The Fault in our Stars: an explanation of the whisky waffle rating system

Posted by: Nick and Ted

Waffle Selfie

Nick: Roll the dice, Ted! We need to come up with a score for the Glenfiddich 12!

Depending on what you’re after, whisky rankings can be a help or a hindrance. Some reviewers have highly thought out and complex ratings systems, whereas others tend towards simplistic and arbitrary methods, preferring to spend more time drinking the stuff than doing the maths.

Whisky Waffle fall squarely into the latter category, struggling to count any further than five after a couple of drams. Thus we award any whisky we review a rating of one to five stars. We don’t even bother with half stars, because, after all, that’s just a sneaky way of scoring out of ten isn’t it?

So keeping it simple is all well and good, but what does each score actually mean?

★ One star sounds bad… and that’s because it is. There are very few whiskies with zero redeeming qualities, but every now and then one rears its ugly head. Try it once and then never again.

★★ Two stars is in no way bad. But nor is it good, either. These are perfectly drinkable whiskies that for some reason have disappointed us, or left us underwhelmed. Try it once, and then try it again to be sure.

★★★ Three stars is our most complex category. Everything within this zone is good, however some just creep over the line whereas others are bordering on greatness. To work out which – well, you’ll just have to read the review! We would happily have a dram of one of these any day of the week (twice on Fridays!).

★★★★ Four stars are whiskies both literally and figuratively top shelf. These are the drops that have an x-factor, something that makes them stand out from the pack. They’d be a fine addition to anyone’s collection.

★★★★★ Five stars is probably the most subjective category for us. Obviously they’re all superlative whiskies in their own right, but often they might hold extra significance for us. These are whiskies that make all five stars align in the heavens.

For those who are interested, we created a page listing all our reviews by their score. You can check it out here.




  1. Like your rating system.
    I’m not one to score really – unless it’s a blind tasting – and the results were interesting!
    My preferences came through but brands I liked didn’t fair too well whilst others I deemed OK rated highly. I did re-taste some afterwards which only confirmed the scores.
    It’s such a subjective delight drinking whiskey and hopefully your system reflects that.
    Whiskey Nut


    1. Rather ironically, blind tastings are so eye opening! Anyway, thanks mate! I love your quote that drinking whisky is a “subjective delight”. I couldn’t agree more.
      Keep on waffling,


  2. I find whisky ratings are like pirate laws – more like guidelines. IMHO, the strictly numerical ratings have an inherent flaw: unless you have already tried the most superlative whisky on the planet, how can you know what great whisky is? What’s a 25 in finish? Remember Nadia Comăneci…no, probably not, as you were not born when there were still dial phones and thunder lizards roamed the earth. Anyway, I digress – the star system as you folks have implemented makes sense.


  3. Numerically scoring whisky drives me nuts… But I don’t need to get into all that!

    I really like the descriptions of your categories – simply understood and accessible for everyone. Even your 1-⭐️ rating suggests readers may “try it once”, which I think honours the subjectivity of individual preferences. One mans trash is another man’s treasure, after all!


    1. Yeah, numerical scoring irks us a bit too. As you rightly say, drinking whisky is so subjective and can be influenced by any number of factors. We once went out for a bit of a session at a bar (no surprise there); for some reason I was just off that night, and a number of drops that I normally would have found great I simply couldn’t get in to. No idea why. So if I’d been reviewing any of them it could have turned out completely different to what I might have said on another night.

      So yeah, we try to get things pretty relaxed when it comes to scoring, knowing that our readers will make up their own minds and probably think we talk rubbish half the time anyway haha.

      Keep on waffling,


      1. Absolutely, I’ve also had those days where a whisky tastes completely different from another time too. One more thing though, when you read enough different blogs, you start to find the ones that you can trust, more often than not, to match up with your own personal preferences.

        Keep up the good work, gentlemen!


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