Steve Ventura (a.k.a. Pizaro, or The Maltfreak) was born under the curse of a discerning palate, which makes nearly all things in life more expensive. In particular, Steve enjoys the finer things in food and drink. Once his palate opened to the world of whisky, he found a lifelong obsession. Starting out with bourbon (long enough ago to find A.H. Hirsch and Pappy not just affordable but fairly readily available), he soon found his way to single malt Scotch whisky. It didn’t take long for Steve – who never confined himself to a single distillery or region of Scotland – to begin exploring the offerings of independent bottlers; he was soon attending as many tastings as possible run by ambassadors of independent bottlers or of the importers who bring those products to the U.S. While there are certainly Scotch distilleries he returns to again and again (the wide-ranging products of the Springbank distillery are particular favorites), he says he believes there are a few independents out there who are consistently bottling the most exquisite elixirs of Scottish origin on the shelves today, which is why he has devoted his blog (http://maltfreak.com) almost entirely to those bottlers.