Scoring points with Whisky

Posted on December 02, 2016 by Jack Cummins

In the wine industry Robert Parker, the world's most influential wine critic, arguably made choosing wine easier by rating wines out of 100. In whisky, its much the same. Jim Murray's whisky bible, which we often quote uses a 100 point system with 25 points given each to nose, taste, finish and balance. Serge Valentin's Whiskyfun website also uses a 100 point system but without any further breakdown. The Whiskyfun website is, as Serge has said, like a subsidiary of Malt Masters, so here is a more detailed breakdown of their points system, excerpted from MaltMadness.

The Meaning of the Numbers:
As far as the entire scale goes: here's the meaning of the bottom end of my scale - the drinks I don't like;
01 - 09:   Barely drinkable gagwater. Serving me this may result in physical violence.
10 - 19:   Truly disgusting. Varying degrees of awfulness; highly avoidable.
20 - 29:   Only suitable for intoxication purposes. Best used as Anti-freeze.
30 - 39:   Definitely not enjoyable. Don't pour me another glass, please.
40 - 49:   Flawed. I'll drink it, but don't expect me to be happy about it.
Above 50 points I'm slowly starting to warm up to things.
My scores on the 'positive' end of the scale mean something like;
51 - 54:   All things considered I like it, but just barely. It's a thin line between love and hate.
55 - 59:   I'm far from crazy about this, but I could find some redeeming qualities.
60 - 64:   Quite drinkable, but I could find nothing in there to get very excited about.
65 - 69:   An altogether satisfactory experience, but somehow it doesn't fulfil its potential.
70 - 74:   An enjoyable drink, just a tad below average. Could do better.
75 - 79:   A very enjoyable drink; above average but not exciting enough to be recommendable.
80 - 84:   Recommendable. Very nice indeed, thank you. Pour me another one, please.
85 - 89:   Highly recommendable. Wonderful! Never a dull moment with one of these.
90 - 94:   Everybody should try this at least once in their life. Great liquids of the world.
95 - 99:   Exceptional. The sort of stuff where price starts to become almost irrelevant.
100 pts:   True 'aqua vitae'. Once I've found this legendary drink I can rest easy.
Here are some 'anchors' or 'benchmarks' in my rating-system;
80 - Bowmore 12yo, Dalmore 12yo, Glen Ord 12yo
60 - Glenfiddich Special Reserve, Johnnie Walker Black Label
40 - Drumguish 3yo, Dimple
20 - Johnnie Walker Red Label


Here are Serge's thoughts on scoring:

Hi, fellow maniacs, I'm in a rush so no long and detailed explanations but here are just a few quick points:
  * I'm in favour of scoring whiskies.
  * But only if that's done responsibly and seriously (experience needed).
  * A score should be a 'summing up' of detailed notes and impressions.
  * A score isn't a judgement because there isn't any laws. It's highly personal.
  * A score, like any mathematical 'expression', should be based on measurable (sort of) criteria.
  * For instance, I favour both complexity AND compactness, typicality AND originality etc.
  * Yet, I don't like to 'decompose' a score (like nose, palate, finish, mouth feel etc.) because I think those elements
     are highly variable in their relative importance, depending on each whisky.
  * We shouldn't score if we don't have enough time to 'screen' a whisky properly.
  * Scores are relative to other scores. That's why I like to try different expressions from the same distillery at the same time.
  * Using benchmark malts is important, to avoid 'scores volatility' depending on moods, shape etc.
  * A user should know the taster's background and tastes before 'using' his scores.
  * It's always better to read the tasting notes alongside a score. Just a score can be misleading.
  * A score should always be explained. Again, it's just a summing up.
  * Scorers should always respect the people who made the whisky and be fair.
  * When in doubt, don't score!!!
I probably forgot many points...




Help Nepal

Posted on April 29, 2015 by Jack Cummins

In light of the tragic events in Nepal, WhiskyHongKong would like to raise money to donate to aid efforts there. Anyone using this discount code on the check-out page will get a discount of 7% and WhiskyHongKong will donate a further 8%.

The discount code is: HelpNepal

The two charities we will donate to are run by people we know and trust. They are 1)
and 2)

Feel free to make your own donations. If you have any questions please get in touch.

Very Rare Cask Strength Single Malt from a closed distillery - Littlemill 21 year old

Posted on April 10, 2014 by Jack Cummins

This is a 21 year old Littlemill, 53.6% ABV. Littlemill was a Lowland distillery which was destroyed by fire in 2004. It was claimed to be Scotland's oldest distillery. So this is a real rarity, a piece of history never to be repeated.
We were lucky enough to get a sample. It was an immediate tropical fruits 'Wow'. Here is a review from Miss Whisky.


It was bottled by Lady of Glen, a new independent bottler. It sells in the UK for GBP 95. So with the 100% duty here in HK, it will be at something like double that, around HKD 2400, but we'll keep the costs down as much as possible. The cost of transport from the UK will depend on how many bottles we order. Once we know how many bottles we're going to get, then the prices will be finalised. At this stage, we just want you to register your interest. Later we will confirm the price.

Any prepaid orders will get the best price possible, estimated to be 20-30% cheaper than the regular sales price on the store. This means that if you order and pay for the whisky before its imported, you will be rewarded by paying the lowest possible price. I'll post about this later.

There will not be much Littlemill whisky left in the world, certainly not at 21 years old and Cask Strength! The bottler could get many more bottles by diluting to 40%. Praise be to Gregor Hannah of Lady of the Glen!

So let me know if you are interested in the Littlemill, but be quick. There aren't many bottles left!

Fantastic Cask Strength Speyside gets rave review

Posted on March 29, 2014 by Jack Cummins

Just found a new review of one of our whiskies. Its a Dailauine, a Speysider owned by Diageo and a key component of the Johnny Walker blends.

Here it is in all it Cask Strength majesty, with no chill filtration and no added colour. Its got an 85 point review from Serve Valentin. Yours from for HKD 1551 - not bad for a highly rated whisky bottled at 61.3%

From Serge Valentin's Whiskyfun:
Dailuaine 13 yo 2000/2013 (61.3%, James MacArthur, Old Masters, bourbon, cask #82) Four stars

Colour: very pale white wine.
Nose: James MacArthur like fully spirit-driven whiskies, and this baby’s a good example. No traces of oak, no vanilla either, only a combination of all things mineral (gravel, sand, flints) with tons of cut grass and a little sulphur. We’re not talking burnt sulphur or H2S, this is ‘good’ sulphur. With water: perfect barley and farmyard. After a heavy shower!
Mouth (neat): a massive creaminess and litres of barley syrup, maple syrup and acacia honey, with touches of lemon in the background that keep it zesty. It’s simple, but it’s great. Even the high strength doesn’t make it any less drinkable. With water: it’s liquid honey. Or barley liqueur.
Finish: plain barley liqueur indeed.
Comments: I enjoy it when the barley kept control, especially when the whisky’s not beery at all. Pure barley liqueur indeed. SGP:531 - 85 points.

Very rare whiskies

Posted on March 24, 2014 by Jack Cummins

Hello everyone,

Its been a while since you've heard from us. We really should write more...

We've started selling some extremely rare whiskies and collections of whiskies on our website. Most recently we've  added a collection painstakingly built up over several years. It is comprised of Macallan 18 year olds every year starting from 1945. My mind boggles at the thought that this was distilled in the same year the second world war ended. How different the world was then! And the collection continues every year until 1986. How different was the world, and I, in 1986?

Of course, such a majestic sweep of history doesn't come cheap, but this is truly a unique collection and will surely appreciate in value. I came across a single bottle of 15 year old Macallan, bottled in 1947 for sale in the UK at the equivalent of HKD 379,600 (duty paid). This price makes this whole collection of 42 bottles seem a positive bargain!

Snap it up, why don't you? It's priced for a quick sale, at less than HKD1.5 million!









New Opening Discount Offer: 15% off!

Posted on February 01, 2014 by Jack Cummins

To celebrate the new year, we're kicking off our new store with a special offer of 15% off all products for the month of February. To claim the discount, enter 'WhiskyHongKong' into the dicount code box on the checkout page.




We're Open For Business!

Posted on January 17, 2014 by Jack Cummins

On this first day of the New Year, the Year of the Horse, we have quietly launched our website for selling some of the most excellent whiskies we can find. These are more rare whiskies that you can't find in the shops.


So, Kung Hei Fat Choi! Buy some whisky! You'll be hearing from us soon.