About Our Rating System

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Updated December 12, 2014

The Whiskey Reviewer rejects the typical “100” numerical rating system, because it is flawed, misleading and often abused. No matter what particular method is used for the 100 scoring system, only the top quarter of the spectrum or so is really used to rate the drink in question. For example, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate bottoms out at 50, with anything rated below 60 considered unacceptable. Ditto for the Wine Spectator. However, one rarely sees either of these magazines bothering with such inferior drinks, and certainly one  never sees a bottle rated 65 or (worse) 55 cited as such on store shelves. Instead, one routinely encounters real Pope’s Blood wines or rotgut whiskeys in the high 70s or low 80s, which should indicate an average or above average drink. The result disguises mediocre drinks and confuses them with average or above average examples, and only accurately reflects the quality of beverages at the top of the spectrum.

Instead, we use a letter grading system. Anyone familiar with the American educational system or the Energy Star grading system will know exactly what our ratings mean at a glance, and they cannot be used to disguise a poor performer. Based as it is on a five-point system, letter grading is also similar to the five-star rating system, and for convenience’s sake we have included star-rating conversions in our letter grading key.

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