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The day my life ended


I miss you so much and will always love you


On 1st September 1998 I relocated to Germany when the company I worked for offered me a job in the head office near to Munich. I'll never forget that day as I entered the department manager's office and greeted his two assistants with a cheery "Hi, I'm here".

German officialdom and bureaucracy are renowned and back in 1998 I not only needed to register as being resident, but even as an EU citizen I needed an official work permit. Sabine Müller was one of those two assistants and was a qualified translator speaking English to native level (with an Irish accent!) so she was the obvious choice to help me navigate the authorities and help me settle into this new environment.


Sabine and I soon became very close and were hardly separated for the next 17 years.

Another colleague and friend played traditional Irish music in a local group and every Saturday night held an Irish music session in an Irish bar in Munich so this was an obvious weekend meeting point for Sabine and me. I'll also never forget my joy at the selection of whiskies available in this bar so I selected a suitable dram for myself but when I asked Sabine what she'd like to drink she declined a whisky as "she didn't like whisky". Apparently a typical teenage encounter with a cheap blend had put her off for life.

She did, however, love Scotland and especially Ireland so I asked what she liked so much about them and she replied that the sights, smells and lure of The Atlantic Ocean was paramount to her so I disappeared to the bar only to return with what I thought was a suitable dram for her.

Just one sniff and a certain joy spread across her face as she was immediately transported back to the Atlantic coast and memories of Scotland. "I love this, but it doesn't taste anything like whisky" she exclaimed, asking "What is it?"

My answer; "Laphroaig" and from that day onwards she loved Laphroaig but still "didn't like whisky".

Our lives entwined ever closer, falling in love, moving together and each leap year I warned her that in England we have a tradition where 29th February is the one and only day when a woman may ask a man for his hand in marriage, so she'd better be careful in case anyone did.

Then on 29th February 2008 she came to me and asked the inevitable question "Will you marry me?". After due consideration which took all of a few seconds I answered with a very enthusiastic "Yes!"

We were married on 29th December 2008


Over the last 17 years we enjoyed so many happy times together, exploring many places and enjoying our mutual hobby of photography, especially landscape and nature with Sabine crawling around mountain pastures in search of plants and insects ... so many memories and highlights.

Life with Sabine wasn't without a few disasters; she suffered from the rare "brittle bone disease" or what the Germans call "Glass Bones" and any small trip or fall that you or I would shrug off was almost always a broken bone for her or even a stay in hospital. Another moment I'll never forget was when I called into our manager's office for something and found Sabine sitting at his meeting desk sellotaping two toes together. It was summer and she was walking around the office barefoot and had stubbed a toe against a chair. It was broken but instead of running off to the doctor she just taped them together and carried on working. That was Sabine.

In 2013 after many years since our previous visit we planned a holiday on Islay. On our second day we visited her favourite distillery where she was a "Friend" and wished to collect her rent for her square foot of Islay. The distillery personnel were a little stumped when they couldn't find her membership details on the computer but they persevered and then discovered she was a "friend" from before the computer days and eventually found her in one of the original volumes shelved in the visitor centre. Suddenly she was a celebrity as they explained they don't often get "Friends" turning up who are in those volumes. She enjoyed an hour or two of pampering and drams in the distillery.


Sadly after visiting Laphroaig I wanted to get a couple of photos of the neighbouring Lagavulin distillery so drove to their car park where I parked and asked Sabine to stay with the car whilst I was just a few minutes. She didn't, she decided to explore a little and tried to walk around the uneven grassy area outside the distillery where she took a nasty fall. The small hospital on Islay couldn't cope with this so she was air-lifted to Glasgow where she spent a few weeks having a major hip rebuild before being flown back to a local hospital here.

In 2014 she was fit to travel again so we returned to Islay to enjoy the holiday we didn't really have the previous year.

Sabine's birthday is 16th February so this year I promised her a weekend away as she was feeling so much better after the long and painful months of the last couple of years. Having brittle bones isn't easy, she was permanently in so much pain from her 150+ fractures that she needed some extremely strong pain medication just to get through each day, but feeling better and more active we spent a long weekend in a nice hotel at Starnbergersee and started to plan more trips for the coming year, what we'd see, photograph and experience once again ....... Sadly this isn't to be. Just four days after returning home from our wonderful weekend I left for work with Sabine safely sleeping (and gently snoring as usual) only to return home to find she'd died whilst I'd been out of the house.

My sweetheart, I once told you I loved you more with the passing of each day and this will remain true for the rest of my life.


I'll, sorry we'll miss you dearestest Sabine


Rest In Peace, 16.2.1958 - 26.2.2016







My heartfelt thanks to The Malt Maniacs for all your support during this difficult time and also to friends around the world who so kindly offered their own tributes.



Daffodils at Laphroaig

from a resident Maniac



I will be raising the very best Laphroaig I have in my sample cupboard tonight to Sabine. I hope it will be a fitting tribute to her memory.

Last night, after a long gruelling day (was home at 11pm, and completely against my normal habits of not having a drink on weekdays) I finished the last drop of a 1967 Laphroiag Signatory!  and yes, I did think of you and Sabine.

That dram of Laphroaig will be raised to Sabine’s memory tonight.

I actually opened a Laphroaig 1997 52.3% BBR last night and had quite a few glasses.

Laphroaig 10 yo, Green Stripe, cask Strength, 57.3% Issued +/- 2000-, my best Laphroaig ever.  In memory of Sabine.

I choose the 20 y 22.12.65/2.9.86 at 50.4 % for Intertrade 75 cl b 123/171
N : In front of a beach during a thunderstorm, whiff of oyster seaweed, then lovely cedar, rose and sandal wood, some camphor and
dark chocolate too, very peaty and lemony
M : huge length very peaty lemony and woody extremely oily dense intense, peaty and lemony too, dry ham smoke, cigar
and fresh tobacco magnificent, hugely complex
F : what more to say utterly superb huge length

Laphroaig 32 year old 46.6%. Sherry splashed on a crumbly plum pudding with almost-forgotten road tar and Scotland’s Atlantic beaches. Richly sweet layers of fading ancient peat. (in memory of Sabine).




As a personal tribute or memorium I raised three glasses to my dear wife


Laphroaig CS Batches 5 & 6 and Berry Brother's 1997-2015 Cask #55 for LMDW

Wonderful Laphroaigs, wonderful memories and yes, lots of that peaty Atlantic magic

Rest in peace my sweetheart, I love you and miss you.




It's now one year on and I'm still trying to come to terms with this, my life has changed forever and not a day goes by without me thinking of my dear Sabine.

Over the past year I've collected many Laphroaig samples which I'm currently tasting and writing notes for so that I can update my Laphroaig distillery page in memory of my beloved sweetheart who I still miss and love more than ever.


The following drams are dedicated to Sabine:









A selection of previous Dram-atics highlights


  The Liquid




Class of 64-65



Elementary my dear Sukhinder

Fab Fo(u)rties

Drams at Dawn

Prohibition Three Ways



Matching Malts to Music




  Festivals & Events

Limburg 2015

An annual Pilgrimmage

Limburg Crooks & Nannies

Limburg - Whet Dreams



Autumn 2013 Speyside










  Getting About

St. Magdalene / Linlithgow

Islay Revisited




  The Maniacs

Motor Maniac meets Malt Maniac

Anoraks Bottles & Castle

Nosing New Make

Blend of Maniacs



  The Malt Maniacs Awards - MMA  

MMA 2015 The Gathering of the Drams

MMA 2014 Unplugged

MMA 2013 Unplugged

MMA 2011 Winners


Coming soon!




A brace of luxury

Debussy plays Pitaud





Other major features  

May 2013

Duelling Drams - Man vs Clipper  

April 2013

100 points - Perfect Percy, Eggs-otic Isles Egg & Mug, Sixy bunny  

March 2013

International Whisky Day - Raise a Glass & Raise Awareness  

February 2013

A Horse, A Bow & a Dear  

Autumn 2012

The Olympkins, Getting old and Grainy  

May-Jun 2012

Dalmore Constellation, Independence?  

Mar-Apr 2012

Investment grade madness, Glenglassaugh, 5th IWD, 1000th Review, April Fool, Going dotty, age verification  

Feb. 2012

It's a rum old do, Growing old gracefully, Four Imperial sisters  

Jan. 2012

Onwards & Upwards, Canadian Whisky Awards  

Dec. 2011

HP 70's Orcadians  

Sept-Nov 2011

Malt Maniacs Awards 2011 - A weekend in the life of a Postmaster General  

June-Aug 2011

Bits Bytes & Drams, Glen Garioch 1994, Angela D'Orazio - Mackmyra, Trinity of Two Earls

May 2011

Don't bug me with ads, A dram fine evening

April 2011

Cry me a River, Golden Oldies, The Shackleton Legacy, Two Weddings and a Whisky

March 2011

Masters of Photography, Memory and the Middle Cut, Sampling again, Dave Stirk 5, Choosing choice Choices

Feb. 2011

Festival time again, Spam Galore!, Drams & Trams

Jan. 2011

Lookback at 2010, New Job? Three Thirties, ToC, Overdosing on sherry casks

Dec. 2010

December's Advent-urous drams, Nant Distillery, The road to Certification


Nov. 2010

Journey to end of Scotverse, Wick, Pulteney, Balblair, Knockdhu, Homecoming, Tweetup, Chilling with Cooley  

Oct. 2010

The John Walker, Sampling with Master of Malts, Changing jobs, Whisky Round Table  

Sept. 2010

Playing Chinese whispers, Oktoberfest, SMWS Spirit Cellar, 500,000  

August 2010

Elementary my dear Islay, Handbags at dawn, Dram-arkable 500, Cheapo Challenge, Ah Dooagh, 1 from 3 left  

July 2010

Age matters. A series of whisky reviews concentrating upon 'Age'  

June 2010

Jules Rimet, pickles & crisps. Mon coeur, mon amour oh mon sherry. A taste of the great outdoors.  

May 2010

The highly-acclaimed and record-breaking "Desert Island Drams"  

April 2010

My peat's bigger than your peat, A foursome with a famous Scottish bird  

March 2010

Sample Mania tasting notes, The Good, the Bad & The Loch Dh-Ugly, A return to sanity, The Choice of Managers  

Jan-Feb 2010

Keep taking the medicine, It's Festival time, Maker's Mark, Sleeveless in Munich  

Dec. 2009

All power to bean-counters, protecting Scotch, seasonal drams, Definitive Xmas Drams, 2009 Whisky Awards  

Nov. 2009

How it all started, Bonfire night, Autumnal musings, EU Tax & Duty, What's in a (whisky) name?  









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