Tech a dram: Whisky apps for the iPad, reviewed
WHISKY apps are slowly but surely popping up on Apple’s App Store, but as The Scotsman discovers, only a select few measure up; the rest leave a rather bitter aftertaste
iMalt HD, £2.99
iMalt HD is a reasonable enough app on paper: acting as a compendium of single malts and distillieries in all the major whisky-producing regions in Scotland (plus, oddly, Ireland and Japan - but more on that later), it offers whisky lovers the chance to compile a personalised database of their own whisky knowledge, with the single malts and distillery database as a starting point. While the app’s functional aspect is sound enough, its presentation is less alluring. The interface makes minimal use of the iPad’s bells, whistles and swooshes. Moreover, the interface’s deeply unimaginitive blanket of brownness is wholly unappealing. Also odd that, while Japan and Ireland are included as whisky-producing regions, many others are excluded.
Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible Pro 2012, £12.99
Jim Murray’s impressively authoritative and comprehensive guide to world whiskies - including those from places as far-flung as Taiwan and South Africa - is not only presented via a clear and discreet interface, but also has a wealth of informative and knowledgeable reviews of all the 4,500 whiskies profiled within. Adjudged by nose, taste, balance and finish, each whisky is given a thorough analysis by Murray’s keen palate. The multimedia content, which includes video guides to whisky tasting, goes some way to justifying the app’s price tag.
The Whiskey Encyclopedia, £0.69
The Whiskey Encyclopedia is not pretty. Its inviting price-point does rather signpost the effort that went into designing the app (ie. none), and the interface is nothing less than a cut-and-shut job, with inelegant, oversized fonts and Geocities-era jpeg images galore. As aesthetically basic an app as you could possibly imagine, sure, but its simplicity is also actually an asset to an extent. The layout is simple, all of the essential information is provided (minus tasting notes, though), and there is even a price quoted for each whisky, albeit in US dollars. That said, even foregoing the app’s hackit presentation, there’s insufficient depth here available to recommend it. Rating: *
Now this is more like it. On the other end of the scale from the brutalist HTML aesthetic of some of its competitors, the Glenmorangie app is a feast for the eyes, with lovingly rendered graphics and a pleasing nectar and parchment colour scheme framing its interface. The interactive features are imaginative, and make the experience that wee bit more compelling. That said, the app itself is rather light on content and there’s little escaping the notion that you’re being lulled into a high-spec piece of PR fluff.
Whisky Online: Ardbeg Distillery, £0.69
Whisky Online is a series of apps profiling Scotland’s major distilleries, among which is the Ardbeg Distillery in Islay. The app offers a wealth of information about the location of the distillery alongside a brief history of the distillery itself, together with detailed annotations on its major whiskies. Though the app, in presentation and content, feels rough around the edges, given time it could prove to be a very useful series indeed.