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Malt Monsters

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Malt Monsters

Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Nov 08, 2005 6:11 pm

I got a lucky dip from the SMWS at Christmas and have just got around to opening a couple of them - both young, one from Dailuaine and one from Craigellachie. Meanwhile I have also recently opened an unsherried Glen Grant and have had a Littlemill 8yo open for a while now.

All of these whiskies have a common thread. At first I couldn't identify it - a sickly sweet aroma, a sweet, floury (potato?) flavour and quite a spicy dry (and hot) aftertaste.

I have now put my finger on it - malted barley!!! This probably sounds really obvious, but I have spent so long drinking spicy whisky, peaty whisky, sherried whisky, fruity whisky, estery whisky - that I had never really discovered malty whisky. At first I really couldn't take the flavour, but now I have identified it, I love it. Yes, even the Littlemill.

Is it time we defined Malt Monster - to go alongside its sherry and peat cousins? If so, can anyone nominate the most monstrous, uncluttered, naked, malty whisky?
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Postby Tom » Tue Nov 08, 2005 6:32 pm

Congrats to you Nick, Always a pleasure if someone makes a leap forward in his/her passion.

To answer your question: no, sorry.
Malt as flavor comes in two different expressions, cereal maltiness and sweet malt. Sweet malt can be found in almost any whisky there is, if you search for it. Some have it more pronounced then others offcourse (if a malt is rather sweet but you cant blame it on alcohol, vanilla, honey, fruit or floral influences you probably have sweet malt, think on the sweet milk that's left in your plate after eating cereal grains with lots of sugar, thats a typical malty sweetness) but sweet malt is rarely overpowering other flavors. Usually it is the balancing factor that works as a catalyst between the different flavors, its there but not always detecteble.
Malts that hve pronounced amounts of it are usually well balanced malts too IMHO, and often sherry matured.
Cereal maltiness is much harder and IMHO also more unpleasant. This is more often found in Bourbon matured malts, think plain barley, grain, bread, breadcrust, etc.

A quick check of some notes revealed Glenmorangie 10 as a very malty whisky. Later on more may pop up. Though I have strong doubts about the existence of a malt monster.
Eager to see what the rest of the gang thinks about it, great post Nick.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Nov 08, 2005 6:41 pm

Yes, very thought-provoking.

It occurs to me that you can over-sherry a whisky (depending on one's taste, of course) or over-peat it, but I don't see how you could over-malt it. It would be different with beer, where you might have a lot of unfermented sugars in a very malty beer, but I would think that would be lost in distillation, even if it did occur (which strikes me as unlikely, anyway). But that, like most of my hair, is off the top of my head. I'll be interested to hear other opinions.

Edit: "lost in distillation", not "fermentation". Didn't anyone wonder what I was talking about? Or do you always?
Last edited by Guest on Tue Nov 08, 2005 9:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby jimidrammer » Tue Nov 08, 2005 7:14 pm

Here's some I think would fall into the category of "Malt Monster", and it is basically because they don't fall anywhere else.

Ardmore
Balmenach
Bunnahabhain
Craggenmore
Royal Lochnagar
Scapa

Going through my notes those are the ones where malt seemed to stand out the most. Worthy topic of much further discussion.
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Postby Jeroen Kloppenburg » Tue Nov 08, 2005 7:50 pm

Hmm, you're onto something! Did a search for "malty" in my tasting notes program as I know I have described several malts with that descriptor.

There were quite a few, which I'll paste a collection from (I just picked out the obvious 'malty' ones) here for your 'research'! :)

Distillery: Arran Score: 7.5 ABV: 43
Expression: No age statement (said to be 5jr's old) Date: 1 June 2004 Occasion:
Bought at: Arran distillery Price: miniature Color: 7
Nose: Lemon and grassy, fresh apples.
Palate: Thin and malty.
Finish: Malty, fresh, not too long.
Comments: A very nice and refreshing malt. Hold a lot of promise for the future when it had time to mature some more.

Distillery: Balvenie Score: 7.7 ABV: 43
Expression: Founder's Reserver 10year Date: 10 Aug-2003 Occasion:
Bought at: Price: Color: 0
Nose: Bisquits and malty. Honey.
Palate: Oily
Finish: Moves quickly to a lovely honeyd after taste. Later moves on to a little dry mouthfeel.
Comments: Lovely malt, has a very full body. Adding a splash of water will fully release the honey and malty notes int his malt.

Distillery: Balvenie Score: 7.9 ABV: 43
Expression: Founders Reserve 10yr Date: 19 may 2004 Occasion:
Bought at: Price: Color: 0
Nose: Grass, malty and sherry. Hint nutmeg.
Palate: Honey and oily. Beatifull set of pearls in the glass!
Finish: Medium long, wonderfull waves of honey.
Comments: A good Speysider, but this distillery can do a lot better!

Distillery: Balvenie Score: 8.7 ABV: 43
Expression: Double Wood 12 yr Date: 19 May 2004 Occasion:
Bought at: Price: Color: 57
Nose: Honey and sherry strike hard. Slightly malty.
Palate: Honey! And lots of it too!
Finish: Theres no mercy from the honey, it just comes waves after waves, till finally, yellow fruits start to kick in as well.
Comments: Delicsious, THE Balvenie out there. Speyside and honeyd Balvenie at max...

Distillery: Balvenie Score: 8.8 ABV: 50.4
Expression: Single Barrel 15 years Date: 10 Aug 2003 Occasion:
Bought at: Price: Color: 0
Nose: Malty and bisquits. Citrus with a hint of vanilla.
Palate: Sweet oily, and sticks around in the mouth.
Finish: Waves of honey, leaves a sense of softness in the mouth.
Comments: Legs are forming much quicker then you would expect with an malt of this strenght. This malt however is delicious!

Notice a trend in the Balvenies?

Distillery: Benromach Score: 7.2 ABV: 40
Expression: No further statements regarding age etc. Date: 19 sept 2004 Occasion:
Bought at: Gall & Gall Price: 3.50EURO (miniature) Color: 4
Nose: Young, malty and hints of honey and banana.
Palate: Soft and sweet.
Finish: Not really long, turning dry and bitter.
Comments: My guess this is a very young expression, the nose is complex and interesting enough. The body is so-so, but the finish is really lacking. Curious what this will turn into at a more mature age.

Distillery: Cadenhead Whisky Challenge 2004 Score: 8.9 ABV:
Expression: Ardmore 24yr ex-sherry Date: aug. 2004 Occasion:
Bought at: Price: Color: 0
Nose: Malt and banana dominate. Dark chocolate.
Palate: Yellow fruits, dry and malty.
Finish: Banana wave after wave, deliscious!
Comments: Totally deliscious, reminds me of many +/- 25 year old malts. Loads of banana and tropical fruits.

Distillery: Cadenhead Score: 8.3 ABV: 59.6
Expression: Dailuaine 14yr Date: 25 apr 2005 Occasion:
Bought at: Price: Color: 0
Nose: Honey, malt and flowers.
Palate: Sweet thin.
Finish: Long - Malty, honey, turns a little dry.
Comments: Lovely sweet malt. Deliscious.

Distillery: Cadenhead Score: 9.0 ABV: 59
Expression: Royal Brackla 12 yr 1992-feb.2002 bourbon barrel Date: 7 aug 2005 Occasion:
Bought at: Price: Color: 0
Nose: Honey, malty and bisquits.
Palate: Vanilla/fruity.
Finish: Long - Honey, yellow fruits and vanilla.
Comments: Lovely! Does need a good share of water to really come alive however.

Distillery: Glen Deveron Score: 7.4 ABV: 40
Expression: 10 Season 1993 Date: 22 jan 2004 Occasion:
Bought at: Price: Color: 0
Nose: Malty, honey and sherry. Hint of feints.
Palate: Dry and malty.
Finish: Dry, malt and heather.
Comments: On itself a nice malt, but does not jump out. Would be a nice malt to start a N&T with.

Theres a pattern emerging with 'malty' being accompanied with 'honey' ...

Distillery: Glen Elgin Score: 7.9 ABV: 43
Expression: 12 yr Date: 3 aug 2004 Occasion:
Bought at: Price: Color: 0
Nose: Malty and honey rule the nose. Mandarin lingers behind. Cherries are trying to hide there as well?
Palate: Sweet and slightly oily, honey.
Finish: Turns dry soon, malty.
Comments: Lovely fresh and mellow Speysider, very enjoyable indeed.

Distillery: Glenfarclas Score: 8.* ABV: 46
Expression: 15yr OB Date: 4 dec 2004 Occasion:
Bought at: miniature Price: Color: 44
Nose: Malty, honey and caramel. Massive!
Palate: Oily, spicey.
Finish: Med. long - Liqourice, turning spicey and citrus.
Comments: Totally different descriptions then my last note from this expression. Did the expression changed so much? Did my palate developped? A combination? Nonetheless a lovely speysider that never dissapointed me.

Distillery: Thamdu Score: 7.2 ABV: 40
Expression: no other statements. Date: 22 mrt 2003 Occasion: aperitief
Bought at: Price: Color: 8
Nose: Soft, malty and honey.
Palate: Soft and light, malt.
Finish: Short, not very special.
Comments: Not a bad malt, but sure not special either. Especially the finnish is dissapointing. Usable as aperitif?
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Postby Tyson » Tue Nov 08, 2005 9:06 pm

I'd say that Longmorn and Strathisla OB's are some of the more malty drams I've had. Glenmorangie 10 OB and Glendronach 12 "Original" OB would also be up there.....
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Postby Spirit of Islay » Tue Nov 08, 2005 10:09 pm

Port Charlotte is one of the most Maltiest Malts (?!) i've had......
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Postby mar_mcdo » Tue Nov 08, 2005 10:21 pm

i would def go with strathisla 12y, also clynelish 14y (although a hint of smoke there too)
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Postby Lord_Pfaffin » Wed Nov 09, 2005 12:57 am

Last visit to Feathers i tried an Inchgrower 22yo CS @55.7abv. and it was very malty and hot with a light body and very dry finish with lots of maltiness. Dismissed it at the time as not my style of whisky but its been weeks now and i still do recall its distinct taste.
So malty and hot that i thought at the time; another pour and it might bring on a good case of heartburn.
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Postby Lawrence » Wed Nov 09, 2005 1:18 am

Excellent subject, I'll have to give it some thought and I'll post later on. This is very thought provoking.
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Postby MGillespie » Wed Nov 09, 2005 2:25 am

Interesting idea...I have both the Strathisla and Royal Lochnagar OB's at home, and have noticed a similarity that sets them apart from the other bottles on the shelf. I wasn't sure what malt tasted like, but this may explain it.

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Postby Admiral » Wed Nov 09, 2005 10:07 am

Off the top of my head, I would certainly add Strathisla to that list.

A review of my tasting notes would not doubt reveal others, because like Jeroen, I too often use "malt" as a descriptor in my tasting notes.

Cheers,
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Postby bamber » Thu Nov 10, 2005 11:19 am

Most Malty: Tamdu NAS, Cardhu OB, That Tesco one that is almost Glendronach - Glendranoch.

Best Malt Monster - Longmorn 15yo OB.
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Postby Lawrence » Fri Nov 11, 2005 12:11 am

Glenfiddich 12, big malt.
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Postby Admiral » Fri Nov 11, 2005 2:51 am

I checked some of my notes last night, and Cragganmore was listed as being "malty", which someone else suggested earlier.
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Postby JWFokker » Fri Nov 11, 2005 7:35 am

I wouldn't call any of the Balvenie's or even the Clynelish 14 malt 'monsters'. Cragganmore on the other hand, is most certainly a malt monster. It's all I can taste. I know it's proponents say it's wonderfully complex, but all I can taste is malt and nothing else. Bunnahabhain I'm going to have to agree on, though it's not malty to the same degree as the Cragganmore. Tamdhu I thought was more peaty than malty. The Longmorn 15 I tried was an older bottling, and while it was a rather 'thick' whisky, I wouldn't say it was especially malty. Kinda reminded me of the Macallan 12.
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Postby zippy » Fri Nov 11, 2005 10:08 am

The Royal Lochnagar 12 y.o. is a very malty one, but I think that the Tomatin 12 y.o. is one of the maltiest whiskies that I have encountered.
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Postby Tom » Fri Nov 11, 2005 2:25 pm

Checked the notes and these came out as obvious malty yet once again, not overly malty as to supress other flavors. (This behaviour is what I personally specify as being a "monster")

Glenmorangie 10
Glenmorangie Sherry Finish
Glenmorangie 18
Port Ellen 1982 Provenance
Port Ellen 25 OMC
Tullibardine 1993
Speyburn 25
Old Fettercairn 10
Mortlach 1990 Signatory Vintage Selection
Mortlach 15 Gordon & MacPhails
Miltonduff 10 Gordon & MacPhails
Macallan 12 Elegancia
Macallan 1876 Replica
Laphroaig 17 for the Whiskyshop
Lagavulin 12
Glengoyne 12 Cask Strength
Glendronach 15
Glencadam 15
Dailuaine 16 Fauna & Flora
Bruichladdich 1O
Bruichladdich 3D Peat Proposal
Benromach Traditional
Cragganmore 12
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Postby bernstein » Fri Nov 11, 2005 6:13 pm

Pardon, if this is a silly question, but it puzzles me following this interesting thread: is a 'malty' taste something similar to what I once posted as reminding me of the taste of very old, soaky cereal cookies living in a very old cookie jar of a very old grandma of an (not that) old buddy of mine when I was a child?
Royal Lochnagar 12yo had it for me once, and it was a revelation, never thought about this fine old lady for nearly 30 years - and I'm detecting it in my Benromach Traditional I'm sipping now. Is this "malty"?
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Postby Deactivated Member » Fri Nov 11, 2005 6:30 pm

I think there are probably two types of malty flavour - as mentioned elsewhere upthread. One is a toasty flavour (young Glen Mhor). The other - the one I had in mind - is an intense sickly sweet aroma, sweet weetabixy, digestive biscuit taste. It seems to also be rather hot and slightly minty. It then leads into a long, slightly bitter and dry finish. I have not come across it very much, so I suspect it is not the one that people are finding cropping up repeatedly in tasting notes. But where it has come, it is very dominant and strong - not an absence of flavour by any means. It may be present to an extent in combinations with other flavours - the Dun Bheagan Teaninich 18yo has a sweet malty wave in the middle, but it has too much else to make it a "Malt Monster". If you really want to know what I mean, try Littlemill 8yo.
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Postby bernstein » Fri Nov 11, 2005 7:07 pm

Nick Brown wrote:If you really want to know what I mean, try Littlemill 8yo.

Thank you very much for your reply, Nick - but your advise evokes some terror on my side. Reading the stuff people said about Littlemill 8yo is not, to say the least, very encouraging...
But hey, this is the one life we live - I probably should just jump!
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Nov 14, 2005 10:06 am

I have said some pretty dreadful things myself about the Littlemill 8 - but now I have identified the flavour - and the bottle has been open long enough to calm down a tad - I really like it.
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Postby Lawrence » Tue Nov 15, 2005 1:14 am

Tomatin 12, I had some last night and thought, this is malty!
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Re: Malt Monsters

Postby Scout » Sun May 14, 2006 6:05 pm

Big Peat and/or Big Sherry get most of the attention, and the big ratings.
But surely, every enthusiast should know or have at least one example from the "Malty Medium". The idea is something like a personal "Classic Malts" selection, which would include at least one that is neither peated nor sherried. This is precisely the one niche that is almost never discussed (explicitly), so let's work on this thread!

I said "never discussed (explicitly)", for this reason: usually, the expert taster might say "malty", without saying explicitly that "this scotch has no peat or sherry, and thus the malt is exposed as its primary feature". You're left not knowing whether or not it has traces of peat or sherry, etc. Peat, especially, is often treated as a given in the scotch world. For example, I bought Cragganmore 12 because I had read somewhere that it is very malty. It is. It was a revelation, and improved my understanding of Balvanie DoubleWood and Laphroaig 15. However, the reviewers did not mention that it also has a lot of peat! So, I'm still looking for a true "Malt Monster". This is why I posted.

Nick Brown wrote:Is it time we defined Malt Monster - to go alongside its sherry and peat cousins?

Yes.
If everything that defines the other "monsters" is removed, what is left are all products of fermented and distilled unpeated malted barley, yeast, and clean water (and some wood). That includes a lot of chemistry, and distillery technique, and still leaves room for a world of unexpected flavors. For example, some of the things the original poster mentioned, such as "fruit", "ester", etc., can result from chemical processes on fragments of barley, or the respiration products of the yeast, or fragments of yeast (I don't know, not being an expert), and should certainly be accepted in a "Malt Monster". That is what I propose. This changes the original poster's question slightly, but I think unavoidably.

"Malt Monster" can be defined negatively, by what it does not have:

1. no peat, above all
2. no sherry-casking, please!
3. no "organics" from the water, heather honey, etc.
4. some arguable minimum of wood influence

Many of the "Malt Monsters" candidates mentioned in this thread do not satisfy that definition. For example, the delicious Cragganmore 12, as I mentioned, has peat. Also, don't all the Glengoynes have sherry? Longmorn is sherried?. Scapa I've read gets some peat from the water?
I can't afford to try them all.
Glenmorangie 10 is the closest I've found in my limited experience. It has a little peat and smoke.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sun May 14, 2006 7:20 pm

I would argue with #4--"minimum of wood influence". That is not really possible or desirable. If it's not sherry, it's bourbon; if it weren't either of those, it would be fresh wood, with an even stronger influence (rarely done in Scotland). The closest you could come to "minimal influence" would be a fourth- or fifth-fill cask. This is called "tired wood" and makes bad whisky. Wood influence is absolutely central to the product.

The question is, can you pick out maltiness apart from these other influences? It seems a tricky business to me. It would have to be present in the new make, wouldn't it? It doesn't strike me that any whisky will have enough of this to qualify as a "Malt Monster". Monster status seems to derive from added flavor--either peat or sherry. For malt to show through, I would think the whisky would have to be very light. But I'm just musing. An interesting topic, in any case.
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Sun May 14, 2006 10:44 pm

An interesting topic that probably deserves some clarification on what exactly defines a "malty" character. I think Tom (Tom, where are you by the way? )said it well earlier in this thread: Malt as flavor comes in two different expressions, cereal maltiness and sweet malt. Sweet malt can be found in almost any whisky there is, if you search for it. Some have it more pronounced then others offcourse (if a malt is rather sweet but you cant blame it on alcohol, vanilla, honey, fruit or floral influences you probably have sweet malt, think on the sweet milk that's left in your plate after eating cereal grains with lots of sugar, thats a typical malty sweetness) but sweet malt is rarely overpowering other flavors. Usually it is the balancing factor that works as a catalyst between the different flavors, its there but not always detecteble.
I think that's more or less spot on but I think I'll add the fat and buttery taste and mouthfeeling I sometimes get. Of the whiskies I've had I think the most "malty" have been the Bruichladdich 10 which is very buttery - almost like butterscotch and the Highland Park 18 which I think has a very cerealy or even gristy taste married together with the sherry character and mellow smoke.

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Re: Malt Monsters

Postby Deactivated Member » Mon May 15, 2006 1:40 pm

Scout wrote:Many of the "Malt Monsters" candidates mentioned in this thread do not satisfy that definition... Glenmorangie 10 is the closest I've found in my limited experience. It has a little peat and smoke.


I agree that many of the whiskies listed here don't exactly fill the flavour profile I had in mind, but I have found the comments on the thread interesting so I had not quibbled. I'm not sure about woods - the ones I had in mind don't say but seem to have rather light wood influence (and they are also very pale in colour). Perhaps the Dailuaine errs slightlyon the sherry side, but I think whatever they were, they must all have been 20th fillings.

In terms of cereal maltiness, I have subsequently had one whisky that surely surpasses all others - Tamnavulin 12? yo OB. It is like eating weetabix. This is far and away the most extreme example I have tasted, and in terms of extremity, it matches anything that Ardbeg and Aberlour can produce.

In the sweet malty brigade, I would now add Tomintoul 16.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon May 15, 2006 3:46 pm

Interesting, Nick. I will look for those and give them a try when possible. (I need to write this stuff down....) In my mind, this is one of the great things about this forum--I get to hear about stuff that is outside my experience, and think of things in ways I had not previously considered.

I know your "20th filling" comment was facetious, but I would add that my understanding is that very little after second fill is used for SMs, and fourth and fifth fills are strictly cheap blend fodder. If anyone knows better or can elaborate, please do.

Did you know that "facetiously" is one of a very few words in the English language with all six vowels in alphabetical order?
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Postby bamber » Mon May 15, 2006 6:22 pm

MrTattieHeid wrote:Did you know that "facetiously" is one of a very few words in the English language with all six vowels in alphabetical order?


Yep, and it's a word that is much easier to spell when one is behaving abstemiously.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon May 15, 2006 9:28 pm

:lol:

And not when one is drinking caskstrengthiously!
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Postby Lawrence » Tue May 16, 2006 2:05 am

Thinking back my last Tamnavulin 12 was very malty. Must try another dram while in Scotland this summer.
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Postby bamber » Tue May 16, 2006 9:25 am

MrTattieHeid wrote::lol:

And not when one is drinking caskstrengthiously!


:lol: :lol:
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Re: Malt Monsters

Postby Scout » Sun May 21, 2006 3:19 am

Nick Brown wrote:Is it time we defined Malt Monster - to go alongside its sherry and peat cousins? If so, can anyone nominate the most monstrous, uncluttered, naked, malty whisky?

I've changed my mind since my previous post. I've been researching this heavily, and making very little progress.
First, I don't think the name "Malt Monster" is going to catch on. (A phrase that is used, which seems to have a fairly commonly accepted meaning, is "summer dram". But those do not necessarily satisfy your exact intended meaning.)
Second, I agree with a previous poster that pure malty-style scotches are likely to be less strong than the monsters. When I talk about what I'm looking for in this context, I actually say "Malty Medium", indicating something in-between the peated and the sherried extremes. I give as an example the closest thing to pure malty-style I've found so far: the mild and subtle Glenmorangie 10.
Third, I have another issue: I'm interested in avoiding sherry-casking completely because it irritates me. The original poster did not actually say "No sherry", just as most reviewers simply don't mention a sherry that is absent, leaving you not knowing whether it has any or not.
Lastly, regarding the many good suggestions in this thread: I think that in this context, it is not enough that the scotch be malty; it is necessary that excessive peat and sherry be actually absent. And that is exactly the information that is hard to find. I repeat: the reviewer is suprised by the maltiness, and points it out, without mentioning that there is also present a big sherry or big peat! Man, this scotch-shopping is hard work!

I'm exploring my interest in this matter in some other threads here:

"Summer dram" in "Tastings",
http://www.whiskymag.com/forum/viewtopi ... sc&start=0

"What is the smoothest..." in "Questions & Answers",
http://www.whiskymag.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3566

"Different Wood Casks" in "Questions & Answers"
http://www.whiskymag.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3653

I don't want to belabor this; I'm just shopping for scotches with no sherry, and with peat absent or light enough to let the delicate malty flavors through, in order to complete my scotch flavor-spectrum collection. O.K., maybe I'm belaboring it. But I know others are interested in this neglected niche too.
Thanks.
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Postby Di Blasi » Sun May 21, 2006 12:26 pm

I remember two excellent malty monsters I fully enjoyed and was elated to drink! The Bladnoch 12y Flora and Fauna series had a great balance of cereal malt and tangerine/mandarin spice. And the Glen Scotia 14y also had wonderful cereal maltiness. These were two that made it difficult to sip slowly, cause they were so good and balanced with pronounced cereal maltiness. I miss them both very much.
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Postby bernstein » Sun May 21, 2006 12:49 pm

Considering its huge impact of cereals the CS Littlemill 16yo (Cad.) I had recently may very easily qualify as a malt monster. It had an astonishing salty finish as well. I was impressed!
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