There's plenty of information out there to enable anyone who wants to base purchases on information such as whether the distillery has its own maltings, whether it's a floor maltings, whether that maltings supplies all the disltillery's needs, what the water source is, size, shape and number of stills, etc. etc.
That might be the case for you and me, who have a above normal interest in Single Malts. But I am not sure if the big Single Malts market containing all customers will be able to do the same. They wont have books to look things up, or have any other means of finding such information easily. Yes, they can goto a library and look things up, but would they? It is to much effort, and it would be great if information is available right on byuing a bottle. (who knows on entrance of the shop which Malt he is going to buy for that weekend? In most cases I have no idea, and when I have a idea, in most cases I end up with a different Malt anyway
There's even the unofficial Premier League of those distilleries whose make is graded First Class or A1 by blenders.
If a Single Malt is a ideal Malt for a blend, does it make a good Single Malt with that as well? The ability of a Malt to blend well with grain whiskies and other Malts is in my opinion not directly related to being a perfect Single Malt for consumption.
Personally I would not mind seeing some sort of classification in which it is easy to see in what way the distillery is still using traditional, labour intensive and expensive traditional ways of distilling. Having their own malting floors (even partly), doing the bottling themself, not using caramel, not chill filtered etc are a increasingly important factors since we like our Malts to be "as pure and natural as it gets".
A distillery who does the malting themself have a serious economical disadvantage over distilleries who get their Malt from a malting company. To defend and justify their price, I would have no problem at all with some sort of standard classification. This is something entirely different then using a classification based on for example geographical location, which is in my opinion impossible to realise in this drink, and/or taste, which is entirely impossible in my opinion, since being so diverse in taste is exactely whats so charming about this drink, and its drinkers.
Hope I made myself clear in a proper way, writing in a non-native language is tricky sometimes
[This message has been edited by Jeroen Kloppenburg (edited 22 August 2002).]