From the Distiller... which whiskey (gin, rum etc.) should I buy?
I’ve written over the past several months about drinking and tasting whiskey, but perhaps we should go back to the point before you are even sit down to a nice drink, i.e. how do you decide what bottle(s) to buy? You’re at the store checking out the whiskey selections, wanting to try something new, but have no idea which bottle to pick. Do you just succumb to marketing and grab the bottle that looks the best to you? Not anymore - the internet is here to the rescue! There are several very nice websites out there these days that provide whiskey reviews (and of other spirits too), though a couple stand out for both the number of products reviewed and ease of use.
My favorite website is Distiller. Their website is easy to use, is well organized and aesthetically appealing and they have a convenient smartphone app to use when you are at the store or looking over the whiskey list at a bar or restaurant. They have professional reviews by spirit experts as well as consumer ratings and other fun educational articles. Besides being able to check reviews of products, if you become a registered user (free!) you are able to create a profile where you can keep a running tab of spirits you have in your collection, make a wish list, and add your own personal notes and ratings on spirits. They often have random give-aways to those users who have added their own personal reviews as an incentive for folks to add their own reviews, as the more folks that review the products the more reliable the ratings – just like at Amazon. I always feel better when there are 1000 reviews and a rating of 4.5, versus just 10 reviews all giving the same rating.
This past summer we sent some our products off to the folks at Distiller to have them evaluated by their expert reviewers. For the most part, we are quite pleased with the scores we received. (you can see those reviews simply by going to the search function at the top of their main webpage, type in “Big Spring Spirits” and see all our scores and reviews. We are pretty happy with the scores, except for the coconut rum, which is one of our favorites, but has our lowest score. Most of the coconut rums on their site also tend to have low scores. Apparently, coconut is not their thing. This is where you come in. When registered users add their own notes and ratings, they are available for everyone to see. While we would of course like everyone to log in and say glowing things about our spirits, we want people to be honest – good or bad. That is what makes a review site useful and ultimately guides the consumer to the best product for them to buy.
Another good place for reviews is The Whiskey Advocate. This site is limited to just whiskey, but the collection is rather extensive! Again, all reviews are by spirits professionals. With this site, however, there is no way to add your own comments or keep track of what is in your bar, or what you have tried. Additionally, there is Alcohol Professor and while it is not a review website per se, it allows me to keep up on what is trending in the drinks world, including beer and wine.