Just check a few of your favourites and see who gave the best scores.
After you've found a few maniacs with similar tastes, you can scan their columns for other high scoring whiskies
that you haven't tried yet. There's a good chance you'll like them too. That's pretty useful, wouldn't you say?
The Malt Maniacs Monitor is not aimed so much at comparing scores. As soon as one certified malt maniac has
sampled a particular whisky, it is included in the monitor. So, it's a continually growing overview of the whiskies
we've collectively sampled - and quite probably the largest overview of single malts available.
If you feel prepared to look at our scores now, you can open or
download the PDF matrix by clicking on the big yellow button.
On this page you can find an explanation of the codes & colours
on the matrix, and that's especially useful for new visitors to MM,
I imagine. You don't need the explanation to get 'the big picture'
though. The matrix is a 'guide' that allows you to compare the
scores of several different certified malt maniacs with your own
impressions of a certain whisky (malt, grain or blend).
While the matrix only includes whiskies that were sampled and
scored by at least four different malt maniacs, the MMMonitor
includes all whiskies (single malts, blends & grains) that we
'collectively' sampled. So, it offers less opinions on more malts.
When the matrix was still part of the old Malt Madness website
it was built by Johannes van den Heuvel - entirely in HTML. For
a long time, this old 'HTML' matrix existed alongside a bigger
monitor which was maintained by Serge Valentin in MS Excel.
At some point we realised this wasn't efficient; since 2007 both
the matrix and monitor PDFs were published by Serge Valentin.
But unless this is your first look at the Malt Maniacs Matrix you probably know that already...
You can click on the Big Yellow Button at the right to view or download the last PDF version .
Over the last few years the size of the matrix has 'exploded'; it now covers over 3300 whiskies
and has grown to more than 1 megabyte in size. That means loading could take quite some time...
For your browsing convenience we've colour coded the average scores; the colours on the matrix & monitor should (originally) be interpreted as follows;
SUPER BLUE (90 points & more)
DARK GREEN (85-89 points)
LIGHT GREEN (80-84 points)
DARK GREY (75-79 points)
LIGHT GRAY (70-74 points)
BLUSHING RED (Below 70 points)
The sky is the limit! The most amazing malts money can buy; absolutely legendary 'Aqua Vitae'.
Highly recommendable. This is the good stuff we crave, (almost) universally loved and appreciated.
Recommendable - plain & simple. You really can't go wrong with these whiskies. Satisfaction guaranteed.
Better than average, but not something worth hunting down. There are better single malts available.
Below average, but not something that should be actively avoided either. Could do better, though.
Hold it! A score in the 60's or even lower is reason for extreme caution. it means: downright avoidable.
Even though the last 'matrix' was produced in 2009, It's still
the easiest way to quickly find out which malt maniacs do have
tastes (well, whisky-wise) that are most similar to your own...
It's almost impossible to quantify & qualify
why we end up loving a whisky. It's all very personal.
Do you prefer a nicely composed and balanced nose, or an expressive one that highlights the extreme
traits of a malt? Do you like peat? Are you looking for a sweet finish, or a dry one that goes on and on?
If you're still reading this, you haven't jumped to
the actual MM Matrix PDF yet. That probably means
that you want to learn more about it. Good for you!
I'll start with a little history lesson. We started
working on the matrix in 1999 and as the number
of numbers expanded, so did the scope of our little
pet project. First, all we wanted was an easy way
to compare our ratings for a few 'touchstone'
single malts with those of Michael Jackson, who
(as far as we knew) was the only whisky writer
who scored his malts at the time.
Synchronising all our individual scoring systems
wasn't easy, but we found a working solution and
our 'database' of scores grew as the team grew
larger. The picture at the right shows the matrix
in 2002 when we already had 12 malt maniacs.
A few years after we started comparing our
scores, we collected enough data to allow us to
do some historical and statistical analysis. As the
number of whiskies on the MM Matrix grows, more
conclusions can be drawn.
As soon as we have four scores from various
maniacs, a whisky is included in the official matrix.
However, there are many more whiskies that were
sampled by only one, two or three maniacs. That's
not quite enough to calculate a useful average
score for the matrix, but one score is better than
none at all, wouldn't you agree? You can find our
data on those whiskies in the 'MMMonitor'.
Since the WHY stuff all happens mostly in the 'Black Box' area of our minds anyway, we decided to
focus our efforts on trying to 'calibrate' and 'synchronise' our various individual (1-100) rating scales
as much as we possibly could. We'll probably never get completely 'in synch' (some of us use scores
below 50 while others don't), but generally speaking, most malt maniacs have become quite adept
at expressing exactly HOW MUCH they love a malt whisky in two digits.
Many personal differences still remain, but that was the whole point about building the matrix to begin with. After a while we learned how to 'read' each other's scores - and how to translate them into the feelings that the other maniac was experiencing when he (or she) scored that particular malt. Simple enough, eh? Well, I hope so... At least you should be able to find one or more 'soul mates' on the matrix if you've tried a few whiskies.
The cornerstone of our rating system was a fictitious 'average' malt whisky
that scores 75 points. Any whisky that scores at least five points more (> 80)
is one we'd recommend to everyone. Five points up on the 1-100 scale (> 85),
a whisky starts to become 'highly recommendable' in our humble opinion.
Anything scoring 90 points or more is simply fabulous, equalling universal
approval for that whisky. Because individual tastes of the various maniacs are
different, whiskies with an average score of 90 or more are very rare indeed.
And that's pretty much all I can think of at the moment - well at least concerning the matrix...
Well, just one more thing, perhaps... There's one column on the matrix and monitor that displays a whisky's year of bottling.
For many independent bottlings this is specified on the label, but with official bottlings like Aberlour 10yo or Oban 14yo that's
not the case. In those cases we need to make assumptions based on label design, batch codes, place and time of purchase,
etcetara. Especially with large batches that are selling fast like The Glenlivet 12yo we are never quite sure if we all tried the
same batch. But it's a credit to most master blenders that batches produced soon after each other are usually very much alike.
Besides, we want to avoid any possible misunderstandings about our fierce independence. The possibility of misunderstandings
is also the reason why we switched from Excel files to PDF. When we still published the 'raw data' there were some enterprising
individuals that used the data out of context. This usually happened with the best of intentions, but even so we didn't always
feel comfortable with the conclusions that were attributed to our scores. Even when published on our very own website with
additional explanations about the way to interpret our scores, some people still draw the wrong conclusions. To increase the
chance of people understanding how to interpret our scores, we decided to switch to a simple PDF.
The old matrix used colour coding
for the average scores just like the new one (see above),
but I used colours in other elements as well to increase the information density further.
For example, bottlings that were released more than a decade ago were 'ghosted' because
the chances of the average customer running into them were slim. The highest score on the
matrix was highlighted in green, the lowest in red. We won't be able to offer quite the same
level of detail on the new matrix, but we're constantly trying to improve it nonetheless.
And dropping the 'weight factor' wasn't the only change on the matrix over the years.
While the old 'HTML' matrix only showed the opinion of a dozen maniacs (the twelve most
'experienced' maniacs to be precise) about a particular whisky, the new matrix contains the
scores of 18 team members. And while a whisky used to need just three scores to get on
the matrix, these days a minimum of four is required to calculate a useful average score.
Only by comparing today's bottling with those that were released five, ten or fifteen years ago, certain long term 'trends'
start to emerge from the rough data - and those can be a useful basis for your shopping behaviour. Food for analysis...
Johannes van den Heuvel
Editor Malt Madness / Malt Maniacs
One nasty consequence of 'raising the stakes' from 3 to 4 at the end of 2006 was that we
failed in our 'Hamstergeddon' quest to get at least 6 bottlings from each active and recently
closed distillery on the matrix. Despite the fact that we jumped from 12 to 18 matrix members
we've lost quite a few obscure entries that were sampled by 'just' three maniacs. Needless
to say you can still find those entries on the MM Monitor - as well as those with 1 or 2 scores.
You'll understand that we enthusiastically started 'Hamstergeddon' all over again in 2007.
Please note that not all 24 certified malt maniacs are part of the 'matrix & monitor' team.
But that's just as well, because not all malt maniacs share the odd passion for numbers that
haunts some of us. Some simply don't believe in scores (which is perfectly acceptable) while
the 'professionals' on the team might not feel comfortable publishing all their scores on MM.
You shouldn't! Well, not all of us at least...
Personal taste and preferences are the most important factors when it comes to rating a single malt whisky.
Maybe there are one or more maniacs with tastes similar to your own, but there are bound to be a few you disagree
with as well. But that's the beauty of the matrix and the monitor, you see? When we started out we still gave more
'weight' to the ratings of the more experienced drammers in the calculation of our official average score. Later, we
realised that the opinions of 'beginners' had just as much value as those of the 'older and wiser' malt maniacs.
The fact that somebody has tasted more whiskies doesn't make him a 'better' taster. Whether a malt maniac
has a 'malt mileage' of 100 or 1000, his individual voice helps to carry the tune of our collective songs of praise.
Or, in the case of the infamous Loch Dhu 10yo at the right, our collective cries of horror. Well, except for our Indian
malt maniac Krishna, that is - who apparently loves the stuff...
Sometimes the craziest endeavours sprout from the humblest seeds. In 1999
three of the earliest maniacs (Craig Daniels, Davin de Kergommeaux & me)
thought it could be useful to draw up a 'matrix' to compare our scores for
a few dozen single malts that we all had tried ourselves with ratings of
our malt whisky guru, Michael 'not the pop singer' Jackson. From those
humble beginnings it grew into our most popular page for many years.
But why did we decide to build a matrix in the first place? I think that
everybody agrees that Aberlour 12yo and Balvenie 12yo are both 'very
nice' single malts. Only by assigning scores and comparing them can we
determine which malt maniac likes which malt whisky or whiskies best.
And then we can start fighting about which score is the 'right' one ;-)
As the team of maniacs and our 'malt mileage' grew, the old HTML matrix
became unwieldy, so at some point the monitor became our main source.