Rating system

General discussion.

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Count Silvio
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Thu Nov 22, 2007 10:02 pm

The awards has been created. The Rating System page is still under construction as I am trying to find the proper words how to describe my reviewing methods. I must apologize that I have not reviewed a new rum or updated the site much. Time has been a luxury that I haven't been able to afford this week. I will do my best to review a new rum tomorrow.

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(P.S. Brown background is in this preview picture only)
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Scottes
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Thu Nov 22, 2007 10:40 pm

Very, very nice.

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Rum Runner
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Fri Nov 23, 2007 1:57 am

I concur. Well done Count! No apologies needed..Let the reviews come in due time.
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Lord Neville Crispin
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Fri Nov 23, 2007 8:48 am

Smashing my good Count!

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paulipbartender
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Fri Nov 23, 2007 11:45 am

First class work dear boy

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Count Silvio
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Fri Nov 23, 2007 7:12 pm

Cheers!

I've just finished creating the whiskey section in history and production page. The articles are missing some images so if you guys just happen to have any good images of Highland/Speyside, Lowlands, Campbeltown and Islay I could use them in the articles.

Edit: Awards are now in the reviews.
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Count Silvio
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Sat Dec 22, 2007 7:13 pm

I have finally managed to write a few words about the rating system I have adopted. You can read about it here.
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Sun Dec 23, 2007 9:07 am

The context given to your rating system is a welcome addition Count. Thanks for providing it.
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Lord Neville Crispin
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Sun Dec 23, 2007 10:43 am

You say "Balance is everything" twice in a row.

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Count Silvio
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Sun Dec 23, 2007 10:52 am

:nazor:
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Count Silvio
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Fri Jun 27, 2008 9:28 pm

It appears I have encountered a minor problem in my rating system. But I will let you my readers suggest what to do about this problem.

I've been reviewing mostly aged rums but I've not reviewed a single white rum. If I judge each rum according to their category, i.e. aged/young, is it confusing if I give gold awards to both white rum and to aged rum, which is obviously better than the white rum (in most cases atleast).

Will people then think the white rum that got a gold award is better than an aged rum that got a silver award?

Opinions are appreciated.
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Sat Jun 28, 2008 11:03 pm

Count, As we have some history here, I shall be blunt. You have unvieled a weakness in your subjective tatse preferences. Not in your rating system.

Indeed you need to review and rate inside a category. That you enjoy and percieve aged rum as better is perfectly fine with me. However, you need to begin to make distinctions between categories inside the realm of spirits you review. As an example, Is it fair to rate Bourbon against Scotch? They're both Whiskey. Or Red Burgundy wine against it's White counterpart?

White rum (aged or not), and Dark rum (aged or not), are two very different things in my tasting experience. They both have good and bad sides. Blind tastings will bring the best of both to the top. I have my own personal preferences, as we all do. One of the benefits I have gained through my years as a professional wine judge is the ability to put aside my personal preference, and find merit where it is due inside a category that may not be my favorite.

I believe Count you may be on the threshold of taking the next step up the ladder in your assessments of spirits.

This is where the real work begins,,When one realizes that there is a range of styles that needs to be addressed in a thoughtful way. This will lead to your reviews expanding ,and to the increased credibility of your reviews over time.

Cheers.
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Count Silvio
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Sun Jun 29, 2008 8:57 am

RumRunner, I don't find you blunt at all. As someone who comes from Finland I appreciate straightforwardness and honesty, this is what some people from different nationalities sometimes consider blunt. Your advice is always most welcome.

I have been tormented by this weakness in my rating system for quite a while actually, and now I am happy to make the necessary adjustements to improve the system.

So therefore awards need to be given according to their categories: White rum, dark rum and gold rum I assume? Should I just leave it there or is it necessary to also judge highly aged rums separately from the aged rums?

Bourbon and Scotch, I had never really thought about it since I've not reviewed a Scotch yet but yes, they shall be judged in their own category also.

Regarding gold and dark rums. Do you have any guidelines as to where goes the line between a gold and a dark rum other than the colour itself?

Thanks for the good advice.
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Sun Jun 29, 2008 9:16 pm

Very well Count. The categories of White, Gold, and Dark,are a good beginning. The category of White is pretty clear (no pun intended) although there are a number of distinctions to be made within that set. We shall address those at a later date.

For know, I may suggest that Gold be defined by an age statement (or taste profile as such) of four years or less, with appropriate colour.

I may suggest that the Dark category be replaced by "Aged" , meaning rums of at least four years old ( or taste profile as such) and of an appropriate colour, given that this coulour range can be diverse.

"Dark" or "Black shall be reserved for those unique products which appear very near to or black.

I hope this begins your process of delineating the categories.

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Count Silvio
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Mon Oct 20, 2008 5:48 pm

The Rating System page has been updated again. I made it clearer and more precise. No changes to the actual rating system were made and no animals were harmed during the process.
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Capn Jimbo
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Tue Jan 03, 2012 1:16 pm

A late summary...


Unfortunately this extremely fine website has been inactive for quite some time, sadly due to the Count's misfortune and loss of a hard drive as I remember. What a shame! It was/is posts like this - intelligent, respectful and relatively competent - that made this website one of the greats. Shall it be again? Let's hope so. Back to it...

I'd like to add a few points in summary for now...

1. There really is a guide to tasting spirits and particularly rum (here).

2. A critical, uncovered issue is the alteration of rum. Unlike wines, cognacs, bourbons and single malts, most rums have been tweaked with unlabeled additives, colorings, smoothers, glycerol, and worst of all, hidden flavorings. Thus, we are not really tasting and comparing rums as much as we are comparing flavoring schemes.

Accordingly flavor wheels exist for coffee, chocolate, cheese, wine and whisky but not for rum. To be fair, there are a few relatively pure and unaltered rums, but these are the exceptions. Recently two very expensive rums were released (Panamonte Preciosa, and Diplomatico Ambassador) - both are marketing "...free of coloring and additives of any kind".

3. A consensus of top tasters would suggest a five star system (regardless of the points). A self-test of scoring would find a bell curve of results, with most rums centering on a score of 3 stars, with fewer (say 15%) 4 star, and a very few (2 or 3%) garnering 5 stars. This would be in line with the scoring of tasters like Dave Broom, Michael Jackson, BTI, etc.

Quick note: a typical reaction is that "...but I pick better rums to review". Doesn't matter. It's like throwing darts - it doesn't matter whether you try to pick just great rums or just lousy ones - your scores will vary around your aiming point and produce a normal distribution, ie a bell curve.

4. Dave Broom identified four basic styles of rum. At The Rum Project we believe in five styles (with a couple sub-styles of less importance). The styles (which are NOT countries of origin) are: Bajan style, Jamaican style, Demeraran style, Cane Juice Style and Cuban style. JaRiMi has made a convincing case for a Trinidadian style, but there are so few rums in this category that this style can be ignored for practical purposes.

Each of these styles have different profiles that you can learn to identify. In fact, the first thing we do at a tasting is to determine the rum's style before proceeding, and here's the key: rums should be compared to others of the same style. It does no one any good to compared a heavy and aromatic Jamaican style rum to say a dry Cane Juice style rum.

Unfortunately the commercial promoters have divided rums into categories like white, gold, aged, super-premium, etc. These are meaningless, as a blind taste test will easily reveal.

5. Next is comparison tasting. All tasters have good and bad days. We may be in a bad mood, or have problems on our minds. Or the reverse. I can't tell you how many times we were about to give a new rum a better score than it deserved, when we then compared it to our reference standard for that style. The comparison made clear what the actual store should be. More than one top taster recommends including comparison spirits in your tasting.


About Reference Standards:

At The Rum Project we established these reference rums:

Bajan style: Mount Gay Extra Old
Jamaican style: Appleton Extra 12 Year
Demeraran style: El Dorado 12 Year
Cane Juice style: Barbancourt Five Star
Cuban tyle: Ron Matusalem Gran Reserva

These were chosen on the basis of widespread consensus, ratings and respect given these excellent examples of each style. They are not chiseled in stone. These reference rums establish how a great rum of each style should present. By comparing a new rum to the appropriate reference, one can establish a fair relative score for it.

About chiseling in stone: these references are competent and reliable. Still in time you may find a rum that exceeds the reference rum for you. Congratulations! You now have your own, new reference standard for future tastings.


Summary:

A couple of added notes. Until you develop your own chops, it is important to find a reviewer or two that you can trust. This does not mean reading other reviews to guide your own. What it means is to taste a rum and record the experience in your own words. Then go searching other reviews - in time you will find skilled reviewers whose tastes reflect your own.

Let me say that again: your goal is to find reviewers who reflect your experience, not the reverse. Capish?

Same with descriptors. It matters not what I think, but what you do. Nosing is by far the most important factor (don't believe me - try to taste a rum holding your nose closed). Words and descriptors will come to you. Vanilla. Honey. Your grandfather's leather chair. Seaweed. Reading reviews will only confuse you at this stage. Don't be in a rush - the descriptors will emerge as you allow them to. Don't try to seek them out, they will come to you. Trust in that, and...

Trust in yourself. You can do it.
Regards,
Capn Jimbo
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