Now that the Whisky tastings and venues start again (as a matter of fact: started already), I decided to take a look at my scoring system and if there is any correction for me to make. Of course, these points never have been nor will they ever be totally objective. There are so many factors playing into tasting Whisky. How do I feel today? Do I like the brand of the Whisky or did I had a bad experience with that brand in the past? Did I eat something beforehand? I could go on and on and on…

Roughly two years ago, I set my scoring system to the one, which the master of Whisky himself used. Just a few days ago I stumbled across a blog post from Whiskyundfrauen (Whisky and women) looking at the scoring of the Glenfiddich Winter Storm (hopefully they have some at the Finest Spirits Festival in Munich!) in the Whiskybase. It ranges (now) from 100 (well…) to 79, averaging at 86.71(note the .71!!).

Margarete is trying to get her head around why there is such a big difference between best and worse scoring and then explores the scoring system she found on the blog of Dave (Dave’s Whisky Reviews), a Brand ambassador for Penderyn (Whisky from Wales!). I totally agree with her, that we have to set a common scale, because everyone is using the 100 points scale but nearly anyone describes what a let’s say 77 means to him.

You can see what I (and Margarete) mean when I put both systems, the one from The Master himself and Dave’s side by side.

Points by M.J.1 Verdict Points by Dave2 Verdict
the 50s lacks balance or character, 0 – 49 Terrible
probably never meant to be bottled as a single 50 – 59 Bad
the 60s enjoyable but unexceptional 60 – 64 Just about OK
65 – 69 OK to good
the 70s worth tasting 70 – 74 Good
especially above
75
75 – 79 Very good
the 80s distinctive and exceptional 80 – 84 Excellent
85 – 89 Superb
the 90s the greats > 90 Exquisite

As you can see, the scoring system from Dave is much more refined as Michael’s. That doesn’t mean one is superior to the other or one is better suited for scoring Whisky than the other. On the other hand, you can notice, that they are still quite alike, even if they are still using different terms.

Michael Jackson’s starting point was the scoring system from Robert Parker who used it to score wine, and he again was inspired by the scoring from the American school system. In this system “the pupil gets a mark of 50 for attending the lesson. Beyond that, he is scored for his work.”1

Dave’s system is based on “[…] my own personal scale that I developed over the course of a few months. It is a 100 point scale that involves comparing the current whisky to a reference whisky score/s and deciding whether it is better or worse than that whisky.”2

As you can see, both systems have their merits. In fact, the system from Michael is just a 50 to 100 scale, because every Whisky gets at least 50 points for “being here”. You might argue, that this defeats the whole purpose of a 0 to 100 scale but I think you should factor in the work and passion which was needed to produce the Whisky. One way or another, I like the preciseness from Dave’s system but think that would be too much for me. I’ll most likely stay with the system I took from Michael but will be a little bit more rigorous with my scoring in the future. Also, I will try and taste every Whisky on at least two occasions and combine the score of these two (or more) tastings which will eventually even out the score.

What do you think about scoring points to Whisky? Good idea? Bad idea? Why yes, why no? I’d love to hear from you on this matter! Regardless if you like scoring a Whisky or not, always remember: „A modest score should not dissuade anyone from trying a malt.“1

Also I added a special site with my scoring system, so that you will find my scoring system from now on faster (it will be right next to “Home” on my starting page), till next time all the best, God bless and

1 as published in: Jackson Michael, Complete Guide to Single Malt Scotch, Philadelphia 41999, p.30.
2 as published in: My Review Format/Socring on Dave’s blog (retrieved on Jan. 6th @ 11.23)

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