Friday, 31 December 2010

#394 - 10 Most Wanted Whiskies (?)

Bugger! When I read Whiskyfun a few days ago, I saw Serge's top 10 of tasted malt whiskies. That reminded me of an ad I saw for the site - and that in turn reminded me of the log entry about the "10 most wanted malt whiskies" (well, at least according to Google) that I had promised to write. 

When I tried to make the Malt Madness site even more Google-friendly a few weeks ago, I noticed that Google provides rough indications of the number of search queries for any given topic. The numbers Google provides are notoriosly unreliable, but perhaps the relation between the numbers in itself could be interesting. Or it cold be complete bollocks - we'll see... 

Anyway, I'll gather the raw data first, and will leave the actual thinking about those results for next year. So, according to the information on the Google AdWords dashboard, most searches (world wide) were done for these single malt whisky brands... 

1) Lagavulin (my "amazing discovery" of single malt Scotch whisky in 1991.)
2) Talisker (although Google indicates even more hits for Jameson - which is Irish.)
3) Cardhu (which surprised me, but perhaps it's because these are worldwide results.)
4) Macallan (which sounds about right - although J&B scores even higher than Big Mac.)
5) Glenfiddich (I expected the world's biggest brand to score higher than Crown Royal.)
6) Oban (but I have my doubts - Grant's, Dimple and Black & White score higher.)
7) Glenlivet (which came right after Canadian Club, so that's another question mark.)
8) Highland Park (which scored a little higher than the Teacher's blend.)
9) Laphroaig (which is a little surprising, considering it's difficult to spell.)
10) Bowmore (which scored higher than "Cutty Sark" and "whisky fun" to name a few.) 

I should point out that the basic search query I used for this list was "malt whisky" - and I've only included the brand names of Scotch whiskies. If I had used the broader search query "whiskey" (and if I had included all whisky and whiskey brands), the list would have looked fairly differently. I'll get into that research on the Malt Madness site itself - for the upcoming year I'm going to devote this liquid blog to a very specific topic. 

That topic will be my struggle in finding a new balance between my passion for and consumption of malt whisky on one end and a healthy lifestyle on the other. Because I can fully understand how that would be utterly boring for some, I've confined my rants on that particular topic to this blog for now. If you are one of those young and/or lucky bastards than are still able to combine whisky and health without any sort of compromise, I reluctantly congratulate and salute you - and point you to the main Malt Madness site...

And that's it for now. More later, HAPPY OLD YEAR!

Sweet drams,

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

#393 - Age Doesn't Improve Everything

The contents of my top shelf, circa 2003
I was pleasantly surprised when I received an unexpected present this morning: The inaugural edition of the official Malt Maniacs whisky calendar for 2010. As it turns out, Krishna takes his official title of "Trinket Master" more seriously than we had anticipated. He had a bunch of calendars with "maniacal" pictures made and sent a few to every team member. 
What a great initiative! Thanks very much, Krishna! 

And to my surprise I saw a picture that Krishna had taken during his first visit to Amsterdam: my very own top shelf and the cautionary remark that hangs on the wall above it. (Indian tourists are just as bad as the archetypical Japanese tourists with their camera's ;-)  I was surprised by the fact that so many official bottlings were on there - in recent years the number of independent bottlings in my drinking collection has increased considerably. I was also surprised by the poignancy of the phrase "age doesn't improve everything" above the bottles. When I hung it over there, I meant it as a sardonic reference to some overpriced older single malts - but my doctor has recently informed me that I should start acting my age now as well. 

I'm very good at sitting behind my PC - I can do it for hours without getting tired. However, this superpower has caused my weight to increase from less than 80 kilo's in 1995 (when I stopped playing rugby every week and started Malt Madness) to a whopping 112 kilo's right now. So, with my dwarf-like build (I'm only 1,73 meters small) I'll need to lose some 30 kilo's to reach a somewhat healthy weight again. I've had a few days to get used to the idea, and I now actually look forward to the challenge. And I'm also looking forward to trying to write some interesting words about the experience as well. From quite a few personal messages I received after my previous post I've learned that I'm not the only one struggling with the transfer of a relatively wild, hard drinking lifestyle to a more moderate consumption pattern and a slightly healthier lifestyle. 

Don't worry, I can still enjoy the occasional dram or two, but tasting a dozen drams per day is off the menu in the foreseeable future.So, instead of tasting notes you'll find opinions and information on a wide variety of other whisky related topics here. You'll need to wait a little longer for that piece on the most popular whisky brands - but I'll leave you with a link to a web page that can be very useful for people who are beginning to write tasting notes;

Sweet drams, 

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

#392 - Facing an Angry Doctor

Well, it has been a week since we've published the final results of the Malt Maniacs Awards 2010 - and by matter of coincidence I had a meeting with my doctor this morning. As you may remember, I was diagnosed with a mild case of diabetes two years ago, so I already had to reduce the intensity of my dramming quite significantly. 

So, I had already curtailed my whisky consumption from roughly a bottle of whisky per week to 3 or 4 drams a week. However, the parsimony ended 6 weeks ago when 262 samples arrived from France. 

The Malt Maniacs Awards 2010 may have been our biggest competition yet - but it also was the heaviest test, physically and mentally speaking. The fact that three jurors had to drop out of the race somewhere along the way is a testament to that. Last year's awards effort already showed up as a sizeable dent in the gradually rising trend on the graph with some of my health indicators - but as it turns out that was negligible compared to the shock to my system that I received this year. Apparently, my blood pressure is through the roof now as well...

That means that I'm now on extra medication - which means that the number of fresh tasting notes in this Liquid Blog will be limited further in the foreseeable future. But with Serge still publishing fresh tasting notes on Whiskyfun almost every day (not to mention dozens of other whisky bloggers sharing their opinions), I think my often sketchy notes won't be dearly missed anyway. Don't worry, I'm still mad about malts (and I can still sniff as many of them as I want), but the focus of the Malt Madness site will shift away from tasting notes towards stuff like liquid links and the Advanced Beginner's Guide. 

And that's just the stuff on Malt Madness. Meanwhile, the maniacs are almost ready to launch version 1.0 the interactive whisky monitor. If all goes according to plan, a vast number of tasting notes by almost 20 maniacs will be unlocked in the coming weeks. Coming up next:
A look into the "brand pressure" of some of the most famous single malt whisky brands.

Sweet drams,