Aberfeldy 12 (40%, OB, Dewar's - as experienced by Johannes van den Heuvel, Holland)
Nose: Herbal & spicy, then 'sweet & sour' like a Chinese sauce. Fruits emerge, followed by organics. Some leather & smoke.
Palate: Harsh & rough mouth feel at first, that's too bad. Hint of salt liquorice. Orange lemonade in the finish? Underwhelming.
Verdict: 80 points - a standard expression that has been quietly improving over the years. The nose is the real charmer here.
Most of the 'A' distilleries in Scotland (Aberfeldy, Aberlour, Ardbeg, Arran and Auchentoshan) have a nice portfolio of official bottlings available for the the discerning whisky connoisseur. The distilleries that (so far) lack a range of widely available official bottlings are Allt-A-Bhainne, Ardmore, Auchroisk and Aultmore. Check out the matrix or monitor for our scores for expressions from these relatively 'obscure' distilleries in Scotland. Most of those expressions were released by various independent bottlers.
Aberfeldy 21 (40%, OB, Dewar's - as experienced by Serge Valentin, France)
Nose: The nose is very fresh, quite grainy in a very nice way and rather fragrant. The style is similar to the 12 years old.
Palate: Round & fresh, with beautiful oaky notes and lots of salty caramel. Liquorice too, with a most enjoyable dry finish.
Verdict: 85 points - Not too complex but nicely balanced. A very good Sunday malt for… er… blend drinkers!
Aberlour A'bunadh Batch #20
(60,5%, OB, Bottled +/- 2007 - as experienced by Johannes van den Heuvel)
Nose: Sweetness & dark fruits. Some nuts and polished wood as well. Excellent sherry profile. Right up my alley...
Taste: Very hot. Sweet fruits. Raisins. Hint of eucalyptus? Not overly woody in the finish. In fact, it's perfectly balanced!
Verdict: 90 points - finally a batch that can match the very first one from the 1990's. Almost tastes like a cognac.
Aberlour 10 (40%, OB - as experienced by Michel van Meersbergen, Holland)
Nose: A comfortable feel with sweet onion & chervil. Vanilla, liquorice, eucalyptus oil. A farmy edge, peppered orange skin.
Palate: This is a tad shy now. Some farmy malts, white pepper and a strange burn. Perhaps also some Chartreuse. Cookies.
Verdict: 81 points - Finish: A bit too short. Slightly vegetal, liquorice and a bit salty. Water makes it more approachable.
Aberlour 16 Double Cask Matured (40%, OB - as experienced by Johannes van den Heuvel, Holland)
Nose: Aaaah... Rich, sherried and fruity. Sweet. Smoke and organics. Spices. Coffee? Soy sauce? Burnt caramel?
Palate: Dry with a candy sweetness. Fruity with a hint of mint. Cool finish. Chewy with a very pleasant toffee character.
Verdict: 84 points - Feistier and more complex than the 12yo version. Benefits considerably from a little breathing.
Ardbeg Blasda (40%, OB, lightly peated) - as experienced by Michel van Meersbergen)
Nose: Smoky and some milk. Appears quite young and immature. Some leafy influences, pine cone, ferns humus.
Palate: Peppery and smoky. There's some balance but not very much else. Hints of white pepper and leafy oak.
Verdict: 80 points - Water breaks down the body leaving a thinnish palate with some pepper and smoke.
Arran 100 Proof (57%, OB - as experienced by Michel van Meersbergen, Holland)
Nose: A tad mouldy. Damp, rotten oak, damp cotton, vanilla, hints on lemon skin, pineapple jam. Candle wax & leather.
Palate: Quite bitter, some mouldy grapefruit, white pepper, damp cotton, drying oak. Gets a gritty mouth feel. Tannic oak.
Verdict: 82 points - I like the finish with white pepper, green oak, a tad vegetal, chicorice, fading away with white pepper.
Arran 10 (46%, OB - as experienced by Robert Karlsson, Sweden)
Nose: Easy-going fruitiness and some traces of vanilla. Quite light and dry, yet you can feel the alcohol. An uncut feeling.
Palate: Balanced with the nose. Easy-going, light, malty and a little sweetness too. A little on the anonymous side.
Verdict: 79 points - Light, not too complex, perhaps something for the summer time? Other maniacs liked it better.
Auchentoshan Three Wood (40%, OB - as experienced by Johannes van den Heuvel, Holland)
Nose: Smoky & sweet like burnt caramel with a 'bourbon' superficiality. Evolving sherried & fruity tones - too little too late.
Palate: Off kilter. Sweet & smoky like the nose, but with a sourish dissonant. Odd mouth feel. Long, dry and smoky finish.
Verdict: 71 points - and batch variation raises its ugly head again. An earlier bottle I tried was far better integrated.
Auchentoshan 10 (40%, OB - as experienced by Luca Chichizola, Italy)
Nose: Delicate, flowery, slightly perfumy. Alas, some lavender notes which increase with exposure to air.
Palate: Very delicate. Slight vanilla, flowers, chamomile, and a sweet malt. Same lavender notes (FWP?) on the palate.
Verdict: 79 points - Without the off-beat lavender notes, it would be a perfect malt for ladies and delicate palates.
Auchentoshan Select (40%, OB - as experienced by Serge Valentin, France)
Nose: Very grainy. Light, somewhat fragrant (eau de Cologne). No fruity notes except, perhaps, a little pear.
Palate: Smooth and slightly sugary. Notes of wood. Medium, grainy finish. (But Olivier & Davin liked this one better.)
Verdict: 69 points - We really are in blend territory here, but some blended whiskies are better than this one...
An Cnoc 16 (40%, OB, Knockdhu distillery - as experienced by Michel van Meersbergen, Holland)
Nose: Hints of apple pie, organics and smoke. Develops some notes of honey and a trace of white blossoms.
Palate: Hints of oak and wheat germ oil. Apples, cinnamon, traces of white pepper. The oak gets a tad sharp here.
Verdict: 81 points - the finish is somewhat neutral. Some bitterness with dark chocolate and a slight vegetal feel.
Ardbeg Airigh Nam Beist (46%, OB, Distilled 1990 - as experienced by Johannes van den Heuvel)
Nose: A polished Islay malt. Light and pleasant peat in the nose with more organics later on. It grew on me over time.
Palate: Dry and leathery on the palate - a smoker's whisky? It needs time but it's worth the wait.
Verdict: 86 points - Not quite the stunner that the 10yo and 17yo were on arrival, but still a great dram.
Ardbeg 10 (46%, OB - as experienced by Serge Valentin, France)
Nose: Rather soft at first nosing, buttery, soaked grain, porridge & smoke. Wet stones, kelp, iodine. Fresh apples after that.
Palate: Starts slightly prickly (green apples, herbs liqueur, pepper) but gets softer (apple compote, smoked tea) and salty.
Verdict: 86 points - A sure bet. The finish is not too long but very lemony and salty, with a little un-sugared green tea.
An Cnoc 12 (40%, OB, Knockdhu distillery - as experienced by Olivier Humbrecht, France)
Nose: Punchy grainy grassy nose. Not special. Light toffee touch.
Palate: Grainy fruity malty sherry, some sulphurs. Average...
Verdict: 79 points - and some maniacs would say this is a fairly generous score.
Ardmore Traditional Casks (46%, OB, peated, finished in quarter casks - as experienced by J. van den Heuvel)
Nose: Light, fresh and grainy. Sweetish with a faint hint of peat, growing stronger over time. Spices and malty notes too.
Palate: Much smokier than the nose suggests. Fairly sharp and not too complex. In fact, the palate is a little unsatisfactory.
Verdict: 82 points - a well rounded profile. Even some organics, although this isn't a peat monster. Anthracite? Salmiak.
Balblair 1975/2007 (46%, OB - as experienced by Johannes van den Heuvel, Holland)
Nose: Big, spicy and complex. A lot of development over time. I had so much fun I forgot to make many notes.
Palate: Brilliant mouth feel; a perfect combination of wood and tannis with a finish that lasts forever.
Verdict: 90 points - I nominated it for gold in the MM Awards but most other maniacs didn't quite enjoy it as much as I did.
There are official bottlings available (well, a few of them semi-official) for a dozen 'B' distilleries;
Balblair, Balvenie, Ben Nevis, Benriach, Benrinnes, Benromach, Bladnoch, Blair Athol, Bowmore, Brora, Bruichladdich and Bunnahabhain. We couldn't find any proper OB's from Banff or Braes of Glenlivet (Braeval) and none of
us has tried the 'Flora & Fauna' Balmenach in a decade.
Keep in mind that this MaltMenu only shows a tiny selection of the malts we tried - see the matrix for more expressions.
Balblair 16 (40%, OB - as experienced by Davin de Kergommeaux, Canada)
Nose: Honey, esters, a bit heavy, a bit sharp, sherry and a hint of licorice, pipe tobacco, some nose tickle, ether.
Palate: Sweet, wood tannins right off from the beginning, quite hot and spicy, some alcohol, brown sugar.
Verdict: 77 points - but that's notably lower than the average score of 81 points at the MM Awards 2005.
Balvenie 12 Signature (40%, OB, Ltd Release Batch #1 - as experienced by Luca Chichizola)
Nose: Big initial whiff of acetone, then red and yellow apples. Melon and almonds. Maybe some rhum filled chocolate?
Palate: Rather bland and nondescript, with the usual cereals, apple, banana, almonds and some late hoppy bitterness.
Verdict: 72 points - A bit too diluted, too. No 'universal approval' among the maniacs, but Johannes really liked it.
Balvenie 12 DoubleWood (40%, OB - as experienced by Johannes van den Heuvel, Holland)
Nose: Whoah! Big, round and fruity. Not a lot of 'definition', but very pleasant indeed. Whiff of shoe polish?
Palate: Solid and sweet with loads of floral notes in the centre. Oldfashioned fruit sweets. Some passion fruits.
Verdict: 86 points - I loved the touch of smoke in the finish. Opinions were divided during the MM Awards 2008 though.
Balvenie 21 Port Wood (40%, OB - as experienced by Robert Karlsson, Sweden)
Nose: Very nice ripe almost exotic fruitiness. Apricots? Sweet and winey. Are those wild strawberries? Must be a first.
Palate: The excellent fruity domination is still there. That alongside the mellow, jellyish and simply lovely sweetness.
Verdict: 89 points - Very recommendable, a little higher ABV would probably make this an absolute stunner.
Ben Nevis 10 (46%, OB - as experienced by Johannes van den Heuvel, Holland)
Nose: Rich with a hint of oil. Furniture polish. A little fruity - gooseberry? Some pepper & spices. Hint of oil. Nutty.
Taste: Toffeeish. Malty, sweetish & smoky. Slightly dusty. Strong dark chocolate. Orange peel in the dry finish. Eucalyptus?
Verdict: 78 points - Not unlike 'Frangelico' liqueur. (Please note that these notes are not very up-to-date.)
Benriach 12yo 'Arumaticus Fumosus' (46%, OB, 1740 Bts. - as experienced by Lawrence Graham, Canada)
Nose: Very peated with a sharp metallic background along with a very slight damp cardboard (which quite quickly vanishes).
Palate: strongly peat smoked followed by banana, sweet fruit and creosote, possibly a hint of rose.
Verdict: 84 points - with water it is some what tamed and the sweetness and peat smoke are well integrated, very nice.
Benriach 16 (40%, OB - as experienced by Serge Valentin, France)
Nose: A very grainy and vegetal start, not too bold I must say. Lots of porridge; some bold notes of freshly mown lawn.
Palate: Very grainy and herbal again, and a little oomphier. Some cake and caramel, something rummy towards the finish.
Verdict: 78 points - Not bad at all but maybe a little weak in fact. Other maniacs liked it a little better than I did.
Benriach 20 (43%, OB - as experienced by Bert Bruyneel, Belgium)
Nose: Nice old nose, passion fruit, tropical, vanilla,
Palate: a blast of tropical fruit, spicy and creamy, fruity sweet, great stuff.
Verdict: 92 points - A warm and tropical finish, my kinda stuff !!! Most other maniacs liked it too.
Benrinnes 15 (43%, OB, Flora & Fauna series - as experienced by Robert Karlsson, Sweden)
Nose: Quite full nose of almost saturated sweetness. A little syrupy and perhaps even burnt sugar.
Palate: Very round. Raisin and some other fruits below the sweetness. A bit unpleasant from the burnt sugar (E150?).
Verdict: 78 points - but I need to point out that most other maniacs gave earlier batches a higher score than I did.
Ballechin #1 2003/2006 (46%, OB Signatory OB, 6000 Bts. - as experienced by Johannes v/d Heuvel, Holland)
Nose: Young & farmy & quite harsh at first. A little bit in the 'Deanston' school of whisky? Not for everybody, but I like it.
Palate: Watery start on the palate - quickly sweetening out and becoming peatier. Cattle feed? Lovely organics.
Verdict: 85 points - once again time wielded its magic - the more time I spent with it the more it grew on me.
Benromach Traditional (40%, OB, No age statement - as experienced by Johannes van den Heuvel)
Nose: Light & smooth at first, growing a little grainier after a few seconds. Creamy. Oil? Granny Smith? Spicy. Superficial.
Palate: Weak start, becoming sweeter and a little nutty. Smooth and slick. Over time I got apples, mint, smoke & liquorice.
Verdict: 75 points - Gone too soon. It's quite slick (and improves with time), but for my tastes it's a tad too 'MOTR'...
Benromach Organic (40%, OB, No age statement - as experienced by Serge Valentin, France)
Nose: Oh, different' indeed. Oak, hot milk, vanilla, muesli, cereals, tapioca, apple juice, cooked pasta, semolina, nutmeg.
Palate: Rather sweet, lots of tapioca or semolina spiced up with nutmeg as well as some enjoyable toasty, malty notes.
Verdict: 85 points - Unusual indeed and certainly enjoyable – not only for its difference. Not all maniacs loved it though.
Benromach 1999/2008 Origins (50%, OB, Batch#1, Golden Promise - as experienced by Olivier Humbrecht)
Nose: Toffee, caramel winey nose. quite aromatic, but not refined. grain/malty nose and heavy sherry.
Palate: pungent palate. sulfury character. good length but cask or finish dominates and gives a heavy touch.
Verdict: 78 points - not really enjoyable for me, but some maniacs said they'd give it bronze in the awards.
Bladnoch 13 (40%, OB - as experienced by Robert Karlsson, Sweden)
Nose: A kind malt. Perhaps too kind. Some hay, a little bit of citrus and malt.
Palate: Light summer malt. The quite simple malt dominates. Quite fresh with the citrusy notes.
Verdict: 79 points - Nothing wrong with it but not really exciting either. Instead of a Heineken on a hot summer day?
Blair Athol 12 (43%, OB, Flora & Fauna series - as experienced by Johannes van den Heuvel, Holland)
Nose: Slightly smoky sweetness. Sweet and sour? Ginger? Red wine? A great nose but it needs a minute to open up.
Palate: Sweet and fruity. A soft start slowly develops into a prolonged explosion. Doesn't respond well to water.
Verdict: 79 points - Nothing really wrong here, but not special enough to warrant a score in the 80's.
Bowmore Darkest (40%, OB - as experienced by Johannes van den Heuvel, Holland)
Nose: Just like previous batches, malt, sherry, smoke and some peat are the most obvious components in the nose.
Palate: Much better than previous batches, but still lingering hints of soap and detergent. Astringent aftertaste.
Verdict: 80 points - even though this batch could have earned it a 'green' seal of approval, batch variation keeps it down.
Bowmore 15 Mariner (40%, OB - as experienced by Luca Chichizola, Italy)
Nose: One of the best, most distintive young Bowmores. Like the 12yo, but with more character, saltier and peatier.
Palate: Big, quite powerful, almost Laphroaigish. Licorice, peat, salt and a pleasantly woody and spicy background.
Verdict: 85 points - Laphroaig might be cheaper, but this Bowmore is the best in the "under 20 years old" range.
Brora 30 (40%, OB, ABV may vary between batches - as experienced by Thomas Lipka, Germany)
Nose: Aaah, the nose of old Ardbeg! Cowstable, lightly fruity, gently oily, perfect harmony, maybe even a tad too reluctant.
Palate: This one has it all; excellent interplay of soft peat, malty sweetness, a hint of burned marmalade toast & fruitiness.
Verdict: 93 points - Holy cow! Davin calls this 'Mouthgasmic!'. Enhanced by a peppery note that would make Talisker proud.
Bruichladdich 12 (40%, OB, Second Edition - as experienced by Craig Daniels, Australia)
Nose: Melon, powder, stone dust, charcoal, vanilla cream, hint of watery smoke. Perhaps a trace of licorice?
Palate: Tart fruit acid in palate chargrilled pineapple and grapefruit. Charred fruit & metallic rainwater in finish.
Verdict: 79 points - Michel felt that the sharpness could indicate a Port finish. No further comments from Down Under.
Bruichladdich 18 (46%, OB, Petit Manseng casks - as experienced by Johannes van den Heuvel)
Nose: Nondescript and a little depressing. Finished? Rotting milk powder. A little metallic?
Palate: Hmm… Something feels off… Aspirin in the bitter finish.
Verdict: 72 points - why oh why do they destroy their brand by bottling stuff like this?.
Bunnahabhain 12 (40%, OB, 2nd Edition - as experienced by Luca Chichizola, Italy)
Nose: Banana peel, acetone. Quite salty and coastal. Paint thinner and some malty sweetness.
Palate: Sweet, delicate but not wimpy. Nutty, reminiscent of kids' sugar candies. Slighlty flowery (camomille).
Verdict: 81 points - Delicate and sweet, not exciting but still very interesting and a big improvement on earlier versions.
Bunnahabhain 25 (40%, OB - as experienced by Serge Valentin, France)
Nose: Almost youthful. Sweet and slightly sour (cooked apples), dandelion, old wood, fudge, with also something metallic.
Palate: Sweet & sour attack. Notes of sangria, orange honey, Chinese sauce for dim-sums. Roasted nuts & old sweet wine.
Verdict: 80 points - It's quite malty (Ovomaltine) and gets more and more toffeeish with time. Lots of 'cooked' coffee as well.
Bowmore 12yo (40%, OB - as experienced by Serge Valentin, France)
Nose: Flinty and very, very coastal, medium-peaty. Passion fruits, oranges and mangos like in some much older versions.
Palate: Ah yes, this is excellent. Perfect 'medium' peatiness, lots of salt, notes of candied oranges, vanilla fudge…
Verdict: 85 points - huge progress when compared with earlier batches – Bowmore 12 is truly back as far as I can tell. Bravo!
Balblair 1989/2007 (43%, OB - as experienced by Michel van Meersbergen, Holland)
Nose: Very fresh and fruity. Fresh cut apple, white grapes, green tea, some pineapple and hints of vanilla cream.
Palate: The notes of apple has almost disappeared, some pepper, vanilla, oak and some honey. Finish: Oak and vanilla.
Verdict: 81 points - Straightforward but enjoyable. Would make a nice springtime dram!
Caol Ila 8 Unpeated (55%, OB - as experienced by Ho-cheng Yao, Taiwan)
Nose: grassy, vanilla, sugar, chicken broth.
Palate: light body, robust, medium finish. Kind of too strong, palate killing.
Verdict: 78 points - No further comments.
There's not that much to tell about the 'C' distilleries, so I'll use this space to point out something important.
In some cases there appears to be a discrepancy between the pictograph at the right and the score and 'verdict'.
That's all it is - appearances. In some cases the maniac that provided the tasting notes and individual score felt a little
differently about a malt than 'the average maniac'. If this is the case, it is usually mentioned together with the 'verdict'.
Caol Ila 12 (40%, OB - as experienced by Johannes van den Heuvel, Holland)
Nose: Lovely peat! Light and transparent with organics. Leather. Brine. There's a fruity sweetness as well.
Palate: Oy, not quite as powerful as I'd expected. Watery start, then sweet and peaty. More powerful after a few seconds.
Verdict: 84 points - Quite pleasant on the palate after all. A big peaty burn - but just a little too 'flat' and short perhaps.
Caol Ila 18 (40%, OB - as experienced by Luca Chichizola, Italy)
Nose: A "darker" and woodier tone than the other expressions, but still fresh and with minty notes.
Palate: Rhummy, peaty but not excessively. Very well balanced with lots of malty sweetness and wood to match. Licorice.
Verdict: 89 points - but the average score from all maniacs is 84 points. Coupled with the higher price, not quite 'thumbs up'.
Cardhu 12 (40%, OB - as experienced by Johannes van den Heuvel, Holland)
Nose: Cardhu has always been a 'soft spoken' malt (and briefly a vatted malt). A gentle, malty and 'MOTR' nose. Honey?
Palate: Malty and again MOTR. Like earlier (malt) batches is turns a tad too bitter and flat towards the finish for me.
Verdict: 72 points - but I should add that this was sampled on a relatively bad nose day. Will try to confirm a.s.a.p..
Clynelish 14 (46%, OB - as experienced by Serge Valentin, France)
Nose: Orangey notes growing bigger & bigger. Very nice, even if a little simple. None of the 'coastal' notes, nor any smoke.
Palate: Light & clean. Orange zest, vanilla, tannins. Less feinty than before. Medium long finish, orange zest & pepper.
Verdict: 84 points - the same score as the average on the monitor at the moment. Coupled with the nice price: 'thumbs up'.
Cragganmore 12 (40%, OB - as experienced by Luca Chichizola, Italy)
Nose: Red fruits, dry sherry and a slightly sour vegetal and flowery character.
Palate: Dry, winey, not as rich and luscious as some sherried Speysiders. A bit thin, too. Crisp and malty.
Verdict: 80 points - Very refined, but perhaps a little too subtle and restrained.
Cragganmore Distiller's Edition (40%, OB, Port finish - as experienced by Michel van Meersbergen, Holland)
Nose: Ripe strawberries, pear, salted licorice and lightly malty.
Palate: bit malty and some hints of Port, somewhat musty red fruits. Finish: Licorice, malty and some caramel
Verdict: 83 points - A very approachable malt.
Convalmore 28yo 1977/2005 (57.9%, OB, 3900 Bts. - as experienced by Johannes van den Heuvel, Holland)
Nose: Heavy & fruity, but little 'definition' at first. Rapidly growing spiciness, organics and complexity. Almost ike a liqueur.
Palate: A surprising pinch of peat on the palate in between the sherry and fruits. Lots of improvement with time.
Verdict: 87 points - and if I were one to factor in the effects of a great 'retro' label it might even be 88 points..
Connemara (40%, OB, Peated single malt, Ireland - as experienced by Luc Timmermans, Belgium)
Nose: Fairly simple sweet, malted barley, some wet grain, warm bread with a touch of peach, nice but simple.
Palate: A bit weak on the palate, you get the malted barley, the grain, the bread, warm peaches a whiff of pepper.
Verdict: 80 points - nice but fairly simple. An ok dram, but simple.
Connemara Cask Strength (40%, OB, Peated single malt, Ireland - as experienced by Johannes, Holland)
Nose: Solid peat. Something fishy? Then lighter fruity notes and chloride. Then sweaty notes and other organics. Wow!
Palate: Solid, peaty and dry. Salmiak and smoke. Lots of development in very little time. The fruits keep evolving too.
Verdict: 88 points - this has evolved into an excellent alternative for the peat monsters from Islay.
Cardhu 22yo 1982/2005 (57.8%, OB, 3600 Bts. - as experienced by Craig Daniels, Australia)
Nose: Sour fruit, some wood, fruit tingles, some charry notes and some savoury dough nose gets more sonorous.
Palate: Lemon pith and chewy oak in palate. Bitter melon, metal and a hint of honey.
Verdict: 79 points - but I was one of only four jurors not to nominate it for a medal in the MM Awards 2006...
Dalmore Cigar Malt (40%, OB - as experienced by Luca Chichizola, Italy)
Nose: Lots of dried fruits (apricots, plums), some slight woodiness and dark chocolate. Rich and sherried, very rounded.
Palate: Rich but not aggressive or particularly powerful. Bitter coffee, orange, chestnuts, almonds. Sweet and delicately smoky.
Verdict: 75 points - Initially intriguing, then increasingly "artificial" and unconvincing for me. But 5 maniacs gave it 'thumbs up'.
As far as the 'D' distilleries are concerned; we haven't listed Dallas Dhu. With some stretching of the imagination some bottlings by Gordon & MacPhail could be considered semi-official bottlings, but since those were all 'vintage' bottlings the chances of finding a specific version we also tried are slim. In the past there also used to be a 10 years old official bottling from the Dufftown distillery, but that seems to have disappeared from the shelves as well. If it's still around, we'll taste it.
Dalmore 12 (40%, OB - as experienced by Serge Valentin, France)
Nose: Very smooth and rounded. Sweet sherry, very syrupy. Hints of dust, dried orange, milk chocolate.
Palate: Very smooth, sweet and enjoyable. A little sugarish. Herbal tea, sherry, Mirabelle jam. Nice finish on cooked apricot.
Verdict: 80 points - So sweet, even a little 'decadent'. A 'simple Highlander' (in a good way) that won't offend many.
Dalmore 21 (40%, OB - as experienced by Johannes van den Heuvel)
Nose: Sweet and malty without any 'rough edges'. Touches of sherry but not too much. A good, mainstream malt.
Palate: Here it doesn't really act like a 21yo. Nice but certainly not spectacular. Smooth & malty with a bittersweet finish.
Verdict: 81 points - it's a very nice whisky, but the character is very much like the 12yo (unlike the price). Not much 'BFYB'.
Dalwhinnie 15 (40%, OB - as experienced by Luca Chichizola, Italy)
Nose: Sweet, malty, full of honey and camomille, but also a very faint echo of smokiness.
Palate: Again, sweet but surprisingly smoky: not peat smoke, rather like burning wood. Vanilla, white chocolate, quite rich.
Verdict: 76 points - Subtle and interesting, but not particularly striking. Worth some repeated visits, though.
Dalwhinnie Distiller's Edition (40%, OB, Double Matured - as experienced by Mark Gillespie, USA)
Nose: Warm and musky with tobacco and leathery notes.
Palate: Strong on the front of the tongue with notes of chili peppers and a hint of honey and vanilla leading to a short finish.
Verdict: 83 points - (This is for the '2005' expression.) No additional comments so far.
Deanston 12 (40%, OB - as experienced by Michel van Meersbergen, Holland)
Nose: Sulphury at the start, but given enough time you'll be rewarded with organics, currants, red apple and subtle lime skin.
Palate: Very subtle sourish malts. Also some red apple again, apple pie. With time tending to more lager-like notes.
Verdict: 69 points - Behaving more like high proof lager than malt whisky. However: other maniacs like the improvement!
Dailuaine 16 (40%, OB, Flora & Fauna series - as experienced by Johannes van den Heuvel, Holland)
Nose: Sherry. A hint of smoke. Grassy after a while. Not unlike the F&F Benrinnes in style, but toned down a notch.
Palate: Sherry sweetness. Woody. A bit malty. Fruitier over time. Smoke. Oak & sherry in the finish; caramel sweetness as well.
Verdict: 80 points - but that score doesn't really reflect the great development over time! A big pleasant burn on the palate.
The only 'E' distillery on our list is Edradour - and the only bottling they produced that qualifies for this list of 'bar malts' is the standard 10yo expression. Batch variation has always been very strong in Edradour and the new owner Andrew Symington has turned that weakness into a strength by releasing a massive amount of single cask bottlings of Edradour.
Needless to say, batch variation can be expected there, so it's not a 'problem' anymore...
Edradour 10 (40%, OB - as experienced by Michel van Meersbergen, Holland)
Nose: All the good Edradour stuff... baby vomit, sour milk, fudge & citrus all with peppery overtones. Some people love it!
Palate: A tad feinty. Lavender, glaced cookies and some spicy oak. After some time it settles down with malts and tea biscuits.
Verdict: 62 points - Okay, some like it, some not... All I want to say: it's a 'must-try', to form an opinion on this infamous malt.
If 'Old Fettercairn' hadn't recently decided to change the name on their bottles to 'Fettercairn' we wouldn't have had any bottlings to list under 'F'. Fortunately they did, so here we have at least one. We'll look at the Fettercairn range again in the future to determine if other expressions could qualify for this list of standard, affordable and available 'bar malts'.
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Fettercairn 12 (40%, OB, a.k.a. 'Old' Fettercairn - as experienced by Michel van Meersbergen, Holland)
Nose: Apples, rubber, rancio sherry and notes on card board.
Palate: The cardboard continues, brown bread, some caramel. Not my cup of tea. Finish: Malty, dusty, out of focus.
Verdict: 68 points - I think my score says enough.
Glen Moray 12
(40%, OB, wine mellowed - as experienced by Serge Valentin, France)
Nose: Grassy and honeyed, getting feinty and buttery. Develops on sweetish notes.
Palate: Quite weak, on grass and liquorice. Short finish. Hard to imagine Glen Moray & Ardbeg belong to the same group.
Verdict: 72 points - Stuart Thompson was at Glen Moray before he went to Islay's south shore to succeed so brilliantly...
Glen Moray 16 Chenin Blanc (40%, OB - as experienced by Michel van Meersbergen, Holland)
Nose: Fresh, apple, mandarin peel, some notes on digestives, tarte tartin and subtle notes of licorice.
Palate: Malty, mandarin, notes on cake dough, some salmiak and a faint spicy feel. Totally non-offensive.
Verdict: 74 points - the finish: A tad spicy gets neutral then and develops malts. Actually quite refreshing.
Glen Ord 12 (40%, OB - as experienced by Davin de Kergommeaux, Canada)
Nose: Typical grassy, grainy malt. Hints of citrus notes with a little smoke in the background.
Palate: A bit creamy – nice slippery mouthfeel. Sweet malt, petrol, some dry grain, some citrus with burnt sugar. Peat smoke?
Verdict: 79 points - A good all-rounder. Readily available but slowly being replaced by Singleton of Glen Ord.
Glen Spey 12 (40%, OB, Flora & Fauna series - as experienced by Michel van Meersbergen, Holland)
Nose: Very malty and citrussy. Mandarin peel. Faint liquorice, sweat and traces of sulphur. Malts, more green and vegetal.
Palate: Quite light and simple. Malty start, oaths, jumpy oak, hints on sulphur and white pepper. Then oily and syrupy sweet.
Verdict: 74 points - Finish: Flimsy and vegetal. Sappy malts, vanilla and quite some oak that gets a bit sharp.
Glenturret 10 (40%, OB - as experienced by Johannes van den Heuvel, Holland)
Nose: Fairly sweet with lemon, oil and fish. This replaced the 12yo OB from the 1990's which was similar in style.
Palate: It started smooth on the palate but grew quite gritty and dry over time. Some wood and spices.
Verdict: 70 points - but that's considerably lower than the average score on the matrix (75 points).
Glencadam 15 (40%, OB - as experienced by Michel van Meersbergen, Holland)
Nose: Fairly light, yet is has enough on offer. Red apple, some black pepper, pastry, burnt sugar, apricots, anchor butter.
Palate: Seems thin in comparison to the nose. Waxy malts, subtle orange peel, some dried fruits, the sweeter kind of olive oil.
Verdict: 83 points - Enjoyable malt indeed. A tad peppery finish, waxy malts, a leafy feel but not too green in this case.
Since 'Glen' starts with the letter 'G' this is the largest section of the MaltMenu - despite the fact that many of those 'Glens'
(for example Glenallachie and Glen Spey) are quite obscure and don't have an official bottling on the shelves. You should be
able to find independent bottlings from most of these distilleries (although Glencraig & Glen Flagler could prove to be difficult.
Check out the monitor if you've already tried most of the 'standard' material on this page and are seeking a new challenge.
Glen Deveron 10 (40%, OB, MacDuff distillery, various vintages - as experienced by Serge Valentin, France)
Nose: Lots of grainy notes, porridge, oats. A little metallic and papery, dusty, rather milky and chalky. Rather enjoyable.
Palate: Hugely grainy & cardboardy - and that's all. Not bad but very simple. The finish is quite long, but always the same.
Verdict: 72 points - Porridge from Porridge's. Extreme porridge? We're in 'near-blend' territories here.
Glendronach 12 'Original' (40%, OB - as experienced by Serge Valentin, France) - OLD BOTTLING
Nose: Very milky, lots of broiled cereals. No traces of sherry that I can smell. Gets quite oaky, nutty and buttery.
Palate: Hot pastry, praline and dried fruits. Not very complex. Medium finish, on grainy notes and vanilla fudge.
Verdict: 78 points - Nothing special, I'd say...
Glen Elgin 12 (40%, OB - as experienced by Serge Valentin, France)
Nose: A very malty and 'roasted' start with also a good deal of wood smoke (or barbecue). Then more honeyed. Mocha.
Palate: A rather weaker attack, still quite malty. Less overall character than on the nose. A little honey, a little toasted brioche.
Verdict: 75 points - A perfect example of a 75 points malt in my books, or what I'd call 'a super-blend'.
Glenfarclas 105 (60%, OB - as experienced by Luca Chichizola, Italy)
Nose: Dry, sour, winey, intensely alcoholic. With some water, you can release a nutty fruitiness.
Palate: Burning, sour & full of very dry sherry even with lots of water! Crispy maltiness, winey character & a metallic finish.
Verdict: 85 points - The big bad boy from Speyside: dry sherry galore, and a brutal and uncompromising character.
Glenfarclas 15 (40%, OB - as experienced by Michel van Meersbergen, Holland)
Nose: Orange peel, vanilla, oily feel over it, quite sweet. Some water brings out faint saw dust, some raw peanuts & almonds.
Palate: Peppered orange peel, malts, hints on eucalyptus. The oil from the nose. Finish: Citrus, vanilla, black pepper, oak.
Verdict: 83 points - which, it should be added, is three or four points below the 'maniacal' average of 86 on the matrix.
Glenfarclas 21 (40%, OB - as experienced by Luc Timmermans, Belgium)
Nose: Nice delicate sweet, bread yeast, mash, cold lager, yellow flowers, brown apple & pineapple skin. Oaky, leathery notes.
Palate: Sweet creamy strong taste, bread crumbs soaked in sweet wine with some trappist beer (foam) notes underneath.
Verdict: 79 points - Long, sweet finish with a touch of bitterness holding it together, nice development with just enough wood.
Glenfiddich 12 Special Reserve (40%, OB - as experienced by Davin de Kergommeaux, Canada)
Nose: Malty, grass, hints of spirit, bare hints of pickles, sweetness hints of rum and butter
Palate: Sweet, caramel, nice hot spices, pepper, a bit grassy, hints of molasses, fudge, nice rich tertiary sugars.
Verdict: 84 points - but the average score at the MM Awards 2005 was 81 points. Just a little too perfect?
Glenfiddich 30 (40%, OB - as experienced by Johannes van den Heuvel, Holland)
Nose: Shoe polish. Well balanced but nondescript. Faint veggy notes? Citrussy prickle in the background.
Palate: Fairly weak, fruity start. Feels a little thin. Strong, dry tannins kick in quickly. The centre grows sweeter; passion fruit.
Verdict: 83 points - a good malt whisky, although it's a tad thin for a thirty year old...
Glenfiddich 21 Gran Reserva (40%, OB - as experienced by Davin de Kergommeaux, Canada)
Nose: Malt, candied oranges, orange, other sweet fruits, sherry, pear.
Palate: Sweet and watery, some warm spices, gets nice and hot, just hints of wood.
Verdict: 74 points - that's below the maniacal average score on the matrix, but it's still overpriced IMHO.
(Singleton of) Glendullan 12 (40%, OB - as experienced by Lawrence Graham, Canada)
Nose: Very well balanced and happily lacking any off notes.
Palate: Reveals some more wood notes with a surprising follow of warming smoke.
Verdict: 82 points - After a minute of contemplation some vivid malt and sweetness on the palate.
Glendronach 15 'Revival' (46%, OB - as experienced by Johannes van den Heuvel, Holland) - NEW BOTTLING
Nose: Whiffs of rubber and mould - but in a good way. Sherry like the old 15yo, but less fruits & sweets. Meaty? Soy Sauce.
Palate: like the 12yo this has a dry, chalky character. It has more 'body' than the 12yo though. Smoke?
Verdict: 89 points - I think this is more complex than the earlier version ever was. Good job!
Glen Garioch 10 (40%, OB - as experienced by Serge Valentin, France)
Nose: Quite light, feinty and milky. Lots of broiled cereals, mashed potatoes, porridge.
Palate: Medium body, a little spirity and malty. Grainy, getting grassy. Hints of spices. Medium finish, getting a little sour.
Verdict: 78 points - Not too bad, but nothing special.
Glen Garioch 15 (40%, OB - as experienced by Johannes van den Heuvel, Holland)
Nose: Fruity. Sweet & sour at first. Apple. Spicy. Marzipan. Apple at first, more organics after adding water.
Palate: Very sweet. Hints of smoke and perfume? Grows fruitier and maltier over time. Excellent mouth feel.
Verdict: 79 points - seems a tad better balanced than an earlier batch that was bottled around 2000.
Glengoyne 10 (40%, OB - as experienced by Michel van Meersbergen, Holland)
Nose: Light straw. Nose: Some sharp smoke, hints of cinnamon and nutmeg. Fresh malts and apple skin.
Palate: Malty, cereals, passion fruit, ginger and gingersnaps. Finish: Quite juicy, straw but turning dusty and a little dry.
Verdict: 80 points - No further comment...
Glengoyne 12 Cask Strength (57.2%, OB - as experienced by Serge Valentin, France)
Nose: Grainy, with some feint hints of wine. Much later some sherry, burnt cake and bitter orange emerge. Chocolate liqueur.
Palate: Very hot and powerful, almost pungent. Lots of tannins. An excellent warmer for this winter - a perfect hipflask malt!.
Verdict: 83 points - Quite powerful but this one needs a lot of breathing! Quite nice, if you have the time.
Glengoyne 15 Scottish Oak (40%, OB - as experienced by Davin de Kergommeaux, Canada)
Nose: Light and fruity, slightly heavy, mild nose tickle, esters, grain, daisies, green leaves, chinese spices, tea, spice aisle.
Palate: Sweet, syrypy, lots of xmas spices, very nice, molasses, lots of flavour, long spicy musty/fruity middle, sherry.
Verdict: 88 points - Nice hot spices on the palate, some wood tannins but not bitter. Maniacal average score = 84 points.
Glen Grant (No Age Statement) (40%, OB - as experienced by Johannes van den Heuvel, Holland)
Nose: Flat & spirity. Soft citrus and flowers. Something salty? A light nectar sweetness, whiff of pepper. Sweet dough. Beer.
Palate: Sparkly. Superficial sweet & sour start, slowly invading your mouth. Fruits. Smooth. Sourish finish with bitter overtones.
Verdict: 66 points - Well composed; it might as well be a vatted malt. A bit llike a Belgian abbey beer - Chimay or Duvel.
Glen Grant 10 (40%, OB - as experienced by Johannes van den Heuvel, Holland)
Nose: Light and fruity - becoming distinctly citrussy. Faint spices and organics appearing before it grows oilier and nuttier.
Palate: Rather weak start. Sweetish. Bourbony. Immature wood. Smooth, becoming dry and grittier towards the finish.
Verdict: 69 points - The nose is quite pleasant but it's not a real winner on the palate. (Average 'matrix' score = lower 70's.)
Glenkinchie 12 (40%, OB - as experienced by Serge Valentin, France)
Nose: Not a big whisky it seems. Rather grassy and grainy, the whole being sustained by a discreet but present oakiness.
Palate: Simply sweet and fruity (apple compote) with again a good oakiness giving it some backbone.
Verdict: 79 points - I wouldn't say this one is very 'busy' but balance is there.
Glenkinchie Distiller's Edition (40%, OB - as experienced by Johannes van den Heuvel, Holland)
Nose: Fairly sharp and rough. Strong fruits, but not very well integrated. Not much substance beneath the expressive surface.
Palate: It's just not good enough on the palate to reach 'above average' status. Crude tannins and some aspirin.
Verdict: 75 points - based on the nose alone it could have approached or even reached the lower 80's.
Glenlivet 12 (40%, OB - as experienced by Davin de Kergommeaux from Canada)
Nose: Well integrated sherry and malt. Rich and creamy, linseed oil, malt, grassy, dry grain, hints of sweet red fruits.
Palate: Sweet fruit, grassy, malty, rich and creamy, slightly slippery. Hints of black pepper, vanilla ice cream.
Verdict: 75 points - A well-constructed whisky with many integrated flavours and no rough edges. A little too "balanced".
Glenlivet 15 (40%, OB - as experienced by Michel van Meersbergen, Holland)
Nose: Subtle woody. Warm sweet apple, sourish sherry notes, ripe cherries. Getting maltier with autumn leaves & pepper.
Palate: Very soft. Quite woody and mellow. Again some faint cherries. Finish: Sweet malts and sherry notes.
Verdict: 83 points - Has a minty and somewhat greenish mouth feel. Quite elegant and perhaps a bit under hyped?
Glenlivet 21 Archive (40%, OB - as experienced by Serge Valentin, France)
Nose: Loads of roasted nuts, ripe apples, walnut skin. Hints of calvados, liquorice, quince and bergamot. Slight smokiness.
Palate: really smooth, nutty, hints of salt (the Dutchies' salted liquorice). Dried oranges. Nice oakiness, just a tad drying.
Verdict: 87 points - The nose is round & spicy at the same time – keyword: 'balance'. Will convert any non-whisky drinker.
Glenmorangie Port Wood Finish (40%, OB - as experienced by Michel van Meersbergen, Holland)
Nose: Malty & clean, then sweet licorice, raspberries, clean sulfur - fruity style. Soft caramels, lavender and blossoms.
Palate: Licorice, a bit sharp mouth feel, raspberries. Solid composition, not very much to discover.
Verdict: 81 points - the finish shows gain some licorice, sharp oak, fruitic acids and tannins, red apple peel.
Glenmorangie 10 (40%, OB - as experienced by Johannes van den Heuvel, Holland)
Nose: Sweetish. Soft & spicy. A little grainy. Pinch of salt or chloride. Rhubarb? Oily & nutty. Hops. Faint fruits. Heather honey.
Palate: Sweetish start. Sour & bitter - like Rhubarb? Hops in the finish - beer-like. Bourbony. Wood. Fresh oak? Feels flat.
Verdict: 74 points - Unfortunately, the palate is flat and superficial. Some maniacs like it better, but few recommend it..
Glenmorangie 18 (40%, OB - as experienced by Craig Daniels, Australia)
Nose: Straw, dusty some tropical fruit dry wood, tinny rainwater and tonic.
Palate: Starts syruppy but developes charred fruit and a sour wood note.
Verdict: 75 points - but it received a (relatively thin) bronze medal with its 80 points at the Malt Maniacs Awards 2006.
Highland Park 12 (40%, OB - as experienced by Johannes van den Heuvel, Holland)
Nose: Hey, that's something else… Fruity with subtle organics in the background. Some 'diesel' and industrial oil as well.
Palate: Not extremely peaty, but it stands out. Great mouth feel. Subtle lingering tannins in the medium dry finish.
Verdict: 83 points - I thought I picked up the faintest hint of salt liquorice on the palate.
Highland Park is all alone in the 'H' section. The Hillside / Glenesk distillery was closed in 1985, so bottles are very hard to find these days. As one of the 'Edrington' brands Highland Park has a smooth marketing machine behind them, so it's no surprise that they have a full range of bottlings available for various sizes of wallets. Unfortunately for the maltheads around the world they discovered a few years ago that the quality difference between the 12yo and 18yo was negligible. So, they changed it...
Highland Park 18 (40%, OB - as experienced by Davin de Kergommeaux, Canada)
Nose: Brown sugar, oranges, some fruitiness, some sharp nose tickle, hints of oak.
Palate: Sweet and sherryish, nice and spicy - sweet spices, a hint of oak tannins, hints of gunpowder.
Verdict: 83 points - recent batches have dropped considerably from an average score in the upper 80's to 83/84 points.
Highland Park 25 (40%, OB - as experienced by Serge Valentin, France)
Nose: Double wow! Very complex. Flowers, fruits, sea air, mocha, peppermint, eucalyptus, hazelnuts, subtle sherry. Endless!
Palate: Bold attack, austere. Smoke, burnt cake, black toffee, coffee liqueur. Very creamy. Crystallised orange, chestnut honey.
Verdict: 90 points - The developments of the nose are simply endless. It really coats your mouth too. Understatedly fruity.
Inchmurrin 12 (40%, OB, Loch Lomond Distillery - as experienced by Serge Valentin, France)
Nose: Extremely grainy and caramelly, with all sorts of cereals. Hints of lavender. Very simple but not unpleasant.
Palate: things are getting worse now, with something like old stale honey, dust, cardboard, cheap liquid caramel for cooking.
Verdict: 60 points - Okay, it isn't completely undrinkable and better than a kick in the teeth as the Scots say.
Isle of Jura Superstition (40%, OB, no age statement - as experienced by Michel van Meersbergen, Holland)
Nose: Weird minerals. Oily, steel, fatty and sourish sherry. Stale apples.
Palate: Sherry getting stale, traces of peat. Very uncertain construction. Finish: Sourish smoke, apple syrup & fishy notes.
Verdict: 73 points - No further comments.
Isle of Jura 10 (46%, OB - as experienced by Davin de Kergommeaux, Canada)
Nose: Sweet sherry & fruit, slightly rotten fruit, creamy, oily, honey, citrus notes, lots of sherry, black fruit, spices, gingerbread.
Palate: Sweet and fruity, slightly watery, hint of bitterness, gets spicey, hot herbal spice, caramel, gets hotter, sweet licorice.
Verdict: 73 points - Too watery. Some older or smokier versions are much better. (Matrix average is around 80, though)
Isle of Jura 16 (40%, OB - as experienced by Michel van Meersbergen, Holland)
Nose: Lots of minerals. Very stale. Wet dog. With time some oily smoke developing, salty woody notes.
Palate: malty, cornflakes, oily and some green notes. Finish: Again, malty however a bit sharp.
Verdict: 71 points - The wet dog sets me off. Otherwise, a 'decent' dram..
Looking at the monitor the 12yo OB from Inchgower that was around in the 1990's isn't available anymore these days.
Or, if it is, none of the maniacs tried any in a decade. Imperial isn't available in the form of a 'proper' official bottling either.
Some maniacs argued that the Gordon & MacPhail bottlings were almost 'official' but they never made a regular 10yo or 12yo
expression. So, that leaves Inchmurrin (from an 'L' distillery and (Isle of) Jura that might just as well have been filed under 'J'.
Lagavulin 12 (57.5%, OB, various batches - as experienced by Michel van Meersbergen, Holland)
Nose: Strong distillery aroma's. Sharp peat smoke, tobacco, sea and vanilla. Cigar tobacco, fennel, coffee, fudge, rubber.
Palate: Smoke infused malts. Peaty undertones and some sour notes on milk and vanilla. Lacks complexity.
Verdict: 87 points - More power than the 2003 edition. Monolithic but very nice. Quite a few points up from other batches.
The hearts of all true peatfreaks start to beat faster when their eyes reach the 'L' section of the malt menu.
That's where they can find Lagavulin and Laphroaig - two highly respected distilleries on the south shore of Islay.
As you can see in the cases below, both distilleries receive solid 'thumbs up' recommendations for their entire range.
It should be noted that most maniacs are 'peatfreaks'. If you don't like peat, you probably won't like these malts a lot.
Lagavulin 16 (40%, OB - as experienced by Luc Timmermans, Belgium)
Nose: Nice farmy start, you get a whole farm in this one; the cows, the goat, the hay stack upstairs, some manure underneath.
Palate: A light palate at first, then you get cold tea, some tar, peat and some pepper, a bit strange and dirty, but nice in a way.
Verdict: 89 points - Impressive. I like it. Quite odd, but in a nice way. A favorite of the other maniacs for a long time now.
Lagavulin DE (40%, OB - as experienced by Johannes van den Heuvel, Holland)
Nose: Aaah... Leather & peat that I love. Dirty organics after a minute. Right up my alley but it falls apart after a few minutes,
Palate: Sweet & peaty. A little thinner than I remembered at first, but then the peat explodes. Diesel. Slightly perfumy finish?
Score: 87 points - but I should add that it's a VERY personal score. This profile might not suit everybody - but I find it lovely!
Laphroaig 10 (40%, OB - as experienced by Davin de Kergommeaux, Canada)
Nose: Rich and fruity, peaty, flax seed, nose tingle, hints of smoke, pickles, sweet peat smoke.
Palate: Sweet but dirty and muddy peat, nice, a bit simple, maybe a finish, slightly bitter.
Verdict: 81 points - but my score is considerably lower than the matrix average of 85 points for recent batches.
Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength (55.7%, OB - as experienced by Luca Chichizola, Italy)
Nose: Nice peat, interesting taste buildup, juicy rich character. Worthy of a score in the 90's.
Palate: Chewy, with lots of smoke (not only peat smoke: it tastes like coal, like cigarettes...) and some nice vegetal notes.
Verdict: 91 points - almost like an unsherried Lagavulin, seems fruitier than earlier expressions of Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength.
Laphroaig 15 (40%, OB - as experienced by Luc Timmermans, Belgium)
Nose: Smoked meat, deep peat with a touch of sherry, almond skin, bacon, moscatel, orange zest & zilt, seaweed, sea-shelf.
Palate: Smoked bacon with a touch of fruit, some orange zest, chocolate and that combined with moscatel smoke, good.
Verdict: 89 points - Nice dram, highly enjoyable and drink-able. Fine refined nose, great mixture of smoke & sweet grapes.
Littlemill 12 (46%, OB - as experienced by Johannes van den Heuvel, Holland)
Nose: Oily. Not much definition. This seems another 'blender's' malt on the recent gravy train.
Palate: Hint of coffee. That was about the only really remarkable element on the palate.
Verdict: 72 points - Not a bad whisky at all, but a little too MOTR for my tastes.
Loch Lomond (40%, OB - as experienced by Michel van Meersbergen, Holland)
Nose: Like a grain. Oily, very fat. Hints on smoke, digestives. Very sweet and lazy. Hints on marmalade and apple.
Palate: Again, very oily. Grainy, red apple. Finish: Oily malts, undefined. Behaves like a blend.
Verdict: 68 points - No further comments.
Longmorn 15 (45%, OB - as experienced by Johannes van den Heuvel, Holland) - OLD BOTTLING
Nose: Malty and a little spirity at first, followed by a long fruity development (citrus into late fruits) after a few minutes.
Palate: Excellent mouth feel at 45%. Big, sweet, malty burn. They managed to keep this expression on track for a decade.
Verdict: 81 points - this has been a dependable, affordable favourite since the mid-1990's. A great multi-purpose dram.
Longrow 10 (46%, OB, Springbank distillery, various vintages - as experienced by Luca Chichizola, Italy)
Nose: Moderately peaty, with a slightly sour fruity/winey tone. Toffee and toasted malt. Quite subdued.
Palate: Maltiness, dryness, peat smoke, licorice root. Slightly rummy, with some hay & grass, even a bit fruity after some air.
Verdict: 82 points - Very balanced. Not a peat monster, and getting every year more affordable (but still expensive).
Longmorn 16 (48%, OB - as experienced by Serge Valentin, France) - NEW BOTTLING
Nose: Spirity, oaky and very green at first sniff. Green apples, not too ripe kiwis, lime, grapefruits, green tea. Shoe polish.
Palate: quite strong, very lemony and oaky, fizzy, green… Not complex at all but quite acidic. Sauvignon blanc, anyone?
Verdict: 79 points - Curiously austere for a flagship bottling, but I sort of like its straightforwardness. Big price increase.
Macallan 10 Fine Oak (40%, OB - as experienced by Serge Valentin, France)
Nose: Fresh, light and grainy. A little spirity, with lots of flowery notes: violet, lilac. Sour crème & hot butter. Overripe orange.
Palate: Caramel, roasted peanuts, malt, but not much development. Quite rounded, with hints of vanilla. Quite nervous.
Verdict: 78 points - Really different from the former 10yo 'sherry'. Smells like a good Lowlander. Surprisingly enjoyable!
If you ask somebody to name a Scottish distillery starting with 'M', nine out of ten times the answer will be 'Macallan'.
Well... of course if you asked this question in the street, nine out of ten people would just look at you in bewilderment, but my hypothetical scenario was played out in a whisky bar. You might get a few smart arses who would mention 'Mortlach', but not many people would have Mannochmore at the top of their mind - let alone MacDuff, Millburn, Miltonduff or Mosstowie.
Macallan 12 Sherry (40%, OB - as experienced by Luca Chichizola, Italy)
Nose: Extremely dry sherry, fruity and nutty. Still a bit spirity.
Palate: Very smooth, almost a bit weak at times. Sweet but not cloying, a good mix of raisins, fortified wine, crisp maltiness.
Verdict: 82 points - Not as impressive as the 18yo sherried versions of some years ago, but definitely a good sherried malt.
Macallan 18 Fine Oak (40%, OB - as experienced by Michel van Meersbergen, Holland)
Nose: Apple. Gentle white pepper, marshmallow. Water brings out more tannins, wet sweet oak, honey. Traces of smoke.
Palate: Soft malts, spicy, hints on cinnamon, apple compote, peppery oak. Creamy vanilla. Spices continue in the finish.
Verdict: 79 points - but some of the 'fine oak' comes through in the finish. Nice whisky but not worth the crazy prices.
Oban 14 (40%, OB - as experienced by Davin de Kergommeaux from Canada)
Nose: Malty, fresh, hints of dry grain, dry hay, straw. Some green fruit. Hints of ozone, hints of smoke, vague floral notes..
Palate: Grassy, grainy, then briefly bitter. Nice warm and slightly slippery mouth feel. Oranges, hay, grass and some malt.
Verdict: 82 points - Wonderful first whiff of creamy, malty, hay loft. Slowly other scents waft in.
Oban DE (40%, OB - as experienced by Michel van Meersbergen, Holland)
Nose: Honey, briny, malts, faint notes on oranges, gets dusty. Leather, old books, some lemon peel. Wax and red apples.
Palate: A bit dissapointing now. Very dusty, gritty as well. Malts, white pepper, some fudge and charvil.
Verdict: 81 points - gets a tad better in the finish: black pepper, licorice and gentle notes on oak.
Old Pulteney 12 (40%, OB - as experienced by Serge Valentin, France)
Nose: Very fresh. Very vegetal (dill, fern, celery). Gets then a little grainy. Notes of cold coffee.
Palate: a little dusty at first, but nicely balanced. Some spices and some hints of sherry and caramel.
Verdict: 80 points - The nose is less robust than what they claim on the label. Well, this batch is far from being 'coastal'.
Old Pulteney 17 (40%, OB - as experienced by Johannes van den Heuvel, Holland)
Nose: Glue - that's all for a long time. Then some spices emerge. MOTR, a little sweet and a little malty.
Palate: Watery at first. Little character, depth or development. It powers up considerably over time, though.
Verdict: 80 points - although this one takes very long to become interesting. It really needs time.
The number of 'O' distilleries depends on whether or not you also count the distillery names starting with 'Old'.
If you don't, Oban is the only one. If you do, we also have Old Pulteney. Old Fettercairn dropped the 'Old' part in their name a few years ago (so they're listed under 'F' now) and Old Rhosdhu is produced at the Loch Lomond distillery. While the many brands of Loch Lomond (Inchmurrin, Croftengea, etc.) are interesting (the last malts from 'Lomond' stills) they lack 'soul'.
Old Rhosdhu NAS (40%, OB, Loch Lomond distillery - as experienced by Serge Valentin, France)
Nose: Same base as Loch Lomond (yeasty and feinty) but with more fruit (dried banana, dried pinapple, fresh pineapple).
Palate: quite bold, oily and creamy. Some perfumy notes (methanol?) Less 'original' than the regular Loch Lomond.
Verdict: 65 points - Kind of a 'dirty' feeling.
Rosebank and Royal Brackla currently don't have any widely available official bottlings that you might find in an average bar. There used to be a 'Flora & Fauna' bottling of Royal Brackla in the 1990's but none of the maniacs have encountered it over the past few years. So, that leaves Royal Lochnagar - which seems to have only one 'standard' bottling that's widely available and affordable. If they release / we find more expressions we'll list them here in the future.
Royal Lochnagar 12 (40%, OB - as experienced by Michel van Meersbergen, Holland)
Nose: Apple skin and kernels, almonds, pear juice, licorice, traces on smoke and quite some oak developing.
Palate: Spicy at first, stale sherry oak, toast, hazel nut, hints on garden herbs, licorice and hints on eucalyptus.
Verdict: 73 points - Finish: Some continuing garden herbs, mint leaves, green malts. Leaves a drying feel as if eating spinach.
Mannochmore 12 (40%, OB, Flora & Fauna series - as experienced by Davin de Kergommeaux, Canada)
Nose: Very oily, hints of flowers, linseed oil, malt, clean.
Palate: Very light, a bit of spice, some bitterness, tree leaves, green leaves.
Verdict: 80 points - No extremes, just a nice light grassy malt.
Mortlach 16 (40%, OB, Flora & Fauna series - as experienced by Michel van Meersbergen, Holland)
Nose: Butterscotch, salty licorice, currants, minerals, some hints of herbs and celery.
Palate: Big start on licorice, diesel oil, orange infused chocolate, rum and cherry liquor.
Verdict: 83 points - Finish: Licorice, dried fruits and a certain sourish and spicy sharpness.
Royal Lochnagar 12 1996/2008 DE (40%, OB - as experienced by Lawrence Graham, Canada)
Nose: Quite delicate with warm brown sugar, antique cabinets (inside), orange, fruit cake, cocoa cola, and cold tea.
Palate: Quite woody and delicate. There is also light tobacco, leather and dried rich fruits (apricots, pears, raisins etcetera).
Verdict: 73 points - one to savour. Not a very big dram.
Scapa 14 (40%, OB - as experienced by Serge Valentin, France)
Nose: Fresh, light and grassy. Lavender. Hints of fruits (pineapple, green pear). Whiffs of smoke. Nice!
Palate: Surprisingly bold. Some farmy notes, hints of tobacco and some nice fruit: apricot, quince jelly, melon fresh almonds.
Verdict: 82 points - Very nice! Rather long, fruity finish. Nice presence at 40%. One step above the former 12yo, I'd say.
There are plenty of 'S' distilleries in Scotland. There isn't a 'Singleton' distillery though. There used to be a 'Singleton of Auchroisk' (distilled at Auchroisk distillery) and now there's a 'Singleton of Glen Ord' (?) available in Asia. And there isn't a 'Stronachie' distillery either - at least not anymore. It's a 'replica' brand that is said to resemble the whisky from the distillery that was demolished in the early 20th century. Well, very few people will be able to check that...
Speyburn 10 (40%, OB - as experienced by Michel van Meersbergen, Holland)
Nose: Vanilla, pineapple jam, slightly bitter malts, sulphur, white pepper. Soft yellow fruits, apricot, subtle liquorice.
Palate: Light bodied, peppery & malty. Banana covered with white rum. Finish: Spirity & malty, some pepper, tannic feel.
Verdict: 73 points - No further comments.
Speyside 10 (40%, OB as experienced by Davin de Kergommeaux, Canada.)
Nose: Malt, vomit, pepper, harsh, some sweetness some chemicals, not very enticing.
Palate: Harsh chemicals, watery, plastic, nice peppery burn. Too young, or aged in dead barrels.
Verdict: 71 points - And that's a few points above the average score in the 60's on the matrix. It's whisky, but just.
Springbank 10 (40%, OB - as experienced by Mark Gillespie, USA)
Nose: Strong and astringent, with hints of vanilla and fruits inside the oak.
Palate: Woody and spicy, with touches of pepper and chili powder leading to a long finish.
Verdict: 87 points - It has a finish that fills the mouth and leaves you anticipating the next dram.
Springbank 10 '100 Proof' (40%, OB - as experienced by Luca Chichizola, Italy)
Nose: Intensely salty & alcoholic, strong apricot & honey notes. Candied orange, too. Just vague hints of the coconut.
Palate: Not as syrupy, honeyed as the 10. Very intense, with salt and orange peel. Again, coconut and apricots. Biscuity, too.
Verdict: 85 points - Drier than the ordinary 10yo (especially with water). Less honeyed and "friendly" than the lower proofs.
Springbank 15 (40%, OB - as experienced by Luca Chichizola, Italy)
Nose: Obviously more sherried than the 10yo. Dry, fruity, nutty, metallic. Denaturated alcohol notes?.
Palate: Dry attack, like Glenfarclas 105. Winey, sharp, fruity & slightly astringent. Not as full and bold as the old 12yo's.
Verdict: 83 points - A bit too dry and astringent for my taste, but very representative of modern sherried Springbanks.
Strathisla 12 (40%, OB - as experienced by Davin de Kergommeaux from Canada.)
Nose: Oily, rich and malty, wintergreen, hints of sweet spices, some sherry notes.
Palate: Nice spices some heat, lots of nice woody notes, hints of sherry, vague hints of gunpowder, hints of chocolate.
Verdict: 77 points - A nice middle of the road malt. Slightly harsh on the palate.
Strathmill 12 (40%, OB, Flora & Fauna series - as experienced by Johannes van den Heuvel, Holland)
Nose: Rather nondescript. Nutty and oily. Faint hints of lemon, molasses and smoke.
Palate: Smooth, sweet and malty at first, then menthol and eucalyptus screw it up.
Verdict: 70 points - Maybe this is a typical 'blenders' malt? It might not work very well on its own...
Stronachie 12 (40%, OB, 'Replica' by Dewar Rattray - as experienced by Johannes van den Heuvel, Holland)
Nose: Some sherry and fruits. Spicy. Soap. Lemon drops. Sweet cider. Then some smoke drifts by, followed by organics.
Palate: Sweetish start, coffee in the centre and a long, dry finish. Sticky. Smoke. Faint liquorice? Not as great as the nose.
Verdict: 75 points - I like this 'bastard' bottling better than some semi-official and independent bottlings of Benrinnes.
Talisker 10 (45.8%, OB - as experienced by Luca Chichizola, Italy)
Nose: Sweet, intense, malty, dark, and smoky. A hint of the sea? Older versions were smokier.
Palate: Chewy, thick, heavy, smoky. Recent bottlings have grown sweeter; not as peppery, smoky & pungent as before.
Verdict: 82 points - (Maniacs average = 86.) Still a classic, but bottles from 10-15 years ago had much more personality.
The alphabetical list of distilleries in Scotland only runs as far as the letter 'T' - and it's a bit of a mixed bag.
Talisker is without a doubt the big brand here, with many avid fans around the world. Other distilleries like Tamdhu, Tomatin and Tomintoul are widely respected but there are some sceptics amongst the maniacs when it comes to the recent official bottlings from Tormore and Tullibardine. Younger Tobermories invite mixed responses, but some older OB's are fantastic.
Talisker Distillers Edition (45.8%, OB - as experienced by Luca Chichizola, Italy)
Nose: Like the 10yo, but of course winey and fruity too. A pleasant enrichment of the standard 10yo version.
Palate: Initially quite sweet, but then gets drier, with apples and red fruits, and a bit sour and nutty.
Verdict: 85 points - Average score of the maniacs at the moment = 84. An earlier expression I tried got only 81 points.
Talisker 18 (45.8%, OB - as experienced by Michel van Meersbergen, Holland)
Nose: Very smooth, oily nose. Great balance. Subtle notes on smoke, lemon curd, vanilla and some pepper.
Palate: Again, quite smooth. Notes on grapefruit, some smoked tea, peppery malts and a tad medicinal. Spicy undertone.
Verdict: 86 points - Nice, subtle oily and peppery. Great value for money (and some other maniacs liked it even better.)
Tamdhu NAS (40%, OB - as experienced by Michel van Meersbergen, Holland)
Nose: After an organic and oily start orange cream and grapefruit take over. Licorice and perhaps a tad grainy as well.
Palate: Follows the nose. Oily, organic start followed by orange skin, more gritty grapefruit and turns to yoghurt after a while.
Verdict: 73 points - If you are into a more oily, organic style this Tamdhu might suit your needs.
Tamdhu 18 (40%, OB - as experienced by Serge Valentin, France)
Nose: Fresh, clean and very grainy. Chamomile tea, light vanilla crème, light honey, roasted peanuts. Slightly metallic.
Palate: Sweet, very caramelly… Very, very caramelly in fact but a little weak, lacking a little more body & mouth feel. Simple.
Verdict: 77 points - Not the most complex malt ever but the balance is well here. Light in style.
Tamnavulin 12 (40%, OB - as experienced by Robert Karlsson, Sweden)
Nose: Dry, light, grassy almost on the verge of being "hayish". Also cereal, bread, and even a trace of grappa.
Palate: Very light and dry. Perhaps refreshing, the grappa is gone on the palate but the rest remains. Short aftertaste.
Verdict: 77 points - Nothing faulty with it and would work in warmer climate than here. Not too exciting though..
Tobermory 10 (40%, OB - as experienced by Mark Gillespie, USA)
Nose: Peaty and spicy with a hint of brine and a healthy amount of malt.
Palate: Warm and chewy, but dominated by smokiness that reminds me of my grandfather's pipe tobacco or a fireplace.
Verdict: 73 points - It's a good, simple whisky, but focuses too much on one flavor note in the smokiness and lacks complexity.
Tomatin 12 (40%, OB - as experienced by Johannes van den Heuvel, Holland)
Nose: Light with a honey sweetness. Slightly spicy. An 'upbeat' whisky despite some harsh grainy notes in the background.
Palate: Hmmm... Not quite 'solid', but quite chewy after a minute. Feels a tad 'winey' on the gums during the long, cool finish.
Verdict: 80 points - It could have done with a slightly higher proof. I can see myself emptying a bottle on a summer night.
Tomatin 25 (40%, OB - as experienced by Johannes van den Heuvel, Holland)
Nose: Light and grainy with organics in the background. Hint of lemon, perhaps? Some smoke?
Palate: Sweet. Fruity. Gooseberries? Maybe just a tad herbal? Pleasant, deep but not too complex..
Verdict: 82 points - Very pleasant on the palate, but right now it doesn't seem quite 'recommendable'.
Tomintoul 10 (40%, OB - as experienced by Michel van Meersbergen, Holland)
Nose: Fresh and grassy. Quite smooth on almonds, malts and creamy vanilla. Some faint citrus in the background.
Palate: As the nose, quite grassy. Some oil, straw, hints on salmiac and almonds. Has a certain bitter and peppery edge.
Verdict: 74 points - Non-demanding and non-offending. A very easy going dram during a serious conversation.
Tormore 12 (40%, OB - as experienced by Johannes van den Heuvel, Holland)
Nose: Sweet and malty - not as oily as its predecessor first, but more oil emerges over time. Tea leaves and spices.
Palate: Sweet for the first few seconds, then nutty and oily. A bitter burning finish that's just a tad to prominent for me.
Verdict: 69 points - A little more complex than the 1990's bottling, I think - especially the start.
Tomintoul 14 (46%, OB - as experienced by Lawrence Graham, Canada)
Nose: Quite delicate' with malt, cereals, faint green beans, honey, and vanilla.
Palate: Creamy with leather, tobacco and malt being the first impression. Some heat followed by light heather & sweetness.
Verdict: 86 points - the nose follows the Tomintoul tradition of being 'the gentle dram.
Tomintoul 27 (40%, OB - as experienced by Michel van Meersbergen, Holland)
Nose: Bit weak yet classic nose. Apple syrup, sourish malts, grapfruit. Milk chocolate. tea leaves and something almost Irish.
Palate: Some sherry and malts give a mellow and oily feel. Some apple, cinnamon and dough. Suffers a bit from a low ABV.
Verdict: 83 points - Despite its weak points a very nice dram with all the characteristics of classic old Speyside spirit.
Tullibardine 10 (40%, OB - as experienced by Mark Gillespie, USA)
Nose: Fresh cut grass or straw, along with a hint of rose petals amid the usual vanilla and honey.
Palate: Creamy & smooth, good balance between spirit & wood, along with floral notes that come alive with water.
Verdict: 73 points - but with an average matrix score in the upper 60's I seem to be the only 'fan' of this particular malt.
And that's the list of 'official' bottlings that (we felt) are affordable and relatively widely available.
The 'Specials' section on a separate page lists a few dozen recently released independent bottlings.
Exceptional. We don't hand out many of these ultra-solid 'thumbs up' signs, but when we
do it is with good reason. This pictograph is reserved for the very rare whiskies earning a score
in the 90's while still being reasonably priced. Sometimes a malt with a very 'friendly' price and
an average score in the upper 80's earns this badge of honour as well - ever so rarely, though.
Very Good. The 'supergreen' badges are exceptionally rare (especially because we take
theprice of a bottle or a dram into account as well), but there are still plenty of solid green
badges to go around. This pictograph can be translated as 'highly recommendable'; the range
of very good whiskies at a reasonable price - or just plain 'good' whiskies at 'very' good prices.
Good. This green 'good' badge should not be confused with an 'average' malt. For the
purpose of this MaltMenu we focus on the whiskies we could recommend during a night out
with some friends in a bar. So, even though this is the middle of our scale on this page, it is
most certainly not the 'middle of the scale' when it comes to the full range of (malt) whiskies.
Average. We didn't call ourselves 'malt maniacs' by mistake; we're 'mad about malt whisky'.
One of the consequences is that we tend to score a typical malt whisky higher than a typical
blend or grain whisky - although there ARE exceptions to this rule. With so many interesting
'green' malts on our list, these whiskies don't have to appear on your shopping list for a while.
Poor. Few things are as personal as taste, so you may enjoy a whisky that we deem 'poor'.
It should also be noted that 'batch variation' can play a role here. Some batches of Bowmore
'Darkest' seem to be perfectly OK, but others are not just 'inferior' - they're just plain BAD.
There's no reason to take any chances with so many excellent alternatives on the shelves.
In keeping with the 'simplified' perspective of the MaltMenu we've
included a maximum of three expressions from each malt distillery.
All these bottlings are 'official bottlings' produced in large numbers
(no single casks or limited editions). In most cases the standard
bottlings are available in both 40% and 43% expressions.
Any differences between them are usually not more significant
than normal batch variation between consecutive batches of the
'same' whisky. Entries that are listed as 40% ABV may also be
available at 43%. Check out the Malt Maniacs Monitor for possible
differences. The ABV 46% is not really 'standard' across the board.
Of course, the individual tasting notes
published with every one of these whiskies are very personal.
Nevertheless they could give you an reasonably good indication of the type of whisky you can expect.
If tasting notes are your thing: many more can be found in the distillery profiles on Malt Madness and
on Serge Valentin's WhiskyFun website. If it's individual and average scores you're interested in,
I suggest you take a long look at the MM Matrix (4 or more scores per entry) or the MM Monitor.
The Distillery Profiles on Malt Madness provide much more background information on the various
distilleries where these whiskies were distilled. Please note that not all of the 75 'brands' on the
list are actual distilleries. Inchmurrin and Stronachie are single malt whiskies, but not the names
of distilleries where they were born. (Inchmurrin is made at Loch Lomond distillery, for example.)
With distilleries like Springbank (also producing Longrow) and Loch Lomond (also producing many
other brands including Old Rhosdhu, Croftengea, Inchmurrin, Inchmoan and Craiglodge) actively
pursuing a multi brand strategy you might think that there would be hundreds of brands on this
list, but there are not. Almost half of the distilleries in Scotland don't have an official bottling.
To help get as many distilleries as possible on this list, we've included a few 'UD Flora & Fauna'
semi-official bottlings as well. The other distilleries are often available as independent bottlings.
Because distilleries like Glenrothes and Knockando only release 'vintages' (at least until recently), bottlings that were released this year can be notably different in character from those that were released last year. That's why they couldn't be included in this list. If a certain brand you are looking for is not included in the overview at the left, official bottlings are either very rare, or they simply don't exist. That doesn't mean you should give up hope yet, though; the MM universe provides many alternatives to help you find what you are looking for. If the overview below doesn't show what you're interested in for, I suggest you take a look here;
WhiskyFun - Serge's site offers many thousands of tasting notes.
Malt Madness - Infrequent notes & thoughts by Johannes.
Distillery Data - Profiles for more than 100 Scotch distilleries.
Hit List - A list of Johannes' favourite single malt whiskies.
Matrix - More than 3,000 whiskies that were tried by 4 maniacs.
Monitor - Over 10,000 whiskies at least one maniac has sampled.
Awards - Our annual whisky competition, started in 2003.
Specials - Very much like this list, but a lot shorter...
Scores - An explanation on our perspective on scores & ratings.
And those were just a few of the many, many alternatives
we have to offer. And if that's still not interactive enough for
you, please check out Malt Maniacs & Friends on Facebook.
Before we get to the 'meat' of this page I'd like to stress once more that the pictographs
are also influenced
by 'trends'. If a particular bottling of whisky shows notable improvement over previous batches, it might give
things a nudge into the green. I've tried to include the tasting notes and scores of a maniac that more or less
agrees with the 'average' opinion of the maniacs, but that was not always possible.
Remember, the tasting notes and descriptions of the single malts and other whiskies on Malt Madness,
WhiskyFun and the MM Awards pages are usually much more elaborate.
First of all, I'd like to start by pointing out that this page starts with a fairly long
introduction. If you're not all that interested in the background details, I kindly
suggest you click onwards to the tasting notes themselves, further down.
There used to be a 'conceptual gap' between my personal opinions as
reflected in the Hit List and 'Bang-For-Your-Buck' List on Malt Madness
on one end, and the large amount of whisky scores on the MM Matrix
and MM Monitor on the other - not to mention the true treasure trove
of tasting notes on WhiskyFun that seems to grow (almost) daily.
For those of you that are looking for a chequered picture of the whisky
world, painted in broad strokes, we've built this Malt Maniacs MaltMenu
with tasting notes for +/- 250 regular official bottlings and a 'Specials'
page with tasting notes for a number of independent bottlings which
were released around 2010. Many more tasting notes can be found in
the more than 1000 E-pistles we've written between 1997 and 2011.
All malts on this list are widely available
and (relatively) affordable; unlike many of
those listed on the matrix or monitor you can actually find these in your local bar
(or perhaps your liquorist). The MaltMenu offers our 'simplified' perspective on the
malt whisky world - and the tasting notes should help you find your type of malt.
Our 'thumbs up' or 'thumbs down' recommendations for each whisky are based
on the average matrix scores, but we try to take other factors into account
as well. For example, the price of a bottle of whisky is an important issue for
many consumers - and certain other 'trends' in the whisky world influence our
preferences as well. So, the thumbs' colour indicates the size of our love...
That collective love (expressed by an average score) is composed of several
individual, personal opinions. And while one personal opinion might not have
more value than the next on a principal level, I take somebody's opinion about
whisky more seriously if he (or she) has some experience with different whiskies.
As Davin said a few years ago: "Now in my 57th year, I began tasting malts seriously
at age 50. Prior to that my intake of alcoholic beverages was about 24 bottles of beer
and a 750 ml bottle of Johnnie Walker Black a year. I now try to drink single malts,
in moderation, about 5 evenings per week. This, on doctor's orders. Apparently whisky
is as good for you as red wine, and there are no nasty after effects. My sentimental
favourite is a 10yo Signatory Mortlach my wife bought me early in my tasting days.
My palate is still developing; I expect that will never stop. Early on I focused on
the big smoky malts, mostly Islays. Then my palate began its adventures with sherry
monsters. Now I look for more subtlety and am flirting more with the malts from
Glengoyne, but I find myself enjoying almost any malt that finds its way to my glass."
The legend below illustrates how our simple pictographs should be interpreted.
The five signs indicate our 'collective' opinion about a particular expression, but we've included the tasting
notes and verdict from one of the certified malt maniacs too. Those notes are not nearly as extensive as those
on Malt Madness or the WhiskyFun sites, but they should at least indicate the character of the whisky.
As I already mentioned, our 'thumbs up' & 'thumbs down' suggestions take issues like 'batch variation' into
consideration as well. Just keep in mind that is the most simplified perspective on the malt whisky world that we
could come up with - or at least the simplest one that would still be useful for other (single malt) whisky lovers.
Anyway, below you can find how the thumbs should be interpreted - but first there is just one little warning;
[LAST BUT NOT LEAST: This is an 'archive' page. The notes and scores below are based on whiskies that were
mostly released around 2010 or 2011. While producers usually try to maintain a constant flavour profile over
time, they still have to rely on existing stocks of maturing whisky. Subtle changes over time are inevitable.]