This is a collection of my tasting notes on whisky – mostly Scotch single malt, with the occasional ‘rest of the world’ malt or blend thrown in. Because that’s what the world needs in 2020, another whisky blogger. Most of the notes are new, but some of them – especially the majority of the ‘in brief’ ones – are from various points over the last decade.
The scores to rate the whiskies are purely subjective, and are indicative of how much I enjoyed a particular whisky. I use the 100-point scale because it has pretty much become a standard among whisky reviews. Broadly speaking, I use it as follows:
Below 70: I wouldn’t drink it again.
70-74: Drinkable, but bland and/or with some flaws.
75-79: Reasonably solid, but not quite above average.
80-84: Good – very good.
85-89: Very good – excellent.
95+ Probably better than I will ever taste.
Most whiskies will be in the 80-89 point range, but that is due in large part to selection bias. All of the whiskies I sample are from my own collection, and I only buy drinks after I’ve done my research, making it unlikely to come across a bottle I will hate.
The 100 point scale is meant in theory to be populated in its entirety, but it applies to all drinks – cheap supermarket whisky, spirits best used as mixers or spirits best not used at all. The vast majority of single malt whisky falls at the very least in the ‘acceptable’ category of over 70 points. I won’t go out of my way to sample rare and expensive whisky just as I won’t go out of my way to sample bad whisky or other spirits like the indefatigable Serge Valentin often does. Rest assured, however, I have had enough bad whisky in my time to have a proper benchmark of what good whisky is.
Similarly, the 100 point scale implies a large degree of accuracy, and this is both true and false. Tasting notes and scores are contextual and are nothing more than transient snapshots in time. They are very highly dependent on whether a whisky was tasted on its own, with stablemates from the same distillery, or with different whiskies altogether (and this is without even mentioning the more obvious variables in tasting – ones of palate, the condition and fill level of a bottle, the environment at a particular time etc.). The same whisky could therefore fetch 83 points in one sitting and 86 in another, with neither rating being ‘wrong’ or ‘inaccurate’. It is possible, however, to arrive at a slightly more ‘scientific’ method – unless I’m tasting small sample bottles I try to have a whisky on various occasions in different contexts and create a sort of aggregate.