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Scores on the doors, our plans for whisky scoring

By Connosr

Whisky scoring has been a hot topic on Connosr recently. We've been following your feedback with great interest and saw this as a good time to share some of our plans for this area of the site.

Whisky scoring, never use an abacus. Image by ansik.

A recent discussion on whisky scores prompted some passionate responses from across the network; and whilst we know it's going to be hard to please everyone, we're committed to developing the best possible platform for this community and being responsive to your suggestions is a big part of that.

Before we go into the details we'd like to reiterate that users from all levels of experience are welcome (and encouraged) to contribute reviews on this site and, whilst the current scoring system is limited, we don't want to over-complicate things so that less experienced users feel intimidated. However, this is just one of many considerations.

How things stand

There's a general consensus that the current 10 star rating system (even with half stars considered) doesn't offer enough scope for granular scoring, especially for those who approach the reviewing process from a 100 point scoring system. For example, the difference between a whisky scoring 86/100 and 90/100 is significant but both would register as 9/10 when converted to the 10 star system.

Here's the thing, there is no single accepted standard for scoring whiskies. Jim Murray has his own system, as do the Malt Maniacs and so does Whisky Magazine and nearly every other whisky publication; what is clear is that all scoring is subjective and the key to interpreting those scores lies in understanding the reviewer, so context is very important. Within a community driven site like this, with hundreds of contributors, you're going to find many different approaches.

With all this in mind, we have a number of updates planned for the coming weeks.

There are two main strands for this work; firstly to provide more scoring options and flexibility when writing reviews (whilst keeping the user journey as simple as possible); and secondly improving experience for users when reading reviews.

More scoring options

When a user writes a review they will be able choose their scoring method via a simple set of tabs under the question: 'How would you like to score this whisky?'.

Star rating

Users who enjoy the simplicity of the existing star rating system will still be able to enter their rating using this tactile method.

100 point system

Users who choose to score via the 100 point system will be presented with four input fields, breaking the scale into blocks of 25 points, one input field for each of the following:

  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance/complexity

As a secondary option within this route a user can, should a user wish to, click the option to simply 'enter an overall score out of 100'. This caters for those who don't wish to break the score down any further.

I don't want to add a score

Some users would rather not score their reviews - because they don't feel ready to or they simply prefer to describe the experience in words. Although we like peoples to score reviews (so we can build up a broader picture of the average rating across the network) this option will be available by clicking 'I don't want to add a score'.

Establishing context

The second strand of updates is more focussed on users reading reviews and establishing a context so the reader can get to know how a reviewer scores whiskies.

An additional field will be available within a users profile which will allow them to give a brief description of their approach to scoring. If the user chooses to provide this information, it will be available in a tab alongside the review itself.

What other people thought

A third tab will allow the reader to see how other members rated the whisky - showing a summary of up to 5 recent reviews of the bottle - without having to navigate away from the current page.

Other updates

Additional (optional) fields will be provided for when writing a review, so the reviewer can state the 'Cask No.' and/or 'Batch' of the bottle in question.

Although we are actively working on this area of the site (amongst many other things) we don't have a fixed timeline for delivering these updates. Suffice to say we are working hard to launch as soon as possible.

In the mean time please continue contributing reviews as you have; and do let us know what you think to the plans outlined above.