Reviewing Spirits, Beer, Wine, and Some Miscelania

I thought that I would put forth my review methodology and some things I think are important in reviewing. I do this both so you all have a standard by which to judge my reviews and so that the internet community can give me suggestions on to how to improve my process.

First off, the glass. I currently use a Ministry of Rum official tasting glass for my reviews. It is a tulip shaped glass of approximately six ounces. Older reviews used a snifter of approximately eight ounces. Both are pictured to the right. Unfortunately, while I lived in a dorm, my care for my glassware wasn’t incredibly good. While I did clean glasses before each review, they were allowed to air dry. However, the only spirits that were reviewed in my room were the Pampero Aniversario, the Bogle port, the Gosling’s Black Seal and the Old Bushmills. Since then, I clean my glassware meticulously, and hand dry and polish it before each review. For beers, I try and use a British-style straight sided pint glass. I alternate between a sixteen and twenty-two ounce option. Obviously for larger beers, I use a larger glass.

Second off, the atmosphere. Since I believe that atmosphere and mood can play a huge role in how the spirit is reviewed, I do try and make a note of any especially relevant situations, be they health issues, mood issues, or whatever. I usually drink my drinks around ten or eleven in the evening, and almost always do so at my computer. I suppose I ought to make a standard tasting playlist, but that seems a little excessive. I also try and make note of anything special about the bottle. For example, whether it is new, or has had time to oxidize.

Third is my procedure. I usually clean the glass and grab an ice cube, and toss the ice cube in a clean auxiliary glass. Ice in our house doesn’t tend to last a week, but I make sure that any ice is only a few days old at most, so it is pretty aroma free. Then I come upstairs to my room, pour out between an ounce and an ounce and a half, and take pictures, usually with both glass and bottle. Then I start writing the review. First I write down any relevant tasting conditions, then I describe the bottle, the colour of the spirit, and give the glass a swirl. I am looking for legs here, the dribbling down of the remnant spirit. I am not sure exactly what legs signify, and depending on who you read, they can suggest anything from the sweetness, to the alcohol content. After that is a swirl or two to help aerate the spirit a bit, and then I nose it. I usually do two simple sniffs, and then I tilt the glass until it is about to spill, and run my nose from low to high then high to low. I make sure I sniff it at least a total of three times. Then a sip neat, and two more. Each time I try and go deeper into the spirit. Then I add a bit of melt from the ice. I try and aim for a dilution of one part water to between three and five parts spirit. Three more sips, and I add what remains of the ice. After I add the ice, I try and wait a bit before I take my remaining sips. I should also note that I swallow. And that’s how I review. For beer it is pretty similar, except I focus less on the nose, and obviously I only sip it neat.

The last piece of administatia is that, as you probably noticed, I put an add up on my site. I feel it is fairly unobtrusive, and I hope you don’t mind it. I am trying to move the site to its own domain, but I am trying to allow advertising revenue to pay at least half of the cost. I hope you all do not mind.

Best wishes,
The Scribe


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