Is there such a thing as a bad single malt?

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Iain
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Is there such a thing as a bad single malt?

Postby Iain » Sun Mar 05, 2006 4:59 pm

This is a topic that developed in the thread in Whisky Chat, re "Now THIS is potent!!" Deserves a thread of its own, perhaps?

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Muskrat Portage
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A bad single malt?

Postby Muskrat Portage » Sun Mar 05, 2006 5:17 pm

Iain:
Had to run (electronically" to catch up, I just posted a thank you for you in the old thread. I have a friend from Glasgow who has a delightfully pragmatic way of commenting on life and can almost hear him saying exactly what you write.

There probably is a bad single malt out there, I seem to remember reading about one where the bung cloth had deteriorated yet was tolerable. Luckily I haven't met one yet, although from your comments Druguish may be a candidate. I also have a Signatory Islay (possibly a 5 yo Lagavulin) which verges on 'indifferent" or worse yet ,is a good example of a whisky bottled too early to use as a baseline for tasting.

Glen Breton from Canada is not worth the cover price, at least not at present and "Robbie Burns" from Arran may be yet another, as it didn't thrill many at it's unveiling here in Muskrat Portage last year.

So there may be bad malts out there and this thread may well winnow the chaff from the wheat, er... barley. Luckily I haven't met one yet... Although I have another 34 years of tasting to meet up with one.
To paraphrase the words of Mae West "I haven't met a whisky yet I didn't like". Eh!

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Paul A Jellis
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Postby Paul A Jellis » Sun Mar 05, 2006 6:04 pm

Yes. I've had some bad single malts, most of them claiming to be fantastic.

For a start anything under £20 must be a bit suspicious (unless it's a special offer).

I'm not sure if you want us to start naming names, but if you do there is a certain distillery which, 5-10 years ago, was releasing some fantastic expressions, but in recent years they seem to have lost their way. Maybe the whisky they bottle now is not 'bad', but just seems that way to those of us who can remember the way it used to be. I think they would win a 'Silly wood finish of the week award', if there was such a thing! Good expressions are available, but they are from independent bottlers, like Signatory, not from the distillery.

Who are they? I think you know.

Cheers

Paul

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Postby Lawrence » Sun Mar 05, 2006 6:35 pm

This post has been transplanted from the other thread;

It's true about Drumguish, it was certainly hard to take at one point but hopefully now that they have an older malt to work with it will improve. I too noted the off note of rubber and was quite put off.

I had a sample of Edradour on New Years day 2005 and it was so soapy I couldn't drink it. However the two fellows I was sharing the dram with couldn't detect any soapy notes at all. It's curious what some people note and others don't.

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Muskrat Portage
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Edradour going further off topic...and back

Postby Muskrat Portage » Sun Mar 05, 2006 6:46 pm

Lawrence wrote:...I had a sample of Edradour on New Years day 2005 and it was so soapy I couldn't drink it...

Lawrence:
I've got both a 10 yo expression picked up on 19 July 2004 as well as a 1989 C S that I could send samples of if you'd like. Do you remember what "vintage" it was that the soap evinced itself? The 1989 is delightful I've drained one and this is my second which I am afeared of opening lest it follow the regretful demise of the first.

I revel in the Edradour and want to make sure I don't acquire one of these, yet it may be too late. :oops: Perhaps I'd better open it... :shock:x 2 :!: Thanks for the info. Musky. P.

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Postby Iain » Sun Mar 05, 2006 9:33 pm

MP, JM's comment on Dunglas is:

"Classic butyric (baby sick) qualities and something else besides: soapy beyond belief."

His score of 17 puts it in his "Nothing short of absolutely diabolical" class.

I think we can agree that JM is one person who considers Dunglas to be a very bad single malt!!

Has anyone else tried it?

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Postby Mr Fjeld » Sun Mar 05, 2006 11:15 pm

I think there are single malts that are definately bad! But like everything that has to do with taste it's relative. I don't like the standard Ledaig very much but I'm sure someone treasures it.

Christian

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Postby Frodo » Mon Mar 06, 2006 3:30 am

Glen Parker. I wish someone would put a finish on it and see what happens...

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Postby Lord_Pfaffin » Mon Mar 06, 2006 5:07 am

One has to wonder how some whisky ever made it to the shelf of any retailer and moreover was there ever any so bad that it didn't make it out of the distillery warehouse?
There are alot of inapproprietly priced whiskys (good reason for a discussion forum) and i feel this is degree of the same thing.
My point being that if the stuff tastes like terpintine and is approprietly priced, no harm no foul; yet if the price doesn't reflect the negative quality thats reason to feel ripped-off.
I have been disappointed maybe a little ripped-off yet i have managed to avoid any major losses.

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Postby Mr Fjeld » Mon Mar 06, 2006 6:22 am

Lord_Pfaffin wrote:My point being that if the stuff tastes like terpintine and is approprietly priced, no harm no foul; yet if the price doesn't reflect the negative quality thats reason to feel ripped-off.

That's a fair point. In my/the case of Ledaig NAS it equals 0,81 on the Johnny Walker Black price index! Not too bad then!

Christian

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Postby kallaskander » Mon Mar 06, 2006 8:48 am

Hi there,

is a bad whisky one which gets the majority vote? What about the minority voting on same said whisky then?

We run into the same old dilemma again here. Personal taste is not a good ground for discussing categories like "good" or "bad". I would say that there is no bad whisky. Why would I do that? Because I find the young Ledaig and its twin with the sherry finish not a hammer whisky but quite drinkable. The same with Littlemill 8 years. I have tasted them and will not go on and stock my cellar with them but I did not find them as catastrophic as they have been described here frequently. And I did offer a glass of Loch Dhu to a friend of mine to show him what in my opinion is a whisky the world does not need. He really liked it!
There are whiskies I love and whiskies I don´t have to try again, let alone buy a bottle. But that does make a whisky bad or good in my own reference frame. Let us agree on a common reference frame for judging whiskies and then let´s pass the Oscars around.

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kallaskander

kallaskander
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Postby kallaskander » Mon Mar 06, 2006 2:21 pm

Hi there,

"There is no such thing as a bad whisky. Some whiskies just happen to be better than others."
-William Faulkner

Just rediscovered that. Sums it up nicely for my taste. Isn´t that quote the signature of one of us here?
:wink:

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kallaskander

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Postby MGillespie » Mon Mar 06, 2006 5:13 pm

Paul A Jellis wrote:
For a start anything under £20 must be a bit suspicious (unless it's a special offer).



Paul, I'd have to respectfully disagree with you on this, in terms of that being an absolute guideline. Your 20-pound guideline translates to about $35 US, and there are a number of good single malts priced below that. Dalmore's 12-year-old routinely sells for around $30 or less in many US cities, and it's a very good single malt. Malt Advocate named it the Best Buy among single malts this year for that reason. In addition, Balvenie's 10-year-old (when it's available) is available for $30-35 in many places, and I just picked up an Aberlour 10 for $26.99 (not on sale).

It's true that price can often be a guide to quality, but it shouldn't be the only factor.

Mark

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Postby MGillespie » Mon Mar 06, 2006 5:16 pm

Kallaskander, as usual, your thoughts on this are excellent. Each person's senses are quite different, and what one may regard as excellent is another person's dreck. I've moaned about Loch Dhu dozens of times, but for some people, it may be an excellent choice. I like the Faulkner quote...

Mark

Iain
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Postby Iain » Mon Mar 06, 2006 7:50 pm

I appreciate these arguments against the notion of a "bad" whisky. But as MGillespie implies, surely the same arguments could be made to say that there is no such thing as a "good" whisky!

Re the £20 marker - I have often found Glen Grant 10 in Oddbins stores at anything from UK£15-18, and I reckon it's very good Speysider. And (as I've enthused elsewhere) I enjoyed Lidl's Ben Bracken 12 (£12.99), which we're told is actually from Tamnavulin. Both are "better" than some single malts at over £20 - imho of course :D

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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Mar 06, 2006 8:56 pm

Just because someone likes it doesn't mean it isn't bad. Lots of people eat at McDonald's and Domino's.

I've had stuff from a really tired cask that I thought should never have been bottled. Yes, it's all very subjective, but I feel quite sure that there is plenty of bad whisky in the world. And I would disagree that if it tastes like turpentine, it's okay if it only cost £5. It's still a waste of £5.

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Postby MGillespie » Mon Mar 06, 2006 9:06 pm

Yes, but your turpentine may be someone else's paint thinner! ;)

Mark

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Postby Lord_Pfaffin » Mon Mar 06, 2006 9:36 pm

MrTattieHeid wrote:Just because someone likes it doesn't mean it isn't bad. Lots of people eat at McDonald's and Domino's.

I've had stuff from a really tired cask that I thought should never have been bottled. Yes, it's all very subjective, but I feel quite sure that there is plenty of bad whisky in the world. And I would disagree that if it tastes like turpentine, it's okay if it only cost £5. It's still a waste of £5.


Yes, however if you were foolish enough not to think that you could get anything else but bleck for that price then you deserve the turpentine. :wink:

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Postby Iain » Mon Mar 06, 2006 9:44 pm

"There is no such thing as a bad whisky. Some whiskies just happen to be better than others."
-William Faulkner

Just for info - does anyone know if Faulkner drank much single malt Scotch? I'm not sure I'd value his opinion above Jim Murray's on this question!

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Postby Photon » Mon Mar 06, 2006 10:40 pm

Iain wrote:"There is no such thing as a bad whisky. Some whiskies just happen to be better than others."
-William Faulkner

Just for info - does anyone know if Faulkner drank much single malt Scotch? I'm not sure I'd value his opinion above Jim Murray's on this question!


"Well, between Scotch and nothin', I suppose I'd take Scotch. It's the nearest thing to good moonshine I can find."
Another fine Faulkner quote

-P.

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Paul A Jellis
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Postby Paul A Jellis » Mon Mar 06, 2006 11:39 pm

Paul, I'd have to respectfully disagree with you on this, in terms of that being an absolute guideline. Your 20-pound guideline translates to about $35 US, and there are a number of good single malts priced below that. Dalmore's 12-year-old routinely sells for around $30 or less in many US cities, and it's a very good single malt. Malt Advocate named it the Best Buy among single malts this year for that reason. In addition, Balvenie's 10-year-old (when it's available) is available for $30-35 in many places, and I just picked up an Aberlour 10 for $26.99 (not on sale).


I didn't say they were bad - just suspicious. I agree, Dalmore is a superb malt and one of my favourites, but it costs me £25 a bottle in the UK, Balvenie 10 is £21.50. Aberlour 10 is the exception that proves the rule - at £19.90.

It's very disconcerting that these whiskies are cheaper abroad than in their country of origin.

Cheers

Paul

kallaskander
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Postby kallaskander » Tue Mar 07, 2006 9:42 am

Hi there,

right Ian if there is no bad whisky then there is no good whisky either. That goes to show the whole point of such a discussion. We in this forum here are a select group of enthusiasts. The other 99% of the world population have no idea what the question means even (I am speaking figuratively, do not take the figures too serious).
That means that the question whether there is a bad whisky or not can only be asked with meaning here in a forum like ours. :roll:
That is what Ludwig Wittgenstein would say, I think.

Greetings
kallaskander

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Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Tue Mar 07, 2006 6:04 pm

I reckon that you have to conclude that there are good and bad single malts. Whether it is liked or not is not the question. We all can follow a football team and see them win (happy days) and say it was a great win but still say it was a bad game. Not a very good analogy but I hope you see where I'm coming from. Whisky as a preference is very subjective and I think that a scientific approach may be the only way to judge good from bad and basically it is a technicallity. The quality of the distilate as opposed to the taste. Is the soapy taste in some whiskies due to bad distilling??? I don't know? but it also can be a selling factor to some individuals. One mans rubbish is anothers treasure :wink:

Interesting subject but for me there are bad malts out there.

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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Mar 07, 2006 6:13 pm

Iain wrote:"There is no such thing as a bad whisky. Some whiskies just happen to be better than others."
-William Faulkner


This bloke's havin' a larf ain't 'e? :shock: Has the fool ever tried Ledaig(weedkiller) Sherry (vinegar) finish????????? :evil:

:lol:

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Postby Frodo » Tue Mar 07, 2006 6:22 pm

I've had the Ledaig 15 OB and I was quite impressed. Overpriced IMHO, but a good dram. IB's can be all over the place I would think...

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Postby Iain » Tue Mar 07, 2006 6:57 pm

Sorry K, you've lost me with all that Witty stuff.

I've clearly misunderstood the logic of the language, as the great man might have written (or meant to have written, if you get my meaning...) :? :?

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Faulkner & kallaskander ... sages both?

Postby Muskrat Portage » Wed Mar 08, 2006 12:38 am

kallaskander wrote:Hi there,
"There is no such thing as a bad whisky. Some whiskies just happen to be better than others."
-William Faulkner
Just rediscovered that. Sums it up nicely for my taste. Isn´t that quote the signature of one of us here? :wink: Greetings kallaskander

Kallaskander:
Thank you! I didn't realise that Faulkner was such an insightful man. :D

Now the whole purpose of having a forum is so people can posit ideas and others consider their response to said concepts in their own leisure. A forum that acts as an Early Warning System for indifferent or inferior whisky is to be highly praised for those of us with limited access and funds to acquire whisky, as well as other whisky mavens.
Iain, thank you for this forum, I have already gleaned much from your initial reaction to my perception of a humourous signature.
Musky P.

kallaskander
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Postby kallaskander » Wed Mar 08, 2006 10:25 am

Hi there,

Chaser, Ian, of course we can watch a soccer game and see if a team plays well or not. But only if you know something about soccer and a have an understanding what´s it all about. If you don´t care and don`t know why it is only 22 men running about on a perfect mowed lawn. That is the same with whisky. If you do not drink whisky on a regular basis and do not care for alcoholic drinks at all, why all single malts will be bad in your opinion. No matter which one and how expensive.
I had a Glenlivet-Minmore 35 years from Cadenhead Chairmans Stock. I found it too woody. That bottling is not cheap the whisky after all these years exceptionally good. But I do not like it.
It is a matter of reference. A malt or a blend can only be good or bad in reference to other malts or blends. I refuse to compare malts with blends because they are in two different classes. And that is the reference to Wittgenstein who wrote a tractate about meaningful questions and meaningful answers.

Greetings
kalaskander

Iain
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Postby Iain » Wed Mar 08, 2006 10:52 am

Indeed K. I am a football fan, and watch Scotland. You will not be surprised to hear that I have seen what I consider to be bad performances from my team.

I am a whisky fan. Likewise, I have tried (only a couple) of sms which I consider to be bad whiskies. Only my opinion, of course. But based on what I know about sm whisky, and my experience of drinking sm whiskies.

Other folks on this forum have hasd similar bad experiences (very rarely, of course). I read of folks who poured a bottle of sms down the sink - surely no one would do such a thing unless he or she considered that whisky "bad"!

Re misunderstanding and logic - I'm not Ian, by the way :?

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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Mar 08, 2006 1:00 pm

I think that there are a number of factors to consider when judging the quality of a whisky:

(a) what is the whisky setting out to achieve
(b) what value do we attach to the aims of the whisky
(c) how successful is the whisky in achieving its aims

(d) how strong is the nose
(e) how strong is the flavour
(f) how long is the finish

(g) how complex is the whisky
(h) how well balanced does the whisky feel
(i) how easy is the whisky to drink

These are just some of the factors, and they are obviously subjective. But I think it should be obvious that a whisky with no clear aims, weak flavours, poor balance and a fiery burn is not very good.

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Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Thu Mar 09, 2006 6:05 pm

Iain wrote:
Re misunderstanding and logic - I'm not Ian, by the way :?



No but you are Ian with an extra i for Whisky :lol: :mrgreen:

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Postby kallaskander » Fri Mar 10, 2006 10:36 am

Hi there,

sorry, just overlooked the second i Iain.

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kallaskander

Iain
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Postby Iain » Sat Mar 11, 2006 11:57 am

No problem - I've made far worse slips of the keyboard than that!

I only mentioned it as there is or was a "real" Ian contributing to the forum.

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Postby BruceCrichton » Mon Mar 13, 2006 8:18 pm

Paul A Jellis wrote:Yes. I've had some bad single malts, most of them claiming to be fantastic.

For a start anything under £20 must be a bit suspicious (unless it's a special offer).

Paul


Not necessarily. There are a few good malts out there for £20 and shop's own stuff is usually under £20 and there are a couple of goodies out there, in that range.

Tobermory 10 is my pick for a dire malt and any Ledaig I've had has been foul. I had Tobermory, in my first whisky festival, and my notes had a five letter word, beginning with s and rhyming with night. It had the weird taste combination of being both smooth and disgusting. :?

Iain
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Postby Iain » Mon Mar 13, 2006 8:46 pm

From that description, Bruce, I take it that you agree that there is such a thing as a bad single malt whisky? :)


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