Single malt whisky - tasting notes

11 Jan 2010

Master of Malt

Posted by: Ruben Luyten In: * News

Master of Malt | whisky Master of Malt is an online whisky retailer with a proud heritage of over 25 years. As a web designer, I can assure you that their online shop is technically the most advanced whisky shop I’ve seen on the web. Their range may not be the largest, but prices are competitive and delivery is pretty fast, even to uncommon destinations.

Apart from their catalogue of regular whisky brands, they also have their own range of independent Master of Malt bottlings. Most of them are highly rated in the latest Whisky Bibles, which made me eager to review a selection of their offerings.

I’ll be reviewing five Master of Malt bottlings: a Bowmore, Arran, Tomatin,  Tamnavulin and an undisclosed Speysider. In the meantime, have a look at their online shop.

Master of Malt Ruben Luyten 2010-01-11
  • http://WHISKYhost.com WHISKYhost

    I echo your sentiments on the quality of their website. I purchased the Autumn 2009 release Kilchoman from them and was very impressed with every level of their site.

    Looking forward to reading your reviews of their releases.

    Cheers,
    Jason @ WHISKYhost

  • Charlie

    They also offer the international delivery service which is very good for me!

  • http://scotchhobbyist.com Jeff H

    Excellent timing! I had just asked them about their own bottlings, and they said the Arran is very good. Looking forward to your thoughts…

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  • aw

    Wish they would remove the “Out of Stock” whiskies from the website though. My heart missed a beat when I spotted they had the Bruichladdich 1970 for a great price – only to notice that’s, yes, out of stock.

    Actually I remember this happening before, and that’s why I avoid their website normally.

  • http://www.whiskynotes.be Ruben

    You’re right, that can be frustrating. But at least they mention “in stock”, “out of stock” and even “limited stock”. I’ve ordered from other (really well-known) stores that don’t mention anything and only tell you after ordering!
    I agree that real-time stock indications would be better of course. I’ve implemented it myself for a number of shops, but until now I haven’t found whisky shops who offer that.

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  • http://www.masterofmalt.com Justin

    Hi Aw,

    I share your frustration – my hopes have been raised many times only to be dashed after scrolling down to discover the dreaded “sold out”.

    You wouldn’t believe the number of discussions (arguments) we’ve had about how to treat out of stock items on the site.

    On the one hand we, like you, would prefer that out of stock items didn’t get in the way while we’re looking for something to buy. On the other hand, quite a lot of the lines which are out of stock at any one time do come back very quickly, and even discontinued lines often come back into stock briefly a few times a year as we come across them in the open market.

    If we remove pages, even for malts which are unlikely ever to be available again, all the associated content including images, bottling notes tasting notes will also be lost. A lot of people have said they find these pretty useful, so we’re loathe to completely remove them.

    So, we don’t want them getting in the way and we don’t want to ditch them completely – the answer, we hope, is to make a couple of simple changes to how the site works, adding a visual cue to each whisky in any list to indicate its stock status – “In stock”, “Low stock”, “Temporarily out of stock”, and “Gone but not forgotten” – as well as adding an button to simply suppress all out of stock items across the site.

    What do you guys think? I’d love to know, and of course if you’ve got any ideas then please don’t be shy!

    Cheers,

    Justin / http://www.masterofmalt.com

  • http://www.whiskynotes.be Ruben

    The real difference is indeed between a commonly available item that is temporarily out of stock (let’s say a batch of Glenfarclas 105 that wasn’t delivered on time) and a Brora 30yo 2002 release that you normally won’t find any more. At the moment, both have the same status which may be confusing.
    Royal Mile Whiskies has a library of “dearly departed” whiskies. The information is still there, they attract visitors through search engines and they are browsable in a specific part of the website, but they don’t show up while searching in-site or browsing through the regular catalogue. I guess that’s the way to go if you don’t want to ditch all the data.

  • http://www.masterofmalt.com Justin

    We can flag up items which are permanently and temporarily out of stock differently to reduce the confusion, but I would be worried about segregating the two groups as RMW does because if you are just browsing for information it’s quite annoying to have to perform two searches.

    What about a filter which defaults to hiding the permanently out of stock whiskies, but that can be changed to show them? My feeling is that if something is likely to be back in stock within a couple of days it probably still belongs in the list by default.

    I’m afraid we sold our last Brora 30yo 2002 a couple of days ago so that’s got an “out of stock” next to it as well now :-(

  • http://www.whiskynotes.be Ruben

    You seem to be convinced people are looking at shop websites to find general information about older bottlings. I don’t think that’s the case (not for me at least), because commercial websites only tend to have very general information and the official tasting notes.
    The idea of hiding out of stock whiskies by default (with the possibility to show them if you want) seems perfect to me.

  • http://www.masterofmalt.com Justin

    Perhaps my view is skewed by what we’re trying to achieve… We actually look at the MOM site as more of a neutral platform than just a shop – we always taste blind and don’t censor reviews or comments.

    The idea is that by not trying to push an agenda, but rather just giving people unbiased information they can trust, they’ll end up buying things they actually like, and hopefully come back to us again next time ;-)

  • http://www.masterofmalt.com Justin @ Master of Malt – Whisky Shop

    Hi Guys,

    You’ll be pleased to hear we’re now suppressing out of stock items in most categories (although you can still get to them via the search if you want to).

    We’ll be adding filtering so you can un-hide them again if you want very soon as well.

    Cheers,

    Justin

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  • Roberto Sikora: This is really a great, great bottling. One of my favourite Littlemills so far... :-) Thank you, Ruben for this review!
  • george: i see you have tried st magdalene and say it is harder to find i am a collector of st magdalene and i have 40 bottles i am selling these date from 196
  • sjoerd972: I wish the guys at Bushmills would demand the labels to say "Northern Ireland" so we didn't have to speculate on the booze's origins.

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1600 notes by Ruben

WhiskyNotes - Ruben LuytenThis blog is my personal collection of impressions, written while searching for the ultimate single malt whisky.