Capn Jimbo's Rum Project Forum Forum Index Capn Jimbo's Rum Project Forum
Rum Appreciation by and for the Compleat Idiot
 
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 

Competitions: Can you trust the Awards?

 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Capn Jimbo's Rum Project Forum Forum Index -> Up Spirits!
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Capn Jimbo
Rum Evangelisti and Compleat Idiot


Joined: 11 Dec 2006
Posts: 3474
Location: Paradise: Fort Lauderdale of course...

PostPosted: Sat Mar 06, 2010 5:40 am    Post subject: Competitions: Can you trust the Awards? Reply with quote

There's bull and then there's bullshit...

One walks and one talks. Read and you decide...

When Sue Sea and I began this journey into the heart of rumness we were much influenced by rum "competitions" and "awards". And I have no doubt whatever that most newbies are heavily, heavily influenced by those that seem to be accepted as "experts". Although some legitimate competitions used to be held in the islands, the current competitions seem to be run mostly by the Big Four.

The Preacher, the Queen of Rum, the Badassitor of Rum and the Bobbies come lately, the Burr Brothers.

First of all, it's important to know that these folks are all promoters who are (a) viciously competitive and who (b) work feverishly to embed themselves with the distillers and distributors. The latter pay dearly to both compete and present their wares, and they expect their monies worth. Accordingly:

1. Rums compete in the category selected by the distiller. Even if a rum is flavored - eg 1 Barrel - it can be entered in the aged rum category, and win an award there.

2. Rums competing in any given category are either not listed, or at the least the scoring is kept private. Only the "medal" winners are announced, and it is these awards that become widely displayed and promoted by the distiller ("Gold Medal winner at the International Rum Shilling Competition").

3. I know of at least one case where only one rum was entered in a category and - yup - it got a "Gold". Woulda been platinum if these were awarded, lol.

4. Although a few judges are real experts, many are chosen and participate based on their notoriety, relationships with distillers or with the promotor, or who are somehow included in the promoter's promoting network.

I know. I was selected as a Judge by the Rum Queen. Whether I'd qualify as an expert or as simply notorious is up to you.

5. The numbers of rums to be tasted, judged and reviews can be voluminous. Fifty rums would not be unusual. Lemme tell ya, we have problems reviewing any more than three in a long evening - assuming we wish to be competent. And sober.

6. The "competition" sets up rules for scoring. For example, an old set of rules for the Polished Palate directs the judges to score 1-25 for each of: aroma, initial taste, body and finish. Then to total these to arrive at the final "score".

What's the problem with that?

It ignores the notions of uniqueness, balance, consistency, memorability and other important factors unique to each judge's personal approach. Otherwise talented tasters are hamstrung by the competition's simplistic method and scoring. Less talented judges are simply lost and wing it.

Consider the scoring for "intial taste". This is pretty ridiculous on its face. Sue Sea and I, for example, note the entry (early palate), mid and late palate, as well as the transitions from taste to finish, to aftertaste and not least to retro-olfaction (memory and second experience).

None of these are covered and I can assure you that "intial taste" restricts most good tasters. And that's just one shortcoming. The point:

How much faith can you put in "awards" based on these limiting factors, and under the unspeakable pressure to taste and rate 50 plus rums in a relatively short time before staggering to bed in a confused rum haze?

Not much. Stay tuned...
_________________


Go to Save Caribbean Rum Petition!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Capn Jimbo
Rum Evangelisti and Compleat Idiot


Joined: 11 Dec 2006
Posts: 3474
Location: Paradise: Fort Lauderdale of course...

PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 4:06 am    Post subject: It's written in stone! Reply with quote

And now a stone table from the preacher...

Just happened upon a blurb for the 2009 Ministry of Rum Tasting Competition conducted by the Preacher for the Burr Brothers - back before they entered into their new, Dick Cheney inspired "Go fuck yourself!" relationship. Inasmuch as the Preacher conducted the Polished Palate's first competition it is no surprise that the scoring is just the same:

Quote:

The 2009 Ministry of Rum Tasting Competition was held at the Florida Room at the Delano Hotel on Miami Beach May 14 - 15th, just before Rum Renaissance. This is an opportunity for sugar cane spirits to be judged in a format which has been refined since Edward Hamilton conducted the first International Sugar Cane Spirits Tasting Competition in Ybor City in 2006.

Abuelo 7 year old Gold
Abuelo 12 year old Gold
Admiral Rodney Gold
Bacardi 8 Gold
Bacardi Reserva Limitada Gold
Barcelˇ Imperial Rum Gold
Bacardi Select Rum Gold
Barcelˇ Gran A˝ejo Rum Gold
Batiste Rhum Agricole Blanc Gold
Boca Loca Cachaša Gold
Cabana Cachaša Gold
Castries Rum Cream Gold
Castro Rum Gold
Cubaney 8 A˝os Solera Reserva Gold
Cubaney 15 A˝os Solera Reserva Gold
Cruzan Aged Dark Rum Gold
Cruzan Single Barrel Gold
Diplomatico Blanco Gold
Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva Gold
D J Cachaša Gold
Dos Maderas PX Gold
El Dorado 3 Year Old Cask Aged White Rum Gold
El Dorado 5 Year Old Cask Aged Rum Gold
Flor de Cana Rum Gold 4 year old Gold
Hacienda Saruro Gold
MaDoudou Vanille Gold
Montanya Platino Gold
Mount Gay Extra Old Barbados Rum Gold
Opthimus 25 A˝os Summa Cum Laude Gold
Rogue Dark Rum Gold
Rogue Hazelnut Spiced Rum Gold
Rum Jumbie Gold
Rum Jumbie Coconut Splash Gold
Seven Tiki Spiced Gold
St. Nicholas Abbey 10 Years Old Gold
Temptryst Applewood Light Gold
Temptryst Hickory Light Gold
Temptryst Peachwood Light Gold
Tommy Bahama White Sand Gold
Vizcaya Cask 21 Rum Gold
Zaya Gold
Bacardi Limˇn Silver
Bacardi Superior Silver
Chairman's Reserve Silver
Don Q A˝ejo Silver
Don Q Gran A˝ejo Silver
Don Q Coco Silver
Don Q Gold Silver
Don Q Cristal Silver
Don Q Limˇn Silver
Don Q Pasiˇn Silver
Flor de Cana Rum 7 year old Silver
Maui Dark Rum Silver
Montanya Gold Silver
Ron Viejo de Caldas 3 Yrs Silver
Ron Viejo de Caldas 8 Yrs Silver
Steele Rum Silver
Tommy Bahama Golden Sun Silver
Aguardiente Cristal Bronze
Bacardi Gold Rum Bronze
Bacardi Dragonberry Bronze
Don Q Mojito Bronze
San Miguel Rum Bronze


While there are other respected tasting competitions in the US and Europe, this is an opportunity for Sugar Cane Spirits to be judged on their own merit and in classes recognized by the Sugar Cane Spirits industry.

Sugar Cane Spirits were judged for their aroma, initial taste, body and finish on a scale of 1 - 25 for each attribute. Judges then added their scores for these attributes and gave a final rating which was used to calculate awards.

In order to limit palate fatigue the tasting competition is divided into four sessions with one break during each session. During the breaks the judges are encouraged to discuss anything other than the spirits they are tasting during that session. At least 20 judges at each tasting session ensures that no one or two judges can influence the results and that each spirit is judged on its own merit.

None of the judges are compensated for their travel or accommodation expenses during the competition. There are no corporate sponsors for this competition. Edward Hamilton and the Ministry of Rum are solely responsible for the competition and the results.


Let's cover some of these:

1. There were 62 rums "awarded" in the event. God only knows how many were entered. This is a big moneymaker as distillers must pay to enter. It takes but a brief review to realize that this represents only 30 companies, a mere smattering of what's really out there. Most of what I consider the top contenders simply aren't there, and the awards tend to be dominated by just a couple huge companies (here Bacardi and Don Q) pushing their latest inventions.

Hardly a competition.

2. "...this is an opportunity for Sugar Cane Spirits to be judged on their own merit and in classes recognized by the Sugar Cane Spirits industry."

Not hardly. The Preacher would have you believe there are recognized "classes". There are not. He makes them up. I believe this is done more to accomodate the distillers. Although many authors have described rum as "white", "gold", "aged", "flavored" and the like, classes like "aged rums from 8 to 15 years" or "super premium" are entirely vague, individual and not recognized by anyone.

Not to mention that age statements are entirely suspect in the first place, and not terribly meaningful in the second. Still, there's a case to be made for dividing rums by age.

Worse yet, the distillers get to choose what "class" they are in. Rums that are actually secretly altered or flavored are entered in non-flavored classes like "aged (molasses) rum". Example: 1 Barrel, but not in this competition. In this one Ron Viejo - actually a cane juice rum - is misentered.

Is it a competition when flavored rums are entered in non-flavored "classes"? C'mon, it's all a joke - no one really cares now do they?

Speaking of "flavored", did you notice all the "silver" winners among Don Q's flavored rums? How can that be? How many damn "classes" were there anyway? There musta been one for "Coconut rums by a distillers staring with 'D'".

Seriously.

3. "Sugar Cane Spirits were judged for their aroma, initial taste, body and finish on a scale of 1 - 25 for each attribute."

This was well covered in the preceeding post. Hamstringing the judges by forcing them to evaluate a rum based on these very limited and disintegrative qualities in no way represents the real, overall experience of the rum. Important issues like balance, development, transition and consistency are ignored.

For example, the notion of "intial taste" is really pretty ridiculous. Most good tasters discuss the early, middle and late palate (taste), especially in relation to the initial and developing aromas, and also regarding the transition into the finish, aftertaste and retro-experience, if any. Important but missing. And so it goes for the other "factors".

4. "In order to limit palate fatigue the tasting competition is divided into four sessions with one break during each session."

Can't be done. That's almost 16 rums per session! A good tasting simply can't be done in less than 20 or 30 minutes and three is about it for us, and we can hold our liquor. Even the third rum can be pushing it. At 30 minutes per rum that's over eight hours of constant drinking for each session.

Spare me. Accordingly, the tasted amounts are small and the time spent is obviously much shorter - too small and too short for any meaningful results beyond a shoot-from-the-hip quick impression.

5. "None of the judges are compensated for their travel or accommodation expenses during the competition. There are no corporate sponsors for this competition."

Gag me with a spoon. Promotor's "competitions" are entirely sponsored. Distillers pay to play: for their tables and displays, to enter their rums and to sponsor special events at the rum fest. It's all for sale. The public pays to attend. Now as far as the judges not being compensated, now what do you suppose that means?

Easy. It tends to limit judges to those who are either local, have business to do, are buddies being rewarded, or for whom it's simply convenient. To be fair their are always a few really good and well known tasters in attendance.

Example: Sue Sea and I were invited to judge in Tampa. No compensation? We got a first class hotel room, good for two days, and seats at the judge's dinner, VIP gift bags, enough free rum to float my ancient vehicle, and so it goes. Not to mention having our asses kissed by all the distillers. In sum a top drawer three day vacation in Tampa for the price of a tank of gas. Not compensated?

You decide.

Last, the "results" of the competition are limited to just the "awards". We are never told what rums actually competed in any "class", just the "winners". This is done to accomodate the distillers. Heaven forbid that it be published that their hot new rum finished last in its class. Or that their fabulous new "gold medal" elixir was the only one entered in it's class.

That actually happened!

The only thing meaningful about these events is that you'll have fun and get toasted. The pours will be tiny - especially for the good stuff - but you'll figure out a way to return to the line later. As far as the competitions go...

Up spirits!
_________________


Go to Save Caribbean Rum Petition!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Capn Jimbo's Rum Project Forum Forum Index -> Up Spirits! All times are GMT - 9 Hours
Page 1 of 1

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group