How I rate

HOW I RATE WHISKY

This post will give you a glimpse into how spirits are reviewed on Malt Mileage. Before a spirit is reviewed, it is “blind tasted” several times. After the “blind tastings” a spirit is given one of the below ranges and a more specific numeric score is determined in further tastings and comparisons. After a number of tastings and comparisons, the spirit may also be awarded with “trophy”, “gold”, “silver” or “bronze” if it is blind tasted at least three times. The “ranges” are as follows:

97-100 pts – I’m in heaven!
90-96 pts – Love at first taste
85-89 pts – Very enjoyable
80-84 pts – Impressive
75-79 pts – OK when the good stuff is gone
70-74 pts – Disappointed
65-69 pts – Waste of money!
60-64 pts – Where’s the bin?
<60pts – Nasty spirit with no known uses


I prioritise reviewing whiskies and spirits that rate highly 

Reason: Cognitive biases

I “blind taste” whisky because we are all influenced cognitive biases, which in particular reinforce our decisions. This is just part of being human, because our brains try to be efficient and ease cognitive pressure and reduce effort. So, we have “biases” and “heuristics”, which are basically mental shortcuts. For example, people can be influenced by the age, cost or perceived quality of a whisky (for example, by reading scores by experts etc). We also try make ourselves feel better about our decisions or perceived worth, so we sometimes develop a “bias” for a product we have purchased or received as a gift. Therefore, I find that it is best to taste and rate whisky “blind”. I then review the whiskies.

Method 

My blog now has about 7 steps per whisky rated at home:

  1. blind taste a group of similar whisky (nose all first, then taste);
  2. repeat the blind tasting of that group
  3. repeat step 2 day after
  4. repeat step 3
  5. rate each whisky for enjoyment and its quality;
  6. blind taste alongside whiskies with the same rating;
  7. review alongside one benchmark whisky. This method I think results with the most accuracy and precision when rating a whisky. It is done over the course of a week, so by the end of the week I can review the top few whiskies.

Blind tasting

Decanting newly arrived bottled, preparing them for blind tasting

I try to restrict blind tastings to whiskies with which I am not familiar or, even better, have not tasted before. Similar types of whiskies with similar alcohol volumes are blind tasted together. That is why when I receive a whisky or spirit, I decant some of that whisky or spirit into a small 50ml bottle and label it with its name and then cover the name (labels are the same size, colour etc and all sample bottles look identical). Then it goes into a bag of dozens of samples (of similar alcohol volume and style) waiting for review, and I randomly select the group from that bag. I then use these samples for the first stage of my tasting, the rating and blind tastings, after which I peel back the label and am presented with the identity of the spirit. This is how I rate, and it is called “blind” tasting because I do not know what I am tasting – the price, age, origin etc. That is how I like to rate, and, naturally, this website aims for continuous improvement. 

I wonder what spirits these are? Taste, rate and find out after by
looking under the yellow label

 

 

 

 

 

 

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