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  1. #11
    Enthusiast
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    Jul 2010
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    Minneapolis, MN
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    442

    Re: What Good Are Ratings?

    While tasting descriptors and qualitative assessment of any beverage is absolutely a subjective affair, we - as Americans - are fairly obsessed with ratings. Many people won't see a movie that doesn't get two thumbs up, won't eat dinner at an establishment that doesn't earn at least two stars, and won't buy a wine that doesn't garner at least a 90-point rating from Parker or Spectator.

    Distilled spirits, I'm happy to say, seems to be less dominated by ratings and the consumer demand for them. I think this is because spirits are so brand-driven. That said, if you're aim is to provide a critical review of Bourbon (or anything else), you need to provide the reader with some means of assessing your qualitative reaction to that which you're reviewing. This need isn't so much to provide the reader with an 100% accurate/objective assessment, but to allow the reader a means to calibrate their palate to yours, the reviewer.

    Take, as an example, the single-most influential critic out there: wine critic Robert Parker. Having known (and read) him for 20+ years, I've come to know that what 'rocks his world' are wines that are highly-extracted, with relatively high in pH, alcohol and that have a touch of residual sugar. So, when I see a "95-100" point rating from Bob, I know the wine reviewed is going to exhibit this style. If that's the style of wine I'm looking for, chances are I'll like this wine. Conversely, if I like leaner, higher-acid wines, it's a good bet to stay away from this Parker darling.
    Last edited by mrviognier; 08-07-2010 at 19:36.
    Mat Garretson
    HIGH WEST DISTILLERY

  2. #12
    Disciple
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    Mar 2005
    Location
    Sweden
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    1,722

    Re: What Good Are Ratings?

    Rating by points seem ok to me as it the most concise way of telling how much you like a whiskey. I can agree though that 100 points is far too much, but on the other hand 4 seem a little rough to me.
    A few years ago I had a prescription of whisky magazine and they had a 10-point scale with quarter as the lowest step. That meant 40 steps theoretically but only about 20 in practice. I thought that was a reasonably way of rating.
    I do personally go almost exclusively from what I read here on the forum.

    Leif
    Swedish lover of American whiskey

  3. #13
    Advanced Taster
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    Jan 2010
    Location
    Virginia
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    166

    Re: What Good Are Ratings?

    Quote Originally Posted by fishnbowljoe View Post
    BUY AGAIN

    NO
    PROBABLY NOT
    MAYBE
    PROBABLY
    YES
    DEFINITELY
    For my personal ratings, I like this system. I use this for cigars since I used to try a wide variety and applied it to bourbon.

    In general, I'll look for reviews or ratings of more expensive bottles before making the leap to purchase simply because I'm trying to figure out if it's worth spending the money. From that standpoint, I think the ratings can be helpful, but they can't be taken as absolute given the inherent subjectivity of taste.

    Mike
    Never ask a man if he is from Virginia. If he is, he'll tell you. If he isn't, you don't want to embarass him.

  4. #14
    Trippah and Admin
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    Feb 2008
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    Northeast Ahia
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    4,660

    Re: What Good Are Ratings?

    I recall having the same discussion here on SB a while back and my binary rating system in use back then has not changed.

    0 - Don't buy it again
    1 - Buy it again
    My name is Joel Goodson. I deal in human fulfillment.
    I grossed over eight thousand dollars in one night. Time of your life, huh kid?

  5. #15
    Guru
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    Mar 2005
    Location
    Livonia, MI
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    2,060

    Re: What Good Are Ratings?

    Quote Originally Posted by fishnbowljoe View Post
    I like my rating system. On my spreadsheet of bourbons I have, and/or have had, in the last column I enter my feelings as to whether or not I would buy a whiskey again. Looks something like this.


    BUY AGAIN

    NO
    PROBABLY NOT
    MAYBE
    PROBABLY
    YES
    DEFINITELY


    I guess it's a variation of a four point rating system. Just add a couple more points. At the very least, it gives me a reference point to work with in case I revisit, or run across a bottle of whiskey I haven't had or seen in a while. Cheers! Joe
    I'm less indecisive with the grading. The purchasing categories are more like:

    No
    OK
    Sure
    Absolutely

    The standard are price and availability adjusted.

    Good thread Chuck, made even better by the quality of replies.

  6. #16
    Bourbonian of the Year 2006
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    Dec 2001
    Location
    Rockland County, NY
    Posts
    1,937

    Re: What Good Are Ratings?

    I think we should have the Serve It To Scale

    The low end of the scale is: Bring to a party of strangers and willing to leave it.

    The high end of the scale: Put on the table at the Gazebo and lay claim to it.

    Sort of an audience worthiness scale.

    The second lowest point on the scale would be: Serve to posers who claim they only like one whisky and can pick it out blind.

    What other levels might fit?

    Ex wife?
    Inlaws?
    Colonel Ed
    Bourbonian of the Year 2006

    Comissioned by Paul Patton, 1999

    "It ain't the booze that brings me in here, it's the solace it distills"

  7. #17
    Enthusiast
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Minneapolis, MN
    Posts
    442

    Re: What Good Are Ratings?

    How 'bout:

    - Wouldn't be stranded on an island without a barrel of it;
    - Wouldn't object to being served it;
    - Wouldn't drink it unless it was the only Bourbon on the bar; and,
    - Wouldn't clean my garage floor with it.
    Mat Garretson
    HIGH WEST DISTILLERY

  8. #18
    Apprentice
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    S.F. Bay Area, California
    Posts
    35

    Re: What Good Are Ratings?

    I am pleased to have read Chuck Cowdery's book early on in my 'bourbon career" and find much to agree with in his assessment of the uselessness of these 100-pt rating systems. I took his basic system and expanded it. At the top of my tasting notes notebook I made up is a way for me to remind myself of the overall experience of a particular bottle without assigning numbers. Mine goes like this:

    -Undrinkable
    -Bad
    -Okay
    -Good
    -Very Good
    -Outstanding
    -Sublime

    The first may mean I really don't like something, there is a cork problem, a bad batch or whatever. Bad means I don't care for it as it's made but someone else might. The "ok, good, very good and outstanding" should make sense by themselves while the last one, "sublime" is something I'm looking forward to when I have more experience. Those sublime moments, when words fail completely and it's too incredible to think about but rather just enjoy it while it lasts. Based on what I've tasted so far, I know this is possible with bourbon.

    Cordially,
    Trace T.
    "Bourbon makes me happy." - T.T.

  9. #19
    Connoisseur
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    Jun 2010
    Location
    Greenwood, IN
    Posts
    675

    Re: What Good Are Ratings?

    I was thinking Chuck's 0-4 system made a lot of sense to me. It seemed very close to about the number of categories I would place bourbons or beer brands into. Then it came to me; 0, 1, 2, 3, 4 correspond perfectly to F, D, C, B, A. Then we can get into plus and minus if you like.

  10. #20
    Disciple
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    Jul 2005
    Location
    North Shore Boston, MA
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    1,604

    Re: What Good Are Ratings?

    In my bourbon inventory I rate both taste and value on a three-point scale (+/o/-) corresponding to better-than-average, average, worse-than-average -- where "average" corresponds roughly to Jim Beam Black.
    Kevin

    "Clears up her head with bourbon/Cause beer is so suburban/And declasse for what it's worth"

 

 

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