Review Methods

In the past, I've gotten a lot of questions on how I go about reviewing things here at In With Bacchus. This page is to clarify things. You can assume that I follow these rules unless I say otherwise. Yes, some of these rules are finicky and make me sound snobby but it's really for the benefit of the spirit and fair representation. And you know how I'm all about fair representation and complete disclosure.

Cigars:

I try to smoke as many as I can before I put up a review. At minimum, I try to smoke 3 before posting a review just to maintain consistency. However, if the cigar is hard to find or bears an expense that means I can't afford 3, I'll write a review based on how many I can get.

I also don't drink any beverages with my cigar. Not even water. Before and after a cigar I tend to drink water with lime in it though. But a half hour gap before and after the review to prevent contamination.

I generally cut with a Xikar Xi1 Titanium (alternative is a Palio Original Composite) and light with either a Bic soft flame or a Prometheus Predator.

Pipe tobacco:

No word on this yet but I'm thinking I may start. I'll work out the kinks on it and let you know.

Tea:

Tea is brewed in either a gaiwan/consolidation pitcher/tasting cup (to prevent continued infusion during the review) or a Harney and Sons ceramic tea tasting set (no link, in-store only). I do at least three sessions with the tea to do a review. I say sessions and not brews because a lot of the pu-erh I drink can be infused several times, so sessions fit well. If the tea comes with directions, I'll follow them but if it doesn't, I follow these rules:

Black tea (Assam, Darjeeling, Chinese black):
208 F - boiling, 2 minutes

Black tea (pu-erh)
208 F - boiling, first infusion for 30 seconds with 15 second increments for subsequent brews

Green tea (Chinese green, Japanese low grade):
175 F, 1:30 minutes

Green tea (high grade sencha)
160 F, 1 min

White tea:
160 F, 2 minutes

If that changes, I'll say it in the notes.

Spirits:

All spirits are nosed and tasted in a Glencairn glass. I'll revisit them at least once after the initial tasting unless it's hard to find / expensive / given a limited amount. Then I go with what I got. As for individual spirits...


 Whisk(e)y: I never cut my whisk(e)y. Whatever proof/strength I get it at is what I review it at. Even though I should water it down (see comment #19 here for why), the distiller wanted it that way and so help me...that's how I want it too. Even cask strength. Neat. Always neat. Coincidentally, I have so much hair on my chest I look like a plump Sean Connery. And if I have my shirt off and a window open it looks like a swaying field of wheat. Yeah, y'know what. Don't think about that last one. Really, just don't.

Vodka: I review vodka two ways: room temp and cold. I review it at room temp to get a sense of the spirit itself, in terms of the cuts made on it and the flavor character. I review it cold to see how it performs in a standard drinking situation. That and I like cold vodka. I really like it with pickles and black bread but that's not a very controlled atmosphere for tasting, now is it?

Gin: Gin I will review alone, neat, and warm. I will also put it through a martini test if I feel in the mood. I like my martinis like a martini should be: 2:1 or 3:1 of vodka to dry vermouth. I typically use either Noilly Prat or Martini and Rossi but I'm experimenting. And stirred, not shaken. Shaking waters down the drink and if you want to see my thoughts on watered down drinks, revisit the "whisk(e)y" section.

Rum: Neat and warm. This may be the only spirit that I WOULD water down as I'm thinking that I might start including a "grog test" in my reviews. Results of that decision are pending though.

Tequila: As above, neat and warm. I do reserve the right to put it through the Paloma test though.

Absinthe: I'll nose the spirit at natural strength first. Then 1:1, 2:1, and 3:1 (if warranted) water to spirit, no sugar. For review, I follow the Wormwood Society review scheme, sans scores.

Any spirit that comes with instructions I will generally follow as well (i.e. Harlem Kruiden or Snow Grouse).

Port:

Pending on this one. I drink a healthy dose of it but I've never done a review of it. I'm still pretty new to it so, as per the pipe tobacco section, lemme flesh it out and get back to you.  

Beer:

All beer is served at correct temperature in (mostly) the correct glassware. Since I started doing my first reviews on Beer Advocate, I loosely follow their beer review guidelines. Except I don't assign...

SCORES

This is a big point of contention right here. If you've seen some of my reviews, you'll note that I never give a score to anything. EVER. Nothing out of 100 or a letter grade. That's not how I work. For me, assigning a score is an asinine and almost insulting point. To condense so much sensory experience to a number or letter is demeaning in my eyes. That and I started doing this to catalog my thoughts on beverages and share them with you so a score doesn't help me much either. Sure, it does make it handy and helpful to reference if you've arrived at a point where you understand my palate in relation to yours. At that point, sure, it's useful but I still think it's wrong. Thus, my "score" is written out in my personal thoughts and opinions. Yep, written out. So I highly encourage you to read the review I wrote because I put a lot of effort into writing them and I think they're kinda funny sometimes.  Sorry if you're looking for one.

So there you go! Complete disclosure. Feels good, man. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to drop me a line. My contact info can be found at the Contact Me! page.