this is taken from the forum of Whiskymag.com in a string of comments . 

"Delighted to see my new scoring system has generated some debate. And a few laughs.

Firstly, I would like to congratulate Aiden. My score was actually 96.499999999997, but you were close enough….!!

Secondly, don't waste all that good healthy cynicism: there are far more worthy causes around than JMWB09. The Ardbeg got World Whisky of the Year, certainly. But it was from a direction I had not for one moment expected. This particular brand of Ardbeg had not historically been among my favourites. So I was rendered almost speechless when I happened across it in Vancouver earlier in the year. Sadly, it is a bottling available only in Canada. And the reason it got World Whisky of the Year was not because it was Ardbeg (Willie!!). But because of the 1,227 new whiskies I tasted this year I simply could not find one that was better.

Next, may I explain why I have altered the points system. The reasons are two-fold and of equal importance. For quite some time it was quite possible that there would be no Whisky Bible for 2009. So, for legal reasons, we prepared an alternative book which would follow on. Again for legal reasons it could not be identical to The Bible, so part of the design was to incorporate something I had been seriously thinking about for the last two or three years: marking to half points.

As you know, the Bible is unique in that it splits the marking up into four sections: nose, taste, finish and balance, each being marked out of 25. So when you look at it that way, it is easier to score half points. There have been countless times when I thought one whisky marginally better than another in a certain department, but it really didn't merit a full point; or it may have had hinted at a tiny flaw, though again one not quite worth docking a point for. This helped clear up that untidiness in my own mind and helped me mark with a degree of extra accuracy.

Perhaps, also, it is worth bearing in mind that I regard my scoring system as working slightly like the Richter scale: the further you go up, the bigger the jump in quality between points.

So, whilst I am grateful for Nick Brown’s thoughtful advice, I trust he won’t be too offended if I live without it. Nick, how can I “overscore” my “favourite brands”, as you call them? The reason they are my “favourite” is because I regularly give them high marks: it is hardly likely that a distillery always scoring high 70s and low 80s will count among my favourites, is it….? And I am curious as to how you appear to know that I don’t already compare this year’s whisky for a particular brand or score type with the previous year’s, or the one before that. For the record, Nick, I do exactly that. I pay a painful amount of money each year for warehousing space so I have that ability: I store all samples (about 10,000 of them) and test like for like to ensure I am remaining on track as occasion demands. Ask David Rankin, my samples research coordinator, who spends countless hours digging around in the semi-light for some random sample or other. It is not exactly his favourite part of the job: I’m sure he’d be delighted if you gave him a hand one day.…

Far, then, from the scoring being meaningless, for me it is quite the opposite. When I worked out the World Whisky of the Year the half dozen or so highest scorers were tasted against each other. I also threw in some which scored slightly lower, to see if any of them were better than the top six (if so then I had called it wrong and the offender would have to be down-graded). They weren’t, and were flung out of the “competition” pretty sharpish leaving the high flyers to battle it out. Also, as you might expect when tasting over 1,500 whiskies this year the same whisky did get poured under a slightly different name and tasted twice. We found one case of this, and without realizing and several months apart I had scored each sample identically, thereby on discovery of the error doing myself no harm in the eyes of my staff and giving myself a much-needed shot in the arm – as when you are four months (seven days a week, 12 hours a day) and 1,000 whiskies in, you do begin to wonder…So the scoring system must be doing something right. Oh, and what is so ridiculous about a score of 97.5? When you have tasted nearly 4,000 whiskies, is there not a possibility that at least one of them will be as near as damn it perfect….?

Thankfully, however, I am not a machine. And this is not an exact science and I am the first to admit that there will be the odd head-scratcher. That is what makes it fun, surely. Please enjoy the 2009 Whisky Bible. I don’t expect or even want you to agree with every single score I give (though I’m be amazed if you aren’t as knocked out by the stunning, feints-free, PC6 as I was) as there is nothing better than an open mind and open debate. I just hope that my Bible adds to your enjoyment; that you find it consistent and friendly and just helpful enough that maybe it points you in the direction of a quite excellent whisky which you may not have tried except that I pricked your curiosity. That, for me, is what it’s all about."
Jim Murray

Posted by email from ivanandersson’s posterous

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