Whisky books

In chapter 7 I already gave you some ideas on how to spend your money on malt whisky.
How much you want to spend on your first experiences is entirely up to you, but if you're
anything like me you'll soon find yourself going back for more - and then yet some more...
When you choose your bottles, keep in mind that age doesn't improve everything.

Hey - What are you still doing here? This section of Malt Madness is strictly for beginners!
And after working your way through nine chapters of trivial trivia about single malt Scotch
whisky (and hopefully a few bottles as well) you can no longer claim to be a 'beginner' in
the whisky world. But before you go off gallivanting through maltland (and the rest of this
website) there are just a few last bits of wisdom and experience I'd like to share with you.

I personally prefer the 12yo Balvenie Doublewood over its 15yo sibling for example.
An older whisky isn't necessarily 'better' than a younger one; especially if you're not too
fond of the very pronounced woody character that some older malts get after spending
twenty years or more in an oak cask. Although older doesn't always mean better, most
of the time it does equal a considerable financial bloodletting - so caution is advisable.

Is it worth it? Well, that's not for me to decide - it all depends on the size
of your curiosity and your wallet. My advice to all you 'beginners' out there
would be to start with some more reasonably priced single malt whiskies.

That will enable you to develop a frame of reference for the future.
After you've discovered what type of whisky you like, you can safely
splash out a bit. And when you're splashing out, make sure not to
judge a book by its cover - and don't judge a bottle by its 'niceness'.
The bottle and label might be nice, but the whisky itself might not be.
So, some 'research' before running to the liquor store could be wise.

Whisky casks


At the end of each of the nine
chapters of the 'Beginner's Guide'
I have included a few suggestions
for 'recommended reading' about
that topic. I'm not a book worm
myself, but there are a few books
that have increased my enjoyment
and understanding of whisky a lot.


Main Segments

Take Cardhu, for instance. It comes in a wonderful kitschy bottle, but it isn't the best whisky available for that
kind of money. The bottles of Aberlour 10, Laphroaig 10 or Talisker 10 may look fairly plain, but the malt whisky
inside is great! So, don't be swayed by the looks of a sexy bottle - you may find that the whisky inside doesn't
have the character & sophistication you had expected. So, don't trust your eyes, but trust your nose & tongue.
After all, personal taste is still the main factor. All malt whisky is 'good' - but do you like it?

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With some pages on MM
going back to the 1990's,
some information will be
'out of date'. But I take
great care to keep the
main site sections like
the mAlmanac updated.

To cut a long story short: in the end this 'essential guide' did
little more than inspire me to start working on an alternative;
the Advanced Beginner's Guide in PDF. That means that you
can print it if you want. Read my review if you want to know
if I was satisfied with the 'Essential Guide to Scotch Whisky'.

After all, the information provided in this 'Essential Guide to Scotch Whisky' was based on 'personal experiences & insights of experts in the field' - so I might even learn something. Well, that convinced me to order a copy immediately. Besides, if I ordered quickly I could be one one the 100 people to receive the 'special must-have bonuses' - six whisky tasting mats in PDF format with a value of 19,95 dollars. I was mostly curious about the identity of those 'experts in the field' and what they could teach me, but I can't resist a nice bonus.

Tamdhu Scotch whisky

Well, you'll understand that such claims sting a little if you've spent thousands of hours on trying to build a website with the best independent information about single malt whisky possible. And because the very first pages of Malt Madness were published in 1995, some information is bound to be 'out of date'.
I've take great efforts to ensure that information in sections like this Beginner's Guide, the Distillery Data section and the mAlmanac is as up-to-date as possible, but with hundreds of pages something may have slipped through. And the 'glaring errors' they mentioned had me worried as well.
So, I decided to invest the unfriendly price of 29,95 U$ Dollars - just to check my facts.

But apparently that 'amateur' status disqualifies me from spreading the good word - at least
according to some people. Just when I was halfway through my umpteenth revision of this guide,
one of the other malt maniacs pointed me towards a commercial website that contained some
dire warnings about the efforts of hundreds of people like myself. It says:
'DO NOT believe everything that you read about scotch whisky - particularly on many of the websites
on the internet which are compiled by well intentioned amateur enthusiasts and which can contain
glaring errors or "out of date" information.'

Aberlour 10 years old Scotch whisky

In that case I have to assume that you are not an 'absolute beginner' anymore and tried a few
different (malt) whiskies already. Excellent! And what's more, the fact that you're still reading
proves that you'd like to learn more - just as I predicted at the beginning of this guide ;-)
Well, in that case you've come to the right place.
At least - if you trust information provided by 'well intentioned amateur enthusiasts'...

Alternatively, insecure beginners could try
to trust someone else's senses. I guess
you could try to teach your dog how to
smell your whisky for you, but in this case
I was thinking more along the lines of
trusting the noses & palates of the
certified malt maniacs and/or myself.
Just browse around the rest of the
Malt Madness site for scores & tasting
notes on thousands of malt whiskies
(along with scores) if you are indeed
still a novice in the whisky world.

Whisky wisdom

When I wrote an update of this Beginner's Guide
in 2007 there were more than 2,000 different
single malt Scotch whiskies on my 'Track Record'.
I guess that means I'm not exactly a 'beginner'
anymore, but I still feel there's a lot left to learn.
I will try to pick up my voyage of discovery through
the whisky world in the Advanced Beginner's Guide.
That guide won't be very useful for the absolute
beginners who haven't tried a few different malts
yet, so I would like to strongly encourage you to
go out and try a few drams before proceeding...

Whisky wisdom


Íf you haven't tried at least a dozen different malts by now I'd say: you need some practice...

... What? Are you still reading instead of increasing your 'malt mileage'?

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