Monday, 26 September 2011

Quick Update: I'm still alive

Ehm.... Loyal followers of my new blog may remember that I intended to publish my 400th log entry as soon as my body weight had dropped below 100 kilo's. Well, as you may have guessed from the fact that I haven't posted a fresh entry in a few months: I'm still heavier than 100 kilo's, so I haven't achieved my goal yet. I'm still busy trying though - and I even gave up my seat on the Malt Maniacs Awards jury this year... :-/ 

Furthermore, when I went on-line just now, I noticed a completely new Blogger interface as well. The fact that organisations like Facebook and Google keep changing their interface so often annoys me greatly, but I guess that's the price we have to pay for all this free stuff in the cloud. It made me re-consider my original plan to publish my 400th log entry here, though - it might be better if I published that special entry on the Malt Madness site after all. It may be another while before I get around to that, but in the mean time I'm still active on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Oh, and my purely personal website; of course. 

That's it for now... 

As soon as log entry #400 or the Advanced Beginner's Guide are published I'll put up a notification here. Until then, please check out Malt Madness and Malt Maniacs websites, as well as the aforementioned social media. 

Sweet drams,

Monday, 21 March 2011

#399 - "Skalking" The Black Bull

Wow... As I start writing this at 05:55 in the morning, a glorious full moon is beaming over Amsterdam and the birds are already chirping their little hearts out. Spring is obviously in the air, and that's about time if you ask me...

It seems that I've suffered from even more "bad nose days" than usual, which means that a massive pile of samples has been growing on my shelves. Now that my nose has opened up on the first day of Spring, I want to take the opportunity so have a look at the most overdue samples on my shelves. Quite a few professional tasters have informed me that the morning is the best time for tasting, and since I don't have to work today I might as well start drinking early. Not just because I CAN, but because those will be my last drams in a while... 

I've written about my struggle to achieve a healthier lifestyle. Since January 1, I've managed to reduce my weight from 112 to 106 kilo's, but now I've been stuck around that level for almost three weeks. So, it seems I'll have to intensify my efforts to get below 100 kilo's. And now I've figured out that I could try to use my "malt madness" as a motivational tool to help me get to that point. I'm not always very comfortable with grey area's, so the concept of "drinking less" is sometimes hard to translate into the real world for me - partly because there's lots of wiggle room for those of us that are smart enough to outsmart ourselves. 

However, there's very little wiggle room in the rule "I won't drinking any more whisky at all until my scale shows a number below 100.0 kilo's". That means that I'll probably be dry for at least a few weeks - and more probably until the end of May at least. The first few kilo's are relatively easy to lose, but further weight loss often requires more effort. So, I'd better make these few last drams memorable ones... 

And I guess they don't come a lot more memorable than a whisky that dropped in my mailbox two weeks ago; the Black Bull 40yo Batch #2 (41.9%, Duncan Taylor, Blended Scotch, 957 Bts., 2011). Indeed, it's a blend - but one thing that makes it more interesting than most other blends is the fact that Duncan Taylor is candid about the ingredients. The Black Bull is said to contain Invergordon grain whisky and Tamdhu, Bunnahabhain and Glenlivet malt whisky. Serge sampled it for Whiskyfun a few weeks ago and gave it 90 points. Let's see if I like it just as much... The nose is full and sweet with plenty of coconut. Nicely polished with subtle fruits. Unusually expressive for a blend. On the palate it starts off sweet and smooth - that's probably the Invergordon again - with again the coconut. The nose develops very nicely over time with whiffs of glue and spices. A fruity element remains present as well - more pineapple and perhaps even sweet tangerine. Quite delicate, but utterly lovely. 

It's very pleasant on the palate as well, although the slightly gritty mouth feel keeps it just outside the 90 points range for me, despite the glorious de  velopment over time. On my own rating scale I'd go for 89 points - but if you take into consideration that I often score whiskies two or three points below Serge these days, one could argue that I actually liked this Black Bull #2 even more than Serge did... ;-)

Well, that was a very nice way to start the morning - and the Spring of 2011.
I had actually planned to proceed the tasting with 10 whiskies from the Tomatin distillery, but I'm already feeling the effects of the Black Bull. So, I decided to limit myself to just one of the most recent samples that Tomatin's Graham Nicolson was kind enough to send me some time ago; the
Tomatin 36yo 1973/2010 (44%, OB, refill American oak, decanter). And I won't bother you with the tasting notes here either - please check out the Malt Maniacs Monitor for my notes in case you're interested... All I have to say right now is that it's another bloody great dram that scored 89 points, just like the Black Bull.

Further tasting reports, as well as details about THE SAMPLE-PALOOZA EVENT will follow in log entry #400 and beyond - which will be published shortly after I've managed to lose six additional kilo's of superfluous body weight. You won't have to wait very long for other updates on Malt Madness though - I hope to publish a brand new mAlmanac around April 1.

Sweet drams,

Monday, 28 February 2011

#398 - Tweet! Tweet!

It has been a while since my last entry - but that's just because I've been working very hard on the Malt Madness site itself. One recent enhancement is the inclusion of a Twitter feed on the home page, which will enable me to refresh the site more frequently from anywhere in the world. And there's even a special page with more tweets. (And some clandestine music you might be able to enjoy if you can find the hidden buttons that will reveal it...)

I imagine that things might be getting a little confusing for the people that have been following Malt Madness and the "spin-off" Malt Maniacs for a few years. First, there was the separate Malt Maniacs site (and Serge's "Whiskyfun" sister site, of course). And then the maniacs appeared with their own "group" on Facebook... And then some more maniacs started their own sites... And then Malt Maniacs appeared on Twitter... And then Facebook sort of abanded their "groups" idea... And then even more certified malt maniacs launched their own web sites... And then Malt Madness appeared on Twitter... Indeed, very confusing... 

The root of all this evil is NetObjects Fusion. When I built the very first pages of the Malt Madness site in 1995, I did so by writing HTML code directly. I moved to Netscape Composer not long after that - and finally to the antique WYSIWYG editor "NetObjects Fusion" in 1998. At the time, it was a fairly brilliant program that was a serious competitor for Macromedia's Dreamweaver. Well, somewhere along the way something went horribly wrong. The result is that, in practical terms, the software is not supported any more. There is no meaningful development, so there is simply no way to develop the current web site(s) much further in technological terms. So, any further evolution will have to use other platforms and technologies as well - like social media, mobile phones, etc.

Anyway, with entry #400 coming up, I suddenly noticed that I haven't posted any fresh tasting notes on this blog recently. There actually has been more than enough fresh material in the profiles in the distillery data section and on the malt maniacs monitor, but I haven't been able to posting anything here yet. Well, as luck would have it, I've just received an interesting sample from Duncan Taylor. However, I'm still struggling with the after-effects of a nasty cold. So, look for that in my next entry. 

In fact, you might as well stop reading right now if you'd like to read about whisky any time soon. I'll be abusing this blog to keep those who want to know about my life informed - until I've reached a healthy weight again and can enjoy more whiskies than the two or three drams a week I'm allowing myself right now. Check out Malt Madness (or follow me on Twitter) if you'd like to get back to whisky...

Thanks to the aforementioned cold (and the very crappy weather we've had over the past three weeks), I haven't been able to do much exercise over the past few weeks. As a result, my weight is still bouncing between 105 and 106 kilo's. So, I've only lost some six kilo's since January 1 - the next six will probably be quite a bit harder. Still, I have some high hopes to get under 100 kilo's again by June 1.

Further updates on my life: Remember my post about my smart phone? Well, I decided to upgrade to a Blackberry to be able to check my e-mail - with a Vodafone account so I could keep the same mobile number. And then it turned out that I couldn't actually keep my own number. Or check my e-mail for that matter, at least without paying some extra wads of cash to Vodafone AND Blackberry each month. FUKNUGGETS! To cut a long story short: I now have YET ANOTHER mobile phone. It's probably less smart than the previous two, but at least it can't be used as a conduit for commercial arse-raping by "the system". 

OK, that's it for now - more later...

Sweet drams,

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

#397 - The Thrashing of The Bottles

Do you recall me bragging about my smart phone in my previous post? Well, actually I was indirectly bragging about myself - because I wanted to prove that I'm smarter than my phone. Well, as it turns out now, I'm a bit more durable as well... That LG GW300 piece of crap lasted just a few days past 6 months - which is probably also the warranty period. 

Anyway - that's not the point...
As part of my journey towards a slightly healthier lifestyle, I've invested in a home trainer and a stepping machine - which I've installed in front of a TV so I can train my body AND my soul... Those machines allow me to get some exercise on the many rainy days we have in Holland. However, I need some room...

That means that, at long last, I will be getting rid of the last remains of my collection of empty whisky bottles. I've already managed to say goodbye to a lot of bottles a few years ago, but now it's time to bring the last few hundred whisky bottles to the glass bin. I'll be sad to see some bottles go (the design of some bottles and labels is quite beautiful - at least I think so), but at least I won't have to dust them off on a regular basis any more. 
(Once every two years before Christmas - that's regular, right?)

However, before I throw them out, I want to make sure that I record every tiny little detail in the Distillery Data section of Malt Maniacs - on the profile of the distillery where that whisky was distilled. This will be the last chance I have to record small details that might distinguish that particular batch from an earlier or later version. So, you'll be seeing some very detailed "bottle profiles" appearing in the DD section in the weeks to come. Hopefully, we'll find a way to include the information in the MMMonitor as well.

Sweet drams,

Friday, 14 January 2011

#396 - My Smart Phone

Now, free with a bottle of GlenWonka

One of the biggest problems of being as smart as me is that it's surprisingly easy to outsmart yourself. For example, on the way home from work around 15:00 PM (yeah, I only work part time - because I have only my own lard ass to support) I always pass a "Kentucky Fried Chicken" fast food restaurant. That's right, we have those in Holland as well. Once every two or three weeks I used to pass the restaurant in an unusually hungry mood - and then I would buy a burger or wrap, convincing myself that that would be my meal INSTEAD of my regular evening meal. Needless to say, around 19:00 or 20:00 my stomach usually had little trouble convincing my brain that I REALLY should eat something. So, Over the last decade and a half I've outsmarted myself to the tune of 32 additional and pretty useless kilo's (reasoning that I used to weigh around 80 kilo's and I was in tip-top shape at the time).

But how do I know that I'm smart, you ask? Well, thanks to logical reasoning - and the dozens of IQ tests I took as a confused teenager. I won't go into the details of my teenage years right now (that's a treasure trove of material for a website on its own) and why I took all those IQ tests, but in the end it took surprisingly little cheating to arrive at the desired end result: that I have an IQ of at least 400. [Legal notice: actual numbers may appear larger in the rear view mirror of one's mind than what is actually supported by historical evidence.]

Anyway - back to how I know I'm smart... Well, since a while, I'm the proud owner of a smart phone. It says so, right there on the box - and I'm sure they wouldn't dare putting it on the packaging if the fact wasn't scientifically established, right? So, I'd like to present the fact that my phone is smart as the first half of my case. Now, although my smart phone has many features, it can't get on the internet yet - for example to access the Malt Maniacs Monitor. I, on the other hand, can. Therefor, I'm even smarter than my smart phone. 

Beat that, Nietzsche!

Alas, as I mentioned my uncanny smartness has lead to the current overweight - and I'm still resolved to work off a sizeable chunk this year. (Which is REALLY smart, my doctor tells me...) So, thanks to the "distance measuring" web site that I mentioned in my last post, I'm now taking long and brisk walks through the park or along the beach. (Amsterdam is only 25 kilometres from the beach and easily reached by bike or train. And while I'm told that "taking long walks on the beach" is supposedly a favourite hobby of romantically inclined women of the female persuasion, I can assure you that there is little less romantic than the sight of me dragging my excess lard across the beach. Fortunately, with the weather conditions we're having right now, the beach is usually mostly deserted - AND I have to drag around 3,6 less kilo's of fat. The scale now says 108,4 kilo's, two weeks into the new year. I'm on course so far...

Sweet drams,