New Scoring System

Balvenie cover
I’ve been thinking long and hard about this for a while and have finally come to the conclusion that my current rating system of marking whiskies out of 100 has started to limit my scoring.

I have essentially a 20 point scale (largely) from 80 to 100 which I feel doesn’t accurately represent what I really want to mark. I began using my current system based on who in turn, I believe, borrowed from Jim Murray. I have realized now that system is flawed.

I will, therefore, now adopt the scoring scale preferred by Dave Broom which marks whiskies out of 10 and includes decimal points. However, that system does not individually account for scoring the nose, palate and finish instead awarding an over all score to the whisky. I feel it’s important to score each facet of a whisky.

Henceforth, I will now rate the Nose, Palate & Finish each on a scale of 1 – 10 (including decimal points) and award the whisky an average score out of 10 based on the total of the three scores.

This will allow me the luxury of having a greater spread of scores and a more distinct demarcation across my tastings.

Here’s the scale (taken from

0-3+ Appalling/Faulty = Are you kidding me?
4+ Poor = What’s the point?
5+ Average = Meh
6+ Good = Hmmmm, not bad
7+ Really good = Now we’re talking
8+ Great = I could get used to this
9+ Outstanding = You complete me

I think I’m going to like this system better. Here’s a link to my older system in case you’re looking.

Compass Box Orangerie

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Distillery/Brand: Compass Box | ABV: 40% | Colour: Pale Straw
Nose: 15 | Taste: 15 | Finish: 12 | Balance: 14 | Rating: 56

OK John Glaser. I know you do some amazing things at Compass Box but seriously WTF is this crap?

First he’s taken malt whisky from Glen Moray and blended it with equal parts grain whisky from Cameronbridge and vatted them in a first-fill American Oak hogshead.

He’s then infused the spirit with hand-zested Navalino orange peel, Indonesian Cassia Bark and Sri Lankan cloves. The result is the most imbalanced, weirdly tasting whisky I’ve ever had. And actually it doesn’t qualify as whisky any more thanks to the stuff he’s dropped in it. I believe it’s actually liqueur now.

I’m sure he had his reasons for doing what he did and I’m sure there are people who really really like this monstrosity. But if I know Glaser’s taste then I’m pretty sure he didn’t like this as well. Don’t believe me? Ask him yourself.

My sample is from a brand new bottle and served at 40% ABV

Nose: Orange. Orange. A bit of orange. Some orange. A touch of orange. Lots of orange. With a side of orange. And, oh yeah, orange. Did I mention orange? No? A dash of orange. 15/25

Palate: That same orange that I got on the nose. Some orange. A touch of orange. A wisp of orange. Lots of orange. Chew on it and you get orange. Becomes more orangey mid-palate. 15/25

Finish: That orange again. With a touch of orange. 12/25

Overall Comments: Orange.

PS For a look at how to make orange zest work with your whisky check out the Amrut Narangi

Rating: 56

Happy New Year

Happy new year
It’s been quite an interesting year. I started 2014 off with the resolution that I would add at least 100 new reviews to Malt Activist by the year end. At one point it looked like I would easily cross 200 at the rate I was going! 

However, I decided to slow down and take stock of my life and the importance and effects of alcohol. I took a month off to detox (which I do every year) but this year I also made a very serious decision to get my health back on track. In the exuberance of wanting to taste new expressions all the time I was ignoring the effects of the aftermath. Mild hangovers would lead to poor eating choices and the total inability to get any exercise done.

What followed was an alarming increase in weight as well as cholesterol – both bad signs! Hence, in September of this year I decided to change my life around completely. Got into a serious fitness regime where I employed a trainer, joined a fitness class and started eating right. Which meant alcohol and whisky tasting had to take a back seat. I was looking to find the right balance because while I love being healthy I still love tasting new whiskies.

I think I have finally reached that elusive balance. I restrict my self to no more than three whiskies per tasting and no more than one tasting a week. And never on a weeknight. This allows me to really focus on what I’m enjoying because I know that’s all I’m going to get. It also allows me to be a little picky with what I’m going to review. Hopefully this translates into quality over quantity.

My resolution, therefore, for 2015 is to review as many quality whiskies as my new lifestyle will allow. This might mean lesser posts in a year but certainly much more substantial ones in the long run.

I still managed to publish 133 reviews in 2014 which beat my target by a decent 33 more reviews. I’d call that a successful year!

Finally I just want to say a massive thanks to all those who visit Malt Activist and think my opinions are worth their time. This year was also a new record in number of visitors who visited my reviews. I hope you have as much fun reading them as much as I do writing them.

To a prosperous and healthy new year!