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“Because you can't buy happiness... but you can buy whisky and that's pretty much the same thing”

Whisky ratings, my own personal view

By Miguel in Tasting , Featured

Just a few weeks after I started blogging I wrote a short article about how scores worked in A Wardrobe of Whisky. I feel it is now my duty to update it after more than 800 whiskies tasted.

I do rate whiskies, and you should too, because I am desperately in need of sorting them. I hate bad whiskies, I hate even more when I buy a expensive whisky and isn’t a good one and definitively I hate overall Johnnie Walker ( all but Green and Blue label :P ).

In these three years I have got emails and messages usually pointing that such or such score for such whisky was a too high score. I have nothing to do with the whisky industry or any retailer, but being a worker myself I understand the degree of care and effort place on each bottle of whisky ( all but Johnnie Walker :P ). So let’s make clear, any decent drinkable whisky is scored between 80 and 84 points.

I have roughtly three different classes of whisky scores:

Great whiskies

There are whiskies ( apart of Johnnie Walker of course ) that can turn your life upside down. I am not a snob blogger talking about “that” vintage bottle of Macallan distilled from Golden Promise barley that they used to do in the 70s… I am talking about our every day drams: Glendronach, Abunadh, Ardbeg, Kilchoman,…

In this category we could have:

94

These are whiskies that it is a real unique jewel. Something that everyone ( with the money ) would buy with closed eyes. Do yourself a favor and do it. And yes, they are unique and ( and perhaps, usually they are… ) expensive.


93

Here we have bottles that are a masterpiece, a dram to praise, to enjoy, to live for. Definitively something you don’t want to miss ( if you and me share the same kind of tastes ).


92

This is bottled greatness. Not far from 93 really.


91

Here, whisky is a really good whisky. I would go for them closed eyes too… but I would check price first…


90

And finally, this is for a very good whisky and here we have the “limit”. Only if I really enjoy a lot a dram it gets scored over 90.


I usually buy for myself whatever ( price matters! ) I score over 90. My latest acquisitions have been Compass Box Flaming Heart, Bushmills 16 years old and Kavalan.

Good whiskies

Are good whiskies mean whiskies? No way! Not every whisky is a masterpiece, some people really try it and they can’t reach that level of incredibleness.


So for this range of scores:

89

These drams are good whiskies that miss that little things that turn good drams in great experiences… maybe my mood for that day, maybe the glass, maybe the weather. It was a good dram but nothing else.

88

This is a good whisky. Just that. It won’t change your life but it is a nice treat.

From 84 to 87

Here we have bottles that are whiskies that are sincere drams. Nothing spectacular, it may be a great one for you but for me it was a whisky that I could drink but not one I would really hurry for getting a bottle of it ( damn! I should have bought that bottle of Ardbeg 17yo when the price was still sane! ).

Bad whiskies: Whiskies for friends

Oh! Friends! What is it life without friends?! Give them your best drams! Only pure ambrosia for them! And those bottles that are really taking room on your home bar. All of my friends can’t stand the idea of drinking whisky without ice and a mixer… so…

Here we have some scary stuff. Definitively this is whisky that I don’t drink. My collector half side may have bought one or two bottles of them but definitively not for drinking.

From 83 to 78

These are mean booze. Stuff you drank when you were younger and that made your whole world shake and move (A Wardrobe of Whisky Seal of disapproval!). The closer to 83 the better the dram… but really don’t have high expectations.

From 77 to 69

are bad whiskies. Yep, it does exists. I have recently read a description of a whisky as “sheep rubbed dirty socks”. It does exist! so take my word and avoid them ( or taste them and write me about! I love a good laughting )


Below 69

Here is the scary stuff. Avoid it. In fact I think it should be allow to be drunk. My worst dram ever has been Naga Chilli Vodka with a 32; good long finish feeling on this one by the way.


How much score changes?

I have tasted some whiskies (this Ardbeg for example) more than one time, so I let the website show it to you. Usually scores goes up or down one or two points but almost never moves between these three categories. I have discovered, to my personal astonishment, that on the other hand the tasting notes are quite similar… which it is a good thing for my nosing “skills”.

Definitively anything tasted before June, 2011 needs to be considered with care. When I started tasting whisky three years ago I adopted the way Jim Murray Whisky Bible score whiskies: nose, palate, finish and balance, with 25 points each. I just translated those old notes to the format everyone with common sense is using of nose, taste and finish. I feel now balance is a poor excuse to raise the score of an otherwise mean whisky.

What about the whisky prices?

Yep, you are right. Nowadays, whisky prices are real madness but I do my best for not caring about ( except when I order whisky online ). Most of the drams I taste I have no idea of price ( and that’s great ) or when I do, I just have a remote idea of whether I spend £5 or £10 or £20 on the sample. I buy most of my samples, I feel more comfortable talking about then in this way.

So my scores are not price related. If you want to get great stuff for a fine price check Bang for the buck drams, Recommended drams by all of us or most awarded whiskies by Malt Maniacs.

How do you review/rate your whiskies?

I am coding (as fast and best as I can) a way for you to add your own reviews of whiskies you have tasted. Do you rate whiskies? What do you use stars? Like/dislike? a number? I would really love to know what do you enjoy best so I can apply to the new module that should be working in a few weeks.



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