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The Evolution of the Single Malt Whisky Fanatic

Curiosity, Enthusiasm, Fanaticism, Obsession, and Terminal

Although we've discussed this concept many times in the past, primarily when dramming, we never had a good definition of this phenomenon until Usigetom provided us with an detailed description on the Yahoo SingleMaltScotchWhisky Group in September 2002.  As usual in my role channeling PLOWED - I FOAFed his description and present it in it's entirety below.  Well done! 


From:  uisgetom
Date:  Mon Sep 23, 2002  12:56 pm
Subject:  A warning to Novice Maltsters!

Neophyte maltsters, please read carefully. This warning may save your marriage or financial security. Recent
discussions have moved me to summarize what may eventually happen to you.

Those of you who are new to single malt scotches (phase 1 or early phase 2 - see below) should be aware of the natural progression of malt fanaticism. Somewhere in the future, mental health professionals may coin this as "S'tan's Syndrome", or maybe "Foaf's Disease".

Stages and characteristic behavior:

Stage 1 - Curiosity: The novice may have tried a couple of expressions of malt, and finds that he or she really enjoys the experience, or is perhaps curious about malt from what he or she has read or overheard from other enthusiasts.

Stage 2 - Enthusiasm: The malt enthusiast gets into the game.  Unquenchable thirst for knowledge (and malt) drives him to begin buying books about malt whisky, surfing the web (and how did you find this site?), maps and other Scotland paraphenalia, and of course, bottles of Scotch. Typically in this stage, a form of denial may emerge where the enthusiast will refuse to spend over a set amount (maybe $50 or $100) for any bottle of malt. Bad move. Law of supply and demand. Good whisky costs money. Crap whisky can cost big bucks too (ask around before you buy if you are unsure), but good cheap whisky only comes along rarely (like $50 bottles of 100 proof Springbank).

Somewhere in stage 2, two distinct personality types emerge: The connoisseur and the collector. The connoisseur firmly believes that all malt, no matter how rare or expensive, is meant to be consumed, preferably by sharing among friends. The collector hoards malt, puts it on a shelf to worship and collect dust and invites other collectors over to drool over his collection. He probably offers them a taste of crap whisky to quench their thirst, as he won't destroy the collector's value of his malts by opening them. The collector may then put bottles up for auction when he can be assured of tripling or quadrupling his original outlay. Connoissuers hoard malt as well, but only to trade among fellow connoisseurs or for drinking sometime in the future. Connoisseurs detest collectors.

Stage 3 - Fanaticism: The malt fanatic's collection is now burgeoning. He may drop $1000 or more in a single liquor store visit. Cases of whisky begin filling his closets; he may invest in industrial grade shelving to store his malts. The fanatic may also register his own whisky related website. By this stage, he has already visited Scotland at least once, or is planning it. If he has visited Scotland, his luggage upon return is loaded with bottles of booty. He travels cross country to attend malt extravaganzas (like Ardbeggeddon). Unhappy about the number of malts available in his hometown, he orders them online from stores in distant lands. He possibly has a separate credit card account that his wife doesn't know about and has malt shipped to an unmarried friend's home, or at least stores some bottles there.

Stage 4 - Obsession: The obsessive probably has more whisky stored than he can drink in the remainder of his lifetime. He probably also owns casks (or shares of casks) that are maturing in warehouses. He knows distillery managers on a first name basis. Bank accounts are drained, maybe carrying a balance on credit cards or a second (or third) mortgage to finance his malt aquisitions. If previously married, probably divorced by now, or else has the perfect wife.   Count me as jealous!

There may also be a terminal stage 5; the terminal obsessive may wish to purchase his own distillery, thereby assuring himself of a perpetual supply of malt whisky. I have not personally witnessed this phenomenon, but I suspect at least a couple of my personal friends may be prone to this stage.

A final word - if you hold your marriage sacred, have young children, and a modest income consider the consequences of blowing a couple of hundred bucks a month on single malts. Maybe better to quit now while
you are able and find a more affordable hobby. I'm not joking - this progression to obsession really happens. Lucky for me my ex threw my butt out before I really got deep into the game!

Slainte Mhath!


last update on 9/24/02