) to sell spirits in any quantity other than multiples of 25ml. You may still be encouraged by a friend to stay for "a wee drachm" or kid yourself you wont really drink today, just have a drachm, as it is a relatively small measurement (nowhere near what you would expect to be served in a bar these days) and is useful to maintain the illusion of not over-indulging.

I agree with a great deal of what you say and, although I differ on issues such as dilution, I am impressed by your informative rather than dictatorial approach to teaching the world the values of malt whisky; as you say, it is a matter of individual taste. The place to go if you like single malt scotch whisky is the Craigellachie Hotel, Speyside, where over three hundred different malts line the walls; it is also home to the Malt Whisky Club although membership rates are a bit steep at 350.
 

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Subject: Theory on how whisky makes us smarter
Date: Sun, 2 Apr 2000
From: Kees Mink

Now finally, something that makes sense...to some of us. A herd of buffalo can move only as fast as the slowest buffalo, and when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular attrition of the weakest members. In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Excessive intake of alcohol, as we all know, kills brain cells, but naturally it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of whisky eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine.

THAT is why you always feel smarter after a few whisky's...
Smart enough to come up with some intruiging questions for the weekend;

- What hair color do they put on the driver's licenses of bald men?
- If quitters never win, and winners never quit, what nut came up with "Quit while you're ahead"?
- If it's true that we are here to help others, then what exactly are the OTHERS here for?
- If a man says something in the woods and there are no women there to hear him, is he still wrong?
- If a person with multiple personalities threatens suicide, is that considered a hostage situation?
- Since light travels faster than sound, isn't that why some people appear bright until you hear them speak?
- So what's the speed of dark?
- How come you don't ever hear about gruntled employees?
- After eating, do amphibians need to wait an hour before getting OUT of the water?
- If you're sending someone some Styrofoam, what do you pack it in?
- Why do they sterilize needles for lethal injections?
- Is it true that cannibals don't eat clowns because they taste funny?
- Isn't Disney World a people trap operated by a mouse?
- Whose cruel idea was it for the word "lisp" to have an "s" in it?
- If it's zero degrees outside today and it's supposed to be twice as cold tomorrow, how cold is it going to be?
- If a cow laughed, would milk come out her nose?
 

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Subject: THANK YOU!
Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2000
From: Richard Klein

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!
I've finally found a decent whisky (without the "e" meaning single malt scotch whisky).  Even though I have only been enjoying and appreciating the elixir of life for a few years already, I really appreciate the information and interaction of a good web site such as yours.  Mr. Jackson's book is good, but your more concise approach and taste system is more to more liking.  This was recently proven when, before having just discovered your website, I purchased bottles of Lagavulin 16 yrs. and Dalmore 12 yrs. for a reception celebrating the birth of my first son after having four (4) daughters.
I thought the Lagavulin was the best I've ever had, and the Dalmore was very good. (I must admit I have a predilection to Macallan 18 yrs. for some time.) To say the least, about two dozen men and a few women agreed with me.  I even had some Jack Daniels, Crown Royal, and Cognac on the table for the traditionalists, but after one sip (nee breather!) of the Lagavulin, the other stuff was hardly touched by anyone.

Again, THANK YOU!!! Keep it up.

Richard
 

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Subject: The waters of life - my favorite malts
Date: Wed, 05 Apr 2000
From: Markku I Manninen

Johannes,

I've been having a good time at your maltmadness site. I'm an even more recent convert to the Malt Faith than you but very eager to catch up! As it is very late and I have to go to sleep, I only want you to know there's one more drammer appreciating your work in the Net!

My list 'de favoriis':
Laphroaig 10yrs. Yes, I do love the stuff the best! A symphony of impressions and as you noticed, it gets better and more subtle with each added drop of water. Gorgeous liquid! I downed 50 bottles of it last year.. tough to admit!
Talisker 10yrs. I'm reminded of tough, rugged Scottish Rugby players whenever I taste the other great Islander. This one has a somewhat uncompromising character. I could imagine writing a story about a master sniper who cools off his nerves with Talisker. My very first Malt. I first sampled it back in a Soho, London whisky shop, May 1990.. I liked it but I couldn't get the message back then, though.. On you 5th decade you realize that you teach your sense of taste new tricks!
Macallan 12yrs.  Luxurious bouquet, hues of sherry, like silken linen on a tent bed. Wondrous but a somewhat vain palate. A slightly pot-bellied and self-satisfied character in comparision to Laphroaig, which is such a savage genius among Malts!

Runners-Up:
Lagavulin 16yrs.  There is something I hate to love with this nectar.
My first impression of the sixteener was 'murky but enticing, sinister, lethal, cunning' but then the impressions got better - but never light. For some reason or another I associate Lagavulin with cemetaries and mortality. It's not a funny malt. If I had a secret bottle, it'd be Lagavulin.
Springbank 12yrs.  Oily, perfect, deep, positively glue-like.
Profound, heady aroma. Like its ancestors were from the Caribbean.
In contrast to Lagavulin, S. is positive in tone.
Old Pulteney 10yrs. To include this lightweight is an idiosyncrasy. I love to eat fish and I habitually drink OP with aquatic delicacies. I love the salty/seaweedy nose. This is the one to use if you want to introduce women to Malts!

Ok. here are we.

Markku Manninen
Helsinki, Finland

Reply by Johannes: I liked reading your comments about some of my favorite malts. You seemed to have been in a poetic mood when you wrote them - Inspired by a few good drams, perhaps?

Reply by Markku: Yes, I wrote the comments under the influence of Laphroaig and the Macallan (10rs both). BTW, it's very hard to find some brands in Finland and then the ones we can buy at the State Alcohol Monopoly are heftily priced. The 10yrs old Laphroaig cuts my purse by the equivalent of 30!

One last Special Mention: Last winter I was dining at the George, a high class eatery in Helsinki. On a wheeled liquor tray I soon spotted the characteristic shape of Ben Nevis. The edition was 26 yrs. old, 51.2%. I had never tasted the brand. 4cls cost me 12! It took me to a ride of senses that took the best part of 20 minutes..
The nose was deeply satisfying, self-assured, warm, beguiling.
Phenoles and petroleum on more organic, fruitier aromas.  Ancient liquorice.
Not unlike an old Velocette motor cycle in a blossoming garden. The first sip was a numbing experience! it certainly took a minute to realize that such an array of tastes was possible! Water widened the taste but also slacked the crisp interaction bundle of organic and chemical elements. I recommend you to start BN out without water and after the first third try a 3-6 drops of H20.

After the dram I was very, very pensive. I whole new universe had been shown to me! Even if I like Laphroaig with its wondrous complexity I had to admit that Ben Nevis far surpassed it and all other Malts I have sampled. A week later the memory of the taste lingered on my tongue like a route traced by a thin needle to the surface of the organ. The most complex sensual experience ever effected by an alcoholic drink!

It was, of course, partly the responsibility of the vintage bottling. It should be compared to Laphroaig 30yrs, which cannot be bought in Finland. The bottle was almost finished by then. The head waitress told me it was the last bottle and that no more was to be expected! Well, my luck, exactly! No other restaurant in Helsinki stocked Ben Nevis, as the one I had sampled was a private import! The last I heard was a piece of better news: more BN was to be made available before summer. Only I'm worried if they can get the same quality as the 26yrs old one.

Well, that's it. Actually, I now got the inspiration to go and check out the George.
They make the best coeur de fillet in this city.

Great moments & all good things!

Markku
 

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Subject:  My Lagavulin Story
Date:  Sun, 16 Apr 2000
From:  Hide and Denise

What a site (sight)! Thank you for your comprehensive coverage of single malt.
It just happens that out of 20 or so that I have tasted, my No.1 and No.2 are Lagavulin and Talisker, respectively. Coincidence or not, I would consider it an auspicious beginning to a newly-found lifelong hobby.

Pronounced climatic differences in seasons is what I get living in New York as opposed to living in Europe or where the single malts come from. In that sense, I have choices of summer dram - personally, I would give a little more credit to Glenkinchie for that reason (try drinking Laphroaig in that weather...).
I wish if my first Lagavulin story was as impressive as yours: my story:
Standing at single malt section in one of the better liquor stores in New York, I thought what can I get that's aged most but affordable... I saw a tasteful green box with 16years on it that was priced comparably with other 10's and 12 year olds.  I took the box home, and rest was history.
 

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Subject: The water of life
Date: Tue, 25 Apr 2000
From: Todd Carlson

Yo Johannes

What a great site!  Thanks much.  I'm a yank (from west Michigan where we have a lot of Dutch immigrants - even a real windmill) and am looking into the world of SM Whisky as a birthday present to myself.  My dad is a big SM fan and I went through the obligatory bottle of Glenfiddich and a very plain bottle labeled "Prime Malt" (I think this is Laphroig), but that was many years ago.  I was in Scotland last may but spent more time drinking beer than Whisky.
You can read all about it at http://www.gvsu.edu/carlsont/trip/index.htm.

I did have a nice glass of SM at the Kildrummy Castle Hotel.  This is a fine, upscale manor overlooking the castle ruins in the Spey area.  The whisky I selected from their menu was the hotel's own label.  I asked got the name of the distillery but unfortuantely I forgot to write it down - I presume it must have been local.  Nevertheless, I was educating myself at your website in preparation for buying my birthday bottle.  Our local shop has a reasponable selection.  I am considering Lagavulin or Macallan, as these seem to be widely regarded as among the best and are both available in my price range ($50) at our local shop.

Keep up the great work and have a drink on me.

Todd

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Subject: Lagavulin DE & Summer Stuff
Date: Sun, 4 Jun 2000
From: Hide and Denise

Johannes:

I also managed to get hold of a Lagavulin DE Double Matured, however, mine is 1980.  I wonder how it would compare to your 1979 DE.  There is an unmistakable sherry overtone that I cannot decide whether it adds or detracts from the 16-year old.  It certainly makes for a perfect after dinner dram (try it after a good rum raisin ice cream), much more so than the 16, but on the other hand, I find myself craving for that strong, smoky and peaty finish that's like having two pints of Guinness instead of a meal. One of my most recent acquisitions, The Balvenie 15 Single Barrel, seems to come from a particularly good cask.  Sometimes, I experience a taste 'flashback' of sorts where this particularly flavorful mix of nuts, toffee, and coconut, as my wife had suggested, haunts me in the middle of the day.

You recommended me the Ardbeg 17, and I will get to it in the fall when I feel the need for a long coat before going outside. Speaking of malts for the seasons, for the summer, especially when the mercury exceeds 80F and if I have the craving, this is what I find preferable to sip out of very limited line of malts I have tasted:
- Glenkinchie 10
- Cragganmore 12
- Glenmorangie 10
- Bruichladdich 10 (I know this last one may be the least liked of all Islays, it does wonders with traditional American summer meal consisting of boiled lobsters and corn.)
 

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Subject: Your ratings / my ratings (Rantings??)
Date: Sat, 1 Jul 2000
From: Johannes van den Heuvel

I received a tip from Jack Prop from Maastricht, Holland.
He wrote about a possible way to slow down malt oxidation!
I immediately sent a message to the members of the Malt Madness mailinglist:

Hi guys, I've just got a tip that may be bogus, but may be very valuable as well.
There may be a way to slow down malt oxidation! Nine out of ten malts react negatively on a prolonged oxidation process. Now I haven't had the chance to try it yet, but there seems to be a device called a nitrogen injector. It's used in the wine world to inject nitrogen into a bottle that has been opened. The theory is that the nitrogen, being heavier than oxygen (?), will create a layer between the drink and the rest of the air in the bottle, protecting it from oxidation. Such an injector should cost as little as 25.- U$. Can anyone confirm or deny the soundness and practical usability of this info?

Here are a few replies that offer useful information on the subject:

Roman M . Parparov wrote: I asked a friend of mine who is a chemist about it.
He said we should use ARGON and not nitrogen. Argon is indeed much heavier than oxygen and would suffice. Only after each pouring  some new argon should be added. Getting an argon injector is a separate problem. :)

Klaus Everding wrote: Concerning the N2 Injector. I think, this device will really work.
And its not because Nitrogen is heavier than air, it's just because Nitrogen is less reactive than air, with about 16(?) Oxygen. A better solution is the use  of Argon, which is an inert gas much heavier than air and which is also used in chemistry. Our HarLeM Chemist, Michael, could give you a detailed explanation.

Eric von Daeniken wrote: If the involved chemical processes are the same with both wine and whisky, I guess it should work. But then there's a cheaper, though maybe odd looking alternative: Each time after you had a dram, you drop (clean!) glass marbles into the bottle so the fluid level will be kept up to the bottle neck where the amount of oxygen is minimal.
I've never tried it, and I guess with time you'll need some sieve while pouring...
2nd alternative: Just don't give the stuff a chance to oxidize, drink it before! ;)

Richard Block wrote: Hi Johannes, I, too, have heard about this contraption.
There is some information about it at http://www.scotchwhisky.com/newforums
The contributor there said that they can be had for around $7 USD.  I have never seen one, though.
I was rather upset that you found it necessary to lower Lagavulin by two points.
I just hope that the distillery takes note. (of course, we'll have to wait 16 years to find out.)

Mats-Ola Ekberg wrote: Hi Johannes ! I have not tried the method for slowing down malt oxidation you wrote about either but a friend of mine has, and he claims it is working. I use a slightly less sophisticated method. On the bottles with more than 1/3 of "air" i use those vacuum "things" normally used for wine bottles. I can't tell if it is working or not since I don't have anything to compare with, but I got that bit of advice on one of my trips to Scotland.
 

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Subject: Your ratings / my ratings (Rantings??)
Date: Sun, 2 Jul 2000
From: Richard Block

Johannes, I was wandering around your site between updates, and noticed that you gave Loch Dhu 8 points!!!  I'm not averse to assigning single digit ratings, but I don't think Loch Dhu deserves one.  The only single malt to receive less than 10 points (2 blends have received this dishonor) on my list is some awful crap called 12 Scots. (it occurs to me they might have called it 12 Scots so stupid fools, (is there another kind?) would think the 12 was an age statement.  The stuff was $9 US and I've told you how much stuff is here...probably a 3 yo.)  It didn't list the distillery.  Good thing, too; I woulda bombed it (just kidding.) Anyway, i gave this putrid stuff a 5.  But I gave the Loch Dhu a 44.  Why?  well, my initial impression was 20 - 25.  I ended up giving it a 44 because it grew on me.  The predominant taste is, to me, of bananas.  Did I mention I HATE bananas?  Well, I do.

Loch Dhu, in my opinion, is a decent liquor. As a Single Malt, it sucks, but I have had worse.
I read your reasons for the "8" on Loch Dhu.  That pretty much matches what I've read elsewhere.
But I swear my bottle was better! (no ashtray here). Not anywhere near good - still major crap, but better than an 8!!!

Here are my current ratings - you may think I'm crazy, but thats okay.
I have rated all scotches together.
 
  1.) Laphroaig 15        98
  2.) Lagavulin 16          97
  3.) Laphroaig 10         97
  4.) Royal Salute 21     96
  5.) Talisker 10            94
  6.) The MacAllan 12    93
  7.) Chivas Regal 18     92
  8.) Scapa 12              90
  9.) Strathisla 12          88
10.) The Glenlivet 12     85
11.) Aberlour 10            85
12.) ChivasReg 12/43%    84
13.) Dalwhinnie  15          82
14.) The Cent of Malts      82
15.) Glenmorangie 10       81
16.) Chivas 12 / 40%      81
17.) Bowmore Legend    72
18.) Speyburn 10          67
19.) McLell (Auch 5?)    66
20.) Glen Deveron 5      60
21.) Cutty Sark            56
22.) JW Red Label        53
23.) Loch Dhu 10          44
24.) Harvey's 12            31
25.) 12 Scots                 5
26.) Highland Mist          4
27.) Don's & Bens Own   4

All the best,

Richard

Reply by Johannes: My personal 'Liquor Likability' ratings just reflect the amount of love I have for a certain drink on a scale of 0 (throw away immediately) to 100 (extasy). So 8 points is not a neutral 'quality' indicator, or anything. This one is the first single malt that has almost made me physically sick - hence the unusually low score. I actually would prefer to drink Johnnie Walker Red Label (20 points). It could have been a bad bottle - but I'm not buying another one to find out...

Rating whiskies is a personal thing anyway.
Perhaps my article about my scoring 'system' can give you some insight into the way my ratings should be interpreted. For me, Lagavulin 16 is still number one, but I can certainly understand how it's too much for some people. Although I certainly like the Chivas Regal Royal Salute a lot, I would rate it 10 - 15 points below the Talisker 10. In fact, I haven't had a blend or vatted malt yet that rates over 80 points. About the 12 Scots: Beware! There are quite a few frauds out there who label any old blended crap as a 'single malt whisky'.
 

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Subject: Isle of Jura
Date: Fri, 21 Jul 2000
From: Sigurd Stori

HI, Johannes.

First; Thank You very much for an excellent site. It is truly one of the best for a "beginner" in the world of malt Whisky. One thing I can`t understand is that you rate the "Isle of Jura" so low. It is one of the better malts that i have tasted so far, and I have tried some, even though I look upon myself as a beginner. I am also very surprised that you have not tasted "the Oban". which is a very nice malt, it is available in Norway, therefore I believe it is available in Amsterdam as well. Check it out, it would be fun to see what you think about it. I rate it as one of the better malts, It is on my personal top 5 list, as is the "Jura".
Keep up the good work.

Sincerely, Sigurd Stori.

Reply by Johannes: My ratings just reflect my personal taste - and I'm affraid I just don't like the Isle of Jura that much. Maybe my expectations of an 'Island' malt were too high, but that's how I feel. Please note that I've only tasted one bottle of Isle of Jura, so I may have had a 'bad bottle'. This seems to happen occasionally.
I did taste a few bottles of Oban before I started taking notes, and last week I bought myself a new bottle to enable me to properly rate it. Based on my past experiences, I'm pretty sure it won't reach my Top 10, though.... A good malt - but that isn't enought to compete with the big boys like Lagavulin 16 or Talisker 10.
 

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Subject: The water of life & Cognac
Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2000
From: Robert K. Liu

Johannes, I just came back from an out of town wedding and spent 2 nights sipping single malt whiskeys with a buddy who starts to fall head over heels over smw and is starting to document his tasting experiences. I have always loved whiskies but lack the proper nose and palate for it. Because of the experiences over the weekend, I ran into your site which I think is exceptional. I do own may be a dozen whiskies, half of which are smw but really lack the knowledge to appreciate them properly. Learn something new such as a few drops of water enhances the 'nose' for example from your site. I am sure I will appreciate what I have more with the knowledge gained.

Anyways, my question is not on whiskies as it will take me a little while to digest your excellent site. I also love cognac which I also own about a dozen different brands. So what is your opinion of cognacs?  Do you know of equivalent sites on the subject of cognacs? Keep up the good work.

Regards,
Robert

Reply by Johannes: About 'lacking the nose and palate': I don't think you need knowledge to appreciate single malts.... Just your ordinary nose and tongue will do ;-) Has your tongue made sufficient 'mileage'? I had been drinking cognac and blended whiskies for almost 10 years before I discovered single malts, which helped me a lot. And even now my nose and tongue are gaining experience. I pick up things I would never have noticed five years ago.

I suggest the following:
Get five or six very different malts (like Auchentoshan 10, Talisker 10, Highland Park 12, Glenmorangie 10, Glen Scotia 14 and Glenfiddich) and organize a tasting session with some other whisky and/or cognac lovers. Discuss what you find in the nose and palate. I'm pretty sure you will be able to identify a lot of differences. Build on that while you taste more different malts. Making extensive notes is a good idea.

I LOVE a good Cognac or Armagnac. My favorite 'sloshing cognac' is Courvoisier VSOP - at less than 25 U$ here in Holland there's only a few whiskies that can beat it in the personal enjoyment per buck - arena. For special occasions, I like the Remy Martin XO (avoid the VS). I'm also into Calvados. I did run a site about cognac (the Cognac's Connoisseurs Connection) for a year, but almost nobody visited so I closed it down. That was over a year ago, so I'm affraid I don't know about the current cognac site situation. Try a search on Altavista or HotBot, I'd say.
 

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Subject: Dalmore / Loch Dhu / Glen Deveron
Date: Thu, 27 Jul 2000
From: Jordan Smith

Just the site I've been looking for!
Have been a MALTFAN about five years.....on the net a much shorter period.
My wife and I actually visited the Highlands in October 1999. My pilgrimage was to The Dalmore and we made it. On the way we passed thru Muir of Ord, and the rest is history. I'm sure those guys would do a double-take if they could trace sales all the way to Raleigh, NC. Your comments on the price-performance are right on. It's about $30 US here. We second your description of Loch Dhu. Thank God the lesson cost only a glass, not a bottle.

Our paths diverge, however on the Glen Deveron. Did the bottle you tried say "1987"? Ours do here and at $26 US, I find it quite pleasant- lite but not thin, plenty of heathery spice {now that I know what heather smells like] and a nice round finish. Sorry, I'm used to winespeak descriptions. It shouldn't be too bad due to the distillery being close by the village of Pennan [of "Local Hero" fame] - the other don't miss spot on our trip. Anyway, keep up the good work.

Jordan Smith
 

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Subject: Loch Dhu Warning
Date: Mon, 14 Aug 2000
From: Ed Voigtman

Hi, Johannes!

I've been visiting your site for, what, 2 years?, and it just keeps getting better and better. I enjoy most every section of your site, especially the ratings and public warnings and I just have to say this: PLEASE keep warning folks away from that horrific Loch Dhu!  I know some folks like it (!!!), but the large majority ABSOLUTELY DESPISE IT!
Even bong water is MUCH better ... (don't ask)

I especially love your tasting reports.  Your hopalong HTH comparison method is very similar to my practice: I seem to have relatively poor/undeveloped taste/smell memory, so I HTH a pair of malts and do this sequentially, e.g., Ardbeg 17 vs. Lagavulin 16, then Lag 16 vs. Laphroaig 10, Laphroaig 10 vs. Laphroaig 15, etc.  We disagree on Ardbeg 10 vs. Ardbeg 17 (I love the peaty 10, but consider the low peated 17 to be not really an Ardbeg, except legally), but that is the only serious disagreement I can find, which means that you are helping me out considerably by serving as "malt explorer point man".

So, keep up the good work, keep drinking and reporting from the front lines.
And, if you feel like lowering Loch Dhu's lofty 8 points, have at it! With a chainsaw!  ;-)

Slainte,

Ed
 

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Subject: The Water Of Life <un-spellable in Gaelic>
Date: Wed, 6 Sep 2000
From: James MacNaughton

Hullo, lad.  Lots of good commentary, I like your humour.  There are so few people out there that have a right mind-set about whiskey.  Just as a note, old Scotsmen aren't as mean as the liquor bearing their name!  I'm not so old, but my da's not a bad old fellow; perhaps a bit of a curmudgeon, but that's not really a racial trait; he's nearly 80, he's allowed!

I'm living stateside, and it never ceases to amaze me, what an American will drink and call whiskey.  Things to add to your list of 'Drinks Too Vile For Human Consumption,' would include:  Jim Beam, Yukon Jack, or anything produced in Tennessee that claims to contain alcohol.  I don't think they ever got over the moonshine running days.

You seem to like dinner whiskeys; and I'm afraid I'm a bit of a Jessie, there.  I prefer the lunch whiskeys like the Glenmorangies and their ilk. One of my lads even calls Glen Livet a breakfast whiskey, the bastard. Perfectly lovely stuff.  Anyway, there are lots of other good single malts out there; Laphroig, Tomatin, Lismore and many, many others.  You might also want to branch into the Irish single malts like Knappogue Castle and Dalmor.  Lismore's just grand.  I'm going to have to find a bottle of that soon. ... Now I sound like a sod.  Mea apologia; I finally went back and visited the rest of your site.  Three cheers, and then some.  I'm roaring from your vox populi page. Oh well, here's to ya.

James MacNaughton

Reply by Johannes: Now there you have it! Call me a whimp if you like, but I couldn't drink whisky around lunchtime even if I wanted to. I don't usually drink before 18:00 or so, so that might explain my preference for dinner malts ;-)
 

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Subject:  Whisky "moderation"
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 2000
From: David Moran

Your site is just wonderfully useful, but readers should be warned to take comments (esp from hotheaded opinionates) with a grain of something or other. For example, it is clear you yourself are biased in favor of peaty and smoky SMWs. More power to you! But when there is sympathetic email talking about, say, how bloody awful J&B is, beginners should know it just isn't so. J&B is quite different, that's all, from many scotches. It is very light and somewhat sweet. Nothing awful about it. Just because someone favors a heavier style is no reason to dismiss something different. Same with Sheep Dip (they also made Pig's Nose!) Bad whiskies like Inverness, sure; anyone can tell that.

Tip of the day #1: The best cheap scotch in the US is one called (alas) Old Smuggler. It ain't great, sure, so no flames about it please, but it is entirely drinkable and with no major bad aspects to it, and this cannot be said about any of the other non-Scotland-bottled scotches in this country anyway. It is preferable to, say, Ballantine for some of us for everyday drinking. Bottled in the UK under a name with Cream in it, I believe.

Tip of the day #2: If you really have a bottle of blended that you are tiring of, doctor it lightly. Take a half-teaspoon or 2/3 teaspoon of bourbon and three drops of maple syrup (e.g.) and add to a half-gallon of (say) Black and White. Stir. It won't turn it into Macallan, or Famous Grouse, but it will be faintly sweeter and more complex. Try a blind (no jokes pls) tasting with it after a few days of settling. If you do the tasting blind and compare it with something good (but you don't know which is which), you will be in a for a surprise.

David Moran

Reply by Johannes: I guess the 'Old Smuggler' that is sold in the US is different from the whisky that is sold in Holland under the same name. That is actually one of the worst blended whiskies I ever tasted. With your second tip we're merrily wandering off into cocktail territory, Don't get me started on that...
 

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Subject: The Difference Between Men and Women
Date:  Sun, 1 Oct 2000
From: Pim van der Deure

NICKNAMES - If Laura, Suzanne, Debra and Rose go out for lunch, they will call each other Laura, Suzanne, Debra and Rose. If Mike, Charlie, Bob and John go out, they will affectionately refer to each other as Fat Boy, Godzilla, Peanut-Dick and Schmucko.

EATING OUT - When the bill arrives, Mike, Charlie, Bob and John will each throw in $20, even though it's only for $32.50. None of them will have anything smaller, and none will actually admit they want some change back.
When the girls get their bill, out come the pocket calculators.

MONEY - A man will pay $2 for a $1 item he wants.
A woman will pay $1 for a $2 item that she doesn't want.

BATHROOMS - A man has six items in his bathroom: a toothbrush, shaving cream, razor, a bar of soap, and a towel from the Holiday Inn. The average number of items in the typical woman's bathroom is 337. No man will be able to identify most of these items.

ARGUMENTS - A woman has the last word in any argument.
Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument.

CATS - Women love cats.
Men say they love cats, but when women aren't looking, men kick cats.

THE FUTURE - A woman worries about the future until she gets a husband.
A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife.

SUCCESS - A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend.
A successful woman is one who can find such a man.

MARRIAGE - A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn't.
A man marries a woman expecting she won't change and she does.

DRESSING UP - A woman will dress up to go shopping, water the plants, empty the garbage, answer the phone, read a book, and get the mail. A man will dress up for weddings and funerals.

NATURAL - Men wake up as good-looking as they went to bed.
Women somehow deteriorate during the night.

OFFSPRING - Ah, children. A woman knows all about her children. She knows about dentist appointments and romances, best friends, favorite foods, secret fears and hopes and dreams. A man is vaguely aware of some short people living in the house.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY - Every married man should forget his mistakes.
There's no use in two people remembering the same thing, is there?
 

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Subject: 700ml bottle bad - litre bottle Good!?
Date:  Tue, 3 Oct 2000
From: Pekka Ahvalo

Hi,

I just recently discovered single malts, my first experience being Laphroaig 10yrs and I have just tasted few of them (Talisker, Highland Park 12, Oban 14...) and I do really enjoy them  - Laphroaig still being my favourite. There' s been one question hanging on air that troubles me. Since I'm from Finland, there are only 700ml bottles available in local stores and I have seen comments here on this web that 700ml bottles are not good as litre bottles. That the quality of the malt is better on litre bottles. If anyone has any comments, experiences etc. on that, Id like to know. Thank you very much, this is a very fine web site.

Jari

Reply by Johannes: As far as I know, only 'commercial' bottlings like Macallan 12 or Bowmore 12 are available as 1 litre bottlings. I believe they were originally intended to be sold exclusively through airport/tax free shops, but over the years they have found their way to other outlets as well. By their very nature, commercial bottlings can vary over time. After all, they are 'blends' of the contents of different casks - sometimes even casks of different ages. That's why this year's Glenmorangie 10 might be slightly different from last year's. The reported differences between 0.7, 0.75 and 1.0 litre bottles could be nothing more than these 'usual' differences between differented batches.
Any comments on this by visitors?
 

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Subject: The waters of life I want to share with you
Date:  Fri, 06 Oct 2000
From:  Markku I Manninen

Johannes, my man.. My exploits at a whisky bar tonight included 2cls of Caperdonich (Connoisseurs Choice, a 1968 bottling). An interesting study of wood almost killing a great malt, but if you can stand/exclude it, a mind-boggling experience. A truly complex nose and palate. It took me 20-25 mins to explore this  drop of uisge beatha. Liquorice and the famous old leather. A very thought provoking malt, this one.  Like Ben Nevis 1967, it stayed  lingering on my palate long after the fact. 85 pts.

The Bartender told me about the 15 yrs Laphroaig he'd gotten hold of. Said it was like tamed and too easy on your palate, when compared with the tenner. Still a great malt. Never tasted it myself.

M. Manninen
Helsinki, Finland

PS. my top five malts:

 1. Ben Nevis 1967
 2. the Macallan 10 yrs
 3. Laphroaig 10 yrs
 4. Old Pultenay 12yrs
 5. Highland Park 12yrs
 

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Subject:  Canadian Whisky
Date: Thu, 23 Nov 2000
From: John DiMarco

Did you know that there's a Canadian malt? I don't mean "Canadian whisky", I mean a proper barley malt whisky.  There's a distillery called Glenora in Cape Breton island, Nova Scotia, Canada, that makes the Kenloch (nas) and the just released Glen Breton (10y, I think) malt. I haven't tried them yet, though; Glen Breton was just launched this month. See www.glenoradistillery.com.

Straying from single malts for a moment, I've noticed you've tried some Canadian whiskies.  They're better than bourbon, aren't they? But there are a few things to keep in mind.  Canadian whiskies are traditionally rye-based whiskies, not corn (i.e. maize) whiskies like bourbon.  or barley malt whiskies like scotch and irish.  However, most Canadian whiskies today are not made exclusively from rye.  Instead, each distillery makes some grain alcohol using whatever grain is convenient (usually corn, but sometimes rye or wheat), filters out the taste (as if making grain vodka or commercial/medical grain alcohol), and then adds a little rye whisky for flavour.  This doesn't necessarily make a bad whisky, but personally I prefer something without corn liquor in it, however detoxified.  This is why my preferred Canadian whisky is Alberta Springs, a single-grain ten-year-old Canadian rye from Alberta Distillers in Calgary, without a drop of corn liquor in it.  It's quite soft for a Canadian whisky, some honey-like sweetness, well worth a try.
 

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Subject: The water of life...
Date: Sat, 2 Dec 2000
From: Peter Norgard

Johannes, I saw your website about 3 days ago.  I was really looking for a site like this, but biased towards rum, one of my favorites.  Anyhow, I read your page pretty much all the way through over a couple of days and had come to the conclusion that it was time to try real whisky instead of crappy rum.  I made the commitment yesterday, went out and bought an inexpensive, but decent, bottle of smsw and tried it last night (Auchentoshan 10...long story).  I would like to thank you for pointing people like myself in this direction.

The Auchentoshan 10, while not rated high on your list, rates at the top for me, right now.  Since my only other experience with *any* type of whisk(e)y is Jack Daniels, I have no choice but to rate it at the top.  But it is galaxies better than American whisky.  Definately more body, complex flavor/aroma, etc.  You already knew that, though.

Again, many thanks for the wonderful website.  Had it been any less enthusiastic aboue smsw, I would probably have not even tried any.  Keep up the good work.

Reply by Johannes: Very good to hear I've made another convert!
Your message reminds me that I have to be careful not to get spoilt. Over the last month, I have been tasting a few single malts that I felt were disappointing (Bowmore Darkest, Inchmurrin 10), but let's not forget that almost every single malt I tried beats almost every bourbon, rum and wodka with both arms tied behind its back. That is, if a single malt would have arms. Or a back, for that matter....
Anyway... With the Auchentoshan, you've started at one of the far ends of the single malt spectrum. This malt comes from the Lowlands region, which produces the lightest whiskies. The fact that this particular malt is triple distilled (as opposed to the usual double distillation) makes for an even softer malt.

But one of the things I love the most about single malts is the amazing diversity. That's why I suggest you get yourself two or three other bottles of single malt whisky before you empty the Auchentoshan. That way, you can directly compare them using different glasses at the same time. If you're on a budget, I suggest the Dalmore 12, Glen Ord 12 or Laphroaig 10. With a little more to spend, you could go for Macallan 12, Glenmorangie 10 or even Lagavulin 16. You can check my 'Best-to-Worst-List' or 'Bang-For-Your-Buck-List' for suggestions.
 

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That were all the 2000 articles I've managed to recover.
Here are a few contributions from 2001...

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Subject:  Bowmore Darkest
Date: Wed, 17 Jan 2001
From: Jeff Jaskolski

I am quite suprised at how poorly Bowmore Darkest has treated you.  It was one of the first bottles of single malt scotch I have ever owned and it was wonderful (sadly it has been depleted and hasn't been replaced yet).  More recently, I have had a couple of drams from my Father-in-law's bottle....still wonderful.  It is almost exactly how I remember my bottle. We all know that preference is very personal and subjective, but I have sampled 45+ malts over the last year, and look at the top of my list:

1.  Talisker 10
2.  Springbank 12
3.  Bowmore Darkest
4.  Springbank 10
5   Laphroaig 10
6.  Lagavulin 16
7.  Glenmorangie Fino Sherry finish
8.  Highland Park 12
9.  Balvenie 12 Doublewood
10. Bowmore 12
11. Cragganmore 12

As you can see, we have a lot of similar likes.
This is why I am so suprised about your experiences with Bowmore Darkest.
Perhaps you got a bad bottle.

Regards,

Jeff

Reply by Johannes: Judging from the enthousiastic reports I have been receiving about the Bowmore Darkest, it seems I've been dealt a bottle that was not nearly as good as the 'average' Bowmore Darkest. But then again, that's a calculated risk when you buy a single cask malt. Nevertheless, I won't buy another bottle anytime soon to find out if it's better than my first one. It's priced at 58 Euro's here in Holland - considerably more expensive than my favorites Lagavulin 16, Talisker, Ardbeg 17 and Macallan 10 100 Proof. It these kind of prices I'd rather 'play it safe' and buy a bottle I know I love than take another gable at the expensive Bowmore Darkest. Most of the malts you mentioned are in the top of my list as well - with the notable exception of the Glenmorangie Sherry Wood Finish. The bottle I bought scored 73 points, a dram in a bar a few months ago 74 points. Not very impressive. I like the Port and Madeira a lot better. But then again, the Glenmorangie special wood finishes are rumoured to display relatively big differences between bottlings.
 

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Subject:  Ratings Comparison Chart
Date: Thu, 18 Jan 2001
From: Christer Sundin

Hello!

My name is Christer Sundin and like yourself, I am a malt whisky fanatic =).
Some time ago I got the idea of making a comparison chart of whisky ratings, with ratings from myself, Michael Jackson and from a few web pages. The other day I saw that you've just added a comparison chart of your own... Anyway, the ratings in my chart are taken from myself, Michael Jackson, Jim Murray, Mike Padlipsky, WhiskyBa (a Swedish whisky club) and from your web site.
Have a look at this example output:

http://www.dtek.chalmers.se/~d8sunch/cgi-bin/whisky.pl?sort=8&top=10&chart=1

Also, I've written an info page that explains the chart:

http://www.dtek.chalmers.se/~d8sunch/whisky/ratings-info.html

Bye,

Christer
 

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Subject: The water of life
Date: Fri, 19 Jan 2001
From: Joe Rankin

My first experience of Scotch was probably 26 years ago. I thought it tasted like iodine, and went back to drinking rum and coke, black russians, and budweiser (I was in college, what can I say.) Lately I read a couple of articles about single malt, including something New Yorker writer John McPhee wrote, and thought perhaps I had been too hasty.

Over Christmas I treated myself to one of those sample packs, containing some Talisker, Craggamore, Oban, Lagavulin and others and said, hummm, I could get to like this stuff. Without doing any other research, I went out and bought a bottle of Glenfiddich special reserve (wasn't included in the sample pack, but the price of Lagavulin at $45 US scared me off.) Wish I had visited your site first. I believe you may have saved me hundreds of dollars.

Really informative site, easy to navigate, fun to read.
A toast, or three, to you. I'll be back.

Joe Rankin
New Sharon, Maine, USA
 

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Subject: Auchentoshan / Glenfiddich
Date: Sat, 20 Jan 2001
From: Johnny M. Lawcock

Johannes,

It's an very nice and usefull site you have made. I have used and read it extensively after I found the adress. Keep up the good work.
I have a few opinions about SMSW.

The Auchentoshan 10 yrs is recommended as an beginners dram, by nearly anybody. That must be an joke!!! My bottle tastes like "Cat Piss" (whatever the taste are on that). I can't describe it closer than "metallic", maybe feint?? Perhaps it's a bad bottle?? Comment by Johannes: When you look at my rating for the Auchentoshan 10 yrs., you'll notice that I personally don't like it very much. In fact, a recent tasting in a bar indicated that the original score of 68 points may have been a bit generous. What makes it a good beginners malt is the fact that it represents one of the 'extremes' of the single malt spectrum. Many people consider it to be the quintessential Lowland malt, triple distilled with a clear, spirity, feinty, almost grainy style. If you have determined you don't like the Auchentoshan, you have learned that the (young) Lowland malts are probably not your 'thing'. This means you can focus your attention on the other regions; Highlands, Islay and Campbeltown. But it's wise to keep an open mind about this - I didn't care much for the first Lowlanders I've tasted (Auchentoshan 10, Glenkinchie 10) but recent experiences with older versions of Bladnoch and Saint Magdalene have greatly improved my opinion about this region.

Re: The Glenfiddich Ancient Reserve. Most Maltwhisky lovers wrinkle their nose when mentioned. Okay it's not an great dram, but it's doing okay. Never forget that this single malt actually started all, that we enjoy so much today. We therefor have to say thanks to Glenfiddich for that. And allways have a bottle in our cabinet (if you can't find an excuse for it, you can do it because it's now discontinued and replaced with and 12 yrs old). But hurry up before the last bottles are gone. Comment by Johannes: When you mention the 'Ancient Reserve', I think you actually mean the 'Special Reserve', which used to be bottled without an age statement but is now becoming available as a 12 yrs. old. The 'Ancient Reserve' is actually an 18 years old single malt. I haven't tasted that one yet, but the new 12 yrs. (Special Reserve) and the 15 yrs. (Solera Reserve) are on my shelves right now, as well as the 15 Cask Strength - which is actually quite good. I guess Glenfiddich deserves some credit for opening up the single malt market, but constantly keeping the disappointing Special Reserve on my shelves doesn't sound too appealing. The best I can do is give the new 12 yrs. bottling a fair chance after I've opened the bottle.

At the moment I have 20+ bottles in my cabinet, where I'm drinking of 12 at the moment, including the mentioned C.. Piss (hoping that I one day will discover why people recommend it). Have actually just taken a glass of it "BWADR", are now trying to take the bad taste with Bowmore 12 yrs.
My favourites are by so far:
- Highland Park 12 yrs
- Talisker 10 yrs
- Balvenie Double Wood
- Laphroig 10 yrs Cask Strength
- Bowmore 12 yrs
- Bunnahabhain 12 yrs

Re: prices in Netherlands.
OOhhh Johannes how are you lucky. So low and fair prices.
In my next life I will live there. Only problem is that I have to learn to say like an Seal or Sea Lion. But it's perhaps like my own language Danish, foreigners say it's nor an language, it's an bad habit. Last bottle I bought was an Glenfarclass 12 yrs, for the price of $61.00. Anyone higher??? But it seems like I have solved the problem. In the future I will import from Netherlands or Luxembourg, which should give no problems with customs. I have tried twice.

Reply by Johannes: The favourites you mentioned all score over 80 points in my system, so we're in agreement there. And I guess I shouldn't complain as much about the prices of some of the single malts available here in Holland. I know people in Scandinavia, Great Brittain and the U.S.A. usually have to pay a lot more than I do, especially for the younger official and independent malts. The price you mentioned for the Glenfarclas 12 translates to 66 Euro's, but I only have to pay 34 Euro's for a litre bottle of Glenfarclas 12.
 

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Subject:  Malts of Distinction / Lagavulin
Date: Fri, 26 Jan 2001
From:  Christer Sundin

I have a few comments on the "Malts of Distinction" I read about in your tasting report from December 12. Last summer I tasted a malt called "Druichan" and the only info I found on the web was the Invergordon home page (www.invergordon.co.uk). Druichan is one of the "Malts of Scotland", consisting of Kincaple, Glenluig, Craignure, Ferintosh and Druichan. (Cool names, huh?)

They're not very clear about it, but I got the impression that the "Malts of Distinction" and "Malts of Scotland" are just new labels on the stuff they distribute under their "real" names: Bruichladdich, Old Fettercairn, Tomintoul, Tullibardine, Tamnavulin, Dalmore and/or Isle of Jura. Druichan and Ardnave is most likely Bruichladdich. I guess the others must be tasted in order to find their real identity. I'm uncertain about the Lowlanders Glen Foyle and Kincaple since Invergordon don't sell any Lowland malts (?). Druichan tasted ok but it wasn't anything special. Above all it wasn't smoky, which I tend to expect from a "real" Ileach, heh... (IMO that matches Bruichladdich).

Comment by Johannes: After an utterly disappointing tasting session with Ardnave 10 yrs. and Ben Wyvis 10 yrs. on January 10, I can tell you with a large degree of certainty that the Ardnave is NOT a Bruichladdich. In fact, I'm having serious doubts about the supposed Islay heritage of this whisky. Over the years, I've tasted several different bottlings from each distillery on Islay, and this stuff doesn't even come close. It has none of the peat and smoke of the real Islay malts; even the relatively 'weak' Bruichladdich 10 packs a lot more heat than the Ardnave 10. The Ileach I tasted on January 16 is miles better than the Ardnave. The Ben Wyvis performed very badly as well. If you are going to spend your money on 'bastard malts' you're much better off with the 'Vintage' series by Signatory - or the Ileach. The Black Bottle is a reasonable alternative as well if you're looking for Islay characteristics.

Another thing: You mentioned that Lagavulin isn't as good as it used to be. That is worrying indeed... On the other hand, I recently bought a bottle of 10 year old, vintage 1988 Lagavulin through a company here in Switzerland. It's bottled for "Moon Import" (an Italian company) and it's absolutely wonderful, in spite of the horrible label =) So, since we'll get the "normal" Lagavulin from 1988 in 2004, I believe the drop in quality is only temporary. However, in Whisky Mag's Lagavulin special I read that they have recently lowered the phenol levels, i e reduced the peatiness...
That's also worrying. Why change a winning concept?

Slainte, Christer

Reply by Johannes: I didn't hear about the reduced phenol levels in Lagavulin 16 before, but that's certainly in keeping with my findings. To my nose and palate, the character has moved in the direction of the 'Distiller's Edition' bottling.
 

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Subject:  The water of life
Date: Tue, 20 Feb 2001
From: Jake Fox

Ave.

First of all, I have to say I love Malt Madness. It's the best whisky-site I have seen so far and definitely the most comprehensive.

The whisky warnings were interesting indeed. The quality (or lack thereof) of Johnnie Walker Red Label cannot be overemphasized. I would've poured half a bottle straight down the drain if I weren't afraid it might damage the sink...  I also suggest warning people of Jack Daniel's Old No 7. It's probably good if you like that kind of stuff. Then again, so is manure. :)

I also have a suggestion. I for one love reading your musings, so why not start a weekly/monthly column, where you could briefly share your thoughts on whisky and things (life, for instance). Perhaps small notes on whisky and cigars, whisky vs. brandy, regional differences/preferences, whisky and food, shopping experiences...

Reply by Johannes: I haven't tried manure, but I know the Jack Daniels Old No. 7. I'm not crazy about it; I have the occasional glass - just one - with lots of ice on a hot summer night. But I like it more than the Four Roses, which is just plain awful. As far as your suggestion goes: My new 'Liquid Log' page should work as some kind of diary of all malt-related happenings in my life.
 

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Subject:  Highland Park 18 year old
Date:  Sun, 29 Apr 2001
From: Eric Schott

Dear Johannes,

I have been a reader of your site for some time now and greatley appreciate your not critic (such as Jackson) criticisms and tastings of the liquids in question. Can I become a member or at least a contributing taster as I have now tasted 21 malts the latest of which are Ardbeg 17 year old and Macallan 18 year old.

While both are truely at the pinnacle of the art, you neglect to mention Highland Park 18 year old which I find to be contending among the best. Coincidentally it has won some major awards recently. Although I've never tried the 12 year old, I urge you to try this one as it surely will not dissapoint you. It is rather complex showing some sherry, but that "bonfire" complexity with all its rooty, burning leaf flavors and lighly sweet maltiness withought excessive wood are truely remarkable.

Perhaps you havent found it yet? Price is about $60 American Dollars here in Los Angeles (I bought it at a large discount store as it was the only place I have found that carried this brand in addition to Ardbeg).

Cheers!

Eric from Los Angeles

Reply by Johannes: You're right, Eric - I haven't 'officially' tasted the HP 18 yet. You'll be pleased to know it has recently arrived in my collection - I just haven't opened it yet. I will probably do so within the next few months. Based on previous, 'unofficial' encounters I'm having high hopes for this bottle. Watch the Liquid Log for the results as they come in.
 

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Subject:  Help! - How do I hold a tasting session?
Date:  Tue, 1 May 2001
From:  Dave Whynacht

Hello Johannes,

I'm sure you get plenty of mail, so I'll try to keep this brief and hope I'm not being a total dolt by sending it to you. First off, fabulous site. I really enjoy it and have been trying to mention it to as many people as possible. Secondly, I'm a single malt novice but have been hooked, maybe too much so. It's hard to believe how easy it is to pull the cork after a day a work. Anyway. I'd really like to expand my single malt horizons and would like to hold a tasting session. But I not clear on the best way to do so - the whole two glasses, correct water thing. Sorry for my ignorance. I just don't want to look like a total idiot after bringing the guys over.

Thanks for you help and the great Web site.
 

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Just a quick note on my earlier e-mail. As I'm sure you would have pointed out, most of the information I sought was in the enjoyment section for beginners. Sorry. Going to get a glass to wash away the embarrassment.

Yours in humiliation,
Dave Whynacht

Reply by Johannes: Yep, Dave - I would have pointed you to the Beginner's Guide.
I think the chapters 'Enjoyment' and 'Practice' should help you get underway.
 

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Subject:  Dewar's
Date:  Fri, 11 May 2001
From: J. Willis

Wow! That was probably the single most kick-ass web page I've ever seen in my life.  I have to disagree with you on Clan McGregor...  I'm a Glenfiddich/Macallan fan from waaaaaaaaay back, but I find the McGregor almost drinkable. I am, however, shocked to find that Dewar's is not on your list of 'Seriously BAD Attempts at Whisky'.
Anyway, thanks for an awesome browsing experience.

JW

Reply by Johannes: Fortunately, there are a lot of bad blends I've never tried. Since I've discovered single malts, I haven't felt the need to be very 'adventurous' when I bought the occasional blend. Teacher's works fine for me.
 

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Subject:  Rating Bowmore Darkest
Date:  Fri, 1 Jun 2001
From:  Robert Sher

Only 65 points for the Bowmore Darkest?
I see that Michael Jackson has it rated a 91 and I found it to be fabulous as well.
Are you sure you were drinking the right whisky?

Rob Sher

Reply by Johannes: Yes, it's true. Klaus Everding can confirm that the taste of my bottle was pretty awful because he was there when I opened it. Bowmore Darkest is a single cask malt, so there can be huge differences between different batches. But at the steep price of 60 Euro's a bottle I'm not going to buy another bottle soon to find out if that one might be better. I figured that every bottle that passes the quality control at Bowmore, deserves the score it gets. Although my experiences with my bottle of Bowmore Darkest lead me to believe that the quality control at Bowmore isn't very strict.
 

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Subject:  The water of life
Date: Thu, 7 Jun 2001
From: Pavel Alexandrov

Hi Johannes,

Truly great site you got there!
Just a couple of words about myself (not that I think anyone would bother to read it, but hey! who knows?) First of all, I'm a Russian living presently in Moscow. And that's sad because 1) Russian drink of choice as everybody knows is vodka, and many people here, would you believe it, consider whisky to be an inferior beverage similar to the local thing called samogon - poorly refined home-made alcoholic drink produced from anything from potatoes to horseshit, 2) The average price of a single malt in Russia is 1.5-2 times higher than in rest of the world.

And here's my story of coming to appreciate malt whisky. As a student in 1990 I was studying in Japan near Tokyo and living in a dorm with 9 fellow Russian classmates (there were also Germans, Japanese, Koreans and Danes there, but when it comes to consuming vast amounts of alcohol they're just not in the same category as Russians, as one would guess). Obviously, at some point we were faced with a difficult task of finding a drink that would meet a number of requirements;

a) be available in a store within a walking distance,
b) allow us to get drunk quickly,
c) would not have unreasonable side-effects, such as I-wanna-be-dead hangover or I-can't-be-in-this-room-any-longer smell, and most importantly,
d) be affordable even for poor Russian students.

After some thorough research and extensive tasting with varied consequences we realized that whatever was sold in our area under the name of vodka doesn't suit the purpose of being consumed by an average Russian drinker and basically our options are either gin or whisky. After several of our gin-drinking sessions I knew that I would never willingly drink it again as it's something totally opposite to my personal ideas of a drinkable beverage, and concentrated solely on whisky.
At that time for me any whisky was just whisky, and I probably wouldn't tell a difference between Four Roses and Talisker 10, but who's without weaknesses, especially if you're young and in Japan? Anyway, as time went by I got acquainted with some Americans and Canadians (one of them later even became my wife - a girl from Toronto, who's presently sharing with me the hardships of life in post-communist Russia), got a part-time job in a gambling parlor and found out that there's actually a difference between Scotch and Bourbon, adding the latter to the same black list that included gin and the drink that goes under pseudonym of vodka in Hiratsuka city.

So the first step was taken, and within a year I came to a conclusion that Scotch whisky has become by far my favorite drink. However, I still was under the impression that those blends I liked so much - Teacher's, Ballantine's, Famous Grouse (for some reason I never liked Johnny Walker - and, bummer!, this is the only whisky you can find on every corner in Moscow) - were the only real stuff. Which, I still think, they are, as compared to the rest of 40+% beverages, with the exemption of Cognac, and maybe some rums. And it was not until 1994, when I first went to Canada to meet my future parents-in-law, that I was introduced to the greatness of a single malt whisky by the husband of my wife's cousin, a big man called Joe. Joe, however, was no expert himself - even though he had enough sense to get a bottle of Glen Garioch 15 for his new Russian relative, he fell short of not loading our glasses with tons of ice. But even in this situation my discovery was finally made - there was a world beyond blended scotch whiskies.

Over the years since then I tried to get my hands on a bottle of a single malt every time I had such a chance. I even tried a couple of times to maintain a collection, but that failed for the reason of uncontrollable desire to actually taste the malts every once in a while. My wild guess would be I tasted about 30 single malts in total. Some of them, I'm proud to say, I didn't find on any of your rated lists - The Glen Peel 12, for instance.
Unfortunately, even though I had several weak attempts to somehow put my experiences with malts into some sort of a system and even bought an issue of "Whisky. Collins pocket reference", I never really recorded any impressions or even names of malts I had a chance to taste. But that is - until now: Maltmadness.com gave me a whole new perspective and inspiration to start taking this whole thing more seriously. Another push in that direction I got this winter, when in Italy I for the first time started appreciating good wines - maybe one wouldn't find a close connection here, but the process of nosing and tasting of wine and single malts seems somewhat similar to me, and sometimes one's mind works in strange ways, but the result remains - I decided to work towards the goal of one day having a collection of single malts and a collection of Italian wines (even got one bottle already - a present kept since 1992). The only problem now comes to outrageous prices for these fine beverages in Moscow, as mentioned above. But there's no problem without a solution - my friends are already on a mission to find first 2 bottles of single malts for me in Hong Kong next week.

Well, thanks again for the site, and sorry for probably boring you into emptying your Malt Cabinet's whole top shelf at once with my draggin'  - just had to share it with someone who would know what the heck I'm talking about. By the way, according to my taste some of the Japanese malts are quite enjoyable - there could be a new field of research for you.

Best regards,

Pavel Alexandrov

Reply by Johannes:  Hiya, Pavel. Rest assured that I wasn't bored by your story. What's more, I completely agree with your observations about 'inferior' liquids like bourbon and gin. The ones I've sampled can't be compared to noble drinks like single malt whisky or cognac. Well - of course they CAN be compared, but the comparison isn't favorable for the bourbons and gins of this world.
 

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Subject:  Malt comment and a suggestion...
Date:  Thu, 7 Jun 2001
From:  Ken Seton

Hello,

I've been following your site for, well, over a year now and wanted to say how much I thoroughly enjoy it!  Much like a Laphroaig on a cold winters night after a filling of steak and potatoes!  I hope you keep it going, you're doing an excellent job and I truly appreciate and applaude your efforts.

That being said, as per your offering, I'd like to make a suggestion...
For serious Malt ratings, to give adequate perspective and a real opinion, you can't just "taste it" and then give offer-up advice... your palette will trick you everytime and you've no "experience" or history with it.  Overall bad is just plain bad mind you, and you'll know it the second it hits those taste buds, however, that being said, it should be noted that if one is having an Italian, or Chinese supper, your taste buds WILL (it's a biological thing that we humans cannot avoid... much like computer programming for your body) trick you, in contrast with say, a steak or fish supper.

What you have programmed into your taste buds prior to "sampling" that Single Malt will influence the outcome... and that said, it should then be emphasized that you have to "drink the bottle" to fully appreciate and be prepared to rate one. It may take a week or two to consume it, but only then, and by contrasting it against another Malt or two during that time, can you be certain that a correct rating be obtained.  Also with time, you must continue to re-sample the host Malt that is being rated.  Of course, a small sample, of say a mouthfull or quarter of a dram, just does'nt cut it either... a full dram or more will allow you to fully experience the host Malt and be better able to then give comment. However, it has to be drunk... consumed... over time, to be rated effectively.

Then, a note to the wise, if your trying to get a feel for a Malt, perhaps (and hopefully) the next on which to purchase, tread carefully on the ratings which are being offered as they can be extremely misleading for the above mentioned reasons.

I myself have been drinking Single Malts (no water PLEASE) for almost twenty years, since I was a teen.  I have personally consumed (and been dully preserved well enough, I'm sure, for my embalmer) to the tune of 300 bottles or so, I stopped counting about a year ago.  I can honestly say, then, that I'll not rate a Malt unless I've drank, contrasted and compared it, over time.

In that light I would like to offer my two cents worth regarding a particular Single Malt: In looking around at my local Scotch suppliers inventory, (we here in Montreal have an exclusive outlet which has a large section dedicated only to Single Malts, including a $10,000.00 CDN, 40 year old, crystal decantered Bowmore), I decided to try out a 25 year old Glenfarclas based on a written recommendation, and a few from people who had only briefly "sampled" it.

In my first outing with the "GlenF", it was all too strong-in-the-bottle.
Heavy alcohol over-taste, very light on both the flowers and the honey. The smell left you with the impression that a slight smoky-butterscotch was in store with some flowers to experience (and after all, at $125.00 CDN, you'd think it would deliver)... however, what hit me was this crude-alcohol taste that was difficult to pass-by.  So I tried it with various supper varieties, including a fish supper (which can REALLY help you enjoy a Malt) and no change... It was totally disgusting!  No refinement, a definite complexity, that I'll give it, but brash and generally only worth comparing against, say, Jack Daniels or Mr. Walker.  If your a fan of Mr. Walker, or the Famous Grouse, then I'm sure you'll enjoy this... otherwise, for the serious Single Malt drinker, buyer-beware, you can get three bottles of Laphroaig and be the better for it for the price!

As for myself, I'm an Islay man.
The peat simply does it for me. Couple that with some after-complexities which arise after consumption... and that's what impresses me. Glen Garioch 27, Bowmore Dusk and Darkest and Laphroaig 10 rate as very steadfast favourites. Always on hand, they are what I regularly consume and use to compare others against.

I hope you'll post my comments for others to read, and again, thank-you for creating this fantastic forum for all Malt Madness fanatics like myself.

Cheers,

Ken Seton
Montreal, Canada

Reply by Johannes:   Ah - You raise a couple of very interesting issues, Ken. Allow me to respond in lengthy detail ;-)

First there's the question of 'meals & malts'.
Some may call me a raving radical, but as far as serious sampling is concerned, I'm very much against combining food and single malts. A good single malt whisky deserves my full and undivided attention. It's hard enough capturing the soul of a single malt without confusing my tongue and palate with other tastes and temperatures. That's why I usually never have dinner whenever I have a serious tasting session planned. A few slices of white bread will do in case of sudden hunger. That way, I can concentrate on the malt(s) at hand.
Drinking a few single malts with a meal is fine by me, as long as it's for 'recreational' purposes only - although I personally prefer a nice port. Strong liquors of 40% and more tend to numb my senses after a while.

And then there's the topic of rating 'by the bottle'.
This is an issue I've been wrestling with for some time now. As you've pointed out, there are a lot of external factors that influence a tasting experience. Food, the weather and glassware are just a few of those factors. As a result, a dram tasted today may appear very different from a dram poured from the same bottle yesterday. When I started my mission around 5 years ago, I was aware of this phenomenon. That's why I decided to rate only the malts I've tasted 'by the bottle' - meaning that I've sampled at least 1 700 cl bottle of that malt.
So, for the last five years I have only 'seriously' rated whole bottles.

But lately, I have been having some doubts. Following much of the same reasoning you have, I became aware of an alternative approach. At the moment, each 'bottle' rating on my list represents the average of a number of 'dram' ratings. Because I do my serious sampling under controlled conditions, the deviation is usually no more than one or two points between drams. Some malts, however, are harder to pin down. The UDRM Saint Magdalene 1979, for example, scored anything between 88 and 94 points before I arrived at a final rating of 91 points.

Considering my 'bottle' ratings are in fact nothing more than an average of 'dram' ratings, something could be said for sampling malts by the dram - and rating them accordingly. All the more so because some malts change considerably after the bottle has been opened. To complicate things even more, the malts that do change do so within different timeframes. And let's not forget different people have different consumption patterns. You mentioned a period of two weeks to empty a bottle, but some bottles stay on my shelves for more than two YEARS before they are empty.

Ah - all this thinking makes my head hurt.
I'll pour myself a Glenfarclas 105 for now and do some more thinking on this topic in the future.
 

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Subject:  Highland Park 18 & Edradour 10
Date:  Thu, 12 Jul 2001
From:  Edward Strickland

Dear Johannes,

Thanks for a fascinating site.
I wanted to second Eric Schott's April recommendation of Highland Park 18, and to advise you to open that bottle after dinner if you haven't yet!  I found a 750ml here in the Tampa Bay area for $39.99 (+7% tax). I'd rate it with Lagavulin 16 (liter for app. $38US at Canadian duty-free) at the top of my list of 40 or so malts tasted. Unfortunately, I have no grounds for commenting on your observations of minor slippage in Lagavulin... Tastes fine to me.

Other non-original recommendations: Laphroaig 10 (alone or with smoked salmon); Balvenie 12 Double Wood (nice with crepes Grand Marnier). Among malty blends, staples are Teacher's and with after-dinner coffee Black Bush (or the non-blend Edradour, which your panel seriously underrates).

Best wishes,
Edward Strickland

Reply by Johannes: I will be opening the HP 18 in my reserve stock shortly. I agree it's long overdue, but want to open it on a special Orkney night - and I have to wait for temperatures to drop a little for optimum conditions. I wouldn't worry about the slipping of Lagavulin 16 too much - so far it's relatively minor. Maybe 2 points worth over the last 5 years - it's still a fabulous malt. I'm more concerned about rumours that prices will go up soon. That's why I recently bought 4 spare bottles for my reserve stock. That should sustain me for a while. About the Edradour - we just call 'em as we see 'em. But that's what this malt madness is all about - personal opinions and enjoyment. If you like the Edradour, good luck to you! The more Edradours you drink, the less proper malts you can drink - which leaves more proper malts for us ;-)
 

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Subject:  Amsterdam
Date:  Sat, 14 Jul 2001
From:  Edward Strickland

You are a wicked, wicked anti-Edradour man, Johannes, and as punishment, may you run out of all single malts but Glenfiddich!!!

As a writer, I extend compliments on your seemingly effortless fluidity in colloquial English (you write it better than I do) as well as your sense of humor. The latter recalls summer 1972 in Amsterdam, where I befriended some seriously lost teenage Americans camping in one of your parks, took 'em to an Indonesian restaurant...they were shocked to find no English or chow mein on the menu and responded to the waitress' non-comprehension by repeating ever louder "chow mein... CHOW MEIN... CHOW MEIN!"  I was almost literally crawling under the table, feeling terminally depressed when some guy diagonally across the restaurant raised his joint and gave me a Harpo Marx smile.
Maybe it was you?

Never been back but always had a soft spot for the Dutch ever since!

PS: Note that MJ gives Edradour 81--I'd go maybe 83???????????

Reply by Johannes: Only Glenfiddich? That's a bit cruel, isn't it?
Granted, my score for Edradour isn't astronomical, but it's a long way from the mediocre Glenfiddich n.a.s.  My score of 70 points puts the Edradour still in the 'recommendable' category - unlike the 'Fiddich.
(See Craig's E-Report #41 for another possible explanation for the low score.)
As far as the summer of '72 goes; I'm pretty sure that wasn't me.
Although the policies on cannabis are liberal here in Holland, I doubt that I would have gotten away with smoking a joint back then, considering I was only 6 years old at the time. Adults can smoke what they want as much they want, but pot-smoking toddlers are frowned upon. Fortunately, I've come a long way since then. Not have I grown older, I've also developed my own Harpo Marx smile and grow my own cultivation of weed ('Giechelwiet') on the balcony. I only grow 3 or 4 plants a year in natural light and natural soil, so the production is quite limited - just enough to liven up the occasional party or tasting session. Which just might be the source of the liquidity and colloquiality of some of my writings...
 

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Subject:  A Few Recommendations
Date:  Tue, 14 Aug 2001
From:  Jeff Jaskolski

Hi Johannes,

I have a few recommendations for you based on our similar likes:
Springbank 10 yr - you have this in your reserve stock and it is one of the finest whiskys (I've tried over 70) I have yet sampled.  You really do need to give Springbank a chance, it doesnt have a huge cult following for no reason.
Glenmorangie Fino Sherry finish - Absolutely blew me away.  It has probably the most complex nose I have ever witnessed.  Great complexity and balance in the palate with tremendous flavor development and a long smooth finish.
Glenfarclas 21 yr - Far and away superior to the 10,12,17, and 25 yr. Tremendous balance and roundness and deep, rich sherry aging.
Longrow 10 bourbon cask - Pricey, but it will certainly appeal to your love of Islay!
Highland Park 1977 Bicentenary - I found this to be superior to the excellent 12 and 18 yr examples.
Remarkable flavor development and complexity.

Cheers, Jeff
 

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Subject:  American Whiskeys
Date:  Wed, 29 Aug 2001
From:  Randall Bowen

Johannes,

In your reply to Louis Perlman's Public Warning about Four Roses which was less than flattering towards American whiskeys, you make a comment about not to get you started on American whiskey.  While not having been a traveler to your country, I don't know what American whiskeys are mass marketed there and which ones you've tried.  Over here in the country of origin for American whiskey, there are many bad and cheap blends that abound as well as pure whiskeys from a single distiller (I can't call them single malts, maybe single corns?).  Much like the many bad Scotch blends you warn people of on your website.  You shouldn't slam the entire industry based on a few samples of the bad lot.  It would be the same as if I slammed all single malts based on Lock Dhu and generalized that they were all bad.

However, the single malt Scotch market and its success has had a positive affect on spirits industry in general.  Many boutique whiskeys, tequilas, and rums now abound with many offerings of quality hand-made, small batch products.  The Malt Advocate reviews many of these American boutique whiskey offerings in their monthly pages.

I am new to the world of single malt Scotch and, while I traditionally have not been an American whiskey or bourbon fan, I've recently given a few a try as a result of my mind having been opened by single malts.
One that I would recommend you try is Maker's Mark.  It has a nose to die for and a very smooth palate to boot.  None of the Jack Daniels bite as it is not charcoal filtered as are the Tennessee whiskeys.  I had read much about Maker's Mark on the web (all positive I might add) and recently had a chance to try it myself and was pleasantly surprised.  I think it would also pass your value test as it is very moderately priced compared to its competitors (over here anyway).

Now, you can't judge it as a single malt just as you can't judge a traditional (both malted and unmalted barley in the mash) triple-pot stilled Irish whiskey as a single malt.  They are in a category all their own with each their own merits and faults.  I now enjoy a good traditional Irish whiskey (like John Powers Gold or Redbreast), or an American boubon like Maker's Mark just as much as I do a good single malt from Scotland.  They each have their season and time.

Regards,
Randall

Reply by Johannes:  This is uncanny. When I received your message I was just enjoying a glass of the (American) McCormick Platte Valley 100% Straight Corn Whiskey. No - let me rephrase that; I WASN'T enjoying it. Rating = 35 points.
That being said, you do make a couple of excellent points. Let me emphasize once more that everything on this site is written from a personal, subjective perspective. The fact that I didn't enjoy the American whiskeys I've tasted so far doesn't mean that they are 'Bad'. It just means what it says on the page: I didn't enjoy them.
Like you observed, I've only sampled a handful of American and Canadian whiskeys so far. I can only hope that the discoveries that lie around the corner are more to my liking. They may very well be; I've tasted a miniature of Maker's Mark at a barbeque a few months ago and was pleasantly surprised. I'll try to get my hands on a big bottle after my Big Ban is over. (See my Liquid Log for details)
 

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Subject:  The History of John Jameson & Son
Date:  Sun, 9 Sep 2001
From:  Stephen Gilberg

No one really knows when the distillation of Irish whiskey began, or for that matter, who began it. It is known however, that the secret of distillation was probably brought to Ireland by missionary monks from the Middle East around the 6th century A.D. In the 12th century, Henry II and his soldiers paid their first visit to Ireland, and quickly took a liking to a liquor distilled by the Irish monks called "Uisce Beatha," or "the water of life." Uisce Beatha was Anglicized in later years, first to "Fuisce," and finally to "Whiskey."

In 1780, as James Watt perfected the steam engine, and as Mozart won the adulation of Europe for his music, John Jameson established his Bow Street whisky distillery on the north bank of the river Liffey in Dublin, Ireland.

Jameson's distillery prospered, and each generation of the Jameson family became known as perfectionists, making the finest Irish whiskey in the world. By the early part of the 20th century, Jameson Irish Whiskey was being exported to countries around the world. Prohibition in America destroyed the lion's share of John Jameson & Son's export trade. When Prohibition was finally repealed, reserves of properly aged Irish whisky had fallen dramatically, giving Scotch whisky the opportunity to get ahead in the international markets previously dominated by its Irish cousin. In 1966, John Jameson & Son merged with John Power & Son and the Cork Distilleries Company, to form the "Irish Distillers Group." Since that time, the "IDG" has made huge strides in rebuilding the export sales of Irish whiskey, and the Jameson brand has led the way.

Jameson Irish Whiskey is made from a mixture of malted and unmalted barley and other cereal grains. In Ireland, the malted barley is dried in closed kilns without the presence of peat smoke. Thus, Irish whisky does not have the smoky character traditionally associated with most Scotch whiskies.

Jameson goes through three separate distillations.
The first distillation extracts what is known as the "low wines." This full flavored product is then distilled in another pot still, and the resulting distillation is called the "feints." The feints is then transferred to the spirit still, where it undergoes a third and final distillation. It is this final step that assures a delicate final spirit which, after proper maturation, will become Jameson. The maturing spirit is stored in oak casks, some of which have been previously used for fine sherry. As it matures, a complex interaction takes place between the natural wood extracts, the whiskey, and the air it "breathes" through the porous wooden cask. Jameson is aged an average of seven years in oak casks that previously contained Spanish Oloroso sherry, or American Bourbon whisky.

At a recent tasting of Jameson Irish Whiskey, I found it to have a wonderful vanilla and honey aroma with the slightest hint of peach. The flavor is smooth and rich as the delicate whiskey glides over the palate. Complex notes of malt, honey, butter and peach are balanced perfectly by woody tannins and warming alcohol tones. The absence of smoky peat notes leaves the whiskey with a finish that is reminiscent of a light Kentucky bourbon. I found Jameson Irish Whiskey a delicious change of pace from my usual after dinner bourbon, and I think you will as well.
 

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Subject:  New Islay Distillery - Kilchoman
Date:  Sat, 10 Nov 2001
From:  Islay Whisky Society

Its taken over a hundred years since the last new distillery was built on Islay - so perhaps the few years of waiting for mature bottled product from the Kilchoman Distillery should not be considered that far off. We hope you find the following news of interest.

During the early months of 2002 a new, small distillery is planned close to the west coast of Islay. To be named the Kilchoman Distillery, there are a number of exciting features that will make this distillery a real gem. The operation will be the closest thing to the early 'farm operated' distilleries that first occurred on Islay during the formative days of distilling on the island. In stark contrast to later 'industrial age' complexes capable of large production volumes, operations at Kilchoman will rank with the smallest of all Scotland's distilleries (similar to those at Edradour, currently Scotland's smallest distillery).

The distillery will be the first new Scotch malt distillery built in the new millennium (the first built after 1900 was Tormore). It will be THE ONLY distillery in Islay to use only malted barley from its own traditional malting floor and use 'live flame' heat on the wash still (these features can still be found at Springbank Distillery). The Kilchoman Distillery will be based within the old farm buildings owned by local Islay farmer Mark French (who has also just launched a new special smoked Islay beef business) and will use barley grown on his farm. The proprietor of the distillery will be Anthony Wills who married into an Islay landowning family and, after working in the wine trade, has been building up an interesting independent single cask bottling enterprise.

A great deal of thought and planning has gone into the new malting floors at Kilchoman, the traditional washbacks and the shape and style of the two stills. Kilchoman is fortunate on being able to draw on the considerable experience of John McDougall whose time as manager at Balvenie, Laphroaig and Springbank allows him to provide the 'parental' guidance that this new Islay baby deserves.

To keep in touch visit http://www.kilchomandistillery.com and subscribe to their news service (follow the link at the bottom of The Kilchoman Distillery homepage).

The Islay Whisky Society is able to offer members the facility to visit during the distillery construction to both learn of the approach being taken first hand and to also play an historic role in helping this new distillery take shape.
To find out about this unique Islay visit (planned over a weekend to be announced between February and April 2002) email Fiona at office2@distillers.com so she can place you on the invitation list.

Furthermore, IWS members are given opportunity to join founding shareholders. In a recent discussion with the founders of this project the IWS learned of the possibility for some members to join a small group of investors to become founding shareholders in Islay's new baby. The project is not a multi-million pound project - it is a realistic small enterprise with 40% of shares currently being offered to a select few from whisky related circles and anybody interested in finding out more should email IWS direct to find out about the chance to take ownership of an Islay distillery - with the obvious advantages of preferred options on a limited amount of 'heavy hitting high phenolic new spirit' both in cask and limited single cask bottlings when they are released.

Email iws@distillers.com from more information on becoming an owner of an Islay Distillery.
 

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Subject:  Dalwhinnie & Stuff
Date:  Thu, 22 Nov 2001
From:  Brett Laniosh

I was really pleased to find your site, there is some very useful information on it. I actually came to whisky from that other great malt product "beer". As you may be aware Mr Jackson is as well (if not more) known amongst real ale aficionados as malt whisky enthusiasts. I am in agreement with the scores on the matrix especially regarding the Lagavulin 16yr which is excellent value for money round here. My local Makro (trade retailer) is selling it for 17.24 + vat a bottle which I reckon is a bargain.

A couple of things I do have reservations about. I would move the deliciously smooth Dalwhinnie up your ratings somewhat. More seriously, where is the wonderful Ardmore (Gordon & MacPhail 1985 40%, bottled 2000)???
A lovely malt with a terrific smoky nose and sweet biscuit flavours.
One of my favourites.

Brett

There's a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore looking like an idiot.

Reply by Johannes:  Some people like the Dalwhinnie.
So do I - Just not as much as some people and some other malts...

As for 'The' Ardmore - I liked it 78 points worth. The nose was very good indeed, but the taste didn't reach beyond 'very nice'. It was a good malt, but it suffers from fierce competition of so many other good malts. I'm affraid I have to disagree with your philosophical closing remark about fishing - the line you refer to is so fine I can't actually see it myself...
In our wet climate fishing equals standing on the shore looking like an idiot AND running a good chance of catching pneumonia. Admittedly, this might add an element of risk and excitement to an otherwise mindnumbing sport, but still...
In fact, all I have to do is mention fishing whenever people accuse me of having peculiar hobbies (drinking lots of whiskies, paragliding, bigfooting, cow taunting, etc. - well, just kidding about the last one, although I might give it a try sometime now I've thought about it...)

Oops.... I'm wandering off again.
 

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Subject:  Strong Swords & Distillery Dogs
Date:  Fri, 23 Nov 2001
From:  W. Reid Ripley

Dear Johannes,

    I came upon your entertaining site via a link someone put up in Sword Forum International - there was a Scotch whisky thread amongst its many discussions of swords from Ireland to Japan.  It seems there are quite a few sword makers out there nowadays trying to replicate or even better the swordsmiths of medieval and Renaissance times.  It looks like they are doing well, too: these people's swords aren't going to snap at the tang if you actually hit something with them.

    However, what I really wanted to write to you about was the likely function of that dog in the picture of the distillerymen on the 'Worst Whskies' page. The dog, which looks like a terrier crossbreed, was probably to keep down the rats - they would find stores of grain, malted grain, and malting floors irresistible. Plenty of employment there for terriers and large cats, I should think.

    Warmest regards, and Happy Thanksgiving [an American holiday featuring religious services of thanksgiving and huge dinners,traditionally including roast turkey and pumpkin pie among many other goodies, falling on today this year],

    W. Reid Ripley
 

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Subject:  Salt licorice and whisky
Date:  Fri, 7 Dec 2001
From:  Janne Suominen

Hello!

I read a while ago that us Finns are among the few salt licorice loving nations on this planet alongside with the Dutch, and I wonder if this is reflected on the "national taste" in single malts. At least my friends seem to veer towards the Islay-taste, which might be considered to feature some characteristics familiar to salt licorice lovers. Since most creators of taste diagrams are from nations where salt licorice is just a myth, it does not find its way into the whisky vocabulary. So I kinda wondered if the Dutch whisky lovers ever use the term "salt licorice" instead of, for example, "medicinal"...

I have converted many whisky hating Finns to malt lovers with Laphroiag, and they usually exclaim that the stuff tastes like tar licorice, and end up loving it. Is tar licorice available in Holland? If someone likes Talisker or Laphroiag, that person is usually a friend of tar licorice as well. Tar licorice is, as you maight have guessed, salt licorice with tar added to the mix...hot and warming, just like a good Islay.

Reply by Johannes:  You might have a good point there. I've heard that in a lot of countries the group of Islay lovers is relatively small and the peaty malts are considered to be very 'extreme'. My first malt was the Lagavulin, and I immediately LOVED it - as well as almost every Islay malt I tasted since then.
I've found salt licorice or salmiak in some malts, while others showed sweet licorice/licorice root or a more fruity impression which reminds me of 'Engelse Drop' - I think the English word is 'Licorice All Sorts'. I'm sorry, but I don't know Tar licorice. Is that really healthy??? I associate Tar with road/roof coverings!
Medicinal is something very different - at least to my senses.
What I call medicinal lies in the Iodine / Chloroform corner.
 

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And that concludes the 'public' contributions from 2000 and 2001.
On January 1, 2002 we published
the first issue of Malt Maniacs and closed the forum.
However, you can still become a
foreign correspondent and share your observations with the world.
 
 
 
 
 

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