This is small and subjective selection of websites that I think are improtant for whisky lovers. Of course there are a lot more of interesting sites out there, but this is what I regard as essential, if you have more than a causal interest in whisky.
1. Malt Maniacs and Malt Madness
Malt Maniacs evolved from Malt Madness, a site where Dutch malthead Johannes van den Heuvel started to publish his ratings, tasting notes and other thoughts about whisky back in 1997. Soon a circle of maniacs with similar interests began to form. I treat the sites as one, as they are both maintained by Johannes van den Heuvel.
Malt Madness features extensive tasting notes and ratings as well as a very useful section about whisky distilleries. A well-made beginner’s guide rounds off the site.
The Malt Maniacs site has three main pillars. The first is an more or less regular e-zine where the maniacs contribute articles, or “e-pistles” as they call them. Topics cover anything from tasting notes to thoughts on the whisky business to in-depth whisky knowledge and more. And then there is the famous “Monitor”, a huge list where all the ratings of all maniacs are compiled.
The Malt Maniacs Awards are an institution since 2003 and are now considered to be among the most prestigous whisky awards.
The sites have a nice hand-crafted layout and are easy to navigate, but I have found that on certain systems it may get messed up a bit.
2. Whisky Fun
This is the private site of French Malt Maniac member Serge Valentin. The site’s main attraction are thousands of whisky ratings and tasting notes from the last seven years. This is accompanied by concert reviews and music listening tips (mainly of a rather offbeat nature) as well as interesting recipes for single malt cocktails.
The sheer number of whisky reviews is overwhelming. But many of them are about quite elusvive bottles, old, expensive and/or hard to get. But also standard drams are covered well.
On first sight the site looks like a blog, but it is not. There is no possibility to leave comments and postings are only ordered chronologically on fixed pages. To make up for the lack of blog comfort there is a fairly good categorization of the ratings ordered by distillery.
Design-wise is ist intergrated into the Malt Maniac look but also has blog-like sidebars. Sadly these are quite cluttered and it is not easy to find your way around.
3. What Does John Know?
John Hansell is publisher and editor of the US-based whisky magazine Malt Advocate, and this is his personal blog. For me this is the whisky blog on the net, altough others may have other favorites.
Posts cover a wide range of topics. Whisky reviews, busisnes news, general whisky questions and also a bit of whisky philosophy. As this is an American site, there is also a very good coverage of US and Canadian whiskies.
A strong point of the blog are the lively discussions that unfold after many postings. Also quite a few important whisky people sometimes join the discussion.
4. The Scotch Blog
The Scotch Blog is another important whisky blog run by Amercan whisky expert Kevin Erskine.
Focus is more on whisky business than on the actual liquid itself, but if you are interested in the whisky world beyond the bottles on your shelf, this is a place to find valuable information. And Kevin is not shy to pick up controversial themes either.
5. The Buxrud Collection
This site is not included because it contains great whisky information, in fact it is part of a quite amateurish hodgepodge of “family pages”.
But Swedish Malt Maniac Ulf Buxrud has compiled what has to be the most comprehensive collection of whisky links on the net. Distilleries from huge to tiny, whisky clubs, collectors, general information sites, magazines,etc. etc. You name it, it’s there.
So despite the “unorthodox” design, this is a premier whisky location on the net.