Without the Community there would be no Whiskybase, which is why we want to put a spotlight on some of our beloved members and showcase our diversity. Get to learn the person behind the avatar. In this first instalment we talk to GLEN MAUR from Italy.
In his offline life GLEN MAUR goes by Mauro Leoni. The 60-year-old Italian lives near Como and owns a company that produces textile machinery. He’s also an avid collector of single malt whisky from Scotland and a big contributor to Whiskybase. Mauro Leoni is on of our most active members, with a collection of whisky that consists of thousands of bottles.
When did you first get into whisky?
“I remember that when I was a young boy, maybe ten or twelve years old, I was playing with miniature whisky bottles. I still have them! But during my younger years I really only drank grappa. It wasn’t until my wedding in 1990 when I really started to collect on a serious level. Collecting was all I did at first. I liked the bottles, the labels en the history of the whisky. But gradually the contents started to interested me more.”
Is that also when you started your own whisky club?
“Well, that was about ten years later. Together with some friends I founded GluGlu2000. We have visited Scotland several times, and we also travelled to Japan and Kentucky. Every two months we organise a whisky dinner. Since then I realized that whisky is absolutely something to share. I have a very nice collection at home, but I never drink alone. I don’t like to just drink whisky, I want to really taste and discover whisky.”
But you do still collect whisky. Anything in particular?
“At first I collected everything. Then I focused more on Scottish single malts, but nothing too specific. I do have a fondness for Islay, but really I just collect bottles that I like. If possible I like to buy two of everything, especially if it isn’t a really expensive bottle. One to collect and one to open and share with the club. Obviously the value is always increasing, but I don’t do it to make money. I want to appreciate the whisky. One way of doing that is by sharing it with others.”
There are a lot of famous Italian collectors. Why do you think that is?
“Us Italians we collect everything, that’s why there are so many Italian collectors. Paintings, cars, just about anything. In Italy we also have whisky pioneers, in part because we appreciate the beauty and the taste of food. Silvano Samaroli was one of them. All his bottlings are really so nice. I have one of his Bowmore 1966 Samaroli ‘Bouquet’, which I bought for about 100 euro. Now there is one Belgian webshop selling it for 30.000 euro. Completely crazy.”
When did you discover Whiskybase?
“First I started my own online database. But when I was researching bottles I came across Whiskybase. I became a member in 2011 because it is so nice, with the links to shops and everything. I decided to stop my own website and to start contributing to Whiskybase. I don’t only post reviews of whiskies, but also submit photo’s, because I have a big collection. Plus I do a lot of reviews of shops, restaurants, and distilleries I’ve visited. It’s really fun to use Whiskybase. I visit the website practically every day.”
Why does whisky interest you as much as it does? Can you explain that?
“I remember when I first tasted Ardbeg. I didn’t like it. This is medicine, is what I thought. But with me everything comes from curiosity, so I continued tasting whisky. I want to discover things. What I also like that whisky is the only strong alcoholic drink you can pair with food. It’s something I really like to do. We just had our 70th whisky dinner with the club. Usually we pair six dishes with six whiskies.”
Is there a whisky or distillery that you really like? Do you have a favourite?
“Lagavulin is probably my number one distillery. It used to be Ardbeg, but unfortunately their last bottlings are not so good. Another one that I like very much is Brora. Their whisky is fantastic. When I turned fifty I hosted whisky dinners almost every month of the year, each time highlighting one of my favourite distilleries. Ardbeg, Lagavulin, Macallan, Highland Park, Brora, Port Ellen, Glenmorangie, Springbank and Talisker. Caol Ila and Bowmore would now also be a part of that list.”
You are involved with a very unique single malt whisky from Italy. Tell us a little more about that.
“I have a house near Bormio, which is close to Peloni distillery. They are famous for Amaro Braulio, a digestive liqueur. The brand is now owned by Campari, but they still produce it. They also make beer and grappa. So my idea was that they could try their hand on whisky. In 2008 they distilled some whisky, only five or six casks. We bottled the first cask last year, a former Caol Ila cask. We call it Ghibinèt, and it is the first single malt whisky distilled in Italy.”
How has it been received so far?
“I brought a sample with me during my last trip to Speyside and gave it to some important people there, because I really want to know what they think. They said they’ll send me tasting notes. Also MaltMartin gave it 87 points on Whiskybase. And I received very positive feedback and tasting notes from Richard Patterson and Ingvar Ronde, which I posted on Whiskybase.”
Do you think you’ll ever stop collecting and discovering whisky?
“No, my interest in whisky only increases. For me it is too late to start something serious in the whisky industry, but my dream is that my 19-year-old son will maybe end up in the wine or whisky world. By that time I’ll be retired, and I’d be very glad to help him.”