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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff
Wednesday, 29 August 2012 03:02

Whisky in the Wild… Why I Won’t Be Scoring Whiskies Anymore

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I have been considering my whisky reviews on my website recently and have dubbed them in a recent conversation as "whisky in the wild" reviews.  That is to say I taste the whiskey and write my notes wherever I happen to find the drink ... that can be in a bar, restaurant, sat in my living room or at a whiskey promotion or tasting event.  I am certainly not trying to write notes in a controlled environment where no "outside" factors can have an influence.  Instead I choose to write reviews at the time and place I encountered it and there is no doubt that has an impact on my notes.    I would argue that I am enjoying that whisky in its natural environment, experiencing it as it is meant to be experienced.  That is what I mean by "whisky in the wild".  It is the difference between taking a picture of a tiger in a zoo and seeing one in their natural habitat.  Is this how you are supposed to do it?  Well almost every guide to tasting and nosing whisky says no, but this is my website so I can do it if I want to and I happen to feel my approach does have some validity. 

 

In addition to location the sample size can vary.  Sometimes I get just a dram at a bar or a pouring at a tasting event, while other times I may have full bottle and take a couple of drams to formulate my notes and opinions.  I am not writing these reviews for anyone else and they are 100% my opinion, however as I have chosen to make them public I realized that it might not be fair to rate or score a whisky under these circumstances, even with my rather simplistic "4 star" scoring system as some situations will be more conducive to higher scores than others.   It has recently occurred to me you don't actually have to give a whisky a score, for example  www.thewhiskywire.com  has taken (or perhaps even started) this scoreless approach to reviews and having watched Aberdeen Football Club for two seasons I am actually very comfortable and familiar with the concept of "scoreless".

So as I am working on an upgrade of the webpage this month I have decided to remove all grades from existing reviews and from all future ones... I think a written review is good enough.  I believe my writing (usually) will leave you in no doubt as to whether I liked a whisky or not, and if it doesn't then that is OK too.  After all sometimes you are in the mood for a certain whisky, sometimes not and sometimes you feel like a mango margarita and so "scoring" them becomes irrelevant at that point, you want what you want.  Something so emotional does not lend itself to being scored and when coupled with my lack of consistency in how I review, I feel my ratings are meaningless.   I have much admiration for people have the discipline to taste whisky "properly" and assign scores based on a well structured system, and find those notes very useful when I am trying to identify a flavor or taste, but I prefer to experience the tiger running wild, not behind bars at a zoo.

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