Last night after work I stopped at the liquor store and picked up a bottle of Jim Beam Black 8YO 86 Proof bourbon, to give it a fair shot. Well, hung on the neck of the bottle is a black ribboned "gold" medallion stating: "Beverage Tasting Institute #1 Highest Rated North American Whiskey Chicago 2003"
And there is a little hang tag stating:
93 Jim Beam Black
91 Maker's Mark
89 Wild Turkey 101
82 Gentleman Jack
81 Crown Royal
81 Jack Daniel's
EXCUSE ME!! But who the heck are these Yahoo's that scored these whiskies?
JB Black #1? How can that be with bourbons like Booker's, Baker's, Knob Creek, Van Winkle, Wild Turkey Rare Breed, Eagle Rare Single Barrel, Buffalo Trace, Distiller's Masterpiece, Hirsch, etc..
They must be too used to wine tasting and the higher proofs scare them off Wimps!!!!
Granted, Beam Black is not all that bad, but number one?? Come on!!!!
What, do they only taste "Mass Market" whiskies?
Can someone please explain this to me?
OK, rant off...........
The Beverage Tasting Institute has a website at http://www.tastings.com and has published several books, the most useful to whisk(e)y drinkers being their "Buying Guide to Spirits", last published in 1999 so it's a bit out of date.
If you go to the BTI's website and do a search on American Whiskey, these are the top results:
98 • Old Rip Van Winkle 12 Year Old Special Reserve Straight Bourbon Whiskey
98 • Pappy Van Winkle's 15 Year Old Family Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky
95 • Old Rip Van Winkle 13 Year Old Family Reserve Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey
95 • George T. Stagg 15 Yr. Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky
94 • Old Rip Van Winkle 15 Year Old Handmade Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
94 • A.H. Hirsch 16 Year Old Pot Stilled Straight Bourbon Whiskey
93 • Elijah Craig 12 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
93 • Jim Beam Black 8 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
93 • Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky
92 • Wild Turkey Russell's Reserve 10 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
[ and so forth ]
So, while Jim Beam Black did score a 93, it certainly isn't at the top of the list. It must have been the best bottle that somebody brought to this Chicago 2003 event?
Don't get me wrong: the Jim Beam Black is a good bourbon. I had some last night, in fact. It's sweet, with a fine peppery taste, but I would be very surprised to hear it named the best this country offers.
Such "marketing" is very common here in Australia with wines. You often see bottles of wine covered with gold medals & trophies all over the label. On the surface, you'd think this was an amazing wine.
But when you then read the medals closely, you find that they were all awarded at rural festivals or minor events, rather than at the major shows and industry events.
(Would you rather buy a bourbon that won the Kentucky Whisky Fair, or one that won the Hicksville Whisky Fair? )
mickblueeyes wrote:In order to be rated by http://www.tastings.com or Beverage Tastings Institute, you must submit a bottle of your brand and an application fee. They don't do perpetual ratings. You must resubmit your product each year to be "publicized" as the winner for that year. Most industry people consider these people charlatans.
They might be considered charlatans (although I've never heard anyone say that), but they seem to serve a useful purpose. I like the idea of an independent agency devoted to reviewing wine, beer, and spirits. Nice work if you can get it!
So I did a bit of homework:
Products submitted do pay a fee, but that's probably a necessity for a independent institution like BTI. The alternatives are advertising (which would bring accusations of bias) or large private donations (unlikely). The "Absolut Vodka 2004 Independent Review of Spirits" just wouldn't have the same credibility.
Rreviews older than the current year remain available on their website. It is inaccurate that they must pay every year.
Out of curiosity, I downloaded the registration form for the 2004 competition from their website. It states, "Please Note: Spirit reviews from before 2001 will be deleted from our system. If we haven’t reviewed your products recently, we need to this year." This seems reasonable to me, as we all know that spirits change flavor profiles all the time. Three years seems pretty forgiving.
There may be flaws in BTI or its methodology, but we should all be clear on what the facts are before criticizing.
* Jack Daniel's *
All power to her for sticking to her guns - but it drives me potty.
I think the only way to really rate whiskies is to mix the opinion of experts such as Dave Broom and Jim Murray, with the views of people on forums like this one and straightbourbon.com
Can't wait for this year's Stagg !!
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