I didn’t mean to start rating whiskies…it just happened. After all, I’m just some guy living in Arizona (hardly a whisky mecca) who just started drinking whisky a year ago. No industry connections or special olfactory powers, either. I just have a passion for whisky (the drink, the production process, and the history) and thought I’d share my discoveries and experiences as I go. I purposely avoided calling posts about expressions I’ve tasted “reviews”, and stayed away from ratings, as these things are provided by “professionals”.
The rating thing started when I attempted to share my thoughts on the Port Askaig range. I wanted to express my preferences within the range, and provide context relative to other Islay malts that I’ve tasted. I threw together some hypothetical ratings of other whiskies and then fit the PA bottlings into the mix. Once I got started, though, I couldn’t stop. I’ve been sneaking in ratings with more assertiveness with each subsequent post.
I decided to stop and look at what I’m trying to achieve with these ratings. My goal is not to present myself as some kind of expert, but rather to provide a quick way of communicating how I feel about an expression relative to my own preferences and tasting experiences. Ahh…providing a “quick” understanding of what I’m trying to communicate. Looking at this post, I think this is a good thing. According to my WordPress editor, I’m 250 words into this entry and just getting to my point. Let’s face it…I ramble!
My new “Quick Take” scheme
[Edit on 11/14/2009] I’ll probably be changing this a bit. After 5 weeks of sinus problems, and a focus on samples and/or multi-expression comparisons when my nose has been “working”, I’m finding that I don’t want to do a post dedicated to a particular expression because it’s a pain to fire up PowerPoint and figure out exactly where to put each of the pies in the below quick take format. I’ll look into keeping the same concept, but doing it all in text.
So I came up with a combination graphical/rating scheme that I’m going to use in an attempt to quickly communicate my thoughts on whiskies that I try. I’ll still include the actual tasting notes separately in my posts. Here’s what it looks like:
Note: I probably won’t do a full “Quick Take” rating when I only have a small sample of a whisky. In those cases, I’ll probably just provide a “tentative” point rating.
Interpretation of this rating? The nose is reasonably interesting, but the palate and finish are just so-so in terms of impact, complexity and duration. However, what IS there on the nose and palate is quite enjoyable. Left brain says this is just barely above average, but right brain says “yummy…may I have another?” The score reflects my desire to express fundamental enjoyment.
Key to ratings
Complexity/Impact: Divided into Nose, Palate and Finish, The goal here is to give a high level idea of how “interesting” the whisky is through each of the drinking phases. Is the nose multidimensional? Is it bold or weak on the palate? How long is the finish?
Enjoyment: Ok, I suppose “noseability” isn’t a word. That’s my way of describing the amount of pleasure I get by just sitting with the glass and taking in the aromas. For drinkability, was it a completely pleasing experience, or are there distracting elements on the palate and finish?
ScoresF (0-24) = Made me hurl. E (25-49) = I think I might hurl. D (50-69) = Yuck! C- (70-72) = Drinkable. Barely. Might cause strange facial expressions. C (73-77) = Cocktail fodder? Either totally bland, or some significant flaw. C+ (78-79) = Enjoyable enough, but forgettable. B- (80-82) = A good drink. Possibly bland or with minor flaws. B (83-87) = A go-to drink. Very good depending on mood. B+ (88-89) = Top shelf. Flirting with excellence. A- (90-92) = Excellent! Always in the mood for these. A (93-97) = The best of the best for now. A+ (98-00) = The search has ended!
Why both a letter and a number?
The numbers are primarily for head-to-head comparison posts, where I want to communicate subtle preferences, but also to give an idea if I’m on the verge of going to the next higher/lower letter grade. I’ll probably just indicate the letter in any summary data that I might put elsewhere in the site.
Well, there you go. I’ll post my Quick Take graphics at the top of whisky “review” posts, and then use the rest of the post to provide tasting notes, links to other opinions, and to ramble on the way that I do. Bunnahabhain 12 will be the subject of my first such post. I’ll also create a Ratings tab that summarizes all of the whiskies I’ve rated, with the letter grade and a link to the corresponding post.Thanks, Jeff