8:44 AM : Right. The day I've been waiting for. Ardbeg Day! Since we had already picked up our distillery bottles of the Perpetuum we decided to take it easy and get to Ardbeg by 11:00 AM
Ardbeg Day – My final day on Islay.
11:15 AM : Arrive at Ardbeg to much fanfare and a lot of activities. Games, an ice bar, Ardbeg ice cream, Ardbeg flavored smoke machines, sheep throwing and a live band all added to a really festive atmosphere at the distillery. Pretty awesome if you ask me. Only thing was they were selling all the drams instead of free sampling. But, oh, well.
1:30 PM : Attended the lovely Warehouse Tour where we got to sample the Very Young and a 31 Year old Single Cask straight out of an unmarked bottle. I had goosebumps simply tasting the spirit. Gorgeous!
Picked up two more Festival bottlings (the silver seals) - when will I learn that enough is enough!
2:45 PM : Made our way to Laphroaig to see if there were any tasting spots available. After much begging managed to secure a place on the Premium Tasting tour. And what a tasting that turned out to be!
3:15 PM : Attended the Premium Tasting tour with a lovely gentleman by the name of David who took us through some mighty fine Laphroaigs. First a 15 year from the 200th Anniversary release, then the 2014 25 year old, the 2009 Cairdeas, then the 2008 Cairdeas and finally the jewel in crown a single cask 18 year old cask strength brought over from the warehouse not 30 minutes before we sat down for a taste.
I have to tell you this was one of the most amazing tastings I've had ever. Brilliant!
5:30 PM : Made a pit stop at our favorite watering hole, the Ballygrant Inn, for a taste of the Kilchoman Festival Release. I'll share those notes with you shortly. Let's just say this distillery is living up to it's reputation of producing brilliant whiskies!
7:45 PM : Ended the day with a quiet dinner at Port Charlotte Hotel accompanied by a Smokehead Extra Black 18 and a Bruichladdich Cuvee 640
All in all this was a wonderful day and my last day on Islay before I fly out. This has been one of the most wonderful trips I have been on experiencing some of the most wonderful whiskies to come out of this tiny island.
I hope you've enjoyed reading this small diary as much as I've enjoyed writing it.
For connosr.com this is the Malt Activist signing off. See you all next year for Feis Ile 2016!
8:12 AM : Woke up rather late thanks to a late night session of tasting samples collected during the day plus an impromptu screening of Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels in the family living room! Got dressed and rushed out for our Kilchoman Distillery Tour.
Kilchoman, Bunnahabhain & Caol Ila – another busy day
10:00 AM : If there's a distillery to tour I feel it should be Kilchoman. Given that they are only 10 years old it is very interesting to see how they've managed to marry good old fashioned whisky making with a modern approach to business. Quick tour given the size of the distillery ending with a couple of drams. The 100% Islay and the 2015 Machir Bay. Begged to have a sip of the Festival release but it was all sold out.
2:00 PM : After dropping a mate off to the airport headed to Bunnahabhain for their open day. Had to wait for 30 minutes in the freezing wind before getting on the bus to take us their. And let me tell you it was well worth it.
2:30 PM : Entered the distillery to much fanfare and music. Food stalls, beer stands and live music helped set the mood for a wonderful whisky event.
3:00 PM : Hand-filled three gorgeous whiskies straight from the cask into the bottle. What a lovely experience that.
Dipped the valinche straight into the casks and pulled out a seven year old 2nd fill, a peated eight year old 2nd fill and a 12 year old first fill Oloroso sherry matured whisky straight out from the cask.
All cask strength and all full of woody particles from the cask. Doesn't get much purer than this. And each one a delight to drink. Probably my best day on Islay so far!
4:45 PM : Stopped by at Caol Ila for a quick look. Super quiet with not a lot happening. Didn't buy the festival release. Still thinking about it.
5:30 PM : Stopped by at the Ballygrant Bar on the way back home and had a taste of the now sold-out Lagavulin Festival release. A very strong whisky. Super bold expression.
Nose: Burnt toast. Char. Smoke. Vanilla. Custard. Citrus. Lime. Oysters. Fruitier over time. Pears. Lemon sorbet. Opens up with some water.
Palate: Spicy. So spicy. The 59.9% really makes it self feel. That same vanilla and custard that I found on the nose. Lemon tart. Burnt toast. Charred fruits. With water it becomes more lemony. More fruitier. Certainly more palatable.
Finish: Long. Very long. Spicy. Lime. Clove.
Great finish to the day! Looking forward to my last day on Islay tomorrow and visiting my favorite distillery - Ardbeg!
7:09 AM : Decided to stay in a bit after two days of fairly non-stop whisky drinking. Woke up to the sun streaming in through the window. 'What a glorious day this is going to be!' I said - just before it started raining sideways! I can understand why the Scots are so frustrated all the time!
Day #07 of my Feis Ile diary
11:25 AM : Decided to head on over to Lagavulin for a distillery tour. Nice to be inside one of the most iconic distilleries on the island. The tour took an hour. Could have been faster, though, in my opinion. But still really nice. Got to put our noses in the washbacks! Ended with a dram of the Lagavulin Double Matured.
12:50 PM : Had an awesome idea to drive over to the Kildalton Cross (six miles from Ardbeg) and open up my 1981 Ardbeg Kildalton. What a dream come true that was. Such a lovely whisky and so full of flavor. I can understand the obsession people have with this distillery. Add to that the surreal landscape and setting of the Kildalton Cross and you'll realize how special that moment was.
2:15 PM : Drove up to Bally Grant Inn for a Douglas Laing tasting. Got there a bit early so decided to have a go at the SMWS Feis Ile bottling of the Bowmore 17 year old. What a gorgeous whisky that!
Nose: Lots of toasted barley. Touch of peat. Hint of char. Toasted papadum. Smoke. As the smoke rises the honey comes through nicely. Still quite savory as the honey is mild. Jute bag. Black salt.
Palate : Black pepper. Honey. Bananas. Rum toffee. Butterscotch. Berries. Hint of dark chocolate. Cinnamon. Lovely mouth feel. Everything feels nice and toasted.
Finish : Quite long. Oak. Spices. Touch of chocolate.
2:30 PM : After the SMWS it was time to sit down for the DL tasting. Had six interesting drams from their collection. Have a look at the pictures below!
4:45 PM : Still not done we thought it was a good idea to taste the Douglas Laing Festival Release. A single cask Laphroaig 14. What a stunning dram that! I'll share the notes on that a bit later but let me tell you it was my pick of the day!
6:54 AM : Good morning Islay! What an awesome first day we had! Apart from all the whiskies there is something just so calming about this country side. Finished rather late last night thanks to my house mates.
Bruichladdich, Bowmore, Kilchoman & Jura!
There is a Belgian couple and a couple of Swiss guys staying at the farmhouse with us. Which mean that the conversation inevitably moved to who makes the best chocolate! We all agreed that the Swiss do good milk chocolate while the Belgians are awesome at dark. Thrown in the mix was the 2014 Ardbeg Supernova to keep things lively!
8:00 AM : Stepping out now to go and visit the legend Jim McEwan at Bruichladdich. More on that in a bit.
9:30 AM : My friend organized a chat with Bruichladdich legend Mr Jim McEwan. What a legend this guy is. Made time for us simply to chat and talk about some of his whiskies and experiences. Treated us to the last drop of the 30 year old Bruichladdich. An honor to share a dram with this man! And what a dram it was.
11:00 AM : Got to Bowmore and was greeted with the longest line of people trying to purchase the Feis Ile bottling I have ever seen. Longer than Laphroaig. Decided against buying the Festival release so sauntered around the distillery ogling at some of the insanely expensive whiskies on display.
12:00 PM : Decided to head on over to Kilchoman for a quick bite to eat and organize a distillery tour. Took a really nice tasting for just five quid which included three really nice Kilchomans. The 2015 Loch Gorm, the Original Cask Strength and the Single Cask Cask Strength. Lovely whiskies all three of them.
1:00 PM : Sat down for some food at their cafe. Decent food but the highlight of the day was the warm brownie covered in Machir Bay with a scoop of ice cream. Just divine.
2:13 PM : Back at the farmhouse for a quick fresh up before heading over to Jura. It's been raining since morning so I hope we can still make it across in the ferry!
3:30 PM : After a perilous journey on the ferry we make it to the Isle of Jura for a quick tasting.
4:00 PM : Experience a truly innovative pairing - Jura whiskies with craft beer. Some lovely little beers in there. Lovely to taste and worked beautifully with the whiskies. Ended up tasting a single cask / cask strength Jura which has no name!!!! Just pulled it out out of the cask for the tasting. They didn't even know how much ABV it was. Gorgeous!
4:45 PM : Tasted the 18 year old Tastival - funny name that! - from Jura. Not entirely a bad whisky. It tasted even nicer when paired with the craft beer. Lots of chocolate banana and pineapple. Hint of peat. It's pretty decent if you ask me.
9:00 PM : Enjoying the end of the day with my whisky house mates!
5:13 AM : Lord knows I'll do anything for whisky. Including waking up at ungodly hours to catch a nerve wracking bumpy flight to Islay. Time to get ready.
7:00 AM : Need something to calm the nerves. Deciding between a Bloody Mary and a tall glass of orange juice. I think I'll have both. Just in case.
8:30 AM : The only part of the trip I'm not really looking forward to. Getting on this dinky little plane. But hey, a man's gotta do what what a man's gotta do.
2:00 PM : Just finished visiting Laphroaig and managed to pick up the 2015 Cairdeas which is a lovely dram! Managed a couple of tastings while we were there. Sampled the (yet unreleased) Laphroaig 21 which will knock your socks off!! Amazing whisky. Also tasted the new Cask Strength 10 Year Old Batch 007. Very nice. Though I feel they missed a trick there by not doing something with England's most famous spy. But I will let their Marketing department worry about that!
3:00 PM : Decided to stop over at Ardbeg for a quick look and lunch. But more on that later!
4:15 PM : Checked into our farmhouse. Now going to go and sample the Laphroaig Cairdeas sitting outside in the Islay chill.
Nose: Typical Laphroaig iodine and sea weed. Hint of char. Quite sweet though. Some white fruits. Touch of honey. Nicely layered.
Palate: Hint of peat. Quite sweet. There's a pineapple citrus to it. Vanilla. Custard. Both sweet and salty at the same time.
6.30 AM : Just landed at Heathrow's T5 and making a massive dash to Gate A11 to catch my connection to Glasgow. Border control is quite friendly. The chap gets even more chatty when he finds out the purpose of my visit to the UK is to basically drink lots of whisky. Turns out he's Scottish. Almost miss my connection thanks to his curiousity.
Caol Ila Day
9:00 AM : Check into my hotel on Hope Street in Glasgow. This location is fantastic! Just opposite Central Station with The Pot Still just around the corner. I'm tempted but even I know it's way too early for a whisky!
11:30 AM : Head out for a traditional Fish & Chip breakfast at a nice pub called The Sir John Moore. Absolutely massive pieces of haddock. Absolutely deep fried. Decide to chase it down with some interesting lagers. Had one which was brewed in Prague called Staropramen and another that was proudly Russian - the Baltika. Very tasty the both of them.
2:00 PM : After much walking around the City Centre sit down for some really tasty ciders from Sweden.
3:00 PM : Head back to the hotel for a quick nap. The last 20 hours of traveling and drinking beers have finally caught up.
8:00 PM : Rested and showered. Now heading out to the famed Pot Still bar to find my self a Caol Ila. Happy Caol Ila Day !
11:10 PM : What a great first day in Glasgow! Sauntered over to the famed Pot Still Bar - all 600 whiskies of it! Started the evening with a G&M Cask Strength Caol Ila. Distilled on 8th December, 2004 and bottled at an impressive 60.1% on 13th February, 2015 - so a fairly recent bottling.
Nose: Mild peat. Soft honey. Very sweet. Like a honey dew melon. Hint of milk chocolate. Like a Dairy Milk bar. Digestive biscuits. Green apples. Eucalyptus. Hint of of spice.
Palate: Woah! The cask strength really shines through. Savory spices. Like crashing head first into a spice cabinet. Clove. So much clove. Never experienced so much clove in a whisky ever!
Finish: Long. Oaky. That clove again.
Beautiful whisky this. The cask strength really makes an impression!
One of the most important events in the whisky calendar is starting imminently. The legendary Feis Ile on the island of Islay. If you haven’t been, you’ve no doubt dreamt about going. And if you have been, you’re no doubt dreaming about your next visit.
Tabarak Razvi AKA @MaltActivist: Our man on Islay!
We suspect many members of the Connosr community will be there this year. What we know for certain is that Tabarak Razvi, more familiar to you as @MaltActivist, will be there. He has offered to compile a festival diary for us. Frankly, how could we turn him down?!
Check back here over the coming days to catch up with his dispatches. Good people of the Connosr community, allow us to introduce... Our man on Islay!
With Connosr approaching its 5th birthday, we are pleased to announce that a major overhaul of the site is planned during 2014. This will be a complete rebuild of the site from the ground-up, a task which - as we are sure you will appreciate - is a significant undertaking. We’re calling the project "Connosr Reboot" and we want to hear your thoughts and ideas.
Over the coming weeks we will be announcing further details as we finalise a ‘roadmap’ for this update and future development.
Naturally we've reviewed the site, analysed the functionality and looked at the user journeys. We’ve assessed the creative and aesthetic qualities of the site. And we've taken into account the changes in web technology - particularly the emergence of mobile and tablet devices - and shifts in best practice since version 1.0 of Connosr was launched back in 2009.
We will be addressing the known issues which have been reported in the discussion areas in the past and generally improving the site in every way we can. Broadly speaking our objectives can be broken down as follows:
Refresh of the Connosr brand
Better mobile and tablet support
Enhanced profile management features
Better social media integration
An overhaul of the whisky database with improved listing of new whiskies and brands
Better presentation of statistical data
Support for more user generated content and media types
Improved site performance and stability
Additional 'social' features and community moderation
Let's hear your thoughts
Before we finalise our plans we want to ask you for your input. So, what improvements and functionality would you like to see on Connosr?
How could we make the on-site experience better?
What tools would make the site more useful?
How could we increase user engagement and participation?
What features would you like to see?
All ideas and suggestions will be considered - no matter how "blue sky" the thinking is - they may not all be included immediately but it's much easier to plan for new features at this stage so let's hear your ideas.
We'll be updating you throughout the redevelopment process and will be asking you for your input, hopefully involving some of you in the testing process, so if you're interested in assisting on any level please let us know.
We've developed a new area of functionality on Connosr which, it's fair to say, has been in the pipeline for a while. So it is with great pleasure that we announce the beta (that means the phase where you all get play with it) of 'Whisky Lists' a new tool that allows users to create, customise and share lists based around whisky.
Whisky Lists - are what you make of them.
At Connosr HQ we love making lists - Jean-Luc's desk is covered with them (mostly geeky stuff) and Pierre's lists are all about whisky (mostly bottles he can't afford to buy or distilleries he wants to visit) - so we thought it would be cool to include lists in the core functionality of Connosr and give them a fun twist by allowing users to customise their appearance.
So, make of them what you will: 'The Best New Releases of 2012', 'My Top 5 Peaty Whiskies', '10 Craft Distilleries You Should Check Out', 'The Most Unpronounceable Scottish Distillery Names', 'The 10 Best Whisky Movie Moments of All Time' ... you get the idea, they can be serious or fun but we're happy as long as they're about whisky.
As many of you will be aware Connosr co-founded an exciting new 'Music & Whisky' festival in 2011 which took place across two days in September and brought together some of the finest bands and whiskies known to man.
James Yorkston performing at Pure Festival 2011
The event, which took place in London, was a great success garnering praise from the press, whisky industry and festival goers alike (and we were even nominated for Best New Festival at the 2011 Festival Awards!)
It's fair to say that we had a lot of fun setting the event up, meeting some lovely people along the way and introducing a whole bunch of music fans to the wonderful world of whisky! Some of you helped out over the weekend and a few even travelled from as far afield as Seattle to be there - which was a great honour for us.
We founded the festival with music and brand partnership specialists, Brand New Music, and when they approached us last month to take a 100% controlling stake in the event it was an offer which was too good to turn down. With plans for further development on Connosr, and Whisky Marketplace growing week by week, this also ties in nicely with our aim to focus our efforts online for the second half of 2012.
So, thanks to everyone who supported the event in 2012, we'd like to wish the very best to Nick McEwen at Brand New Music as he builds on the success of last year's event and takes Pure Festival to great new places.
Our whisky search and price comparison engine Whisky Marketplace is expanding to reach international markets with a series of new localised sites now launched.
Whisky Marketplace expands to international markets
The beta which was released late last year allowed users to search all the top UK whisky retailers from one place, however, we have now opened the doors for international whisky retailers to get listed. The new localised sites deliver results in local language and currency.
Down the line we hope to list the best whisky retailers from each country so no matter where they are in the world we can help whisky lovers find the best whiskies at the best prices.
Our good friends at Clubhouse Records - the UK's leading Americana label - are holding their Christmas shindig over at Proud Camden, London, on Sunday 11th December. It's a free event with some fantastic bands and to top it all Connosr's Pierre Thiebaut will be there pouring whisky samples.
Christmas at the Clubhouse
Free music and free whisky - what's not to like?
Bands include Two Fingers Of Firewater // The Cedars // Benjamin Folke Thomas // The Rosellys // The Hi and Lo // The Dreaming Spires // Dylan Walshe // The Epstein
Edited by Dominic Roskrow World Whisky Review is a new bi-monthly online magazine dedicated entirely to the people, whiskies and distilleries from countries outside the traditional whisky producing nations of Scotland, Ireland, Japan, the United States and Canada.
Dominic says, "This magazine is a labour of love and stems from the extensive work I've done first as Editor of Whisky Magazine and then as a freelance whisky writer. I've visited many of these distilleries, spoken extensively to the whisky makers and shared their passion for whisky. In my capacity covering world whiskies for Whisky Advocate I believe I'm in a great position to cover their world."
We recently launched a public beta for the latest addition to the Connosr family, Whisky Marketplace, a whisky search and price comparison tool.
Whisky Marketplace - the whisky search & price comparison site
The idea is simple - search for a whisky on one easy to use website and get results from all the top online retailers.
The 'beta' version (which means we are still actively testing and developing it) includes results from 10 trusted UK retailers, all being well we plan to roll out international versions in due course.
Finding what you want on Marketplace is quick and easy. Just type than name of the bottle or producer and the results appear instantly. It couldn't be simpler, for example Glendronach 15 year old revival
If your requirements are a bit broader, for example you have a budget in mind or you want a whisky of a specific age, vintage or bottling date, then you'll find the advanced search very helpful.
This allows you to search within various ranges using simple sliders, for example whiskies priced between £70 - £100 or age 20 - 30 years old.
Some folks know what they like and have no need to shop around, if that's you and you already have a go-to retailer you can still use the advanced filters on Marketplace to specifically search their catalogue.
Just choose your favourite whisky retailer from the drop down menu at the top of the page, you'll be surprised what gems Marketplace will help you discover.
Here at Connosr we are on a mission to bring whisky to a wider audience and so we are proud to announce our new whisky and music event - Pure Festival 2011 - at the Relentless Garage in Islington, London, on the 24th and 25th September.
Well respected whisky writer Dominic Roskrow will also be on hand to give you a chance to try some of the World Whisky Masters medal winners - featuring amazing, and hard to find, whiskies from around the world.
Exhibitors confirmed so far include Ardbeg, AnCnoc, Whyte & Mackay with more to be announced in the coming days. Tickets are on sale now through HMV at just £28.50 per day.
The WhiskyPod hits the road again this week and we're heading to The Black Bottle Merchant City Cocktail Challenge in Merchant City Square Glasgow. If you live in or around Glasgow why not join us at this free event?
Whisky mixology with Black Bottle
Black Bottle Blended Scotch Whisky will be hosting the first ever Merchant City Festival Cocktail Challenge presented by BBC’s River City’s Reanne Farley. A number of Merchant City bartenders will be competing in this special event, participating bars include Metropolitan, Rab Ha’s, Mercado, Maggie May’s and Ingram Wines. The bartenders will be creating two cocktails, one being a twist on a classic and the second an original.
You'll be able to come and mix your own cocktail in a special bar in the WhiskyPod. Black Bottle will be giving free t-shirts to anyone who tries their hand and there will be a prize for the best performance. Free cocktail, a t-shirt and 90 seconds of fame… what's not to like?
The event runs from 6.30 on Friday 22nd July. See you there!
The WhiskyPod is hitting the road, heading for the picturesque Glengoyne Distillery, and we want you to join us to taste some exceptional whiskies.
VIP Distillery visit to Glengoyne
Connosr, in partnership with Glengoyne, are bringing the WhiskyPod to Glengoyne Distillery on Friday 1st April 2011. This will be a free event to Connosr members. A VIP tour of the distillery will be followed by a tutored tasting of the core Glengoyne range plus two VERY special, once in a lifetime, whiskies. There will also be a special discount in the Glengoyne shop for the evening.
In return you can tell us what you think about the whiskies in the WhiskyPod.
Places are limited so if you'd like to join us please enter the ballot for a place at this exclusive event. We'll be drawing names from a hat on Monday 14th March.
Following the success of its debut appearance at The Whisky Show 2010 our video review booth - The WhiskyPod - is back by popular demand as we hit the road in 2011! First stop... WhiskyLive London on the 4th and 5th March.
The WhiskyPod hits the road in 2011
Can't make it to the London show? Well you're in luck because we'll also be at WhiskyLive in Glasgow and Dublin later in the year!
Distillery WhiskyPod events
As well as covering these stellar events we'll also be running some exclusive WhiskyPod sessions with some of Scotland's finest distilleries. This will give you, the Connosr community, the chance to attend fantastic free tasting events to sample some of the finest whiskies the distillers have to offer. All you have to do is tell the world (or at least the camera) all about the whisky in your glass.
We'll be announcing details soon, but, just to whet your appetite we thought you'd like to know that our first distillery event will be at Glengoyne - watch this space for more information.
Site search has been high on our wish list for quite some time but, with an ever growing mass of lovely content on the site (thank you folks!), the need for a full featured search facility has never been greater.
New site search functionality on Whisky Connosr
So today we launched the Public Beta of Connosr Site Search which allows you to search across all the different content categories on our site.
You should now be able to see the new search box in the top right hand corner of the page but you can also reach it direct via www.connosr.com/search
Here's a little breakdown of the new search features:
Quick Search: as you type into the global search box a dropdown menu displays the best matching result for your query. You can either click directly on a result from there or hit return to go through to the full search results page.
Live update: the results on the main search page update as you type. If it's good enough for Google its good enough for us ;) give it a go!
Spelling suggestions: common spelling mistakes are picked up, good for those who can't remember how to spell Lephroyg
This is just the first phase of development for our search platform and we have a number of improvements in development:
Sorting: being able to choose how the results are sorted for example; most commented, most owned, highest rating
Full text search: being able to search deeper into discussion or comment threads for word matches
We've been using search to navigate the site for the last couple of weeks and (without wanting to pat ourselves on the back) we've found it pretty darn useful. There is always room for improvement though so let us know what you think, how you are using it or how it could be improved.
Following the introduction of our new scoring system we are pleased to announce the amnesty period for re-scoring your existing reviews. You will be able to edit your review for the next 30 days.
Whisky scoring amnesty starts now...
What should I do now?
You can change the scores of existing reviews by two methods - simple scoring and advanced scoring. For more information on this see this post.
Please use this time to update your review scores using the new scale. If you wish, you can choose advanced scoring to add more detail.
To update a review rating click the "Edit review" button under the review listing on your profile page - as shown below.
What shouldn't I do?
In the interest of consistency and for the benefit of other members who have commented on your reviews - or folks who are linking to your review from outside the site - please don't use this as an opportunity to re-write history.
Maybe you feel differently about a whisky now, or perhaps you feel that your palate and experience have given you new insights into it's flavours? If that is the case, and you would like to completely reappraise the whisky, please submit a new review.
For this reason, we haven't allowed you to alter the original text. So, if you are updating a score, please ensure that the new rating makes sense in the context of the review.
Are there any exceptions?
If you have a burning desire to change a review and have good reason to do so, get in touch with us and we'll see what we can do for you.
Your new scoring system, as previewed here a few days ago, is now live and ready for use.
The new scoring 100 point scoring system
It has been clear for some time now that - for various reasons - the old star rating system wasn't granular enough for critiquing whisky at this level. This update has been some time in development and our final solution is the result of many "back to the drawing board" moments here at Connosr HQ - we do hope you like it.
So, star ratings are now a thing of the past as we have now upscaled to an entirely more flexible 100 point system.
Reviewers have the option to use either 'Simple' or 'Advanced' scoring.
'Simple' scoring allows you to choose a score out of 100 with an easy to use sliding scale - we have provided some visual indicators to encourage consistency where possible, without telling you how to evaluate the whisky (we like to leave that up to you). The markers are broadly based on accepted international whisky scoring standards.
'Advanced' scoring also works on a 100 point scale but allows the reviewer to break this total down into marks out of 25 for Nose, Taste, Finish and Balance.
The other area where the new system has been applied is the detailed cabinet view. Only the 'Simple' scoring method is available here.
An amnesty period will be allowed for those of you who want to adjust your scores - we will be announcing some guidelines for this over the next few days.
After the amnesty period is over some normalisation of the data will be applied algorithmically where scores have not be updated.
As always we look forward to hearing your thoughts.
2010 was a busy year for Whisky Connosr and it's fair to say that, in the second half of the year, one of our primary goals was getting Connosr Distilled off the ground.
Doc Brown - nothing to do with our new dock.
2011 see's our focus move back to the network with a number of updates and improvements scheduled for launch over the next month, and a clear road map for development throughout the year - some small, some fairly significant.
So for the first in a round of usability updates, you may have noticed that we have added a new toolbar - or "dock" - which is anchored at the foot of the page.
The main function of this new feature is to provide a browsing history for the pages you have recently viewed within the site. The "Just viewed" tab on the dock will self-populated as you navigate, this should make it easier for you to click between pages of interest.
In addition the second tab on the dock - "Shout out" - reacts to your activity on the site and makes it easier to share updates via Facebook and Twitter.
On the right of the dock is the new home for the "My profile" and "Logout" links - soon to be phased out from the header with the next round of improvements.
The new dock can, of course, be collapsed into an unobtrusive slimline version by clicking the close button. So if it's not to your liking it won't impact you too much :)
We hope you like this feature - as always we're happy to hear your thoughts and feedback.
Just in time to join in the festive fun here on Connosr - we are pleased to announce our latest distillery profile for Glengoyne.
Glengoyne Distillery on Whisky Connosr
Glengoyne are one of the few Scottish distilleries to use completely unpeated malt at their beautiful - some say it's the most beautiful - distillery at Dumgoyne close to Glasgow. And the distillery isn't the only attractive thing about Glengoyne, the malt is pretty stunning too.
Reading through the Glengoyne reviews here on Connosr, it's clear that their whisky is very highly thought of by those in the know, though not exactly a household name. Glengoyne are starting to achieve the wider recognition they deserve but if you haven't checked them out yet a good place to start is over at their new profile.
As 2010 draws to a close there's just enough time to squeeze in one more dose of Connosr Distilled. The third edition 'The Christmas Issue' is now online.
Connosr Distilled Issue #3
Top billing this time around goes to Cooley, we travelled to Ireland and a found a distillery run by a passionate and innovative team of people who have put Cooley at the heart of a renaissance in Irish Whiskey - watch the film over here.
Multi-award winning Irish distillery, Cooley, have launched a new profile on Whisky Connosr www.connosr.com/cooley
Cooley Distillery on Connosr
Proudly independent and 100% Irish owned, Cooley Distillery was founded in 1987 by John Teeling & his associates. Innovative and ambitious, in a short space of time Cooley has gone on to become a great Irish success story, gaining worldwide recognition.
Cooley will be the featured distillery in the upcoming issue of Connosr Distilled so stay tuned. In the meantime why not drop by their profile and say hello?
In January 2010, after weeks of heavy snow and record low temperatures, four feet of densely compacted snow covered the Glenfiddich distillery roofs, which housed hundreds of casks of fine aged whisky, gently maturing in semi-darkness.
Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix
On the evening of 7th January, in the most remote part of the distillery estate, a number of warehouse roofs dramatically collapsed under the weight, leaving the maturing oak casks exposed to the night sky. In wintery conditions and temperatures of -19ºC, distillery staff swung into action, working round the clock to clear the snow.
Glenfiddich Malt Master, Brian Kinsman, commented: “Standing amongst the wreckage and exposed casks, we were working out our next steps and assessing the situation. I was thinking about how the casks, some of which were very old, contained some beautiful whisky and it occurred to me that they would create a fantastic non-aged single malt. A limited edition bottling from the whiskies in the damaged warehouses would be an appropriate way of celebrating the pioneering spirit of the distillery team at this moment in Glenfiddich’s history.“
“A photographer was shooting the scene and rather fittingly, when we looked at the pictures, the light shining through the warehouse roofs looked like a phoenix rising above us. I suppose this was the moment of conception of Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix.”
Snow Phoenix was created by marrying together natural strength and non-chill filtered casks of different ages and finishes, including American oak and Oloroso sherry.
You can view some video reviews of Snow Phoenix from the WhiskyPod here: review 1 and review 2
All the videos have now been uploaded to the WhiskyPod, so this seems like a good time to thank everyone involved.
Just one "wall" of videos from the four on offer
A big thank you to the organisers of The Whisky Show for inviting us to be digital partners. We'd also like to thank the distillers who drummed up support for the pod - two or three of you managed to be particularly persuasive (you know who you are!).
But most of all thanks to all of the whisky fans at the show for their reviews - we really couldn't have done it without them.
We had a fantastic time and it was great to meet so many Connosr members. The only downside was that we were so busy with the WhiskyPod we didn't get to taste as many of the amazing drams on offer as we'd have liked too!
1:30am back at Connosr HQ after a busy first day running The WhiskyPod. We're having a couple of drams and reflecting on an amazing day, during which we've caught up with some old friends and plenty of new ones.
With just a few days to go before the Whisky Show 2010 in London it's the perfect time to tell you about our digital event at show. The WhiskyPod is a video review booth where visitors to the show can review their favourite dram.
The WhiskyPod at the Whisky Show 2010
Throughout the two days we'll be uploading video reviews to our WhiskyPod page over at www.connosr.com/whiskypod - as they happen - so even if you can't make it to the show you can still experience some of the buzz.
If you are coming to show make sure to drop by. Here's how it works:
1) taste some drams at the show
2) pick a favourite
3) grab a glass of it
4) head on over to The WhiskyPod
5) record a 60 second review
Simple. We hope to see you there, if you haven't bought your tickets yet they're still available over at www.thewhiskyshow.com
Following the success of the first issue of Connosr Distilled we are delighted to announce the launch of issue 2. This edition features video interviews with John Glaser of Compass Box and Jean Donnay of Glann ar Mor.
Furthermore, there's the first in a new series of articles on the lost distilleries - this issue featuring Glenugie. For our latest competition we've gone one better - there are two amazing competitions.
Boutique whisky maker Compass Box are the latest whisky producer to join Connosr.
Compass Box Whisky on Connosr
True pioneers, Compass Box are one of the most exciting whisky makers to emerge in recent years. They create wonderful blended whiskies - with components sourced from Scotland's finest distilleries - crafted meticulously by John Glaser who uses some truly innovative and ground breaking techniques.
Connosr were honoured to be invited to the unveiling of a new Balvenie expression - who wouldn't be? So we duly made our way to a rather swanky Islington venue where we encountered a few surprises.
Hmm... smoky Speyside!
Walking through the door we couldn't help but notice that what appeared to be a large sand pit had been placed in the room. On closer inspection it turned out to be full of barley.
After an entertaining and lively introduction from Andrew Forrester, the Balvenie ambassador, we were encouraged to climb into the replica malting floor to get a feel for the raw materials of whisky production.
And so it was that we found ourselves sharing a dram and some conversation, with various whisky aficionados, whilst ankle deep in grain. We found this curiously pleasurable - so much so that we are thinking of installing one in Connosr HQ for our Friday afternoon meetings.
But Dr Forrester hadn't invited us there simply to bury ourselves in his barley pit, he wanted to share something far more exciting - a peated Balvenie expression. And rather wonderful it is too. Even better, we got to take a dram or two of Balvenie Peated Cask 17 year old away with us. We're going to spend a little time exploring its delicately smoky charms a little further then we'll let you know what we think in more detail.
We're delighted to announce that Whisky Connosr have been chosen as digital partners for The Whisky Show 2010, the UK's foremost luxury whisky tasting event.
The Whisky Show 2010
The show - which returns to London on 29th & 30th October - will once again present the finest examples of whisky from around the world. As digital partners, connosr.com will be bringing the show to life online as well as providing a unique interactive consumer experience at the event itself.
Our exclusive digital event will enable everyone at the show to take part. We'll be asking whisky fans to take centre stage as we elevate whisky critiquing to new heights.
Watch this space for more details in the run up to the event. In the mean time if you want more information on The Whisky Show please visit www.thewhiskyshow.com/2010.
To celebrate the launch of their new website www.glenfiddichexplorers.co.uk, Glenfiddich have been sending out mysterious locked wooden caskets - following the buzz on the whisky blogosphere we were delighted to receive one.
Cask strength Glenfiddich!
Once we'd figured out the combination we opened the box to discover a limited edition bottle of cask strength 15 year old Glenfiddich Solera. So thank you to Glenfiddich!
But the good news doesn't end there because you too can have a chance to benefit from Glenfiddich's generosity. Just head over to Glenfiddich's new site where you can explore a virtual distillery warehouse, have the chance to open a barrel and win its contents - from bottles of the whisky to private tasting sessions with Malt Master Brian Kinsman - there is even the chance to win a £3000 adventure of a lifetime.
In an exciting new development for the community, we're pleased to announce a set of upcoming features which will bring a new depth of content to Whisky Connosr.
Coming in July - Connosr Distilled
Earlier in 2010 we surveyed you - our members - to find out a bit more about what you want to see on the site.
The response was clear; more editorial features; closer access to whisky producers; and rich video content. Well, we're bringing you all of these things and more.
Launching in July, Connosr Distilled, is our free online whisky magazine packed with features; video content; competitions and giveaways; interviews; views from a range of expert panels; and guest articles from the community.
Here's a sneak peak of what's coming up on Connosr Distilled.
Watch this space for more on our new whisky magazine, issue 1 out in July. If you'd like to contribute as a guest writer in future issues please get in touch.
Connosr Partnerships allows whisky producers the chance to get involved on the site, bringing you insider insights, exclusive content, and closer access to distillers and bottlers.
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society are the first in a number of Connosr Partners which we will be announcing over the next month.
SMWS - The Scotch Malt Whisky Society
SMWS are members - just like you - but their new profile has features which are tailored to whisky producers. This is chance for you to start a dialogue with bottlers and distillers, if you want to find out more about what they're up to you can now 'follow' them on the site.
Commenting on user profiles
Lastly, as part as a new round of updates we plan to able commenting on individual user profiles, this means will be able to write a message on your buddies' - or you own - profile page.
We hope you enjoy these latest additions to Whisky Connosr as they are rolled-out, as always we're keen to hear your feedback.
Not for it's accomplished assessment of the whisky - I don't think it's going to have Jim Murray shaking in his boots - but for the quirky use of metaphors, "Palate: kissing a mermaid, the mermaid of your wettest dreams. You've just learned how to breath underwater and you can stay with her forever."
And any review that compares a long finish to "the piano reverberation at the end of 'A Day In The Life' by The Beatles - the first time you ever heard it" is a winner in our books.
A few big shouts
Big mentions on Lifehacker, Mashable and a front page appearance on Digg saw a few big spikes in traffic and gave Jean-Luc a couple of sleepless nights as our inaugural (and somewhat temporary) server creaked and groaned under the strain.
A set of events which both boosted the membership of the site and at the same time gave us a big impetus to upgrade our infrastructure.
100 not out
Nothing whatsoever to do with bemulleted cricketers from the 1970's, but much more about prolific Belgian whisky reviewers.
Special mentions go out to Markjedi1, who reached his 100th review recently and shows now signs of slowing down just yet, and WhiskyNotes who is well on his way to a century himself.
A big thanks to everyone who has contributed reviews and tasting notes over the course of the year - it's the life blood of the site, an important and ever growing aspect of the community.
If you build it, they will come
Lastly - watching the community grow. Without you there is no social network, no community, so its you guys who have made Connosr a nice place to be, where every new user is given a warm welcome - no matter what their level of knowledge or experience with whisky.
Its that time again when the world holds its breath in anticipation of arguably the greatest sporting tournament of all. As a curtain raiser England played Mexico on Monday night - their last home game before the World Cup Finals start.
Whisky tasting fun at Wembley Stadium, hosted by Connosr
Connosr were delighted to be invited to Wembley Stadium on this balmy evening to host a whisky tasting event for the premium seat holders at Club Wembley.
We were joined by SMWS who provided some excellent whiskies and we'd like to thank them, and all the new friends we made at Wembley, for helping to make it a very successful night.
The football wasn't bad either - Mexico play a very attractive game but, in the end, were beaten 3-1 by England.
Whoever you are supporting in the finals we'd like to wish you the best of luck.
Whisky scoring has been a hot topic on Connosr recently. We've been following your feedback with great interest and saw this as a good time to share some of our plans for this area of the site.
Whisky scoring, never use an abacus. Image by ansik.
A recent discussion on whisky scores prompted some passionate responses from across the network; and whilst we know it's going to be hard to please everyone, we're committed to developing the best possible platform for this community and being responsive to your suggestions is a big part of that.
Before we go into the details we'd like to reiterate that users from all levels of experience are welcome (and encouraged) to contribute reviews on this site and, whilst the current scoring system is limited, we don't want to over-complicate things so that less experienced users feel intimidated. However, this is just one of many considerations.
How things stand
There's a general consensus that the current 10 star rating system (even with half stars considered) doesn't offer enough scope for granular scoring, especially for those who approach the reviewing process from a 100 point scoring system. For example, the difference between a whisky scoring 86/100 and 90/100 is significant but both would register as 9/10 when converted to the 10 star system.
Here's the thing, there is no single accepted standard for scoring whiskies. Jim Murray has his own system, as do the Malt Maniacs and so does Whisky Magazine and nearly every other whisky publication; what is clear is that all scoring is subjective and the key to interpreting those scores lies in understanding the reviewer, so context is very important. Within a community driven site like this, with hundreds of contributors, you're going to find many different approaches.
With all this in mind, we have a number of updates planned for the coming weeks.
There are two main strands for this work; firstly to provide more scoring options and flexibility when writing reviews (whilst keeping the user journey as simple as possible); and secondly improving experience for users when reading reviews.
More scoring options
When a user writes a review they will be able choose their scoring method via a simple set of tabs under the question: 'How would you like to score this whisky?'.
Users who enjoy the simplicity of the existing star rating system will still be able to enter their rating using this tactile method.
100 point system
Users who choose to score via the 100 point system will be presented with four input fields, breaking the scale into blocks of 25 points, one input field for each of the following:
As a secondary option within this route a user can, should a user wish to, click the option to simply 'enter an overall score out of 100'. This caters for those who don't wish to break the score down any further.
I don't want to add a score
Some users would rather not score their reviews - because they don't feel ready to or they simply prefer to describe the experience in words. Although we like peoples to score reviews (so we can build up a broader picture of the average rating across the network) this option will be available by clicking 'I don't want to add a score'.
The second strand of updates is more focussed on users reading reviews and establishing a context so the reader can get to know how a reviewer scores whiskies.
An additional field will be available within a users profile which will allow them to give a brief description of their approach to scoring. If the user chooses to provide this information, it will be available in a tab alongside the review itself.
What other people thought
A third tab will allow the reader to see how other members rated the whisky - showing a summary of up to 5 recent reviews of the bottle - without having to navigate away from the current page.
Additional (optional) fields will be provided for when writing a review, so the reviewer can state the 'Cask No.' and/or 'Batch' of the bottle in question.
Although we are actively working on this area of the site (amongst many other things) we don't have a fixed timeline for delivering these updates. Suffice to say we are working hard to launch as soon as possible.
In the mean time please continue contributing reviews as you have; and do let us know what you think to the plans outlined above.
A big thank you to everyone who took part in our survey, the response has been excellent and we were genuinely taken aback by the volume of ideas and suggestions that were submitted.
Prize draw results
Spring is very much in the air here at Connosr HQ and we're delighted to have such an engaged community who really care about the development of the site.
A little earlier today we randomly selected a winner from the completed survey entries and we're pleased to announce that Connosr member dougwatts will be receiving a bottle of Highland Park 18 year old (lucky fella!). Of course we'd all love to see your tasting notes :-)
Once again, thanks to everyone who took the time to complete the survey.
Malt Maniac, Serge Valentin, reminds us all that we shouldn't take whisky (or life) too seriously. This vast collection of tasting notes is peppered with musical tidbits and cultural observations. Go read.
Tim Forbes from The Whisky Exchange brings you a wealth of whisky blogging goodness with everything from industry news, competitions and bit from behind the scenes at the internets' biggest whisky retailer.
We're pleased to welcome the 3000th member to the network today. That's another big milestone for Whisky Connosr.
3000+ members and growing.
The community has grown this far in well under a year and Connosr is now quite comfortably the biggest whisky social network on the web. With some of the new features we've got planned for the coming months we think this is just the beginning.
We'd like to thank all of you for the support and look forward to some exciting times ahead. Slainte!
The UK government plans to get tough on binge drinking - how? - by effectively doubling the price of some spirits, according to the Telegraph.
Budget 2010: bad for spirit lovers?
A bottle of blended whisky such as Bells could increase in price from around £14.79 to £23.73 according to the article. Assuming the duty is not a percentage increase but a standard amount per bottle, here at Connosr we calculate that to be an £8.94 increase.
What's the impact?
Effectively this would mean that your £20-25 single malts will increase by about a third and even more expensive whiskies will still see a significant percentage jump in price.
Whilst we don't condone binge drinking, and would in principle support official efforts to reduce alchohol abuse, we think this is lunacy. People who buy bottles of quality single malts are, on the whole, not binge drinkers. Most of us like to sip a glass or two, savouring the drink.
Now it should be pointed out , especially to non-UK readers, that the Telegraph is traditionally a supporter of the Conservative opposition party. So this could be a little bit of pre-election mischief making. But if its true this can't be good for the whisky industry, or sensible malt enthusiasts.
As the Connosr network grows, the moderation requirements for user-submitted content change with it.
Crowds. Very wise.
We trust the community, so we've put the power back in your hands and gone with the philosophy that collective wisdom is greater than that of an individual.
Starting with our Whisky Wall - the Connosr discussion area - you will be able to give each post or discussion a 'thumbs-up' or 'thumbs-down'. Entries with positive feedback will be highlighted as popular and those which are consistently given negative feedback it will be buried.
We're not saying you have to rate everything you read, but if you see something you like - let it be known.
Equally, if you read an entry which you think is irrelevant or inappropriate, give it the thumbs-down.