How valuable are “expert” reviews?January 28th, 2009
I know that many of you enjoy reading my reviews of new whiskies coming on the market, so you might be a bit surprised when I tell you this: Don’t just take my word for it!
My reviews should just be one of several resources you use when making a decision on what whisky to buy. Let me give you some examples to prove my point.
I rated the new Canadian Club 30 year old 150th Anniversary bottling a “93.” Paul Pacult, in his Spirit Journal, gave it “Two Stars/Not Recommended.” Similarly, I rated White Bowmore a “94,” while he gave it “One Star/Not Recommended.” I rated “The Last Drop” blended scotch a “95″ and Jim Murray in his Whisky Bible gave it a whopping “96.5. Paul rated it “Two Stars/Not Recommended.” I could give examples going the other way, where Paul likes a whisky more than I do.
Jim Murray and I also differ on some whiskies. There are some very young American whiskies where Jim Murray rates in the mid 90s (Triple Eight’s Notch, Stranahan’s Colorado whisky, etc.) , where I rated these same whiskies in the high 70s or low 80s. I like the whiskies but can’t imagine calling them “Classics.”
I could cite similar examples between Dave Broom and Martine Nouet or Dominic Roskrow. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Nobody! I respect all of these people. They are great whisky writers. Each of us has our own opinions of the whiskies we taste. Sometimes we agree. Sometimes we don’t.
Now, if every one of us likes a whisky, there’s probably a good chance you will too. But only if you like that style of whisky. Nothing will ever replace you actually tasting the whisky before you buy.
Whisky reviews are merely tools to use when you don’t have the opportunity to “try before you buy.” My advice is for you to find a whisky reviewer who you feel comfortable with–someone who has similar likes and dislikes. If that’s me great. If not, that’s great too. Maybe it’s a whisky buddy you trust. Maybe it’s they salesman at your local retail shop. Maybe it’s your dog! Hey, whatever works for you.
Just have the right tools to help you make informed, educated decisions when buying whisky. Then you’ll be more satisfied with the purchases you make.