By @WhiskyNotes on 15th Mar 2010, show post
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@JDCook I've sampled whisky that I genuinely did not like. There's no shame in that, we all have our taste, but I'm able to look past that, just because I don't like it, doesn't make it a poor whisky. I obviously knock it down a few points. A great example is the Springbank I've posted a review of. I do not like it, I think it has serious balance issues and a very harsh uninspired finish. That obviously makes it impossible for me to give it a high score, but on the other hand, the spirit is top notch, it's a good cask, it's full of character, so it's not a bad whisky. And it should be scored as such.
Just because you don't like it, doesn't mean you can't acknowledge it for what it is. That goes for cars, buildings, music, art, pretty much anything you can make a subjective assessment of, you should be able to, at the same time be able to maintain a certain distance to and make an objective assessment of, and if you can't well, maybe you need some more experience.
I've played music since I was knee high, and still do today, I have plenty of musician friends, and none of us play Jazz, but we're all awestruck by the sheer talent and musicianship displayed by these artists, even though it might not be our preferred genre. You have to able to distinguish between your own feelings and reality. A review is supposed to help people, and that's not really achieved by simply putting your taste out there.
10 years ago 0
@Kaspergvalentin - I agree that we should look past our personal dislikes, but why bother - negative reviews are as valuable as good ones. For example, the HP 12 probably isn't a beginers whisky for a lot of people, so seeing a wide range of reviews (like we have), will tend to put beginners off until they have a wider experience. How is that a bad thing. If someone wants to rate it a 3 (a score I don't agree with myself), there's nothing wrong with that. You can disagree in the comments, you can say this might not be something that everyone would like, but if you like the Talisker 10 then you might enjoy the significantly cheaper HP 12. That means that whoever reads the review will get a fuller picture. Everybody wins.
I just think that having official guidelines on whisky scores is too much. I don't want to tell anyone how to review or score their whiskies, or else we risk turning this into a professional tasting association, and there are already plenty of those.
10 years ago 2Who liked this?
A negative review are often more valuable then good ones, but what makes a bad review? In my world it's when a whisky disappoints, say a great old sherry Macallan that's been ruined by sulphur. I just think it's so sad to see good whisky get bad scores, for instance, that now infamous 3-star HP 12, or when a good whisky get a great review, like a HP 12 scoring 9.5. I think it throws people off more then it helps them.
We're not talking about guidelines or tasting requirements, but we are talking about doing something about these quite frankly painful scores some people are handing out. I can only applaud many different reviews from many different pallets, it'll be equally funny for people saying that an HP12 is a peaty whisky, reading that back in a few years, as it is for us to read now. It's part of the experience, but scoring an HP12, giving it 3 stars, when you've sampled it with ice and obviously influenced by expectations, is just wrong. (Sorry to the reviewer, it's in no means a personal attack, it's just a good example).
I'm in favour of people being able to review a score whisky as they please, maybe you should make it so that you could post reviews site wide without a score, and you could score them on your profile, however only some people could post scored reviews site wide? Then you could both have personal opinions and more professional, objective reviews on the same site, without any of them interfering with each other?
@Kaspergvalentin - I agreed with everything you said, right up until you started suggesting that only some people should be allow to give ratings. A HP 12 doesn't deserve a 3 (in my opinion), and it also doesn't deserve a 9.5 (also my opinion). In fact, if you look up my review, I would now disagree with it - I gave a 9.0 when I now think it should probably be an 8.5. You could even argue that the HP 12 should be as low as a 7.5 if you actually disliked that style of whisky, while still using the traditional system of marking. On the other hand, if you use the conversion @WhiskyNotes uses, it could go significantly lower than that if you genuinely didn't like it (as I understand it his system subtracts 50 and then divides by 5, meaning a 75 would get 5 stars), and this would still be valid.
My point is that this is a social site. If you disagree with a review, say so in a comment on the review itself. Ask what they thought of other similar whiskies. Ask what sort of whiskies they like. Ask them whether or not they used water or ice, and how much. Have a ~social~ conversation which might lead them to increase their mark (have a look at the comments on the review in question and see the final comment by the author), or find out what makes their review so different from your own opinion.
Being a social site, my personal opinion is that all reviews and reviewers are valid, because the represent a personal point of view at a certain moment in time (Hell, I gave the Glenfarclas 21 year old an 8.5, and 5 minutes later decided I was wrong and wanted to give it a 9). If you differ, say so, and enter into a conversation. Have a look at the reviews of the Ardbeg Supernova, one reviewer hated it with a passion, and openly debated other reviewers. I would much prefer that than a 'some are more equal than others' approach.
10 years ago 1Who liked this?
I find this discussion very interesting, I do, but please let's not forget what the PURPOSE of this site is. It's a SOCIAL community that allows like-minded people to express their love for whisky. So I can agree to having people review whisky without a score, but I certainly cannot agree with 'a happy few pros' who are allowed to score while others can't, because they supposedly know what they are talking about (I'm sure many of them do, that's not the point). That's simply wrong. If you want to have a site with professional reviews and scores that are well respected by connoisseurs and based on a scaled or your personal particular choosing: start your OWN blog (like @WhiskyNotes does)! If you don't like the way some novices (like myself) score whisky, it's your prerogative as Connosr-member to agree to disagree and place comments.
@Kaspergvalentin @jdcook JD I'm with you here, this is a social network, open to everyone. You can't limit who gets to score. Who's going to decide who forms this elite group? Are you going to be allowed to score Kaspergvalentin? Am I?
The important thing is if someone gives a silly score you can choose to ignore it.
And even when it comes to the professionals; I'm looking at Jim Murrays 2009 whisky bible right now. For some examples he gives the following scores:
Regarding Aberlour 10, does he mean this is a legendary malt or is he taking into account the price? Same with BNJ.
Balvenie Double Wood a good whisky and I agree with his score, Glenfarclas 15 a great whisky but legendary? And while we're at it is BNJ as good as GF15. Is he inconsistent or is he taking other factors into account.
So Kaspergvalentin my question to you is would you let Jim Murray score on the site?
@WhiskyP Good point! Now, if you take a look at the recent Glengoyne 17 review at connosr.com/reviews/glengoyne/…. I find the review very good and informative, but disagree totally with the way he scored the whisky 8.5/10 (no offense, @stpete300!) Does that make his review less interesting. I think not. Looking at his other reviews (HP12 a 9.5, Cragganmore 12 a 9.0, Talisker 18 a 9.5, Laphroaig Quarter Cask a full 10 and so on), I believe stpete300 to be a novice like me. And that's fine. We all have to start somewhere. So I can place his scores in perspective, but still put the content of the review to my advantage when considering buying this particular bottle. Oh, I am sure I'll have to re-score my whole cabinet next year, but that's fine too. We all evolve and get better at this. I recently scored the Bushmills 1608 a 95, silly me. Today I would score that a 75 max. So what? This is supposed to be FUN! Let's keep it that way.
@WhiskyP I'm rather convinced JM tastes everything blind and doesn't take into account the price. I'm not 100% convinced of his neutrality but that's a different story. Glenmorangie Sonnalta didn't win this year because it's relatively cheap, it won because of its qualities. With other reviewers like the MaltManiacs I'm 200% sure they don't take into account the price.
I'm not a fan of only allowing selected reviewers to score on this website. But in some way or another, I think we should try to make clear what a score means or how much it's worth. Maybe there should be a small top-5 list for each reviewer (which would make clear what kind of whisky he likes and how that relates to yourself) or an indication of the number of reviews (i.e. how well he can compare)?
@WhiskyNotes That suggestion makes good sense. I wonder if this can be implemented IT-wise, though. In the meantime, members of Connosr cannot have missed this discussion and hopefully will learn a thing or two (I know I did) with regards to their scoring. Users can also always check the reviewer's cabinet in detail to see how they score their whisky's to get an impression as per WN's suggestion.
I agree, you can always look deeper into a reviewer's preferences, but I don't think you take the time to do that (at least I don't). Moreover, not everyone fills their cabinet or other information on this website. It would be nice to have a kind of "quick profile" of the author besides each review. I'm thinking favourite malts, number of reviews, number of malts tasted perhaps...?
10 years ago 3Who liked this?
@whiskynotes I think that's an excellent suggestion. I'm a firm believer that everyone should allowed to review and score as they please. If Connosr can find a way to give clear context then I think we're all happy.
What might be nice to see is some summary of the community's thoughts on a whisky, beneath an individual's own review. An "Others thought..." section, or something. This would let me compare the current score to the context of the whisky as a whole.
Sure, there's a danger of groupthink, but don't show this when people are entering a review.
Breaking the score into 0-100 would make it easier to differentiate between reviews, too. And run stats on community scores, etc.
Just a suggestion though :)
@scribe I suppose the difficulty Connosr faces is what to do with the 600 reviews that already use the 10 point score. Actually given that you can give half stars its really a 20 point score. But you know what I mean.
@scribe - actually, I like the idea of a 'what others thought' section. Perhaps it would contain the average of all reviews for that dram, and maybe a link to the page for reviews of that particular dram? Thoughts?
I also like the idea of a small box where you can enter a 0-100 number so you can review by clicking on the stars (which will populate the box with an appropriate number), or type in a number (which will fill in the stars to an appropriate level).
That said I am hesitant to ask more from the powers that be, they already work hard enough providing this site as it is... :)
I got to hand to this group, intelligent, well thought out, cohesive conversation about whisky. I'm very glad I found this place. With that being said, here's my take on a scores: Giving scores on whisky is like giving Oscars to movies. Just because a bunch of people liked it doesn't mean it's a good movie. And just because it doesn't get an Oscar doesn't mean it's not good.
The trick for me is not to like what Michael Jackson gave a good score just because he gave it a good score, or Bloom or whomever. But if I can understand WHY they gave it a good score, I can apply that to my own taste. I know Jackson would fall all over The Macallen, that's fine. I don't think the Macallen is as great as he thought it was. But if I can use his score as barometer, it will help me pick out other Scotches.
So, if there's some guy out there who's giving HP 12yr a 3 and MeClelland a 9.5, you know he's an idiot. But you also know that if he likes something it's probably shit.
I've been drinking the single malts for a few years and I'm still not real comfortable with scoring whiskies. But I can tell you what I like. And isn't that what we're here for?
That's my two cents.
Hi @ClaySomething That's exactly what we were saying. The Connosr scoring system is already in place, so we try to give the scores a context, figure out why they mean more (or less) coming from certain people, compare them to the rest of the reviewers, or make them optional to start with.
@Porrohman You know you can give half stars don't you?
I'm coming to this discussion quite late, having been away for a few days, but I must say that I've really enjoyed reading through this thread. It just shows that people really care about the development of this network. It actually matters to people, which is great, that is the essence of a community.
For the benefit of those who have had input and for Connosr themselves (who have stated that they are listening), I think it might be worth re-capping on some of the solutions suggested. If I have missed anything please shout.
Writing a review:
Reading a review:
I think these are most of the points which people seemed to agree on.
@Porrohman but surely giving an 86 an 8.5 is more sensible than giving it a 9? Not perfect but better?
Once again a big thank you to everyone who has taken time to make suggestions about whisky scoring on Connosr. We will be responding with a blog post on the subject as soon as possible.
10 years ago 4Who liked this?
Wow ... what an interesting and concerned discussion. I really value everyone's thoughts and ideas ... everyone has valid points of view. I have read most of this discussion, and I would like to add some thoughts of my own:
SCORING: Perhaps we should have two divisions ... pro and amateur (or something like that). The Pros would score spirits objectively, based on much experience and knowledge. So who is a pro? I would think that Ralfy, for one, would be a Pro. Maybe you, yourself, would decide. For me ... I just started tasting several months ago, and I have not tasted anything over $70, so I am NOT a pro. Finally, because Pros know what they are talking about, one of the many suggested scoring systems could then be adopted .. and the scores would be consistent. I would NOT want amateurs to enter scores ... because they would be too subjective.
AMATEURS: Everyone who is NOT a Pro, would be an amateur. Right now, I don't think Amateurs should use a scoring system ... because the scores would be too subjective to each persons limited experience. But I do appreciate when folks mentioned what they liked and disliked, and their initial gut reactions. For example, take BonnieMac's review of Highland Park 12: she began with "WHOA PEATY". Now coming from a newbie, those 2 words really say something to me about Highland Park 12 ... and as a newbie myself, I will know to expect a peaty characteristic from that bottle. These are not ratings ... but your personal experiences.
SCORING IN GENERAL: To a degree, spirit scoring is somewhat similar to movie reviews. Go to a good movie review website, and you will see 20 or so reviews for any movie. These reviews will usually vary quite a lot. To make these reviews useful to your self, you need to find a reviewer that agrees most with your own reaction to the movies. You can then use this reviewer to select movies that you will probably like. I feel that the same scenario may work with spirit reviews ... if you like peat, you will gravitate toward reviewers who also like peat.
LAUNCH COMPARISON DISCUSSIONS ( or whatever to call them): I really like "comparison reviews". Tirerack.com does this where they compare 3 automobile tires, using the same vehicle. No pun intended here ... but there are whiskies that have a nose of smoldering tires :-) :-)
For example, I have been tasting a few of my "slightly peated" malts: Oban 14, Highland Park 12, Ardmore Trad Cask, and Springbank 10. Being a newbie, this was a meaningful and tasteful experience. Results: Oban is a light and pleasant into to peat/smoke, Highland Park is a little more, but not too eventful, Ardmore is more tasty, complex and interesting, but I just keep coming back to Springbank, which is always exciting, yummy, satisfying, and has a lot going on. A lot of that bottle is gone ! So ... i would suggest a new section on Whisky Connose that contains comparisons of 2 to 4 products.
Finally, I would assume that comparisons would be apples to apples, where appropriate. For example, I may want to compare spirits that have had a wine-type maturation, such as Balvenie Double Cask, Macallan, Aberlour 12, Glenmorangie Nector d'Or, etc.
AMATEURS RATINGS: When I taste spirits, I have my own rating system, that is simple, but which is very meaning to me. If a taste really grabs my attention in a positive way, I write down YUMMY. If a taste goes on to produce a bit of a trance-like state, with feet up, in front of a fireplace ... where the world stops for a bit, I write down SATISFYING! Then there are the negative reactions: YUK, UNEVENTFUL, OK, etc. The point is that these psuedo-ratings really tell me something (assuming I know what they mean).
So, these are my current thoughts ... I hope this will generate additional discussion, and that it will help to decide on rating scenarios, and that useful website enhancments my result.
This is really a cool website, with really cool people ... for lots of reasons.
I have just started writing reviews (only 2 to date) and I dislike it when I reach the point where I have to enter a score. I am still trying to find a guiding philosophy with respect to scoring, but currently I am leaning towards a very personal approach based on a) satisfaction/regrets with my purchase, b) willingness to part with it/share it, c) how promptly I will replenish once the current bottle is empty, d) what level of marital conflict I am willing to face to buy this bottle. As an amateur who tastes essentially what he has purchased, these 4 criteria seem the most relevant.
@olivier regarding point D you need to read this thread connosr.com/wall/discussion/… :)
My whisky nose has still much to learn and I base my purchase preferences on trying something that has a generally good rating. I've had some I would not buy again because they seemed tasteless or just uninspired yet I've seen them rated highly in various places. Others I've really enjoyed have had low scores. So, I wouldn't even begin to try scoring these myself.
What confuses me is when a reviewer says something is poor yet scores are 7+ or 75+ To me something that is poor should be below 5 or 50 or 50% as to me this means below average. On a rating scale there is poor - average - excellent.
Is there an official rating system that clarifies a scoring system that even novices can understand or is it intended for the pro drinkers only?
A few more thoughts came to me during my walk last evening ... ideas which have, to some degree, already been tossed about by this responsive community.
I feel that, though some members are able to genuinely assess the objective quality of an item, many other members merely assess their own experience with the spirit. With more and more members joining, the rating and review system is likely to evolve, as a least common denominator, into experiences of the cross-section people who drink (or try) spirits. Though these reviews will not evaluate the quality of an item, they will indicate to many people what others like and dislike.
In this type of non-professional review, Laphroig would likely get a low score, because most people would not like it. I would actually find this type of review, along with personal comments, very helpful, and I think now that a scoring system based on "like or dislike" would be very useful. I certaintly do not mean to diminish the usefulness of a pro-quality review, which might tell me what I should like, rather than what others actually like. Both types of reviews are helpful, but if we allow everyone to post reviews, then we will wind up with the "like or dislike" review system.
What I also find very useful are edifying responses by knowledgeable members, to the honest and personal reviews of those less versed and experienced.
So, if we are to have reviews and a scoring system, we should make it clear to all as to what the reviews and scoring mean, and what they can tell us. What do you think ?
Wow, you guys scares me.
i found this place since im a big fan of whisky of all kinds and found this to be a great place to talk and learn more. I would never write a review since im to much of an amateur and because my english is not good enough. I call myself a amateur since i never had rated whiskys or sat though a tasting session, but i have been drinking most of the single malts avalible without special order and done so for the last 10 years.
But i do love the option to grade my whiskies, thats one of the reasons i joined, to rate my own, to interact with other whisky lovers and to see what other people rate high.. its no harm in that right? If this forum is only for professionals and not for us wanting to learn and try new brand, rate them and and so on.. im sorry i joined, please erase my account.
Anyway im with @jdcook all the way, great points! You say what i would like to write but cant!
And for rating.. if you have guidlines it would be nice.. i thougt 5 was decent since it is about avarage on a 1-10 scale.. 10 would be THE THING! and 1 would be worse then moonshine.
take care friends, comments by a humble amateur.
Thanks for your post @Skepparkrantz, we'd like to sate that whisky lovers from all levels of experience are welcome here; we've seen everyone from total beginners through to seasoned connoisseurs contribute reviews. Everyone's opinion is equal.
So, we'd love you to share your tasting notes, please don't be put off by the technical details thrashed out in this thread.
@Skepparkrantz, 10 years is a whole lot of experience with whiskies. I would certaintly like to hear what you like and don't like, and perhaps your reasons ... and in general, anything you have to say. Ask questions, and grade away as you see fit ...
@Skepparkrantz I'm pretty certain the more experienced whisky drinkers contributing to this thread don't want to scare away new reviewers (right Connosr people?). So please have your say, and the same to any other new members reading this.
As far as I am aware we have very few, if any, professional reviewers submitting reviews. There are some very serious amateurs but I think everyone is still learning. In fact even the pros who write books on whisky are still learning, that's the fun of it all.
People might not always agree with each other but I think everyone here wants to listen to each others point of view. That is the whole point of this site.
The other point worth making is whisky appreciation doesn't always have to mean scoring/assessing. I think its ok to sip a dram and just enjoy it. We don't score every book we read or film we watch. Some members like to recommend whiskies here in the discussion areas rather than writing formal reviews. So if you like something say so, don't feel you have to give a technical analysis.
Thanks for reply guys, im not really that easy to scare away :-) just got a bit carried way by some of the comments.
The whole concept of letting users of this site talk,review and score whiskies is compelling. I dont care if its Avarage Joe or Mr Scotch who is rating or recommending. For me it is fun to see what other people enjoy and recommend. Then in the end i compare and decide for myself what seems to be most accurate and goes in line with my own tastebuds (do you call it that in english?)
Anyway, thanks connosr for this nice webiste and i hope to learn more, find new brands and talk with alot of nice drinkers who chare this passion in life. Cheers!
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