The whisky world buzzed. And behind the scenes is shrieked with annoyance. Another Whisky Bible is out and guess what? Ardbeg won the thing again. This time it’s the Supernova with the near-perfect score of 97/100.
But what does it really mean? Completely nothing. For two reasons.
First, how relevant, in the end, is one person’s opinion? Jim Murray is known for obliterating some distilleries year after year and raving about the others. Tobermory, Dufftown or Fettercairn always seem to be the victims. Don’t tell me you didn’t notice. Does it mean that no one likes Tobermory? Well I do! And Tobermory bottlings he scored in the 60′s out of 100 (in Jim’s world that’s as low as it gets) are amongst my favourites. But then, as Mark Reynier once wrote about me, I’m just an amateur and I’m not right. But how can you be right or wrong about liking something, eh?
Second, how can you attach a number to a whisky? I know this has been discussed through and through in other places, it has been thoroughly criticised by some and defended by others. John Hansell writes on his blog today all about how consistent the conditions of his samplings are and how fair he tries to be. His readers nod their heads and clap their hands. Great, John! But that’s still sticking a number on a whisky, isn’t it? Is it a car safety test or an exam at school where a set of fixed and clear criteria will determine the score? No. Whisky is so much more complex than that, so please, whisky gods who claim yourselves worthy of writing bibles, don’t tell me that what I’m enjoying right now isn’t hundreds of years of heritage, experience and passion but, in fact, it is just a 74.8/100.
A definite numeric score means you have a precise answer to a question. And whisky is all about the question, not about the answer.
A horrible, pretentious habit we have developed, rating the un-ratable. Every second whisky website and publication now has a rating system and herds of self-proclaimed experts queue up to pass their own judgement on every drop of whisky distilled in this country. I have no time for them.
Let’s just, for easier everyday communication, start rating everything. The weather today is 81.5/100 (it’s sunny but a bit nippy). My breakfast was only 67.2/100 (no butter in the fridge). I like my flatmate 93.7/100 (still not a hundred because she burned my pan). I’m 60.5/100 in bad mood today and 12.3/100 religious. I 100/100 believe in love and friendship and 0/100 in rating whisky!
12:25 pm – A quick update after an exchange of views and links on Twitter:
Check this out, Jim strikes back (on a different issue but I like his line of deffence): http://bit.ly/eD4RA
And also, galg pointed out via Twitter that he uses Whisky Bible as a tasting notes reference and doesn’t worry too much about the scoring. Fair play. I did that in the past too and I like Jim’s tasting notes a lot, they are very professional and an entertaining read. It’s the scoring I am against.