> Entry 201 - January 1, 2005: The Best Intentions
OK, here's the first 'Blog Entry' of my new & improved Liquid Log.
Actually, I couldn't have picked a worse moment to increase the
frequency of these reports. I've boldly made several New Year's
resolutions last night, and one of them was to try to quit smoking.
However, in October '04 I discovered (to my considerable dismay)
that this can seriously and radically affect one's smell and taste.
Some of the results of the blind tests were funky to say the least.
Unfortunately, unlike the advertisement at the right suggests,
smoking is neither healthy nor fresh. In fact, it's exactly the
opposite! And while I'm at it: the Bang-for-your-Buck List features
another ad that uses the cunning juxtapositioning of a 'smoking'
hot babe, a box of TNT and a charging steam train to suggest
that some hot action with a female terrorist could very well be on
the cards, if only you smoke 'Kamel' cigarettes. Well, I've never
tried 'Kamel', but I can tell you from personal experience that it
doesn't work with Camel. Or with camels for that matter....
Anyway, I decided not to try any new single malts for a while.
Hopefully that would give my nose and palate a chance to adjust to this change in lifestyle - and in the long run, my
perception of taste and smell should benefit from giving it up. And focusing on the 'familiar' bottlings in my collection
would give me the opportunity to remove some older bottles from my shelves to make room for new ones later on.
But you can read all about that in my upcoming entries; right now I have some other 'news'.
You may have noticed that matrix hasn't been updated in quite a while - since November 1, actually.
Well, that's because it 'crashed' some time ago. This website is growing so huge that it's 'cracking at the seams', so to speak. That's why I've built an all new matrix for 2005. The 'old' matrix page now has all the secondary information
you might need to interpret the raw data on the matrix itself. Check it out to learn more about the meaning of the
scores and colour codes. The matrix itself now has well over 800 malts on it. And we plan to hit 1000 this year!
As far as the personal 'Madness' part of the site is concerned, I've planned to try and do some much needed heavy (re-)construction work on the Distillery Data section and the Malt Map.
I'll keep you updated on the progress through my Liquid Blog 2.01.
And that's it for now.... Watch this space for more news.
> Entry 202 - January 2, 2005: Silent Stills, Part I
Day 2, 20:35 - I wouldn't mind a cigarette right about now...
One of the strange side-effects of quitting smoking is that my
internal thermostat seems to switch to a lower temperature.
I'm bloody cold and I can't seem to get my core temperature
up to normal, no matter how many hot showers I take.
However, I need to be strong....
So, let's see how the an Islay malt tastes 'sans nicotine'.
I picked the Caol Ila 10yo 1988/1999 (43%, Hart Bros)
from my middle shelf - the very best Caol Ila I've tried at
such a tender age, with a respectable score of 87 points.
Nose: Peat - and lots of it. Serious and not very sweet.
This time, the character reminded me of the old Douglas
Laing bottlings of the early 70's. Wonderful organics.
Taste: Solid. This time it doesn't seem very sweet.
Score: I'll keep it at 87 points, although I wouldn't have
gone quite as high this time....
OK - let's empty the bottle while I start with one of the first 'jobs' I want to get done this year.
I may not have 'officially' sampled my 1000th single malt quite yet (read entry 200 for the details), but I'm positive
I've now tried at least three expressions from each active distillery in Scotland. Well, most of them anyway - there still
that nasty little 'Glen Spey' distillery (located in, you guessed it, Speyside). So far I've only tried one version, but
Serge informed me that he kindly put two samples aside for me - so I'll be able to wipe it off eventually. Jolly good!
And that means I've still pretty much finished 'phase II' of my malt mission.
Originally, that mission started out as a search for 'the perfect malt'.
It didn't take me long to realise that I had sent myself on a fool's errand: the perfect malt just doesn't exist.
Frustrated and disillusioned I saw myself forced to transform my search for the Holy Grail into a brutal process of
elimination. I went on a sampling spree to try at least three versions from each active distillery in Scotland - just so
that I could cross those that didn't make the grade from my shopping list. That may sound a bit harsh, but it's simply
not humanly possible to try every single malt that's available these days. So, I'll need to cross out some of the 100+ distilleries on the list.
However, on December 31 I found myself faced with a fairly fundamental question: Is it reasonable to dismiss a
distillery after sampling only three versions - especially when an active distillery can always change their product?
Edradour, Arran and Glengoyne are good examples of distilleries I was ready to dismiss, until they surprised me with
some recent bottlings that were much better than I expected. I did some serious soul-searching and finally decided
that it would be unreasonable (not to mention foolish) to dismiss an active distillery after sampling just 3 versions.
Meanwhile, my conscience isn't so troubled when it comes to the inactive distilleries in Scotland.
Bottlings from these distilleries are harder to find and more expensive than your average Glenfiddich or Glen Grant. In
order to make the extra efforts and investments worthwile, I expect these whiskies to perform 'above average' at least. I wanted to try a minimum of three versions of each for phase II of my mission so I had at least some
experience with bottlings from that distillery, but if I couldn't find three versions and the bottling(s) I did try didn't do very good: stuff them!
So, let's go down the list of inactive distilleries in the conventional alphabetical fashion;
Allt-A-Bhainne * - Only one out of the four bottlings I tried managed to reach 'recommendable' levels.
The expressions I tried ranged from ten to eighteen years old and the youngest bottling did the best.
Needless to say, I'm not in any rush to sample more expressions of Allt-A-Bhainne.
So, it's the first inactive distillery to drop off my 'wanted' list. Missable.
Banff ** - Banff is one of the distilleries least seen on the shelves of your average liquorist.
I've only tried 2 expressions and both scored around average. Not bad, but no reason for praise either.
However, with only two expressions on my Track Record I don't want to make any final statements yet.
Breas of Glenlivet **** - This is some seriously good stuff, if you ask me!
I've tried eight different expressions so far and all except one scored in the 80's or 90's.
I really can't fathom why Chivas decided to mothball Breas of Glenlivet (a.k.a. Breaval) in 2002.
Brora ***** - I've now sampled eighteen different expressions and all scored above average.
I've avoided tasting any bottling for many years, but the tenacious efforts of Serge finally paid off.
I'm now a convert as well - although Serge hasn't quite convinced me about the 'new' Clynelish yet.
Visit Serge's 'Brora Barnum on Whiskyfun for the gripping tale about the legendary peated Highlander.
Caperdonich **** - This one seems to be worth looking out for as well.
Bottlings are quite hard to find, but two out of the three versions I tried scored in the upper 80's.
So, if I come across any other bottlings of Caperdonich I'll certainly give them a try.
Coleburn * - One of the distilleries I'm least familiar with; I've only tried one expression so far.
That means bottlings from this distillery are extremely rare. But are they worth hunting down?
Based on the data the MM Monitor I'd have to say 'no' - all bottlings scored below average.
So, Coleburn is removed from my shopping list, even though I've tried just one bottling.
Convalmore *** - Two out of four bottlings ended up in the 80's and none scored below average.
So, I think it's safe to say that Caperdonich has potential - I'd like to try some more expressions.
Dallas Dhu *** - I've only tried three versions so far, but two of them managed to reach the 80's.
The lowest scoring expression still managed to earn 79 points, so there's reason for further research.
Glen Albyn ** - Another distillery I'm not very familiar with; I've tried only 2 versions so far.
Considering one of them was probably a fake, I shouldn't jump to conclusions, but it doesn't look good.
Still, given its location I'm not opposed to giving this another chance some time in the future.
Glenglassaugh **** - Three out of three Glenglassaughs I've tried ended up in the 80's.
That's good enough for me - I'll definitely try to get my hands on some more bottlings some time.
Glen Keith *** - Hmmm... All three bottlings I tried ended up scoring in the 70's.
That's not exactly mind-boggling, but no reason to write off the distillery altogether.
Glenlochy *** - Bottlings are very rare and two versions I tried were very different indeed...
It's to early to tell, really. I'll keep my eyes peeled...
Glen Mhor *** - Well, I've tried three versions and all of them scored above average.
A distillery could do much worse, so if I come across anything else from Inverness I might buy it.
Glenugie ** - It's a little too early to tell - with scores of 63 and 82 the results are 'mixed'.
Given that the highest score went to a 'top of the line' Murray McDavid Mission III it doesn't look too good.
Glenury Royal *** - The two versions of Glenury Royal I tried scored 78 and 82 points respectively.
I'd say that's quite enough to earn a 'still score' of three stars for now. I'll be on the lookout for more.
Well, that's enough 'desk research' for now, I'd say.
Tune in same time tomorrow for the second part of the list...
> Entry 203 - January 3, 2005: Silent Stills, Part II
Day 3, 22:10 - Oooh, I'm cold... My core temperature is still off.
My mind feels stagnant and I have a hard time writing these words.
Several people warned me that quitting smoking could affect me mentally
as wel as physically. Fortunately, most 'experts' seem to predict that the
symptoms will disappear after a few weeks. I hope so, because I'm eager
to try some new samples that arrived on my shelves recently but I have
to wait until my smell and taste are 'normalised' again.
So, no tasting report today; the results would be 'dodgy' at best.
Instead, I'll finish my 'phase II' review of the silent distilleries of Scotland.
Last night I wrote a quick review of the silent A-G distilleries; time for H-Z.
After I've completed my review I can update the silent distilleries page.
Hillside / Glenesk * - After sampling three versions I can classify this as a definite 'write-off'.
There may be some good bottlings available, but I think those must have been exceptions to the rule.
With most active distilleries producing malts I like better I have no qualms about crossing it off my list.
Imperial *** - Until quite recently I had only tried two versions and I was ready to cross it off my list.
Well, when I write this I've sampled half a dozen different expressions and only one scored below average.
That should teach me not to 'write off' a distillery too soon. I would now say that Imperial has potential.
And since it was only mothballed in 1998, available stocks should last us for at least another decade.
Inverleven *** - I've now tried five versions of this silent Lowlander with very mixed results.
However, if I ignore the 64 points for a very tired Cadenhead's bottling the picture clears up a bit.
The other versions I tried scored 73, 74, 83 and 87 points respectively - so that's not too bad at all!
Kinclaith ** - The Kinclaith 1966 was my 1000th malt and it did a lot better than I expected.
After trying a very tired Cadenhead's bottling at De Still I didn't make any efforts to find other bottlings.
The '66 showed that this can be an interesting malt - but it's so rare that I'm not going to investigate.
Ladyburn *** - One of the rarest of them all - we still don't have a version on the matrix.
I've tried only one version (together with Serge in London, 2004) so far and that was promising.
However, given its extreme rarity I don't think I'll have a chance to ever try it again.
If I stumble across a sample somewhere I'd be interested, but it drops from my shopping list.
Littlemill ** - The only reason Littlemill receives two stars is a 14yo Cadenhead bottling.
That one scored 83 points where two other expressions (one Dunglass) reached the lower 60's.
I'm not quite ready to write it off altogether, but it doesn't look good for Littlemill...
Lochside *** - This is another fine example of why you shouldn't always trust a first impression.
My first bottling was a 10yo OB I really didn't like, but during the last year I've tried some good stuff.
I've now tasted six different bottlings and three of them managed to reach the 80's. Interesting.
Millburn *** - So far I've only tried two versions and both scored just below average.
Reason enough to keep my eyes open for a third version, I'd say.
North Port / Brechin * - I've only tried two versions so far, but it looks quite grim.
With scores of 62 and 70 points respectively, North Port seems a sub-standard malt.
However, the monitor seems to indicate that there are better bottlings available.
Pittyvaich **** - After sampling four expressions I'm quite convinced about Pittyvaich.
Two out of four bottlings I tried approached the 90's, so there's good reason to seek them out.
This Speyside distillery was closed in 1993, so bottlings should be available for some time to come.
Port Ellen ***** - Well, no big surprises around one of the most famous silent distilleries.
Its reputation is well deserved; 18 out of 20 bottlings I tried managed to reach the 80's or 90's.
Maybe I should even increase the still score from four to five stars? Hmm, let's break it down...
Two versions (both from Signatory) scored in the upper 70's and eight ended up in the lower 80's.
And then we have six bottlings in the upper 80's and four in the nineties. Yeah... Five stars!
Rosebank ** - With only 2 out of the 11 versions I tried scoring in the 80's it doesn't look good.
However, the large majority of the bottlings I tried were very young, so I can't write it off yet.
I'll have to try some more versions in their twenties before I can be completely certain.
The distillery closed a decade after St. Magdalene, so it might shape up in time.
Saint Magdalene / Linlithgow **** - Another legendary distillery that hasn't let me down yet.
But does it deserve an 'upgrade' to five stars like Port Ellen? Well... let's break it down again.
I've scored a dozen bottlings; 1 x 70's, 8 x lower 80's, 1 x upper 80's and 1 x 90's. Hmmm, tricky....
With the bulk of the bottlings in the 80's the overall performance doesn't quite warrant five stars.
Tamnavulin ** - With three bottlings all scoring below average it doesn't look very good.
Two ended up in the lower 70's which isn't that bad at all, but one scored in the 50's - disappointing.
That being said, most versions I tried were relatively young so I don't want to use big words yet.
That's the list of 'Silent Stills' at the end of phase II of my mission.
Please give me a while to collect my thoughts... I'll get back to this tomorrow.
> Entry 204 - January 5, 2005: Silent Stills, Conclusion
I've cracked under the pressure and started smoking again....
I had to finish a writing job and I couldn't find any inspiration.
No worries, though - I'm getting rather experienced with quitting.
I'll simply give it another try later on and see how it goes then.
I still have ambitious plans to quit one day...
The good news is that I can now turn to a few fresh samples.
And the ones I was most curious about were 3 Benriachs from Serge.
My results for this distillery were not conclusive, even though I did try
the 'required' three samples. The more I think about it, the more I feel
that tasting just three samples isn't statistically sound enough to draw
anything but the broadest of conclusions. I feel pretty confindent about
crossing some silent distilleries from my shopping list (more on that later)
when we're talking about the ones that structurally performed below my
expectations or that are so rare that a mere mortal like myself just can't
afford them, but at the same time I want to offer each distillery that
shows even a glimmer of potential a fair chance.
Distilleries like Benriach, for example - recently revived.
Three versions I've tried all scored in the lower seventies.
That may not seem all that impressive at first, but it's considerably better
than scores for distilleries like Allt-A-Bhainne, Coleburn or Hillside / Glenesk.
These all got a still score one measly point, which means I'll pretty much
avoid them from now on. After tonight, I'll know more about Benriach.
I started with a Benriach 12yo 1969 (40%, G&M Connoisseurs Choice).
This is an oldie - bottled before I've even tried my first whisky!
Nose: Malty and creamy, growing spicier. Delicate, but not weak or 'middle-of-the-road'.
Quite expressive - and further proof that the 'CC' range wasn't always synonymous with 'bland'.
Gooseberries. Cardamom? Fennel? Nothing really stands out, but it grows ever more spicy.
Amazing development over time - no big shifts in character, but ever changing nuances.
Taste: A tad bitter at first. Malty. Fairly flat and dry, decisively pulling it from the upper 80's.
The faint bitterness is always present - a bit like grape skins or seeds. Not really my style.
82 points - the nose is spectacular, but it's hardly anything special on the palate.
It might have done better at a higher proof, giving the palate some more 'substance'.
The Benriach 34yo 1968/2003 (49.8%, Hart Brothers) was next - almost twice as 'old'.
Nose: Malty and creamy just like the 12yo 1969, but with more fruity notes. Slightly dusty.
More spices after a minute - and then farmy organics as well, growing stronger. Intense.
Maybe a faint hint of smoke and even something medicinal? Dentist? Very, very interesting.
Taste: It starts out sweeter than the 12yo, but the bitter elements soon become dominant.
It's a little fruitier than the 12yo on the palate too. After a while I got a hint of liquorice.
A tad watery and not all that special. In fact it's downright disappointing after the nose.
Score: 84 points - once again, the palate pulls it down from the upper 80's. Too bad.
A magnificent nose, though. Another malt much more suitable for nosing than for tasting.
The Benriach 34yo (50.4%, Peerless, Cask #2593) must have been a 'sister cask' of the last one.
Nose: Sweet, creamy and malty. None of these bottlings has the 'oily' character of the 10yo OB.
Opens up to the most fragrant and expressive nose of the three. Here I got some liquorice.
Unfortunately, where the others opened up with time, this showed little further development.
Taste: Flatter than the other two. It feels a little uneven. No fun at all - a real spoiler here.
The palate of the other two was just less impressive than the nose. Here it's sub-standard.
Score: 77 points
- I really can't classify this as a 'recommendable' malt.
All three Benriachs performed significantly better than the three younger bottlings I tried so far.
Reason enough to make two decisions; a relatively minor one and a relatively major one...
A) The relatively minor one: Benriach's 'still score' increases from two to three stars.
B) The relatively major one: Three expressions is definitely not enough to form a solid opinion.
Actually, I already came to that conclusion a few days ago when I reviewed the 'distillery data'.
That means that one goal for phase III of my malt mission is becoming clearer to me...
But I'll get back to that in an upcoming log entry; right now I'll leave you with a quick review of the silent distilleries of
Scotland. Like I explained earlier, I feel the extra effort and investments that's usually required to obtain bottles from
closed distilleries should be translated into quality in your glass as well - at least to some extent. If a distillery was
closed because the product was significantly sub-standard, I'm not willing to spend any more money on that distillery
than I already have. Fortunately (and strictly based on my research so far), that seems to be the case with only three
distilleries. However, four more silent distilleries are removed from my shopping list on account of them being too rare
for comfort (Ben Wyvis, Glen Flagler, Kinclaith and Ladyburn). Even if I managed to find a very good version, obtaining a bottle would cost me dearly.
That means that these seven silent distilleries are hereby removed from my shopping list;
1) Allt-A-Bhainne - with two out of four bottlings scoring in the 50's it just below par.
2) Ben Wyvis
- the only silent distillery that was never on my shopping list to begin with.
- even though I've only tried two versions, the monitor says it all: missable.
4) Glen Flagler / Killyloch
- I haven't been able to find a single bottling since I started my mission.
5) Hillside / Glenesk - I've tried three expressions and the best one scored 66 points.
6) Kinclaith - one bottling did pretty well, but I decided to ignore distilleries closed in the 1970's.
- just like Kinclaith, this is wiped from my list because it's very rare (closed in the 70's).
These are the only seven silent distilleries I feel comfortable wiping off my list at this stage.
Does that mean I'll never try any expression again? No - just that I won't buy any more bottles.
Most of these are pretty rare and I'd rather spend my money on malts that show more potential.
Some of the other silent distilleries look a little bit dodgy as well (Banff, Glen Albyn, Glenugie, Littlemill, North Port /
Brechin and Tamnavulin in particular), but in each case I could think of a good excuse to give them another chance.
And since my experience with Benriach has proven that I'll have to sample at least half a dozen expressions from
each potentially interesting distillery to make any meaningful statements, I've just worked out my next assignment.
During phase III of my mission, I'll need to try at least 6 expressions from these silent distilleries;
(The number of expressions I've tried so far is added between brackets.)
- Banff (2)
- Caperdonich (3)
- Convalmore (4)
- Dallas Dhu (3)
- Glen Albyn (2)
- Glenglassaugh (3)
- Glen Keith (3)
- Glenlochy (2)
- Glen Mhor (4)
- Glenugie (2)
- Glenury Royal (2)
- Inverleven (5)
- Littlemill (3)
- Millburn (2)
- North Port / Brechin (2)
- Pittyvaich (4)
- Tamnavulin (3)
Please note that the list might change a bit after I've finished log entry 200.
Based on my research Caperdonich, Glenglassaugh and Pittyvaich show the highest potential.
I already tried enough expressions of Braes of Glenlivet (****), Brora (*****), Imperial (***),
Lochisde (***), Port Ellen (*****), Rosebank (**) and Saint Magdalene / Linlithgow (****).
As you can see I've already fallen in love with some silent stills, including Brora and Port Ellen, of course.
And just below these legends we have Breas of Glenlivet / Braeval and Saint Magdalene / Linlithgow. You might not
always find the truly stellar expressions you can sometimes find under the name Brora or Port Ellen, but my research
so far has shown that bottlings from these distilleries generally end up in the 80's. Obviously, I'll keep my eyes open for bottlings from distilleries that earned themselves a 'still score' of four or five stars.
So, that wraps it up for tonight.
One of my goals for phase III of my Malt Mission will be checking out each entry in the list above.
Sampling a statistically significant number of bottlings from the remaining silent distilleries should take a while, all the
more so because I intend to spend most of my attention on active distilleries, just like I did during phase II of my mission. But I'll get back to that topic later - if you've read entry #200 you'll know I have some thinking to do...
> Entry 205 - January 6, 2005: Alexander the Great
Tonight, fellow maniac Alexander van der Veer dropped by to
join me in some serious sampling. Well, actually he had already
started the sampling a few hours earlier at Cadenhead's and if
I remember correctly he had already tried a dozen (cask strength)
malts by the time he arrived on my doorstep. Nevertheless, he
was eager to continue the sampling process and do some
serious 'matrix duty'.
One of our first drams was the Balvenie 15yo 1985 Single Barrel
and like so often before I was struck by the beautiful design of
the bottle. Alexander agreed. He told me that he put 3 bottles
on display in his office and that they proved to be excellent
conversation pieces. Yeah, no wonder! I also find myself more
loose-lipped after a dram! I wish I worked at an office like that.
Alexander tried to convince me that his bottles were empty, but
doesn't talking about whisky without drinking it defy the purpose?
Anyway, I'm still busy with the reconstruction of the site, so I can't write a full report on this session.
Besides, I sampled all these malts before; you can find my tasting notes through the Track Record.
So, here's a list of the whiskies we tried and the scores we gave;
JH AV - Malt;
83 85 - Balvenie 15yo 1985 Single Barrel (50.4%, OB, Cask #286)
77 77 - Benriach 34yo 1968/2003 (50.4%, Peerless, C#2593)
83 83 - Glenfarclas 21yo (43%, OB, +/- 1999)
92 94 - Glen Garioch 1971 (59.6%, Samaroli, Bottled +/- 1988)
80 82 - Glenglassaugh 1986/1998 (40%, MacPhail's Collection)
72 70 - Greenore 8yo (40%, Irish single grain)
76 77 - Linkwood 10yo 1990 (43%, Chieftain's Choice)
79 77 - Linkwood 12yo 1989/2002 (43%, Coopers Choice)
65 76 - Macallan 7yo (40%, OB, 'International' bottling, +/- 2000)
89 86 - Macallan 15yo 1984 (43%, OB)
76 78 - Rosebank 11yo 1989/2001 (43%, Ultimate, C#789)
78 77 - Scapa 9yo 1988/1997 (43%, Signatory, dist. 25/01/1988)
75 77 - Tormore 14yo 1989/2003 (43%, SigVint, C#909167)
I didn't see a reason to change most of my ratings, but I increased the scores for three malts.
On earlier occasions I gave the Glenglassaugh 1986/1998
(40%, MacPhail's Collection) 78 points, but this time it managed to convince me it was worth 80 points. Some time in the glass had a 'maturing' effect on this relatively
young expression. It's not nearly as classy as its older siblings, but I'd still recommend it. The Linkwood 12yo 1989/2002
(43%, Coopers Choice) made an even bigger jump; from 72 to 77 points. It's not terribly expressive in the nose, but over time the rather subtle and polished sherried character (much more subtle than the deep colour
suggests) really grew on me. And the solid fruity palate is very enjoyable as well. Still, it doesn't have enough
stamina and complexity to reach the 80's. Alexander more or less agreed with his 79 points. Finally, we have the Rosebank 11yo 1989/2001
(43%, Ultimate, C#789), leaping from 75 to 76 points. Obviously that's not such a big leap forward, but I'd like to have it duly noted.
We finished the evening with a real beauty; the Glen Garioch 1971 from Samaroli.
In fact, it was the only real 'beauty' in tonight's line-up; the others were saucy barmaids at best...
And amazingly enough, Alexander was still going strong after having sampled more than two dozen malts.
I found myself struggling to keep up with him, even though I missed the afternoon at Cadenhead's.
The powers of his liver are impressive - I'll call him 'Alexander The Great' from now on...
And that's it as far as this report goes - but you can read some more about this session.
Check out Alexander's full account on Malt Maniacs for all the sordid details.
> Entry 206 - January 9, 2005: Reconstruction Complete
I recently stumbled across a very informative publication.
It's called 'Modern Drunkard Magazine' and it features useful articles
like 'Surviving the Holidays - use booze to beat the holiday blues',
'Ode to Dionysus - a poetic nod to the God of wine' and 'The Modern
Drunkard's Survival Guide - solutions to compromising situations'.
Well, that seems like a truly 'maniacal' magazine, doesn't it?
Aah... Just a bit of harmless fun to celebrate the good news.
What good news, you ask? That would be the good news that I've
finally managed to fully reconstruct the site after last week's crash.
Hurray! That's a perfect excuse to enjoy some drams tonight!
However, I have a bad nose day, so I'm afraid I can't do any serious
sampling today. Well, there's one sample I simply have to try tonight
because it's on the brink of oxidation. It was a 5cl miniature bottle
of the Bruichladdich 17yo (55.5%, Cadenhead, 5cl, Oak Casks)
that Alexander brought over from Cadenhead's just a few days ago.
The bottle was 9/10 empty and the tin screwcap was very loose,
so I don't dare give it a rating. Nevertheless, I did notice that it was
unusually peaty for a Bruichladdich - and there was a lot of liquorice
on the palate as well, much more so than in any OB I tried so far.
That made me think about two issues I discussed with Alexander.
First of all there's the fact that I have been focusing on distilleries
during the first two phases of my mission, but a case could be made
for having a closer look at the bottlers during phase III of my mission.
The other issue concerned the 'taste profiles' of various groups of
There seem to be some distilleries (Bruichladdich, Clynelish and Benriach for example) that appeal much more to the
wine drinkers amongst the maniacs ('French fries' Serge and Olivier - and probably Davin as well) than to others. In
fact, this phenomenon doesn't seem confinded to distilleries; a quick scan of the data seems to indicate that the
'vinophiles' tend to like some subtle bourbon matured malts more often than average - and the same goes for
bottlings from independent bottler Murray McDavid. Well, that seems to make sense. Murray McDavid originated from the 'La Reserve' wine traders and the people that select the casks are probably wine lovers themselves.
Very interesting topics for further analysis, but all that will have to wait.
The first E-pistles for a new issue of Malt Maniacs have started to drop into my mailbox.
I'll get to work on those; if all goes according to plan I should be able to publish MM#12 in a few days.
> Entry 207 - January 10, 2005: Another Fraud?
Oh, boy.... I've just received some more disturbing
information about a series of potential fake bottlings.
And this time we're not talking about an Arran from
1982 or a 21yo Flora & Fauna Mortlach. Ho-cheng
told me that the prices for these fake bottlings were
quite reasonable. (Well, as long as you're willing to
forget they're fakes ;-)
Anyway... this time we are talking about extremely
rare (and therefor expensive) bottlings that were
supposedly over a century old, like a 1900 Hazelburn.
I can't go into the details just yet because we'd like to
hear 'the other side of the story' as well, if possible.
Meanwhile, the next issue of Malt Maniacs is almost ready for publication.
And you don't have to wait for it to feast your beady little eyes on some fresh maniacal content.
After submitting the first part of his November in Amsterdam E-pistle over a year ago Davin finally sent me the missing
pieces. I can't accuse him of 'slacking' though - in the meantime he submitted at least half a dozen other stories. It
just slipped his mind amongst all the other malt mania during the past year. Fortunately, as his E-pistle proves he still had the tasting notes to reconstruct everything perfectly. Furthermore, Lex's full review of 2004 (in PDF format) has been added to his personal profile. That should keep you entertained until MM#12 is published.
> Entry 208 - January 11, 2005: The Plot Thickens...
Well, it seems that we're off on another fake hunt...
But before I get into the details of that nasty little story I have some very good news.
Finally, Malt Maniacs #12 is on-line - filled to the brim with fresh and exciting E-pistles.
Traditionally, many maniacs have taken the opportunity to look back on the maniacal
highlights of last year, but that's not all we can offer you this time. We have the first
article in our new 'Ask an Anorak' series, Serges interview with Mike Nicolson and an
eyewitness account about the first Belgian whisky from Luc Timmermans.
Anyway, that was the good news. The bad news is that we got wind of another fake.
Even worse: the evidence indicates that this one bottle is just the tip of the iceberg.
As you can read in E-pistle #12/10 (an 'open letter' from Flemming Gerhardt-Pedersen
of the Dansk Maltwhisky Akademi) some very expensive bottlings were recently proven
to be fakes. Nevertheless, German whisky trader Andreas Jacobs is still selling bottles like
the 'Hazelburn 12yo 1900' (depicted at the right) on eBay. Of course, I wanted to make
sure there was some truth to Flemming's shocking tale, so I consulted with the maniacs.
Fresh Swedish maniac Ulf Buxrud wrote: 'I participated at the Hazelburn 1900 tasting.
It occurred in Nykoping/Denmark Fall 2003. I told Andreas Jacobs, who was present,
that it was my staunch belief that the content was much younger than 1900, probably
from the 60-ties or younger. He disagreed. A sample was drawn and tested at the same
laboratory where the Macallan testing took place. The verdict was; yes a modern whisky
produced in rather near time. Earlier, the same year, a tasting of an Ardbeg (1897/1912)
together with Jim Murray took place in Stockholm/Sweden. Suspicions were raised (by Jim)
regarding its authenticity, however no sample was drawn and examined as far as I know.
I am trying to trace the origin of this bottle and will let you know if I am successful.'
Thanx Ulf, that was exactly the sort of confirmation I was looking for.
I forwarded Flemming's letter to Mr. Andreas Jacobs and asked him for a reaction.
He promised he would let me know more about this soon, but hasn't contacted me with any information yet.
Considering that Luc had to wait for four months for a significant response from Allied concerning the Laphroaig Fraud
(in fact, he's still waiting) I decided not to wait too long with sharing Flemming's letter with our readers. Just read the letter and draw your own conclusions...
Obviously, I will publish Mr. Andreas' response here as well, should I receive one.
> Entry 209 - January 12, 2005: The Response
Shortly after Flemming's letter was published in MM#12 we received
a response from Mr. Andreas Jacobs, the whisky trader from Germany
mentioned in the letter. Just to refresh your memory; Flemming wrote
about a series of 'Thorne & Sons' bottlings, supposedly bottled around
the year 1900 and valued at 2,000 pounds and upwards - per bottle.
After Dave Broom raised some doubts about the authenticity of these
'Thorne & Sons' bottlings in his article 'Faking It' in Whisky Magazine
a sample of the 'Hazelburn' was sent to the Radiocarbon Accellerator
Unit of Oxford University that also tested some of the infamous fake
Macallans. The test results indicated that the whisky inside the bottle
was most likely from the 1970's - which means that this was a fake.
Here's the response I've just received from Mr. Jacobs;
You asked me for my opinion to the letter you got.
My english is not as good as necessary to explain everything correct, sorry.
- I do not know which bottles are fake and which are no fakes, I think this is very difficult for everyone.
- They tested the Hazelburn and it seems to be a fake.
- I do not sell a Hazelburn on eBay.
- Nobody knows, if all bottles from this edition are fakes or not. That's why they write "seems to be fakes"
- I think I made everything right.
Kind Regards, Andreas Jacobs
Well, we should keep in mind that Mr. Martin Green valued the bottles and expressed no doubts.
So, anybody can be forgiven for assuming these were genuine - except Mr. Martin Green, obviously.
However, since this whole series of 'Thorne & Sons' bottlings seems to have emerged on the market at the same
time as a single 'package', some serious doubts are raised about the authenticity of the entire series as soon as one of the bottles proves to be a fake. Mr. Jacobs writes: 'I do not know which bottles are fake and which are no fakes'.
Hmmm... Something may have gotten lost in the translation here, but that almost seems to imply that Mr. Jacobs has accepted the fact that part of his collection consists of fake bottlings. Hmmmm again...
Anyway, it's certain that there were some serious doubts regarding these bottles.
What's more, Mr. Jacobs has been informed about the results of the radiocarbon testing.
And that's not the only fly in the ointment - Jim Murray and Ulf Buxrud expressed doubts too.
So, you find yourself in the posession of several potentially fake bottlings - what do you do?
A) You have a sample tested and deal with the consequences - like Macallan eventually did.
B) You try to unload them on your customers without any reference to their questionable status.
It seems Mr. Jacobs went for option B.
Of course, like he points out, we do not KNOW these bottles are fakes.
But wouldn't you WANT to know - especially with bottles costing up to more than 1,000 Euro's?
I know I would... And if they indeed turned out to be fakes, the guy that sold them to me would have some serious
and potentially painful explaining to do. But apparently that's not quite how things always work in the whisky world. I
suggested to Mr. Jacobs that it might be prudent to have one of his remaining bottles tested as well and we would be very happy to publish the results, but I haven't received a response yet.
See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil....
Well, OK, please allow me to speak just a little bit evil...
Like I reported before, the 'fakes' problem seems to grow worse and worse.
And that's really not surprising if more traders share Mr. Jacobs' 'laissez faire' attitude.
Well, let me do some prognosticating and paint you a picture of where all this might lead.
With the rising 'fakes' problem working in perfect tandem with the growing discrepancy between the traditional image
of whisky and the harsh corporate realities of today, I predict another crash in the malt market in the future. Which should be fine by me, because then I'd probably be able to buy my malts cheaper again...
(* Check out E-pistle #12/15 for the results of our further investigations)
> Entry 210 - January 14, 2005: Arran
All this talk about 'fakes' reminded me of Ho-cheng's Arran 1982.
And that reminded me of an afternoon dramming session with Andries Visser
of Cadenhead's Amsterdam I had earlier this week. I'll report on that session
a little later, but here are my notes for something very interesting Andries
poured me, an Arran NAS Marsala Finish (56.9%, OB, Bottled 22/10/04).
Nose: Quite gentle, but spicy too. This shows something clearly 'winey'.
Faint dried apples. It opens up a bit with time. Probably the 'richest' Arran.
Taste: Sweet, spicy and a little winey. It really fits the nose like a glove.
A little sweeter with water. This really does quite well on the palate.
Score: 81 points
- yes, it definitely seems Arran is reaching maturity.
Much more interesting than any 'deluxe' Robert Burns edition...
After I returned home I opened an interesting sample Andries gave me.
Officially, the Arran 1yo 1996 Spirit (61.5%, OB, 5cl) isn't whisky because
it wasn't matured for the legally required minimum of three years.
Well, call me a maniac, but that won't stop me...
Nose: Sweet & grainy. Quite pleasant in the front of the nose, but not really in the back.
I was almost enjoying myself for a few seconds, but then it quickly grows dull and fairly harsh.
Taste: Hmmm.... Not too bad at all in the start. Bug, sweet and fruity. Quite harsh in the centre.
This doesn't feel very refined, but for a 1yo spirit it's quite impressive. Reminds me a bit of the Lot 40.
I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised with the start; unfortunately, it falls apart relatively quickly.
Score: 45 points
- although I actually contemplated a score above 50 points for the first few seconds.
And once again I have Andries to thank for a interesting peek into the past through the mists of time...
Obviously, this is the perfect occasion to empty the Arran NAS 'Non-Chillfiltered' (46%, OB) on my bottom shelf. Until I tried two surprisingly decent 'single casks' bottlings for the MM Awards this was my 'favourite' Arran. Considering it managed to reach that position with a score of 67 points, it's obvious that I'm not a fan of the first,
Nose: Flat, grainy and a little sour. This hasn't improved one bit by extensive breathing.
Something metallic? Oil? Based on the nose I'd be inclined to go with a score in the 50's.
Fortunately, it redeems itself (a little) after ten minutes with more organics. Nuttier?
Taste: Slick and smooth - but superficial. However, it becomes pleasantly sweet and fruity.
Score: 67 points
may have been a touch on the generous side in hindsight, but let's leave it.
I have to say I'm not very sad to see this puppy leave my shelves.
But then again this bottling was released some time ago.
Both the 'single cask' bottlings and the Marsala Finish I just tried proved that Arran is slowly growing into a 'mature'
distillery that releases a product that can compete with that of the other established distilleries. Very good news.
After trying the single casks I already increased the 'still score' from one to two stars and the Marsala Finish means
proves that it may earn an extra star some time in the future. For now, I'll have to keep it at two stars.
As long as I was removing bottles from my bottom shelf I decided to empty the Macallan 12yo Fine Oak (40%, OB)
as well. Some breathing (more than three months) clearly has had a positive effect. The nose shows some more
'definition' this time. Subtle fruity notes on a malty base. Still nothing exceptional, but I'm thinking my original score of
72 points may have been just a tad harsh. I had a little more fun on the palate as well. Malty with suggestions of
kippers, liquorice and smoke. A little fruity and quite rough. Subtle beer-like bitterness in the finish. Let's add two more points and increase my initial score from 72 to 74 points
. It's still too subtle and 'bourbony' for me, so I can't really classify it as 'above average'.
> Entry 211 - January 15, 2005: Pigs In Space
Just a few hours ago, the 'Huygens' probe landed on Titan.
It was launched in 1997, together with the spacecraft Cassini
on an international mission of exploration. Poetic beauty!
Malt Maniacs was also launched in 1997 (although not under
that name yet) and our mission is one of exploration as well.
And very much like the Huygens probe, we passed an important
milestone today. Some time ago we decided that there was only
'room' for 24 maniacs on the team - if we kept on growing like we
have done for the last few months, things would simply become
unmanageable soon. And today, we found our last two maniacs.
Lawrence Graham from Canada and... Dave Broom from the UK!
And that's very good news because, unlike Huygens' mission,
our explorations are far from over - they are just beginning!
Ooh... I'm in hog heaven!
Meanwhile, I'd like to pass along a funny joke Olivier Humbrecht just sent me.
As tradition would have it, it's about... a priest and a rabbi... Yes. So, are you ready?
A priest and a rabbi were sitting next to each other on an airplane.
After a while, the priest turned to the rabbi and asked;
"Is it still a requirement of your faith that you not eat pork?"
The rabbi responded, "Yes, that is still one of our beliefs." The priest then asked, "Have you ever eaten pork?"
To which the rabbi replied, "Yes, on one occasion I did succumb to temptation and tasted a ham sandwich."
The priest nodded in understanding and went on with his reading.
A while later, the rabbi spoke up and asked the priest,
"Father, is it still a requirement of your church that you remain celibate?"
The priest replied, "Yes, that is still very much a part of our faith."
The rabbi then asked him, "Father, have you ever fallen to the temptations of the flesh?
The priest replied, "Yes, rabbi, on one occasion I was weak and broke with my faith."
The rabbi nodded understandingly and remained silent, thinking, for about five minutes.
Finally, the rabbi said: "Beats a ham sandwich, doesn't it?"
Aaaah.... It's all in the punchline...
> Entry 212 - January 17, 2005: Cadenheads & Tales
Last week I spent a very enjoyable afternoon with Andries Visser and Leon Elshof
at the Cadenheads store in Amsterdam. We ended up doing more talking than tasting,
but I managed to try some interesting stuff nonetheless. For me personally, sampling
the Enmore 12yo 1991/2004 Rum
(66%, Cadenhead's, Guyana, Bottled March 2004)
was the absolute highlight of the afternoon. What an unexpected surprise that was!
I was already very pleasantly surprised by a 15yo 'Rum Nation' bottling from Wilson
and Morgan and here's more proof that exciting things are happening in the tropics.
Here are my notes for the Enmore; Nose: Big and polished. Lapsang Souchong tea.
Fruity. Tobacco. Maggi. Mint. Spices. Odd but fantastic. Puts most malts to shame.
Taste: Quite unique. Dust & glue. Something fruity. Tobacco. Liquorice. Wow...
Score: 87 points
- the best rum I ever tried (not that I've tried that many).
Oh boy, I never imagined you could find so much complexity in a 'simple' rum.
Also, very different from the Enmore 13yo 1990/2003 (73.6%, Cadenhead's)
that I tried in June 2004 - that one scored 80 points, so 'batch variation'
from year to year definitely seems to be an issue with rums as well.
After I got home from the session I immediately felt the need to have another go
at the Rum Nation Nicaragua 15yo (43%, CLN Nicaragua for Wilson & Morgan) that
fooled many people at a tasting I hosted in November - they thought I had poured
them an 'old school' Macallan.
My first sniff indicated it had improved with breathing.
Nose: Wow! Velpon. Very rich, with the rum character hidden in the back of the nose.
Sweet. Maybe a hint of smoke. Something reminded me of Austrian Stroh '80' rum.
Taste: Sweet and woody. Molasses. It seems almost sherried, but without the 'winey' side-effect.
The smoke and wood grow noticably stronger over time. It has lots of character and a decent finish.
Score: 72 points - although this tastes much more like an ordinary 'supermarket' rum than the Enmore.
The nose is simply amazing, but it betrays its identity on the palate. Maybe a tad too sweet for me.
And as long as I was tasting rums, I decided to try the Sang Som NAS (40%) from Thailand again.
Nose: Herbal - like Jagermeister. Glue. Hint of smoke? Much more character than during my first try.
It's quite sharp, though - every time I try to take a deep whiff I'm punished for it. It dies out very quickly.
Taste: Fairly flat. Sweet. A bit like cough syrup. Very simple. This is not a drink suited to close inspection.
Score: 26 points
- I have to say I'd choose this over the JW Red - if they put a gun to my head, that is...
It's much sweeter than a whisky, but to me that makes it a tad more palatable. Should be good with coke.
Both the Rum Nation and Sang Som scored a bit higher than last time I tried them.
Did the breathing have a positive effect or am I starting to appreciate the unique character?
But hey, with all the talk about rum I almost forgot Andries poured a bunch of interesting malts as well.
The Laphroaig NAS 'Quarter Cask' (48% (?), OB for Friends of Laphroaig, Bottled 24/04/2002, 239 Btl. 20cl) for example. Andries told me that this is a special bottling reserved for the 'FoL'. I'm afraid my memories are a bit foggy.
Nose: Sweet & peaty. Slightly more pronounced and 'rounded' than the 10yo OB, I'd say. Good stuff.
Taste: Peaty and medicinal. Classic Laphroaig. It just seems a little more full bodied than the 10yo.
Score: 87 points - yeah, it seems the friends of Laphroaig indeed receive a special treatment.
Just like the 'Highgrove' I tasted at Whiskyshiff it does indeed seem superior to the normal 10yo.
I have to admit the Longmorn-Glenlivet 15yo 1987/2002 (56.1%, Cadenhead's, June 2002, Bourbon, 312 Bottles) didn't really tickle my fancy. Actually, it was downright disappointing for a 15yo cask strength Longmorn.
Nose: Very grainy - a typical example of a bourbon matured malt. A hint of apple? Opens up a bit.
Taste: Feels really nice at cask strength. Apple again. A little bit dull and bitter towards the finish.
75 points - despite a nice start on the palate it really shows no memorable qualities.
I have to say I'm disappointed - until now most recent Cadenhead's bottlings had character.
The North Port 25yo 1977/2002 (56%, Cadenhead's, June 2002, Bourbon Hogshead, 276 Bottles) wasn't a
disappointment. On the contrary, it earned the highest score of the entire afternoon. And that's quite a surprise; the
two other versions I've tried so far performed poorly with scores of 62 and 70 points. Well, bottling #3 did much, much better.
Nose: Rich. Polished. Gooseberry. Spicy. Sweaty. Organics. Fabulous! Best North Port by far.
Taste: Sweet, Chewy. Big and bold. Very, very impressive for a bourbon matured malt.
Score: 88 points
- overwhelming proof that I shouldn't 'write off' a distillery too soon.
Hmmm... Much to think about before I can finish log entry 200...
> Entry 213 - January 27, 2005: Flu-Id
It seems the flu transforms me into a different person.
I haven't longed for a dram in well over a week. I guess
the symptoms of a good old-fashioned flu overwhelm
those of a more chronic condition like malt mania. Many
people claim that a dram is excellent medicine against
the flu (or at least a great help in forgetting you're sick),
but with my nose even more clogged up than it usually
is, having one of the Ardbegs or Laphroaigs from my
top shelf just didn't seem right to me. And unlike the
bad old days, I don't have any blends on stock...
However, a message from Martine Nouet brought
my malt mania to the surface again. Inspired by her
enthusiastic comments about the Arran 'Marsala' (see
log entry #210) I decided to try another finished 'underdog' single malt; the Edradour 10yo 1993 Sauternes (57.2%, OB, C#04/11/3).
Nose: Cinnamon? Even at C/S, little else comes through.
Taste: Remarkably sweet and fruity, then hot. Feels great.
In my current condition this doesn't seem like a whisky at all.
I love it, though! Great mouth feel. Definitely something 'winey'.
Only in the far back of the finish is there a faint hint of vomit and/or perfume.
Score: 83 points
- I'm not in any condition to change a score right now, so I'll stick with my previous score. Still, it's funny to see how, now that my nose is clogged up, I'm better able to detect small flaws on the palate that were
initially masked by the expressive nose. To me, it doesn't seem radically different from its sister cask 04/11/2 that was submitted to the latest edition of the Malt Maniacs Awards. That one earned a bronze medal, which is particulary
impressive if you know that the lastest 'normal' Pernod Ricard bottles of Edradour 10 have earned scores in the 50's and 60's on the matrix.
Further proof - if we needed any - that finishing isn't a bad thing per se. The interesting thing is that Serge, Olivier
and I tried one of Andrew's Sauternes Finishes as a 'work in progress' at Whisky Live London 2004 and that one -
supposedly finished for around three months - didn't do quite so well as these two versions that were actually bottled in June. It seems that a few more months in the Sauternes cask did the trick, lifting them into
'recommendable' territory. The profile is hardly 'classic', but I personally like this one. Something in the fruity character
reminded me a little of some 'experiments' I sampled in Olivier's cellar in November. Which reminds me that I still have to write a full report about that trip...
But that will have to wait - I still have to do some polishing up on a brand new item on MM.
Inspired by the ongoing discussion about the Thorne & Sons fakes (check out the useful tips from Charlie, Dave and
Ulf about how to identify potential fakes) I decided to collect all confirmed and suspected fake bottles on a Fake Alert page. So far we have investigated seven cases. Please drop me a line if you have discovered another potential fake.
> Entry 214 - January 30, 2005: Tag Your Shovel Day
Interesting... Did you know that today is 'Tag Your Shovel Day'?
No, me neither. But it's as good an excuse as any to do some sampling.
My nose doesn't quite seem to realise that I've recovered from the flu,
but the extra month I've allowed myself to finish phase II of my mission
is coming to an end. I still need to sample 2 new malts to reach 1000.
However, I started with two relative recent discoveries. I've tried both
(relatively rare) malts before but wanted to verify my initial conclusions.
I received the
Teaninich 10yo (43%, Flora & Fauna) via Alexander; the
sample I tried on december 27 might have suffered a bit from oxidation.
Nose: Light; a little malty, a little creamy. A hint of beer - hops maybe?
More like a dark ale than a pilsener beer. Not unpleasant but a tad bland.
Simply not enough 'adventure' for the nose, although it does improve.
Taste: A beer-like bittersweetness in the start. Smooth and shallow.
Not a bad malt, but nothing really stands out. Hint of liquorice?
Score: 74 points - yeah, I think I'll stick with my initial score.
This is too bland and bourbony to reach 'above average'.
I've tried the Teaninich 21yo 1983/2004 (50.8%, Cadenhead, 96 Btl.)
at Cadenhead's - a 18.75cl bottle - and Serge sent me a sample a little
while ago as well. My first impression was very good - the best so far.
Nose: Grapes. Spices. Classy. Sweet. Opens up. Subtle fruits. Lovely.
Taste: Malty. Old. Smoke? Solid, but doesn't respond well to water.
Very pleasant, but maybe just a tad too bitter for my tastes in the end.
Score: 86 points - one point up from my initial score. A good dram.
So, now it's time to pick two new malts from my sample shelf.
I got the Linkwood 13yo 1990/2003 (43%, Jack Wiebers Whisky World, Castle Collection, C#1922) from Alexander.
I picked this one because I'm not too sure about the condition of my nose and I wasn't all that interested in this one.
Nose: Light and quite grainy - very similar to the Teaninich 10yo at first. As I suspected, quite boring.
After a minute some very faint spices emerge. Then something oily and 'farty' as well. Rice crackers?
The oily component definitely grows stronger with time, but so do the organics, adding one or two points.
Taste: Malty and quite bitter. Feels a tad syrupy. No obvious flaws, but nothing to sing about either.
Score: 73 points - quite boring like the Teaninich 10yo, but that one has a sunnier disposition.
This one needs at least fifteen minutes before some sort of personality starts to develop.
That puts the number of malts on my revised Track Record at 999.
Time to make it 1000 with the Aberfeldy 1978/1998
(59.3%, Scott's Selection) from Alexander.
I've already tried a '78/'96 sister bottling that did pretty well with a respectable score of 83 points.
Nose: Aah! The most complex nose of the evening, it seems. Mellow and fruity. Golden Delicious?
Often I get either the skin OR the flesh of the apple in the nose, but here I get both. Drops off.
Some water released some more fruits and organics. Water melon? Canteloupe? Hint of menthol?
I had it at 82 points for ten minutes, but then the dusty fruitiness convinced me otherwise.
Taste: Granny smith? Cidery prickle. Solid centre, sweetening out. Pleasant burn. Good stuff.
Score: 84 points - a good malt, but not quite expressive enough to keep me intrigued for long.
If I'm not mistaken, that puts a 1000 'clean' single malts from Scotland on my Track Record.
It also means I can now finish Report #200 - some preliminary reflections on the mission ahead.
Obviously, I've still got a lot of thinking to do before I've decided on all details of the mission.
The good news is that this Liquid Blog will keep you apprised of any thoughts I might have...