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Rodney Dangerfield: Respect and Rum Reviewing

 
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What kind of rum taster are you?
Scientist/Researcher
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Taste Engineer
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 0%  [ 0 ]
Rum Writer/Reviewer
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
Connoisseur
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 0%  [ 0 ]
Amateur/Novice
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
Idiot
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
Compleat Idiot
100%
 100%  [ 1 ]
Total Votes : 1

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Capn Jimbo
Rum Evangelisti and Compleat Idiot


Joined: 11 Dec 2006
Posts: 3467
Location: Paradise: Fort Lauderdale of course...

PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2010 4:54 pm    Post subject: Rodney Dangerfield: Respect and Rum Reviewing Reply with quote

Gimme some respect!

Let's start here. Many of us when first confronting differing rum reviews from ostensibly competent tasters are left with the notion that "it's all subjective". Which leads us to our first copout, which is "...if it's all subjective anyway, what matters is that it's smooth and tastes good to me". And our rum education comes to a screeching halt.

This attitude gives the Preacher and his ilk incredible woodies, since that is exactly what these commercial ball lickers want you to believe, namely "It's all good" and/or "The best rum is one in my/your glass". I'm not kidding, google it, they actually spew these lines. You end up swallowing this load, and a lot of really inferior rum. And never really understand or truly appreciate the fine pure rums that really do exist. So how can you escape this dilemma of subjectivity and promoter distributed monkeyshit?

Respect.

That's right, respect. Here's what you need to to understand. First, that the commercial sites - particularly those of the Big Four (the Preacher, the Queen, the Burr Brothers and the Badassitor) - are basically useless. Second though, that there are some more or less independent websites that are, uh, more or less reliable. I'll get to these later, but first let's carry this out.

In the appreciation of fine wine and spirits there's usually a pecking order for resources deserving respect.

It starts with scientists and researchers who use any number of technological whizbang apparati like UV spectrometry to precisely analyse a wine or spirit. There findings are precise and they can list and name the precise chemical contents of any product, including the esters, aldehydes, acids, alcohol and the like - all of which contribute individually and collectively to the products' aromas and tastes. Smell banana? An ester and it has a name. Sweet? Sugar and sweeteners can be identified. Their work is entirely accurate and is treated with the highest respect by the industry.

Closely related to the researchers are the taste engineers. They can suggest any number of mostly artificial tweaks to "adjust" a rum's profile. Usually a cheaper rum. But there's a problem:

A list of ingredients and chemical compounds, however accurate, will give you no real idea about how you'll perceive the rum, or whether you'll like it. Fortunately, there's another level...

Rum writers and reviewers. These hardy folk actually acquire, taste and review the rums - allegedly for your benefit. And there's a pecking order here too. For example in the world of wine, Robert Parker is respected as a God - and deserves it. He is absolutely scrupulous and has earned great moral and ethical authority. He is repected by the entire industry, including his fellow reviewers of lesser stature. In the world of single malt whisky, it's probably the recently deceased Michael Jackson. And in the world of rum we have...

Uh... No one really.

Dave Broom comes the closest, along with the Beverage Tasting Institute with their rigorous and relatively unbiased methodology. Still, neither of these carries the weight or respect of a Jackson or Parker. Not even close. And there are reasons for this. First, that rum remains a rogue spirit where fine pure rums and rum styles are not clearly distinguished from those adulterated with unlabeled additives and flavoring, and where the shelves are dominated by cheap and mostly artificially flavored and spiced products.

As though the world of rum was just a big, drink-til-you-drop fraternity party.

So you - the new rum drinker - are left with the dregs. The unreliable Big Four, and their wannabees like the ball-licking Wolfdude and the (can't-see-the-Forrest-for) The Tree. Still there are a number of somewhat less biased resources, led by Broom and especially by BTI, but including RnD, Scotte, the Dood, Count Silvio, El Machete, Bilgemunky et al. Most of these are listed at The Rum Project's main website under "links". The main problem is most of these are intermediate rum tasters at best, and worthy of not more than intermediate respect. Most would consider themselves connoisseurs. Are they?

Maybe. Connoisseurship is really not precisely defined.

Most would agree that a connoisseur is a person of good taste, and who perhaps possesses objective expertise. There is a natural tension here: subjective taste vs objective knowledge - the original question posed. At one time Sue Sea and I had an epiphany regarding Angostura 1919 when we called it "the Bananas Foster rum". This was a real breakthrough as this led directly to what we believed was a new and more accessible style of reviewing. We felt justified when we compared three of the reviewers listed above regarding 1919, and - as God is my witness - the reviews were so different that you'd have sworn that each was discussing a totally different rum with their laundry lists of different aromas and tastes.

Frankly, there was no way on this once green earth that you could have anticipated 1919 from these varying reviews. With our "Bananas Foster rum" you could! A breakthrough. But I digress...

Lowest on the totem pole are novices and beginners. They have no vocabulary, no real experience, no credibility and frankly, deserve no respect. The ultimate example: the Artic Wolf - who without any real rum experience and with a twisted bitter palate - concocted his very own "Dykstra Method" and started publishing crude and relatively uninformed rum reviews. Since he started his vocabulary has improved, but his skills and credibility have not.


So what are you to do?


Your first task to identify which reviewers others trust and respect. For the reasons listed above, this is a tough one. I'd suggest the following and roughly in this order: BTI, Dave Broom, and The Rum Project. Then the Bilgemunky, El Machete, Count Silvio and RnD. You may find Scottes and the Dood's logs interesting.

Second, remember that you are not gathering information in order to determine reputation, but you are depending on reputation to gather information. Fail to understand this and you are in for a world of hurt: unnecessary expense, confusion and gross misunderstandings. The Big Four will sell you anything they can convince you to buy. I daresay that The Rum Project offers more honest, accessible and completely unbiased information than any other website on the net.

It is meant to educate and to help you avoid the pitfalls we've experienced, the mistakes we've made, the commerical diversions we've suffered.

Last, I'd urge you to spend some serious time exploring both this forum and the main website. We have spent thousands of hours going through the same process you are now, and are dedicated to making your journey as pleasant and as informative as we can. You sense and know much more than you blieve - you lack only the knowledge to organize your experience, and the vocabulary to express it. Your journey will be easy, hard or impossible depending on whom you rely...

And respect.
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