ScotchNoob Goes Scoreless

After much deliberation, I have decided to remove numeric scores from my tasting notes. I am a noob, after all, and as my numeric scores cannot be as consistent or reliable as someone who has tasted thousands of whiskies, I’d rather not embarrass myself. Instead, I’d like to focus on my tasting notes, which reveal both the flavors and textures I detect in every whisk(e)y I try, as well as my own impressions and opinions. In lieu of scores out of 100, I have instead added a ScotchNoob Mark, which condenses my review into a one-word recommendation. Click on the link (or the Mark icon on each review) to see an explanation of the system. I encourage readers to get a good whisky book such as Michael Jackson’s Complete Guide to Single Malt Scotch, and check my Blogroll on the sidebar for resources that provide excellent numeric ratings.

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  • i’m very impressed by your humility. you have a fantastic site – graphics, layout, interface and content. i don’t think you were embarassing yourself with the numeric scores. however, i do believe that the new rating system does have its own merits – it’s simpler for the reader. do we get a conversion table for the old numeric ratings? 😉

    • Thanks for the comments JWC. 🙂 I also like the new system, as it puts less pressure on me to come up with an “industry standard” type of rating for each whisky.

      As far as conversion goes, it’s roughly:
      1-69: Avoid
      70-78: Not Recommended
      79-83: Mediocre
      84-86: Recommended
      87-89: Must Try
      90+: Must Have

      There is some vagueness going on, where I’ll assign a higher rating for a whisky which is an exceptionally good value, is particularly dear to my heart, or which typifies and ‘sets the bar’ for its category (My favorite Lowlander will get a slightly higher score than other similar Lowlanders, for example). Also, I will likely give a lower ‘score’ for a whisky which is good but exceptionally expensive. I’m not going to say “Must Have” for a bunch of $300 whiskies, no matter how good they might be. All of the above are reasons why I’m converting away from numbers in the first place. 🙂

  • Despite searches, (which opened this website) the answer to “How did Michael Jackson score his samplings?” has yet to emerge. How DID he numerically rate appearance, nose, body, taste, finish to arrive at a sum? Thanks for your time and consideration.

    • Clinton, according to his book (the one mentioned in the post above – the only book of his that I own), Michael Jackson scored “each tasting note out of 100. This is inspired by the system of scoring wines devised by the American writer Robert Parker. In this book, a rating in the 50s indicates a malt that in my view lacks balance or character, and which – in fairness – was probably never meant to be bottled as a single. The 60s suggest an enjoyable but unexceptional malt. Anything in the 70s is worth tasting, especially above 75. The 80s are, in my view, distinctive and exceptional. The 90s are the greats.” In the forward to the book, Dominic Roskrow writes that Mr. Jackson “…scored most malts in a very tight band. With some notable exceptions, he rarely scored below 60 or above 85.”

      My conclusion, although I have no specific information on the matter, is that Mr. Jackson likely scored his notes based only on comparisons with other malts, and not with any specific numerical scheme. You could try asking Dominic Roskrow on Twitter – his handle is @WhiskyTasting.