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Whisky Advocate Whisky Awards

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@Victor
Victor started a discussion

Finally! Whisky Advocate magazine is doing something completely useful with its professional tasters. The Winter 2017 issue contains Whisky Advocate's Whisky Awards for the top 10 whiskies in the world. Happily, these ratings were compiled by an international panel tasting blind, and price/value for money and availability are factored into the equation. I consider this to be a momentous big step forward in relevance of this magazine's ratings to the average whisky lover. What do you think?

12 days ago

18 replies

@Victor
Victor replied

2017 Winners, in order of rank:

1) Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, B517, 62.1% ABV, $60

2) Glenmorangie Astar 2017, 52.5% ABV, $ 100

3) Wild Turkey Master's Keep Decades, 52% ABV, $ 150

4) Lagavulin 12 yo, 2017, 56.5% ABV, $ 130

5) Rampur Select, Indian Single Malt, 43% ABV, $ 65

6) Ardbeg An Oa, 46.6% ABV, $ 60

7) Compass Box The Spice Tree Extravaganza, 46% ABV, $ 140

8) Tamdu Batch Strength 002, 58.5% ABV, $ 90

9) Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2010, 50% ABV, $ 65

10) Glen Moray 18 yo, 47.2% ABV, $ 90

12 days ago 0

@OdysseusUnbound

Blind tasting is the way to go. I wish I could taste blind more often, as I know I have certain prejudices and preconceived notions, like anyone else. I was accused of being "jealous and subversive" (yes, in those words) on a Facebook whisky group when I suggested to an individual that a higher sticker price didn't necessarily mean a better whisky. The poster in question had stated he "just couldn't go back to drinking cheap whisky" as he had grown accustomed to the finer things in life, like fine cuisine and scotch that costs over £100 per bottle. He suggested that lower to moderately priced whisky was the equivalent of McDonald's whereas his expensive bottles were like having a world-class chef cook for him.

I suggested he taste some whiskies blind to find out if he really liked expensive whisky or if he simply liked telling people how much he paid for his whisky. Maybe I am subversive, or at least a bit of a contrarian. smirk

12 days ago 1Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor replied

@OdysseusUnbound, I would describe you simply as an honest man.

I had never liked Whisky Advocate's ratings and reviews because they were almost always the product of a single reviewer, most of whom I found to be not closely correlated with my own taste. Having a group, and having that group taste blindly, greatly increases my interest in the results obtained, just as I place great esteem in the Connosr Top 100 rated list. Also, many of the pet whiskies of the Whisky Advocate staff were bottles which cost a ridiculous amount and/or were almost completely unavailable. This new approach is practical, and addresses the real needs of the people who are reading the magazine.

12 days ago 2Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound

@Victor You touch upon a good point: ONE reviewer's opinions may be of limited utility, especially when there may be a fiduciary relationship involved. There are a whole slew of (non-Connosr) reviewers I enjoy reading; some whose palate is quite different than mine (scotchnoob) and some that are fairly similar (Chip Dykstra).

I have no problem with expensive whiskies existing, or that others may have access to them. But to claim that something is inferior based on the price tag alone seems silly.

12 days ago 1Who liked this?

@Robert99
Robert99 replied

@OdysseusUnbound Claiming that something is inferior based on the price tag alone may seems silly to you, but there was only the big producers that would be relevant. Why would a big company sell a good quality product at a lower price than their low quality product.

Of course that is not always the case.Lucky for us, we don't have all the same tastebuds; therefore, some whiskies may be very popular among a little group of whisky lovers and may be of little interest to the common drinker. The Peatheads will know what I am talking about, but many would be surprised by how unpopular are the very malty whiskies and the cask strenght, as a matter of fact, among social drinker.

Like any other market, there is also different strategies to obtain profit. The independent distillery can not rely on a big marketing department to promote their precious liquid and could be inclined to use a strategy based on price and so will do the small independent bottler.

There is also cycle. When you have a product where subjectivity plays such an important part in the appreciation process, reputation is everything. You can live for a time on your reputation but, at the end, you will have to produce something up to your reputation. So depending where you are in the cycle you may get something very good for your money or something bad. A recent example of that is Highland Park.

In conclusion, your guy was not completely wrong, but there is so many exceptions to his rule that he was not right either specially for treasure seekers like us.

12 days ago 1Who liked this?

@MadSingleMalt

Here's a little FYI for anyone else (like me) who stopped paying attention to Whisky Advocate but is now trying to follow this discussion. @Victor, please correct me if I'm wrong.

The recognized whiskies that Victor is talking about are the ones on the following page. It sounds like the print magazine gave the top 10, but the online article goes up to 20. whiskyadvocate.com/top20/

...and that's completely unrelated to their annual "awards," the latest of which (from March 2017) can be found on this page: whiskyadvocate.com/whisky-advocates-21st-an…

12 days ago 2Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor replied

@MadSingleMalt, thanks very much for the link. It looks like the Whisky Advocate magazine Whisky Awards is by category and without price and availability factored in. This new Whisky of the Year top 20 list ranks the whiskies with these criteria included. I listed only 1-10, but the print magazine also has 11-20 included. I just hadn't noticed them yet.

12 days ago 0

@OdysseusUnbound

@Robert99 I understand what you’re saying, but my point is/was that perceived quality is such a subjective judgement that it’s ridiculous to think more money = better. It’s a line of thinking that plays on ignorance, just like the idea that older is always better. There are cases where it’s true, but it’s far from a rule. I’ll keep your Highland Park example. Their 18 Year Old sells for $200 and I can think of many whiskies I prefer which cost a lot less. Not “value for money” but straight up prefer. When I last had HP 18 at my friend’s place, I would likely have rated it about 86-87/100 pts.

Pricing is another part of a marketing strategy. Does HP’s 18 really cost 2 1/2 times more to produce than their 12? I doubt it, but it plays well to a certain segment of the market.

12 days ago 1Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound

@MadSingleMalt CC 100% Rye as Canadian Whisky of the year? Really? It isn’t bad, but come on! Every Forty Creek I’ve had is better than that, same with every non-mixer Wiser’s/Corby.

Edit: AND Macallan 12 Brimstone...er Double Cask? THE Macallan must have saved the non-sulphured bottles for the tasting panel.

12 days ago 2Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan replied

@OdysseusUnbound Quite right.

Another example. OGD 114 is ~$20 US at times (say $30 CAD if it were available). I have enjoyed it much more than something like Bowmore 18 which is $130 in the LCBO. In fact, the 18 does not meet my threshold to drink if offered, let alone buy.

12 days ago 2Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan replied

@OdysseusUnbound Agreed. Even a new Canadian whisky epiphanist as I am can name at least half a dozen 2017 Canadian whiskis that are affordable and better than CC100%

12 days ago 1Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound

@Nozinan Don’t get me wrong, I like CC 100% in an Old Fashioned, but just off the top of my head I’d prefer:

  • Lot 40
  • Dissertation
  • Forty Creek Barrel Select
  • Forty Creek Copper Pot
  • Wiser’s Double Still Rye
  • Forty Creek Heart Of Gold (I know it was limited edition)
  • Alberta Premium Dark Horse

12 days ago 2Who liked this?

@RianC
RianC replied

@OdysseusUnbound - Some folk really need to get a grip when they're on-line!

Subversive . . . wow!

I'm yet to encounter a genuine whisky snob but would probably have to just keep quiet. It's the same mentality as 'my cotton white T shirt that cost £100 is so much better than yours as it has a little man ridding a horse on it and your £10 one (that is probably made from the same stuff) doesn't' . . .

11 days ago 1Who liked this?

@RianC
RianC replied

@Victor - Totally agree. Blind tastes with a wider judging panel give you a much more detailed and reflective idea of a whisky.

i've had the odd copy of the magazine and like when they have two reviewers (male and female) giving their notes on a whisky.

I'll usually seek out at least three different reviews before trying something new; now I have the added bonus of the Connosr community to pester wink

11 days ago 1Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound

@RianC The nice thing about Connosr is you get to learn which members have tastes similar to your own. And we have resident experts. I put a lot of trust in @Victor’s opinions about bourbon and @paddockjudge’s opinions about Canadian Whisky. I’ve spent more time drinking whisky than I have learning about whisky, so my opinions are those of an “advanced beginner” or a “beginning-intermediate”.

11 days ago 1Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan replied

@OdysseusUnbound And I would have to say I'm the opposite...only 7 years of practical experience but tonnes of "book knowledge" from reading and exploration. While I'm sure my liver appreciate it, I wish I had the palate and the experience of some of my colleagues.

11 days ago 0

@Robert99
Robert99 replied

@Nozinan It is hard to explained but I had three samples of Bowmore 18 of the same year and probably the same batch and they varied from bad to really great (maybe even close to fantastic). So I agree totally with you.

11 days ago 0

@bernicestocksti

Oh, so it is a real organization or what? I didn't catch it

10 days ago 0

Liked by:

@casualtorture@OdysseusUnbound

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