The Malt Maniacs Manifesto – “The next 15 years”
Issue Date July 2012
The Malt Maniacs collective is now 15 years strong and, rather like the Rennaissance of the 14th to 17th centuries, has evolved into a cultural movement which, in our case is centred upon enhancing the appreciation and understanding of malt whisky amongst our members and our audience (but more of that later). We soon realised that we needed some kind of ‘official document’ with a few words about our philosophy and our guiding principles. Perhaps in the same way that Hugo Ball presented the Dada Manifesto in Zurich on July 14th 1916. It’s hardly coincidental that Dada in French means Hobby Horse or in Romanian yes indeed, you’re right. In fact this document would act as our “touch stone” and give our new team members (and those aspiring to become team members) a general idea of the privileges and responsibilities of being a certified Malt Maniac.
Well, whisky is an art form, isn’t it?
The community originally developed around Johannes van den Heuvel’s Malt Madness website which was launched in 1995. By 1997 several visitors were posting their comments and the international ‘Malt Maniacs’ community gradually evolved. When we had grown to 12 ‘certified’ members in 2002 we launched our own E-zine. A few years later the E-zine evolved into our own Malt Maniacs website and French Maniac Serge Valentin added his WhiskyFun site to the mix, creating a trilogy of websites. 2012 Saw a number of changes as our founder Johannes retired from The Maniacs and our new website was born.
As the web and our understanding of it has grown since those early days of the 90’s, many more of our Maniacs have founded their own websites and, although not official Malt Maniac publications, you can find links to them on the members page.
Our Mission Statement
Since the early, humble beginnings of the Malt Maniacs collective in 1997, our mission statement has evolved from the fairly selfish ‘helping each other find the best single malt whisky in the world’ to a more ‘missionary’ objective;
“The mission of Malt Maniacs is to expand and enhance the appreciation and understanding of malt whisky amongst ourselves and our audience. We try to achieve that goal by internal discussions and by publishing information and opinions about whisky (and whiskey) in the broadest sense of the word.”
Some of the main ‘instruments’ to support that mission are our archive with hundreds of articles about whisk(e)y, the Malt Maniacs Monitor with +/- 50,000 ratings on +/- 15,000 different whiskies (single malt whiskies, vatted malt whiskies, blended whiskies, etc.) and our annual international whisky competition: the Malt Maniacs Awards.
Our Guiding Principles and Responsibilities
First and foremost, Malt Maniacs is about freedom of speech and respect for the opinions of others. We may sometimes disagree and mock each other’s opinions, but we only feel free to do so because we know we are all serious about our passion. Sharing different perspectives about whisky enhances our own understanding.
We encourage differences of opinion and nobody can speak for ‘all Malt Maniacs’. The opinions we publish are always personal by definition – they may or may not be shared by one or more other certified Malt Maniacs. That is probably why a whisky lover once referred to us as “the beast that speaks with many voices”
The Malt Maniacs community (as a whole) started life as being fiercely independent and remains so today – our opinions are our own and we are a non-profit organisation. Our collective is primarily a group of amateur but knowledgeable whisky enthusiasts who love to share their passion for all things whisky. As we are mainly web-based, many of our members have their own websites (see our members page for details of these) and some even raise a little revenue from things like google ads to cover hosting costs. We believe this does not compromise their independence as they aren’t directly involved within the ‘industry’ and we always offer an independent perspective on whisky.
In fact, some of our amateur members of the Malt Maniacs are actually involved with the whisky business itself as they are writing books, blogs and articles, hosting tasting sessions and masterclasses, etc. So, after some discussion we democratically decided that this type of (commercial) involvement with the whisky industry is not an objection to membership of our team. So our members may accept advertising revenue from their websites to help fund hosting costs, offer consultancy and even write articles, blogs and books on the subject, but we still pride ourselves on our independence from the industry as ‘whisky’ is not our profession or our main source of income and we are not distillery employees, bottlers or direct whisky sellers.
Several professional whisky writers are certified Malt Maniacs and contribute significantly to discussions. However, scoring or rating whiskies either in our Monitor or as part of our annual Malt Maniac Awards is left strictly to the ‘amateurs’ on the team. Working members of the whisky industry are not eligible for membership of Malt Maniacs. Membership of the ‘Keepers of the Quaich‘ society does not preclude membership of Malt Maniacs, as long as the ‘double agents’ remain independent of the industry. Membership of other, independent whisky communities and organisations is heartily encouraged.
Membership of the ‘certified’ Malt Maniacs is by invitation and is predicated on the requirement that each member make regular contributions to Malt Maniacs.net and/or our internal discussions.
How does one acquire such an invitation? At the end of each year we discuss the possibility of inviting new members. We base our discussions around the added value that a prospective member could bring to the collective. Existing members may suggest a new prospect and we will also review any E-Pistles (articles) submitted during the year by guest writers (foreign correspondents). If any show enough promise they may receive that invitation.
We have a balance among countries represented so as to maintain an international organisation. The Malt Maniacs is a relatively small group of enthusiasts with around 30 certified members and we believe this is an optimum number which includes malt whisky lovers in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and North America among its members – and hopes to welcome members in South America one day.
An overview of our members (and some ex-members) can be found in the Members section of this site.