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Ratings: The Dykstra Method. Really?

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Capn Jimbo
Rum Evangelisti and Compleat Idiot

Joined: 11 Dec 2006
Posts: 3499
Location: Paradise: Fort Lauderdale of course...

PostPosted: Sat Jan 02, 2010 9:08 am    Post subject: Ratings: The Dykstra Method. Really? Reply with quote

Yet another rum tasting system, er method... The Dykstra Method!

There's a new kid on the block and he's actually developed a tasting system which he calls the "Dykstra Method". To be fair, lots and lots of people publish/post their opinions and reviews on any number of rum and other websites - these posting are simply personal opinion and require no analysis.

Even the Preacher - who will never be accused of humility - has never dared to name a tasting system or method after himself. And as The Compleat Idiot, I'd never dare do so.

But when Mr. Dykstra goes so far as to create and name a method, the "Dykstra Method" - after himself - then goes to great lengths to design and promote a website around it, then it becomes fodder simply begging for analysis, critique and criticism.

Either this new method is actually quite amazing - or - it is quite brazen. You decide...


Quoting Mr. Dykstra:

I use a rather unusual weighted system for my reviews. I first discussed my system on The Ministry Of Rum. When I began to review Rums for Rum Connection the system was dubbed The Dykstra Method.

What I try to do with each review is to allow the reader to vicariously enjoy the spirit with me. If I do a good review you will almost believe you have enjoyed the glass with me.

I have five categories that I judge based upon the amount of enjoyment I receive from of each segment of the drinking experience. These categories are:



I enjoy the ambiance created by unwrapping a nice bottle from its packaging and then placing the bottle in front of my friends. I like uniqueness in the bottle shape, or the sleeve or box the spirit comes in. I like a little story on the side of the bottle or a little booklet with the bottle explaining where the spirit comes from and why I should buy it. I like the spirit protected from the light, and the bottle corked with a quality high density cork.

I have a rule that the more I paid for a bottle the harsher I judge the category. inexpensive bottles score points quite easily, but more expensive premium spirits must really impress to obtain a perfect score . Over time, of course, the packaging is less important but it still merits 5 % of the total experience. Basically this is a category for presentation.


A lot begins to happen as we open and pour the bottle. Each spirit has its own characteristic of aroma which swats at the nostrils. The spirit may gain legs in the glass. In a way this is a little about the joy of expectation. I actually enjoy the expectation of delicious flavour that starts the drinking experience. I also love to nose a glass before I drink and pick out the enjoyable smells the glass brings forth. Even the colour of the spirit can bring about excitement and a certain longing for the drink that is to follow.


This is the most important category and it is all about taste. Basically this is a “How good does this spirit taste?” category. If I am constantly drawn back to a particular rum I score this very high. I want the taste to show characteristics of spice and flavours consistent with the spirit i am consuming. The flavours must compliment the spirit rather than dominate it, and we must have what I call balance. A balanced rum will not have any off notes of excessive bitterness or sweetness. Prevalent spices must be in harmony with the spirit and not in combat it. I also expect the flavour to be robust. I will sample the drink in a variety of settings and palate conditions before setting down my score. A drink that easily loses its appeal when conditions are not ideal will lose points. I do not believe the average consumer drinks with a clean fresh palate every time so I want my score to reflect average drinking conditions as well as the ideal.


This is all about that warm feeling you get as the liquid flows down. I place great importance to the aftertaste left at the back of the palate. Also that nice burn you feel as the liquid goes down. Bitterness left behind always knocks this score down a bit as does any flavour or lack thereof that leaves the experience wanting. A smooth finish with a light alcohol burn is preferable to a harsh biting finish, but we must have a little bite and burn else we may as well drink soda.


This is a catchall category meant to smooth out any inconsistencies. Sometimes a spirit is more than the sum of its parts and this is a good area to recognize that. Also this is an area where the remembrance of the flavour is more important that the actual flavour if that makes any sense. Do I want another glass? Was the experience diminished in any way that could not be quantified by the other categories?

Finally, what do the final numbers mean?

0-25 A drink with a rating this low would actually Kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your Fortitude Score you might actually survive.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you probably shouldn’t.
60-64 You may offer this to people you do not want to see again.
65-69 Someone may offer you this. You should decline.
70-74 Now we have a fair dram. Accept this graciously.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends.
80-84 Very Good
85-89 Excellent!
90-94 You may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:

70 – 80 Bronze Medal (Recommended as a mixer)
81 – 89 Silver Medal (Recommended )
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly Recommended)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

I will attempt to be fair to young Mr. Dykstra, who has obviously put a lot of time and effort into his website and voluminous reviewing system, rather "method". As a fellow reviewer I understand both the motivations - love of rum and ego - that prevail in these travails. For many, these may be reversed.

Forgive me, but "The Dykstra Method" smacks of the latter.

"Systems", few and far between, are usually the result of considerable time, experience and recognized expertise, hard earned over much time. Such systems emphatically do not preceed such efforts. Secondly, most systems fail anyway, by trying to dissect the experience into rateable chunks, which then compete with one another to arrive at a "score". This especially happens at faux rum "competitions" (whose real objective is to sell tickets and promote distillers).

I know, I've been there, feeling forced to judge these artificial elements and completely ignoring the real issues - like the overall complexity, balance, development and memorability. To the points...

Dykstra is new, inexperienced and well meaning, but far too new to develop and use a disintegrating system he does not yet understand or use competently. Lets consider one of his ratings:

I really dig this design.

That's the whole of it. He "digs the design". It gets all five points. Undefined.

IN THE GLASS (8.5/10)
Typical Appleton aroma with a rich look to the rum. The rum is slightly nutty and has a hint of vanilla. Of course we also get the rich brown notes of rummy molasses.

Now there is a "typical" - Jamaican dunder - aroma, but he misses most of what most tasters know is present in the Appleton 12 Year reviewed here. I don't understand why ("of course") we get the "rich brown notes" (whatever those are) of molasses. Undefined.

IN THE MOUTH (53.5/60)
The rum tastes very good but just a tad bitter. I think that this must be the younger base rum used in the Legacy as it has that same flavour profile but a more pronounced bitter note. The molasses has a slightly burnt taste and overall there is a woody note stemming from the time in the oak. I also get a slight citrus note which is very pleasant.

More Appleton 12 notes. We learn that it's "just a tad bitter", and has "a more pronounced bitter note", a "slightly burnt taste" and - finally - a "slight citrus note". But the rum "tastes very good" and is "very pleasant". Little ado and sparse comment about a rum that is amazingly rich with complexity. But at least he's beginning to catch on to the dunder.

Mr. Dykstra seems to have a real thing about what he calls "bitterness", which he all too frequently finds (and dislikes) in some of the most unlikely, well known and respected rums. Hard to figure. Maybe he really doesn't like rum. He's actually a scotch and whiskey drinker.

IN THE THROAT (13.0/15)
On hot days this really feels nice with coke. It quenches the thirst and leaves a nice flavourful feel in the mouth. I also seem to get a weird pecan backbite at the back of the throat right at the end of the taste experience. Usually the nutty tastes are in the palate rather than the throat.

Now this is where I really don't get it. Appleton Extra is a well recognized, world class rum. To rate it - or any fine sipping rum - on how it "feels nice with coke" is, well, bizarre. He gets a "weird pecan 'backbite'" at the end which, for some reason he expects to occur "in the palate", not the throat.

Huh? But let's finish...

The AFTERBURN (8.5/10)
Definitely a good rum on a hot day and a real pleaser with my friends.

The "afterburn"? Are we talkin jet engines or rum? What we learn about the, I guess aftertaste is only that Appleton Extra is "definitely a good rum on a hot day" and "a real pleaser with my friends".

I'm sorry. I truly am. These are not real reviews, and this is not a real system regardless of who uses it, particularly our dear young and inexperienced rum reviewer. OTOH I applaud his obvious effort and cajones to put himself out there and submit himself to the likes of me. Bravo! But also...


Let me conclude with these artifical scoring methods. A rum with a bottle "that I dig", that "mixes well with coke on a hot day" and that was "a real pleaser with my friends" can actually score very highly, and earn a coveted Gold or even Platinum. Maybe even a Moon Rock! Rum "competition" methods are hardly an improvement, although the reviewers tend to be more competent.

To be fair, our budding system designer has his moments, and his reviews are a wonderful expose of his fumbling but worthy amateur rum tasting efforts and development. I wish him well, and hope that in time he may come to better learn and appreciate rum.

One final note: Mr. Dykstra seems to think that rum tasting primarily happens in the mouth (60 points), rather than in presentation, aroma, finish and/or aftertaste (averaging just 10 points). Nothing could be further from the truth, and this is a key failing. What is even more amazing, or perhaps not at all, is the reaction this system received at the Monastary of "it's all good" Rum. What did they say?

Why "it's all good", of course, lol.

To be absolutely fair, I later ran into a number of his postings (under Arctic Wolf) over at the Preacher's joint. Several things became clear. First, is that he's not a bad fit there - even so his self-promoting enthusiasm quickly led to his being ordered, er asked to remove his complete reviews to his own website.

The Preacher can be like that.

Second, that his primary experience is in the tasting of whiskey, primarily scotch, and his personal experimentation for fun with small barrel, home finishing or modification of his whiskies.

He's got a lot to learn about rum. Chip if you're reading, I admire your enthusiasm. Don't quit, I'm givin ya an "A" for effort, and intend to add you to my links.

Go to Save Caribbean Rum Petition!

Last edited by Capn Jimbo on Sat Mar 06, 2010 5:03 am; edited 2 times in total
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Arctic Wolf

Joined: 04 Feb 2010
Posts: 1
Location: Edmonton Alberta

PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2010 4:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Capn Jimbo.

A friend of mine noticed your posting about "The Dykstra Method" and I registered at your site to post a comment with respect to your comments about my "Dykstra Method" on your site. After careful reflection I have decided that an email message to you may be more appropriate.

First off let me thank you for the honest appraisal, of my efforts. I realize you were not entirely complimentary, but you were honest in your assessments, and your criticisms were valid. My friend was concerned I would be upset at your posting but this is entirely untrue. I was actually pleased that there are still persons who are not afraid to be honest.

I do want to correct two points which is I believe are misinterpretations on your part. The first concerns the movement of my reviews to my own site. I was never asked by Ed to publish my reviews elsewhere. In fact the contrary was true. Ed, although never saying whether he agreed or disagreed with my reviews or my methodology, appreciated the discussions I generated on his site, and the honesty in my reviews. The issue which forced me to construct my own site was that some of my reviews were already being published on another site. (Rum Connection). Ed did not want any links from his site to a review on a third party site. Nor did he want to republish material from another site. I did not want my participation in his Connoisseurs Cabinet to be limited by this restriction. I wanted to give people access to all of my reviews. The compromise found, (at Ed's suggestion) was to open my own site where all my reviews would be published. Ed has no problem linking to any of my reviews on my site, and my relationship with Ed is very good. We do not agree on everything which leads to lively email discussion, but I respect Ed for what he has built and call him a friend.

Your suggestion that I was somehow forced to stop printing complete reviews on the MOR is erroneous. I can understand how a reading of the threads on MOR which I submitted may have given rise to your misinterpretation, but it simply is an faulty extrapolation on your part. I guess that matter is important to me as it implies an unhappiness with my reviews on Ed's part which was never the case.

The second is your assertion that I named my method after myself due to some sort of vanity. The truth is that Mike Streeter of Rum Connection is the one who named my methodology "The Dykstra Method". I will agree that is may be vanity that allowed me to let the name stick.

As for your other assessments, I find myself agreeing with some of what you say, and disagreeing with some of the things you say. But that is, I believe, what fair comment is all about. My first reviews were indeed fumbling attempts, as I was finding my way. In fact mostly my early reviews were never meant to be more than just fun ramblings on the Ministry of Rum. But somewhere along the way, some people started to take them more seriously, I was invited to publish on other websites, and my fun ramblings became a little more than that. It actually happened very quickly, and I will be honest, I was very surprised at the reaction that my reviews generated.

I made a conscious decision to publish every review, good bad or ugly, when I originally opened my site which may or may not have been wise, but I wanted the site to represent honest impressions, and somehow it did not seem honest to withhold my early fumbling reviews. I am in the process of revisiting some of these early reviews, (and revisiting the rum which inspired them) and a more complete more well written review is my aim. I have completed that re-visitation for the Flor de Cana 7 Yr old, and the Appleton 12 year old will be done in the next several weeks as I review the entire line of Appleton Rums.

I would be pleased if you would maybe visit my blog, read a few of the newer reviews, and let me know whether I have improved any.

BTW, although I joined your forum with the intention of posting this message to you as a response to your commentary, it seems to me to be less confrontational to just handle this with an email.

As such it would be best if you removed me from your membership roles. This is not due to any ill will or negativeity I have, it just seems we are birds of different feathers. As you implied, I may not fit in very well on your forum.

Kind Regards

Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
The Rum Howler Blog (and Now Whisky Too!)


Capn's Log: Mr. Dykstra's email/post was respectful and appreciated. Accordingly I've invited him to participate in the forum, particularly due to his experience with whisky - a true noble spirit. I would be interested in his reaction to the fact that most rums contain unadmitted flavorings, additives and adulterants.

Stay tuned. This could be interesting...
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