Stars

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.

 

Advertisements

Eagle Rare 10 Year Old

Reviewed by: Ted

Eagle Rare

On a scale of one to freedom, how symbolic is the Eagle of the might, majesty and democratic way of the US of A? Let’s just say that if you gave Captain America a nuclear powered cheeseburger and stood him on top of a NASCAR on the deck of an aircraft carrier while an Ivy League college marching band played Star Spangled Banner and F-15’s, Apaches and Chuck Norris with bear arms flew overhead, then you would probably come close. Therefore, calling your bourbon, that most patriotic of spirits, ‘Eagle Rare’ and slapping a bald eagle and some stars on the front probably isn’t the worst idea ever conceived.

Ted and Eagle 2

To tell the truth, while I have portrayed the Eagle Rare in a rather bombastic, gun totin’ fashion, it is actually a drink of some sophistication and refinement. Think Atticus Finch rather than Redneck Rambo. Eagle Rare is owned by Buffalo Trace, based in Frankfort, Kentucky, where it is part of their stable of sub-brands (or should that be aviary? Eyrie? I give up). Recently the distillery has courted some concerns by dropping the phrase “Single Barrel” from the Eagle Rare label (mine still has it) and moving the age statement to the back. Management has assured fans that the changes are the result of moving the production line to a different location and running on new bottling equipment, and that the ageing and barrelling methods will be the same as ever. Watch this space.

Unlike Scotch, which is usually aged for at least 10-12yrs, bourbons are for the most part not aged more than 6-8yrs, and quite often less than that. This difference in aging cultures can be attributed to the use of virgin oak barrels and generally warmer storage temperatures, allowing bourbons to mature faster, therefore meaning that they can be happily released at a younger age. Sometimes though, particularly good barrels are allowed to continue for a longer period, which is where premium expressions such as the Eagle Rare Single Barrel 10 Year Old come into play.

On the nose the Eagle Rare is unctuous, with a smooth feel that slides like a well oiled machine part. It’s body is as warm, fat and fuzzy as a newly hibernating bear, and filled with baked caramelised apples covered in buttery pastry. The first sip is light and sharp, like a sweet, crisp apple. The copper liquid sits on your tongue like a gentle warm thermal, allowing the eagle spirit to soar up to the roof of your mouth and down your throat. For a bourbon represented by such a big bird, it feels surprisingly delicate, especially considering the fact that it is bottled at 45%. Must be the hollow bones.

Ted and Eagle 1

The Eagle Rare Single Barrel 10yo claims to hold itself to the ideals of ‘Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness’. Not a bad mission really. This is the American Way at its best, not forceful and overpowering, but warm and welcoming, greeting you with grace and hospitality into the Land of the Free. As the great Steve Miller said: “I want to fly like an eagle, to the sea, fly like an eagle, let my spirit carry me, I want to fly like an eagle, till I’m free…”

★★★