When I first started to develop an interest in whisk(e)y a few months ago, the BTI's website at http://www.tastings.com/ was one of the first resources I used. Their reviews were helpful in selecting my first few bottles.
I still check their website if I hear about an unfamiliar brand or bottling, in the same way I check Jim Murray's books, etc. I don't always agree, but I can get a general sense of perceived quality from such reviews. It's also helpful if I see something highly rated that I hadn't considered buying previously.
Some disparaging comments made about BTI on another forum have made me wonder what other people feel about BTI and other such rating/review systems (hence this thread).
I like the idea of an organization devoted to independently testing spirits with some kind of fair methodology. It's an interesting and possibly contentious idea, especially given that such things are inherently subjective.
They don't accept advertising or sponsorship, but do have a fee for reviewing a product, no doubt to pay their overhead. Certain people seems to feel that they hand out medals and scores a bit too easily. I haven't observed this, myself, but I'm pretty new to whisk(e)y in general.
What do you folks think?