Wednesday, January 06, 2010

When They Said REPENT REPENT...

...I wonder what they meant.
whisky blog whisky blog
Welcome to 2010, whisky lovers. It has been over 3 years since this blog began and the frontier of the whisky web has changed greatly in that relatively short period of time. I remain grateful for your support, links, and refererals online in in person. With literally dozens of new whisky-tasting-note websites and blogs that have appeared in the time since this whisky blog began the internet has become saturated with professional and amateur opinions on the water of life: Tim's
Whisky Exchange Blog,
Ruben's amazing Whiskynotes.be, Chris' unparallelled Nonjatta, Red Hare's Adventures in Whisky, Joel and Neil's Caskstrength.net, Edinburgh Whisky Blog (Happy Birthday, lads!), Scotch Chix, Whisky Host, Ralfy's empire, Whisky For Everyone, Whisky Apocalypse, Nose Palate Finish, Jason's Scotch Whisky Reviews, Richard & Matt's Whisk(ey) Apostle, Mike, Mike and Dan @ Whisky Party, Jeff's Scotch Hobbyist... heck, there are so many of us now we even have the Malt Impostor.

Although Serge Valentin's Whisky Fun remains the IMDB of whisky, it seems we could use a Rotten Tomatoes as well... albeit one not littered with ads (again, kudos to Serge for remaining so bullshit-free for so long... all you 'instant experts' in the wake of the Scotch Blog era should take a cue).

And although there is currently no single site that aggregates notes, we are close! We have a community here, people. We have great sites like:

-For Peat Sake, a user review-based site covering a great range of malts where anyone can share an opinion, but who can I trust? And there is no space for the STORIES of the malts, just tasting notes. Not sure how I feel about the new look, either (note: link to Dr Whisky is a dud). Whisky Rating attempts to provide a similar service with more spelling mistakes and fewer participants, as does WhiskyConnosr (among other useful whiskygeek things).

-True whisky scholar/archivists/geeks non plus ultra, the
Malt Maniacs have their Matrix, and although I am not sure how many newbies dare press the yellow button this really is the closest thing we've got to what I'm talking about (whatever that is). And Jeff (Scotch Hobbyist) has his google doc of ratings (HERE) but again, can Jeff's opinion alone that, say, Chivas 12 is a C+ whisky, be trusted?

-The Balvenie's new Whisky Shelf where members of Warehouse 24 create virtual shelves of their home bars (real or imagined), contributing reviews on all single malts, showing average ratings and sample comments, is great. But currently interaction between users is minimal and there is no function to look at comparative reviews for any one malt. Improvements are being made constantly but this ambitious site is still finding its legs.

-Whisky Portal, and Scotch Whisky.net are true classics in www terms and are both still of use and incredibly up to date. Still, the searchable catalogue leads only to images, no notes or ratings or anything to guide a consumer.

-The Whisky Mag Forum remains an invaluable archive of whisky geekdom but can be a bit intimidating to the newcomer and athough the search funtion helps, it can be a bitch to navigate. WhiskyWhiskyWhisky provides a similar forum but is actually WAY easier to navigate and find the info the newbie or maniac may seek. Great section of user generated tasting notes, too.

-John Hansell's What Does John Know? provides a real global community of opinions with Hansell acting as Linda Richman (Coffee Talk, SNL circa 1990s) stirring conversation, posing questions, stoking fires, and occasionally putting them out. The comments on this site provide some of the richest dialogues on Scotch that can be found anywhere. That being said, they can really be a buzz kill for those new to the world of whisky and while it no doubt is therapeutic for malt maniacs, I worry that it does a disservice to fostering new relationships to Scotch whisky.

So after all that, I am not quite sure what this post is about, but suffice it to say that I feel frustrated with Dr. Whisky's contributions over the past year+. Over this time some have noted in comments, emails, and in statements on other sites that, for example, Dr. Whisky's week of 'new whiskies' aren't all new. Well with over 200 whiskies tasted this year alone I simply haven't had the time to post as I once did so I am being selective in which malts I create Malt Missions for. The existing 370+ Malt Missions still attract 600-1000 unique visitors per day, but they feel like dormant pieces of the past rather than active members of the rich whisky communities of now.

I guess my point is that I am looking to create a Rotten Tomatoes of whisky and I hope you'll join me when the time comes.

With love and best wishes for 2010,
Dr. Whisky


22 comments:

Pano said...

Great post Dr. Whisky. You should check out www.whiskybase.com . I think this has the potential to become that something you are looking for...

Jason Debly said...

Before placing much weight upon a whisky review by either an expert or amateur, the reader has decide whether the reviewer has similar tastes to s/he. If Jim Murray is a peat monster fan, you have to consider that when reading his reviews versus say Michael Jackson, etc.

Bottom line: we're all a little nutty about this magical liquid.

Scotch Hobbyist said...

Doh! Definitely DON'T trust Jeff's (my) "grade" on any whisky. I know I'm just "some guy on the internet" learning about whisky and talking about it along the way in an opt-in format.

I just posted the spreadsheet yesterday and got half way through a post to announce the spreadsheet and provide a disclaimer about my feeling on ratings (and reason for doing them), and the fact that I'm no expert. You beat me to the punch!

Ok, that disclaimer out of the way, I'll comment on the Rotten Tomatoes idea separately. :-)

Cheers,
Jeff

butephoto said...

A top 2010 to you too, Dr!

WHISKYhost said...

Holy shit, Dr Whisky knows who I am! And John Campbell from Laphroaig just DM'd me on Twitter (ok, so I DM'd him first)... but what a day!

I'm off to call my mum.

Happy 2010, good doctor.

John Hansell said...

Great synopsis, Dr. Whisky. We may not always agree on everything (who does, after all?), but I'm glad you're here. I hope we hear more from you in 2010.

Matthew said...

Keep doing what you want to do. The sheer number of other whisky blogs is baffling, so I'll stick to tips from friends, trying whatever new drams I can at pubs and liquor stores, and following this blog, of course!

Scotch Hobbyist said...

The Rotten Tomatoes idea sounds fun. Sure, I've got a bunch of RSS subscriptions to track the various blogs and web sites, but I really like the Rotten Tomatoes interface.

I'm sure you wouldn't have any problem getting the amateur bloggers to sign up...not sure about the pros.

I think there would be some challenges in trying to bring over the ripe/rotten concept. It'll be interesting to see your thoughts on the exact implementation.

On a technical level, I've definitely thought about trying to create a mash-up web service that could be used to provide access to multiple whisky review sources from a single application (web, native or mobile). Type in an expression on your Smart Phone while at the liquor store and get a bunch of different opinions. Perhaps a corresponding data contract for formatting tasting notes and ratings.

Happy 2010. I'm looking forward to seeing what additional growth and direction comes from the growing online whisky enthusiast presence.

Jeff

Anonymous said...

Hello Sam,
Interesting post - and thanks for your comments on my own little effort and the Malt Maniacs’.
A few remarks:
- I believe it's important that 'amateurs' or ‘hobbyists’ (which I am) tailor their sites to their own skills, envies, capacities, passions and pleasures, it's the only way to last. Trying to target an audience, do too much ‘marketing’ and jump on any new 'trend' will lead any site to be... the same as your neighbour's, especially when it favours function over content, be it original or not.
- Let’s not forget the loads of non-English speaking websites and forums, many are great and huge and gather fantastic people. German, Dutch, Chinese, Japanese, French, Swede, Danish, Greek… And many others. Sometimes I regret that online translators are so clumsy.
Other than that, please try to post more, I enjoy this blog.
The CEO of IMDB

Granov said...

great post!

why not add whiskyisrael to the blog list?
:)

we're new but 2010 is going to be a great year.

Red Hare said...

Thanks for the shout Doc. I'm flattered. My little site is just a record of my tasting notes, no more, but I'm glad to see it's interested some people.

I like the idea of a Rotten Tomatoes-type site. WhiskyBase is useful occasionally, but there aren't enough detailed tasting notes, and there certainly aren't enough negative reviews.

Keep dramming and blogging!

Dr. Whisky said...

Pano, Granov, the list was not meant to be exhaustive and you will both note that you are in my links "Get informed by Others" on sidebar (which, incidentally has grown exponentially over the last 18 months, partly the inspiration for this post.

Jason- agreed. It is good to be nutty

Jeff- by no means a dig, hope you didn't take it that way. Yeah, ripe/rotten concept is a bit simple for film and no less so for whisky. Maybe bottle half full, bottle half empty? I dunno.

WhiskyHOST- tell your mom I say Hi and thanks for the cookies.

John- thanks. There are few people with whom I would rather disagree. ;)

Serge- Thanks. And I am totally aware of other language sites and you are right, I probably should have said "English language" sites somewhere on this post.

Red- Thanks, you're welcome, and you too.

electrichalibut said...

Anyone who shoehorns Leonard Cohen references into their blog post titles is OK with me. And I like a bit of background, history, etc. with the tasting notes; it's one of the reasons I come here. Keep it up!

Pano said...

Just to clarify, whiskybase.com is not my website. Menno aka Bachess is behind it all. I suggested it because of your comment on The Balvenie's whisky shelf.

Cheers

Matthew said...

I have started a project I as I too have long thought about the validity of "Professional" whisky tasting notes. To my mind you can rely on others tasting reviews but only after studying them for a while and ensuring you are similar. To try and make it easier to find another with similar tastes as yourself I started work on http://www.theWhiskyReview.com as a place where users can log their tasting notes & scores on a predefined format. This enables the database in the background to evaluate your tasting notes and score, find others with similar and give you reviews with average scores of both all users and similar users. This should help people find both individuals with similar tastes and whisk(e)y rated high by people with similar tastes.

This site is still in development, I still need to add a few more search functions, add other functionality and smooth a few rough edges but I think that the basic idea is fairly sound, what do you think?

Tim F said...

Cheers for the shout, old chap! Loving your work as always.

WhiskyEmporium said...

Nice article, thanks.
If you would like a link on my Whisky Emporium site please just mail me your logo and I'll do the rest.
(Keith.Wood@Whisky-Emporium.com)
BTW, I also offer extensive tasting notes and whisky comments.
Why not check it out too?

Keith

stronglikecask said...

Good Dr.,

Thanks for your post. You've obviously hit a nerve with some folks.

It's a really interesting idea. Frankly, it's something that would be great to have a place to see how the three of us at WhiskyParty's tastings align against everyone else's. It ties in with Whiskyparty's post back in June (http://whiskyparty.net/?p=384) about how there will be no one whisky guru anymore.

The thing I worry about is something we say all the time. For the most part, there's no such thing really as a bad whisky. We're all lunatic enough to post, read, buy,taste - we love whisky. We love it because overall, even if it's not as good, it's still good. I see this creating lots of whiskies in the 89 - 93 range (or whatever rating you want), nothing that reaches too much higher (because of differing opinions on regions and tastes that would bring the average down), and nothing much lower (because no IB or distillery is going to put out something that's swill). Maybe this isn't a problem, but it seems more parameters would be needed to really identify what would speak to you in terms of a whisky. I struggle a bit right now to see how those parameters could fit together cohesively and aggregate.

-Stronglikecask @ WhiskyParty

Thanks for the post, though. And thanks for the shot out.

DodgyDrammer said...

That's a great way to look forward in this movement. A whisky “rotten tomatoes” website would be an excellent resource, since the most helpful information about a single whisky is usually an aggregate of opinions from a diverse variety of sources. That is the beauty of this whisky blogosphere that has recently exploded– there are multiple opinions about nearly every bottle out there.

But that should be a central aspect of some new database: access to multiple opinions on flavour profiles. Let’s face it-- if you drink whisky, most whiskies are fairly good whiskies. Whether a casual drinker or enthusiast will like something is often as much about the basic flavour/aroma profile and the body-type as an overall 81 or 91 rating.

And when multiple reviews of the same bottle, using varying approaches, detect similar core elements, then something has really been said about that whisky, and the reader benefits greatly. This is made more likely by having a critical mass of opinions/reviews, both professional and amateur.

I'm excited about the future of the whisky blogosphere and will follow your always insightful lead.

-Mike F

Anonymous said...

I realy don't know why, but I love dragons(my wife's one too). So, please go on with your reviews, very amusing and (almost) always interesting.

Ian Buxton said...

Hi,
It’s evidently taken me a little while to catch up with this debate! Some people have made kind and positive comments on the site at www.whiskipedia.org (and, yes, I pay for all of it with no revenue source at all) which was intended as a true, open, democratic community resource in what I believe/assume to be the web’s underlying spirit.
I’d welcome any comments, thoughts and most of all funds to improve it!
I did also push http://www.thewhiskychannel.com out there to see what would happen….thoughts?
Ian Buxton

Oliver Klimek said...

Thanks for the honorable mention, doctor! As far as the spelling is concerned, I'm working on it (trying to do my best as a non-native). Regarding participation: Well, it's all up to you.