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What do you like to see in a whisky review?

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@Nozinan
Nozinan started a discussion

Reviews come in all shapes and forms. Some are one liners, and others read like a novel. Some are detailed, some general.

I think it would be great to have a thread for newcomers to peruse, where they can see what members find useful or entertaining in reviews. It would also help provide general feedback to those with dozens (or more) under their belts.

So let's read: what do you want to see in a review?

5 years ago

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@MadSingleMalt

I enjoy pretty much any kind of review except the kind that's just a list of flavors. Whisky provokes a response—in a person—and it's that response I like to hear about.

I don't want the printout from a spectrometer.

If you like to write that kind of review, go for it. But don't be offended when I skip to your last paragraph to find out what you thought. wink

5 years ago 5Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote replied

@Nozinan Have to agree with @MadSingleMalt. I don’t care if the reviewer got notes of kumquat, I just want to know if it tasted good or bad or just ok, if it was good value for money, and if he/she liked it or not and why. Points are pretty subjective and can vary dramatically from reviewer to reviewer. I saw something recently given 100 points. That’s just not realistic.

5 years ago 3Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound

I like some flavour notes, even if it’s just to give me an idea. Now I have to roll my eyes when I read some who include notes such as a bouquet reminiscent of the blooming lavender fields of the Luberon in mid-August. BUT I like to know if it’s nutty, fruity (red fruits? Green fruits?), smoky, briny, peppery, etc. But like the previous posters, I enjoy some reflections on the sipping experience as well. Is the whisky best as an after dinner digestif? as a compliment to a cigar ? with your morning gruel ration, etc? What prompted you to buy/try this particular whisky?

5 years ago 5Who liked this?

Jonathan replied

I prefer reviews that address the way that a whisk(e)y was made, and what actual components went into that I don't write many reviews because I'm not as knowledgable as I'd like to be about whisky production. i also find comparisons to whisk(e)ys I know to be helpful. Poetic reviews are nice, but I read poetry for a living and prefer to leave that in another corner. There are exception:like when someone is totally blown away or turned off by a whisky...then I pay attention. Some whiskies, like the Uigeadail, are beyond my own powers of description. I've learned a lot from the reviews on this particular site. I find Serge, on the other hand, to be entertaining, but I don't get half of his references and can't find or afford many of the whiskies he's reviewing.

5 years ago 4Who liked this?

@cricklewood
cricklewood replied

Good idea for a thread, I don't think this kind of topic gets delved into enough.

As one who can be accused of being both long-winded and using imaginary taste markers (it's never meant to be pompous, more like taste association). I like to read reviews that are reminiscent of my favourite cookbooks. They have to give me a little story or insight into both the writer and the product, a dash of humour and be evocative of either a place, time or flavour, all the above if successful.

That said I like all types and like to get to know the reviewer through their notes, that way I can better understand their critiques, palates and see where I stand in contrast to that.

5 years ago 4Who liked this?

@archivist
archivist replied

Connosr newbie for all of two weeks. I like it when members discuss flavors and I don't mind if he/she waxes poetic, but the one thing I look for is that first impression (sharp? sweet? funky?) and then if he/she indicates having that dram sit for 10 minutes, did the funk go away? I'm interested in the experience/circumstances, and overall impressions from start to finish.

I enjoy reviews that allow me to vicariously taste too. At the end of the review, I ask myself, do I want to drink this? I'm still new to the site so it helps me learn those reviews/members that align with my tastes/preferences as I am certain to find a bottle and distillery I may not have considered or heard of before -- though this applies to those members I may not have closely aligned tastes as I'm most open to new experiences. I do appreciate reviews that spell out why this or that whiskey is "meh" or to avoid - I learn from those too.

Bottom line is I want a review (whether two lines or twenty paragraphs) that is honest, unpretentious, and encourages me to expand my whiskey/whisky horizons.

5 years ago 6Who liked this?

@Hewie
Hewie replied

I agree with most of what others have already written above, so I won't repeat the same. What then can I add? I like a review that is not too clinical. Something with a bit more life and interest to it rather than a detached, scientific perspective (says the science teacher). I want to know your response to it, what it evokes in you. I tend to be less interested in reviews that are from a small sample or a one-off tasting. How many times do we talk about how much improved a bottle is after the volume is reduced a bit and it's been left to sit for a few months? Why it it then is it that so many reviews online are from a newly opened bottle? I've had a number of bottles that I didn't think much of initially but some time after opening...... Even a bottle which I know and love can be different on different days, and some days it just seems off (clearly not due to the whisky itself). Yet often people will give their very definitive views on a "bottle" based on a small one-off sample at a tasting event. I read these with a grain of salt. People talk about one batch being superior or inferior - were they really or was it just your palate on that day in that environment? So, tell me about your first impressions, how it changes over time, and as it sits in the glass. Why do you feel the way you do about the whisky? Do you recommend it, and would you buy it again given the opportunity? (And not just no, because you have so many open bottles or bottles waiting to be opened) yadda yadda. What do I tend to read? Reviews on whiskies that I have the potential to try myself. I'm not interested in reading about the latest sports cars because that is la la land for me in my reality. Similarly, I don't tend to read reviews on a whisky I'm unlikely to have the chance to personally have. The good thing is that we are all different and different reviews cater for different peoples tastes. It would be incredibly boring if we decided on a set format for reviews on Connosr and they all followed the same pro forma. Variety is the spice of life and all that. So, keep them coming, in all their various forms!

5 years ago 5Who liked this?

RikS replied

On of my pleasures here is enjoying the various temperaments and degrees of poetic literacy of the reviewers, so I'd never want any review to be standardised. I believe my learned friend @Hewie made that same point rather forcefully and I wholeheartedly agree.

That said, a main reason of mine for reading reviews tend to be to help guide me towards the next expression to explore. Hence, there are two details in a review that come to mind; one I like, and one I do not.

I do not like when a review is preceded by half a page copy-paste from the distillery homepage outlining the history of the distillery. By all means, if the reviewer has particularly knowledge or wish to share something special (such as e.g. Springbank's traditional methodology). But otherwise, it's just weeds I need to wade through to get to the point.

I do like when a review is complimented by some information about the reviewers taste, or association. This helps me to formulate a clearer idea. "It's a bit too peaty for me" tells me little in isolation... "It's too medicinally peaty to me, normally being a big fan of Lagavulin and Laphroaig" gives me some reference point to build my understanding from.

Other than that, I prefer when people just hammer down their impressions as they come to them. And if the specifics of one review isn't enough to give me guidance, well, then I'll read all the other ones too and jointly I'll have my impression fairly clear.

5 years ago 4Who liked this?

@RianC
RianC replied

Good thread @Nozinan! I agree with others i.e @MadSingleMalt & @cricklewood.

I will add that personality in a review keeps me coming back; there's a huge range on here from someone like @victor who is very methodical and extremely informative about the whisky and how it changes with water/time etc to . . .er . . . klaek grin

In terms of flavours, smells - simple and informative work best. What @OdysseusUnbound says also rings true for me. I occasionally get over specific but only when a flavour really jumps out at me, otherwise I tend (I think) to veer towards the, sour, sweet, salty, red fruit etc kinds of descriptions. Some reviewers describe the journey they have with the dram - that's fine and engaging to read - I tend to wait until I've got to know a whisky fairly well and my dram is just as I like it, and then do my review from there.

Consistency in reviews and scoring are also really important. If they are there then you can find a person's reviews genuinely useful in your own selections (as this site has done many times - thank you again Connosr!)

What @Hewie says about less affordable/attainable whisk(e)ys also rings true for me but I will occasionally fantasise about a lottery win or the like and then dare to dream about nonchalantly ripping the cap of a 30 year old Brora or a Lagavulin for the 60s. Now and then I will look at those kinds of reviews but, and perhaps this is a bit of a character flaw, knowing I'll probably never try or own them means I usually have little interest (and maybe a hint of green eyed monster appears). What's that line from the James song ' If I hadn't seen such riches . . ' blush

5 years ago 4Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor replied

Review desiderata? In a review I want to read practical useful descriptive information which will help me to get an idea of what the whisky tastes and smells like so that I can decide for myself whether or not I would be interested in obtaining some for myself. In sum, the more detailed useful descriptive information about the whisky the better. It is a plus if that information is delivered in an engaging and entertaining way, but I am more interested in obtaining descriptive information than emotional response. I can't taste the emotional responses of others, and, absent a large catalog of each reviewer's reviews, I have little basis on which to assess whether that reviewer's whisky-related emotional responses are very similar to my own.

While I like to wax eloquent and poetic about some whiskies, I usually try to adopt a more detached style. Why? Primarily because I want to be as neutral and fair to each reviewed product as possible. A fair assessment of the sample at hand can be challenging if one knows that the whisky in question already has legions of vociferous haters and lovers out there who have been expressing themselves loudly. And it is also true that not all whiskies evoke laudatory or condemnatory eloquence or poetry in their encounter. Some are merely serviceable, OK, or "meh".

5 years ago 5Who liked this?

@MadSingleMalt

@RikS, I 100% agree with you about standard old blabbity-blah-blah copied from elsewhere and pasted at the top of a review.

If I want to know how many times Glendronach changed owners of the years, I'll seek out that info on my own. relaxed Don't make me search for the place in your review where your actual content begins.

5 years ago 1Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound

@Victor Being neutral and fair is the tough part. I have a particularly hard time being “detached” when reviewing Laphroaigs or Lagavulins, as these whiskies hold a special place in my heart. But I try, and I try to tell people about my biases.

5 years ago 2Who liked this?

@MadSingleMalt

@RianC, if you like personality in reviews, you should check out the ones posted by TOModera on Reddit. I don't know who the heck he is (Canadian, I think?), but his reviews are hilarious while also being detailed and insightful. The only reviews across the whole whisky web that I make a point to read just because of who wrote them, regardless of whether I'm interested in the whisky, are his and Serge's.

But be warned: They are sometimes delightfully off-color.

5 years ago 2Who liked this?

@RianC
RianC replied

@MadSingleMalt - Just had a look at an Ardbeg 23 he reviewed. Nothing too untoward but off-colour is not going to put me off . . far from it stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye

5 years ago 0

@MadSingleMalt

@RianC, OK—I just looked at that one too, and it is indeed strangely devoid of penis jokes. If you keep reading through his stuff, I'm sure you won't be disappointed. Or maybe you will be disappointed. Depends on your tolerance for penis jokes.

5 years ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan replied

@MadSingleMalt So what you're saying is I shouldn't be watching these reviews with my kids?

Mind you, I generally don't watch whisky reviews with my kids. I don't want to foster competition for my collection.

5 years ago 0

RikS replied

@MadSingleMalt Interesting post, and I must say I have never ever reflected on 'tolerance for penis jokes'. Having now done so, however, I quickly conclude that statistically - the average tolerance for penis jokes is likely to be be 3.5-billion to 1.

In other words, a statistic that translates into: _no problem to joke about the penis of the roughly 3.5 billion 'other men' in the global population. But do not........ _(!)

5 years ago 1Who liked this?

@MadSingleMalt

@RikS, I won't pretend to understand your high-falutin' statistical analymisis.

But I like it.

5 years ago 0

RikS replied

@MadSingleMalt Oh, it's simple arithmetics (at least in my twisted mind).

World population is 7 billion, therefore 3.5 billion are guys.

No guy will really mind a joke about the 'other guys' dongles...

...but no guy would like anyone making a joke about his!

hence, logic dictates that any man's 'tolerance for penis jokes' is: 3.5 billion to 1

:-)))

5 years ago 1Who liked this?

@Frost
Frost replied

I like to read about impartial facts, such as the age, mashbill, cask types, location of distillery, etc. Your impressions and senses taken from notes from a neat pour. If you want to review with water added, that's fine, but please compare with neat. Comparisons to releases by the same distillery or similar styles.

No interest in a review:

  • cut & paste from marketing print outs

  • reviews that do not include a neat pour review (on the rocks only? get outta here)

  • your political opinions

  • a token comment on age statement vs NAS. We all have an opinion on it, you don't need to justify your review of a NAS by briefly touching on this tired old topic. If the whisk(e)y is great, then it will shine regardless of this.

  • cocktail recipes

5 years ago 4Who liked this?

@MadSingleMalt

@Frost: "Comparisons to releases by the same distillery or similar styles."

I like that too. Some of the reviewers on Reddit have started concluding their reviews with a "Similar but better: ______________" and "Similar but worse: ______________" comparisons. That does a lot to put the whisky into context. I dig it.

5 years ago 4Who liked this?

@Hewie
Hewie replied

@MadSingleMalt yeah, that is some helpful info to put the whisky being reviewed into context.

5 years ago 1Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote replied

I just read a review of Benromach Maderensis Fumosus by @Mackstine. This is how I like to see reviews done. It is written in an entertaining style, I can relate to the aromas and flavours being described, the point score is in keeping with the written words, and at the end I am left with a pretty good idea of whether or not I would buy it if I ever encountered it at a reasonable price. That’s really everything I need to know.

5 years ago 1Who liked this?

@Hewie
Hewie replied

@BlueNote I read your comment, went straight to the review - and I completely agree. Top marks @Mackstine

5 years ago 1Who liked this?

@RianC
RianC replied

@MadSingleMalt - . . . cums across as a bit of a dick ;)

5 years ago 1Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote replied

@RianC Only 251 bottles, but still good market penetration. grimacing

5 years ago 2Who liked this?

@cricklewood
cricklewood replied

I just finished reading a good article on Malt Review and I thought I'd share, I have always enjoyed that site even when it was just Mark doing all the writing. Sometimes they can be a bit intense but they are truly passionate about whisky and spirits and I think that trumps the sometimes lower caliber articles. It is a long one though so be forewarned

malt-review.com/2018/11/…

This article touches a lot of the irritants that we discuss with the guilty party distilleries (Macallan, HP & co) but it applies to a lot of other whisky..

5 years ago 1Who liked this?

@fiddich1980
fiddich1980 replied

""Batch Variation for the Glendronach 12 year old Original:

I purchased a 12yr in December of 2015 and was very impressed the code on the bottle was 2015/02/23 LJ10208. I purchased a 12yr in January of 2016 and was very disappointed the code on the bottle was 2015/09/15 LJ40933.

The first bottle met my expectations and delivered what was printed on the label. My friend and I really enjoyed it. The 2nd bottle which was purchased in January was completely different. Harsh ethanol nose with hints of sherry,taste harsh metallic flavours, and finish was short and uneventful. I questioned my own sense and decided to give a sample to my friend. Yep, confirmed two very different experiences. Quite frankly, the 1st bottle I would rate at 87/100 the 2nd 60/100. So, when you find something worthwhile get multiples or later you maybe disappointed.""

I had posted this back in the beginning of 2016, on another forum. It still rings true today. Every bottle is different, batches and bottling date vary, from the same brand of whisky. Thus one's experience both, positive and negative are affected by this variation. My request for those who do reviews please disclose as much information about the bottle as possible even, if you/yourself do not have any idea what the codes mean. Contemporary codes are laser etched at the base of a bottle(back lower bottom). In the case of HP or Macallan on the back of the inside label. Also, if the review is from a sample or a bar disclose this fact. Amruts codes/batch are on the back label with a month and date. Barring this "disclosure" maybe it is time to revive the "Deciphering A Bottle Code" thread.

5 years ago 4Who liked this?

@Hewie
Hewie replied

Can I recommend a newish whisky reviewer to you - I started to see his reviews on Reddit about 3 months ago. Stuart is a young Scot who is passionate about getting people excited about whisky. Some of his reviews are quick 2 minute snapshots, and others are longer and more detailed. I like his style and his enthusiasm. Check him out and give him some encouragement. www.youtube.com/user/01StuartA/videos

5 years ago 4Who liked this?