Single malt whisky - tasting notes

30 Nov 2011

Malt Maniacs Awards 2011

Tasting notes by Ruben Luyten - Posted in * News

Malt Maniacs AwardsThe Malt Maniacs Awards 2011 have just been announced. See the score card at

A rather classic result I would say. GlenDronach single casks, Karuizawa, old Strathisla, Port Ellen… they’ve all won gold medals before and we all know how great they can be.


Here’s the full line-up of gold medals:

  • GlenDronach 1972 cask #712GlenDronach 39yo 1972/2011
    (49.9%, OB, Oloroso Butt, C# 712, 466 Bts.)
  • Karuizawa 1981/2011
    (55.2%, OB, C#2634, Btl. 12/08/2011)
  • GlenDronach 39yo 1972/2011
    (54.7%, OB for Taiwan, PX C#2033, 450 Bts.)
  • Lochside 46yo 1965/2011 (52.3%, Adelphi, Limited, Blended Scotch Whisky, 499 Bts.)
  • Strathisla 1970/2011
    (43%, G&M Licensed Bottling, 514 Bts.)
  • Strathisla 1965/2011
    (48%, G&M for LMdW, 1st Fill Sherry, C#3473)
  • Port Ellen 28yo 1982/2011
    (60%, Wilson & Morgan, C#2011, 534 Bts.)
  • Glen Grant 59yo 1952
    (49.2%, G&M Book of Kells, C#1134)

Update: here’s the full jury report.


A few of my personal observations…

First, surprisingly, the most experienced tasters weren’t in the jury. I’m not sure what the effect has been and whether there has been an effect at all. Would be interesting to recalculate last year’s results without those three members. See below.

Second, I think the gold medals are all relatively unknown. I mean, they’re not part of the daily buzz and discussions I’ve seen on forums or blogs or among enthusiasts. Most of the things that everyone was raving about, haven’t even entered the awards. And some of the winners (including the GlenDronach) have been on the shelves for months with low interest (and now suddenly everyone will look for them). Just an observation.

Third, nice to see the same whisky enter twice (two bottles of Talisker 30yo). Great consistency for most tasters. Less so for PD and RM who almost invert each other’s scores… but excellent proof for the reliability of this competition.


Update: our friend Bastien did some recalculations and pointed out that last year’s awards would have been quite different without Serge, Johannes and Davin. Five out of 12 gold medals (Glenfarclas 40, Caperdonich 1972, Port Ellen PE2…) would have been degraded to silver. Karuizawa 1977 Noh would have been the overall winner with the GlenDronach in sixth place! Thanks again Bastien, this confirms our feeling that the preferences of the jury are a major element in any competition!

Malt Maniacs Awards 2011 Ruben Luyten 2011-11-30
  • MARS

    The main problem is the price of these bottles!
    They are awfully expensive (even for most of us). I relentlesly bought the glendronach 1972 cask 712 (thanks again to andrew for the sample) given the price. It is still available at some place but at 400/450€ it is understandable (I paid +-350€ and found it awfully expensive for what it is).
    2 bottlings (at least) are only available in asia, so it’s normal we never hear of them!(who even knew the glendronach who won last year existed before it won?)
    I have heard a lot of buzz around the lochside and would have bought it if it wasn’t so expensive(but I can understand as it’s really old, rare and the distillery is closed).

  • Mark Dermul

    I was also happy to learn ‘our’ Macduff 2000 ( won a silver medal! :)

  • Ruben

    True. One of the best value for money whiskies up there!

  • Gal Granov

    again i must agree.
    sure bottles at 400 EUR and up will be winners.
    but only 0.0000001% of all single malt drinkers will ever taste let alone buy one.
    not to speak of the whisky drinking public.

  • Teun

    But isn’t that precisely why the MM have different categories? Because they are well aware of the price of a bottle? And I totally disagree that every bottle at 400 euro and up will be a winner. More expensive does not mean better quality. Sure a lot off 400+ bottles will be excelletn. But there are not so many 400+ bottles. There are however an awefull lot afordable bottles, so also a much bigger range in quality.

  • Michael

    And many of those “every day” bottles got higher scores, from some judges, than the expensive ones (Caol Ila 12YO is one of the examples). What really made me think was a 13 point score spread on the same whisky (Talisker 30YO 2010) but two separate samples, It was the same judge who felt so differently about the same whisky. We are taking about Gold Medal vs “no award at all” difference.

  • Ruben

    Hmm if you don’t trust the Maniacs who rated the same Talisker 30 very differently, you shouldn’t trust that excellent score for Caol Ila 12 either 😉

    Look I’d like to challenge anyone to try 171 samples and give the exact same score to two identical drams. I don’t think I could. These things happen and are not necessarily a proof of unreliable assesment abilities. All tasters have one “off” score or another, something they liked much more than all the others. It’s still a good system but you should try to identify your personal ‘compatible’ Maniac(s) and rely on these scores more than the others. Cognac lovers know who they should follow 😉

  • Michael

    You are right Ruben (although 13 points difference like this makes me think). I have definitely clarified for myself whom I can trust. Unfortunately some Maniacs that I trusted did not score this year. I was hoping that you would be a judge one day :-)

  • MARS

    The glendronach is still available at whiskysite for 379€. And I have seen a few botlle even cheaper!

  • Martin

    I have to agree with Michael here. 13 Points is a lot. If you rate it different by some points ok, but 13? And there are two judges with rated the Talisker different with 7 points. In my opinion this is still alot.
    But, if you look at the average score, it kind of evens out. And i guess thats the good thing with having 10+ Judges.

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November 2015
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Coming up

  • Lindores 2015 festival bottling
  • Amrut 2009 (cask #2701)
  • Glenlivet 1981 (#9468 for TWE)
  • Lagavulin Distillers Edition (2015)
  • Talisker Distillers Edition (2015)
  • Laphroaig 32 Year Old
  • Glen Grant 65yo 1950 cask #2747 for Wealth Solutions
  • Mortlach 1959/1960 (G&M Royal Wedding)

1930 notes by Ruben

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