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ABV in relation to score

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@casualtorture
casualtorture started a discussion

So I keep an Excel spreadsheet of my whisky adventures. I created some charts now that I have a larger data set and noticed that more often than not, my scores tend to go up as ABV goes up. Not always of course, and there are lower ABV drams that I have scored fairly high. Is this also the case with you? (I wish I could upload the charts somehow)

5 years ago

19 replies

@jsilevinac
jsilevinac replied

I’ve been in the beer business for 20 years now. One of the frustrating things I see is that most of the top beers on rating lists are all high-ABV beers. On most Top 50 lists it’s rare to see something less than 6.0%! Most of my go-to beers (beautifully created) are less than 5%

5 years ago 2Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound

It’s not impossible, but it is rare for a 40% ABV whisky to blow me away. It probably has just as much to do with the abundance of mass-produced, mediocre quality whisky sold at 40%. Once you get up to Cask Strength offerings, the distilleries are generally targeting a different demographic, so they’re normally more careful with cask selection.

5 years ago 1Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor replied

@casualtorture, some of us have a preference for higher ABV whiskies. That would naturally tend to goose the scores a little higher for those products.

@jsilevinac, some of us are exceptionally sensitive to thin body in a beverage. The higher ABV products, in beer and in whisky, seen to give a thicker mouthfeel. There are some Scotch pundits who advocate diluting all of your whisky down to 20% ABV for tasting purposes because they feel that that provides the ideal environment in which to experience the subtle nuances of all of the flavours. For many of us drinking the whisky at that dilution completely ruins the experience, because the experience is more than the subtleties of flavour.

5 years ago 2Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan replied

Cask strength = Full flavour

Anything less is dilution of the flavour (with the exception of adding a few drops in the glass to open it up)

The alcohol in the product is not as relevant as what you do to it.

If you take something that is in the cask at 60% and bring it to 45% (as in CC40 last year) you are essentially adding 33% inert volume to it, thus diluting the concentration of flavour per mL.

5 years ago 0

gfc replied

@casualtorture Yes, I also find this to be the case. Here is a picture of my chart, does yours look similar?

5 years ago 2Who liked this?

Expand image
@MadSingleMalt

@gfc, that's awesome!

If I'm interpreting that correctly, it seems like a low-ABV whisky is pretty unpredictable, but a high-ABV is much more reliably good. Does that seem like a fair way to spin it?

5 years ago 3Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound

@MadSingleMalt I could be wrong, but I think that’s fair. Cask Strength whiskies have everything amplified....including any faults. I also tend to score cask strength whiskies higher. This may be bias on my part knowing they’re CS whiskies, but even those I’ve tasted blind have been scored higher. To borrow from the much-maligned (unfairly maligned, I’d say) Guy Fieri, Cask Strength whiskies just drive you to the heart of Flavour-Town.

5 years ago 1Who liked this?

gfc replied

@MadSingleMalt Yes, I would say that's an accurate assessment. I believe @OdysseusUnbound is pretty spot on as to why (target consumers, flavor amplification). I know my purchasing decisions reflect the graph. I am much more likely to buy a high abv offering as I am fairly confident that I will enjoy it.

5 years ago 1Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan replied

@OdysseusUnbound I like Guy.

Of course, I liked Guy in the last leadership race too...

5 years ago 1Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote replied

43% is my absolute minimum these days. I have found that the difference between 40% and 43% for the same whisky (eg Laph 10, Glenmo 10 Balvenie DW) can be quite pronounced. However, I am most comfortable between 46% and the mid to high 50s.

5 years ago 3Who liked this?

@RianC
RianC replied

@gfc @casualtorture - Those spreadsheets are delightfully geeky heart_eyes

As has been said, more abv = more flavour. There's no doubt about that.

If the flavour isn't great though then it won't be a great whisky - but I'd probably prefer a bad one at CS than at 40%. Do I score CS higher? Yeah, probably. I can say with certainty that many a malt at a lower abv would be scored higher with more punch to it. As @Victor says, it's not just taste and nuances it's mouth feel - that's a big deal for me.

40% is a definite turn off these days and there are only a few 'trusted' malts I'll buy at that strength (if the price is right). I'd add that any bourbon at 40% just seems waaaay to thin these days.

5 years ago 5Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan replied

@RianC I prefer things at cask strength but I agree - a bad whisky at 43% could be worse at higher proof.

While I consider myself willing to try bad whisky as a novelty, I would shudder at the thought of Lambertus at CS

5 years ago 4Who liked this?

@casualtorture

@gfc Nice, mine is a bar graph with score as the bottom axis and ABV as the vertical axis.

5 years ago 1Who liked this?

gfc replied

@jsilevinac Perhaps a little off topic, but I would really like to know what some of your go to beers are. Most of my favorites are indeed higher abv, but I really wish they weren't. A single 12oz 10% beer and I am out for the night.

5 years ago 1Who liked this?

@casualtorture

@gfc Anything by Founders and D9 breweries, Oskar Blues Scotch Ale, and Left Hand milk stout which is only 5% I think. And some local stuff.

5 years ago 0

gfc replied

@casualtorture I like a lot of Founders stuff, but they are all the high abv selections. Oskar blues scotch ale is 8%, but that reminds me of a local beer I like and haven't had in a while - Sun King Wee Mac Scotch ale at 5.3%. I will have to pick some up soon. I have never heard of D9, if they are available in my market I will check them out. Thanks.

5 years ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan replied

@gfc How about "Founder's Reserve" by Glenlivet?

5 years ago 2Who liked this?

gfc replied

@Nozinan Sure, I'd give it a try as long as I don't have to pay for it. Also, while it is low abv, it's not the founders I am talking about.

5 years ago 1Who liked this?