I loved Michael Jackson’s Whisky notes…, he rarely went into the “horse saddle from the 60’s used by a second cousin to the king of Lame”… he mostly said what it tasted and smelled like, if it was good or not, if it lingered in your mouth or not, if it was strong or weak, things people need to know when approaching a purchase.
I tell you the truth, I would just love love love to be able to discern the nuances like some of my friends do, and I do “feel” them, i smell them and taste them but i cannot transfer them to an actual thing or fruit or else, I guess it’s just a talent, like composing or drawing, some people smell a dram and they can compare it to something else, kudos to them.
Whisky notes are useful mainly because people can save money by buying drams that they think are going to be keen to their taste after reading notes. Notes can be found in the back label of the actual bottle but that, for my experience, seldom translates to reality except for few like Samaroli early bottles, Velier Rum and few others.
My whisky notes are naturally slimmer, its peated or not, it’s strong, it’s sherried, fruity bla bla, that’s where i stop but that doesn’t mean that’s bad. When reading whisky notes be very careful, more than the notes itself, to WHO is writing them. Nowadays whisky scoring is a real biz, when a blogger has some success he gets approached by bottlers and mainly Distillery owners, they get offered free bottles, dinners, trips and get the royal treatment, you can see this when you read that a 5 yo Glen Grant has scored over 90 points, that can only mean that the scorer was weak, he fell for the bargain, for the scam, sometimes he just get’s swayed by the treatment, he starts to “Like” the guy and when scoring he simply “adds” a point or two because of this friendship, so not necessarily “dirty”, just not completely un-biased.
I know very few that never fell for this, Serge Valentin for one, I have seen it myself, has storms of interested parties trying to corral him to their side, but i have seen him trash bottling just they day after spending a magnificent dinner with the guy who submitted his dram to him for scoring. Same for Ruben from Whiskynotes.be.
But whisky notes are mainly PERSONAL, somebody can smell chocolate and you can instead smell licorice, and you will be disappointed in the end. So if you have to use notes and scores for your purchases choose somebody you trust, try a dram and compare your notes to his, when you have found somebody that translates to your taste in the same way your palate does then stick to that one.