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Reviewer's Review: Liquorature Rum Reviews

 
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How do you rate Liquorature's Rum Reviews (5 is best)?
5
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
4
50%
 50%  [ 1 ]
3
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2
50%
 50%  [ 1 ]
1
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Total Votes : 2

Author Message
Capn Jimbo
Rum Evangelisti and Compleat Idiot


Joined: 11 Dec 2006
Posts: 2021
Location: Paradise: Fort Lauderdale of course...

PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 5:50 am    Post subject: Reviewer's Review: Liquorature Rum Reviews Reply with quote

Books, booze and buds. A Must Read...

You're young, you have three friends and you like to hang out together, drink and have fun. It's fun, it's cheaper to share a bottle, and if you drink too much you have a place to stay. And like many such fun and friendly groups, and fueled by good shared booze you philosophise, solve the problems of the world with easy and "it's so obvious" solutions, and fantasize. Anything goes...

Hey, let's start a website. We'll - uh - buy and review fine booze, and - uh - books too, and - uh - we'll, uh, become famous! Wow! We can do it. And they did.

"Liquorature: Whisky, Words, Wit!" (link)

For those who like whisky, women, rum and good books this is truly a fun site to visit. The books influence is clear, as these guys love good books, appreciate good writing and can truly turn an entertaining phrase. Believe me, good writing in rum reviewing is an oxymoron.

Most reviews are a disintegrated list of choppy descriptors divided into appearance, aroma, taste and finish. Or afterburn for a certain Canadian. That this site is Canadian as well will become meaningful. Stay tuned.

But not here.

"Lance", aka the well-named Ruminsky van Drunkenberg is a fun and brilliant writer, captivating and entertaining. He could make drinking moose piss interesting, and that is saying something. Ugh. But true. He's that good. When he reviews a rum, you not only get his impressions, you get a story. And a good, entertaining and educational one. I loved it!

Sounds good, eh? Not so fast.

Some "Friends" end up developing Facebook. They are talented, competent and economically successful. And rare. Then there's Liquorature - a fun, booze fueled adventure that plays around the edges.

I won't speak for the whisky section, but as entertaining as "Lance" (aka RvD) is, he is so, so Canadian when it comes to rum, a beverage he wants to like, but then again, maybe not.


Some observations:

1. Except for a few rums, Lance does not use a rating system. He proposes to put it out there and let the reader decide. But that's not really true. He actually does have a rating system.

a. under 5 years: same as new make, Awful.
b. 5 to 10 or 12 years: mixer, or maybe a desperation sipper. Meh.
c. 12 to 18 years: "midrange" daily sipper. OK.
d. 20 to 30 years: Good sippers, Exquisite.

2. He equates quality with price and presentation. Literally.

Lance has drunk the marketing koolaid. Keep in mind that rum in Canada is really, really expensive. Amazingly expensive. How expensive you ask? Rums that I buy routinely for $20 to $30 go for around $100 there, or more. The few rums that Lance really like range from $150 to $300!

And he gladly spends the money. He equates top dollar and super-duper-premium with top quality. Rums that cost less, and - heaven forbid - those with, as he puts it, "...single digit aged", well, they're just glorified mixers. Period. That's it.

Really. And price? El Dorado 21 "...can't class with English Harbor 25, at half the price that would be astounding". Age and Cost = Quality.

3. Here's a short list of Lance's "mixers":

Mount Gay Extra Old
Ron Matusalem Gran Reserva
Cruzan Single Barrel
Ron Santero 9 Yr.
Flor de Cana 7 Yr.
El Dorado 5 Yr.

4. He doesn't like Solera, and rejects Santa Teresa and Ron Matusalem Gran Reserva largely on that basis.

5. The older and more expensive the rum, the more it is perceived as "super premium", the more likely Lance is to gush. His favorites: English Harbor 25, Appleton's Legacy and their 30 Yr., El Dorado 21. Mount Gay 1703 barely makes the cut.

Recognized world class rums like Barbancourt 8 Yr., MGXO, Ron Matusalem GR and El Dorado 12 Yr. are tossed off with short shrift, primarily on lack of age. He says it best "I do not consider anything under 5 years to be aged at all... I don't expect too much from younger, single digit rums."

Even MGXO and Appleton 12 fail on the "single digits" screen.

6. He's yet another sweetie, smoothie guy. Faced with a real and pure rum, like say MGXO (a "mixer"), Caroni, Pusser's Blue Label, Appleton Extra or Barbancourt 8 Yrs he simply takes his leave. His favorites include Zaya ("hit of the night") and Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva ("top of the line sipper").

Real and pure rums are found to be "too much like whisky", and he goes straight for the Coke. I'm serious. I should add here that he confuses youth and/or purity with negative oak effects. Another aside: he "rarely spends more than 5 minutes before making up my mind." Rums lacking sugar sweetness get mixed with Coke, and I mean now!

Yup.

7. He makes some pretty bizarre comparisons. Cockspur 12 is preferred to MGXO, but both are simply midrange. In particular he sees MGXO as a good mixer (see rating system, above). Matusalem GR is a "poor sipper" but "excellent with cola". Ron Santero 9 Yr? Sippable but better mixed.

He compares Appleton Extra to Bacard 8 Yr. Cruzan Single Barrel? Great mixed, or with ice and Coke. Doorly's XO? Too thin and discreet.

8. He's buds with fellow Canookie Frozen Wolfie, and their mini-pack can be found trailing after the Preacher, currying favor and seeking tasty droppings.


Summary:

Here the Canadian part, and I'm not kidding.

Some time ago I was astounded when I first learned that the Artic Wonder makes tasting with Coke an integral part of his review. Odd? I thought so. Then I note that Davin - a Malt Maniac and publisher of CanadianWhisky.Org - often did the same. And in the instant case...Lance as well.

Why is this? I have a theory and it's a darn good one. The envelope please... Canadian Whiskey!

We here in the states are very familiar with Canadian whiskey. During prohibition we were deluged with it, along with moonshine and the real McCoy - smuggled rum. Quality didn't matter much then, and in ways it still doesn't.

Canadian whiskey, by definition may contain up to - are you sitting down - up to ten percent of almost anything else. You read that right. The "something else" may be artificial flavorings, coloring, smoothers, even wine. That's right, wine. Sherry would be an obvious additive, and I mean the wine, not the barrel.

That's why I call Canadian Whiskey the "Spam of Spirits". A mixed drink in a bottle and that, my friends, is why Canadians insist on drowning everything, including otherwise great rums, in it. It's what they do. "Dinner's served!" says the wife. "Did you bring the Coke?" says the husband.

Liquorature is like that gorgeous girl you once saw through the smoke and pounding music at the dance bar, just before closing. Awesome, intriguing, sexy! You could even talk to her and through the alcohol and smokey haze, you had a brilliant and deep conversation. Just like the guys at Liquorature. This actually happened to me and she ended up riding home with me on the back of my motorcycle. But then daylight and sobriety arrived and...

I couldn't wait to take her home.


Score (ten is best): 3 (for entertainment value and the whisky reviews).


*******

Capn's Log: Intrigued by creative websites? Click on over. Want to be well entertained by a brilliant writer? Be sure to visit. But as for rum, not so much! Unless you share Lance's sweet tooth and extreme price/age bias, that is. And to you Lance - my good man - my sincere apologies, my visits were so darn entertaining and enjoyable that I should never have reviewed you. But I'll still visit anyway. You're that good.

Such is life. In sum, a must read, and a must forget...

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Capn Jimbo
Rum Evangelisti and Compleat Idiot


Joined: 11 Dec 2006
Posts: 2021
Location: Paradise: Fort Lauderdale of course...

PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2012 7:27 am    Post subject: An Update... Reply with quote

Update...


Recently Lance of Liquorature announced his 100th rum review, an achievement worth mention and a sincere congratulations. So of course - and in the interest of courtesy and respect - I left my usual role as mumbling curmudgeon and posted a good, positive congratulations. Which I'll repeat again...


Congratulation Lance for a hard-earned achievement!


Natch, in his own self-congratulatory post, the Lancemeister pointed out what he'd learned by doing so, to wit...

1. That he won't accept freebies, as he finds doing so might affect his independence. He is absolutely right and is in very good company on this one. Bravo!

2. In the past he sentenced what he called "single-digit rums" to the mixer pile, ie any rum under 10 years old. In his post, he now admits that age and quality are not synonymous. Again, bravo!

3. He now scores his rums, recognizes the need for a normal distribution, and boasts of a "median score" of 51. For which he received a qualified "bravo" from me, noting that median scores do not indicate a normal distribution, but that his intent was admirable.


You know what's coming next, don't you?


Yup. Having posted my sincere congrats, my uncontrollable curiosity forced me to revisit Lance and analyze his new scoring. Here's what I found.

1. Out of his "100 rums" now reviewed, only 35 had actually been scored. I can only assume these must represent only his most current reviews.

2. Apparently he either scored a few more rums, or miscalculated but his actual median (not average), or middle score was 54 (not 51), coincidentally also his average score. Not a huge deal really, but the real proof is in the actual distribution.

And here we have a problem.

Lance's scores range from 36 to 73, and unlike more typical 5-star systems, he doesn't appear to qualify his scores (although it is clear that "50" is his intended "average rum"). This would be 3 stars in a 5-star system. Now it's important that our break points be equidistant, so here's a fair analysis...

. . . . . . .

Urp!

Although his median is close to average, his distribution remains well, very heavily weighted to the high end. Indeed there are way, way more 4 and 5-star rums than 3-star products. It should be quite the reverse. There are no 1 star rums, and damn few 2-starred reviews. A shame really, but I don't want to be too hard on a guy who is finally trying.

There's more.

Worse yet is that of the 65 reviews that do not carry scores, many of these include rums of which he speaks highly (or very highly). These would surely earn higher scores - a liklihood that would further imbalance his distribution. Some of these include:

Appleton Extra, Master Blenders Legacy and the 30 Year! Or how about his lust affairs with Flor de Cana 7 - 12 - 21, Canadian's favorite Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva, or even the El Dorados - 12, 15, 21 and 25? Zacapa and Zaya, both praised. The St. Nicholas 12.

But none of his praised rums were scored. Had they been, the bias would have shifted even farther to the high end.

You get the idea. To be fair, Lance seems to be making a sincere effort to at least become aware of the issue, and as his scores accumulate (and as I continue to analyze them), I believe the day may come where he'll modify his scoring, or adjust them.

Lance, I can show ya how...
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Capn Jimbo
Rum Evangelisti and Compleat Idiot


Joined: 11 Dec 2006
Posts: 2021
Location: Paradise: Fort Lauderdale of course...

PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2012 6:59 am    Post subject: Ya gotta give him credit! Reply with quote

Ya gotta give Lance some credit...


Sorta. Let me explain. It took The Rum Project - in all our brilliance and with all our courage - to finally review the reviewers. As you know by now this was done by scrupulously reading, recording and analyzing his/her reviews in terms of their distribution. Also considered were certain well known rums widely regarded as "world class". Plus some extra special, waterboarding techniques designed to reveal bias.

A "normal distribution" indicated lack of bias. As you've noted Lance failed this test. But to his credit, he took note of the issue and decided to act...


Lance takes actions...

First - and just like in AA - he admitted the issue. Second, he then took the time to analyse his own reviews and published his "median score" of 50 (thus establishing what an average rum should score). At this point, I was careful to both acknowledge his efforts, but also to caution that a "median score" is not an average, nor does it guarantee a normal distribution. But then Lance took what I consider a stupendous step...


Lance publishes his own graph!



Wow! What an apparently nice, normal looking, sorta bell curve (btw the purple bar, at 79, is the score for the rum reviewed). The graph is quite informational and shows the curve for all scores, plus the number of rums in each data point range. No doubt the Lancester was quite proud of himself: a "median score" of 50 and a sorta normal looking, bell curve. For those who really don't spend much time analysing data, good enough. But is it really good enough?

Nope.


Lance's Curve analysed...




Now things are in perspective. Here goes:

A "bell curve" alone is not proof of lack of bias. Read that again.

1. Although Lance's Curve looks sorta normal (except for the "bump" at the high end), when you consider where the "Average" should be - at 50 - the bias becomes evident. The actual and real average is noted by the blue bar at 50. In a normal distribution, the area under the curve to the left of average should be roughly equal to the area to the right.

Not so in Lance's Curve, which is far displaced to the right, to higher scores.

2. The bias to the high side (blue arrows) is now quite evident. And the higher the score, the worse the bias becomes. There's a real bump of superlative scores where there actually should be very few rums. Not so with Lance.


Bottom Line

Although Lance himself confirms his bias in graphical terms, he should be commended for the effort, assuming of course that he understands his own curve. There are only three possibilities...

1. Lance understands his own curve, knows he's biased, but has the considerable cajones to publish his scores and curve. In this case, double bravo!

2. Lance doesn't understand his own curve, and based on his "median" of 50 and the general appearance of the curve, actually believes he's not biased. In this case, a qualified bravo for at least trying.

3. Lance clearly understands his curve, but thinks you don't and is trying to fool you into believing he's not biased. In that case, he's just another monkey and havabanana!

Which is it? You decide...
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Capn Jimbo
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Posts: 2021
Location: Paradise: Fort Lauderdale of course...

PostPosted: Fri May 17, 2013 4:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What is it about Canadians?


Lance's "New" Canadian Rating System

I have come to know Lance as a driven writer, sometimes more concerned with self-indulgent rum descriptors like "...a starving Cheetah on steroids". I mean really, does this too-clever-by-half descriptor means the Cheetah is still starving, is running in circles, or what? Only Lance knows. Or how bout a finish that "...like a junkie holding on to a five dollar bill". First of all, junkies hold on to nothing, second it's insulting to those in recovery, and last is that really a positive image for the rum? Nope, but it is tremendously self-indulgent, forced and look-at-me language, which only remotely describes the rum. But as always I digress...


The real news


Lance has released yet another new rating system. When I first note his bias to the high end, he reacted - finally - by actually posting a single version of what appeared to be a strange - kinda normal, kinda not - distribution curve (above). A good effort, but when I pointed out the failings of his curve, he got rid of it.

And having been criticised once again, he's changing it again: now he's hastily retreated into yet another, VERY Canadian scoring system. Here it is:

Quote:
Rating system

40-50 Hooch. Deficient in either nose, body, flavour or finish (or all of them), barely worth a mix.
51-60 Decent for a cocktail but not much else. Not meant as a sipping spirit. May make a brilliant cocktail.
61-70 You might want to experiment with drinking this one neat.
71-75 Good sipping rum with a few discordant notes that can still make a good cocktail. I’d prefer to sip it myself.
76-80 Really excellent, top tier drink. May be unique in some way that goes against the prevailing opinion
81-90 No additive or ice should ever touch such a superb offering.
90+ Marriage material. Sell the Benz, ‘cause you’ll have to.


It is well to remember that almost all scoring systems are based on the now ubiquitous American Grading System, the familiar F-D-C-B-A that we all know well. This was first adapted for the scoring of wine and spirits by the amazing Robert Parker as a 100-point scale with scores reported from 50 to 100. This also led to the common 5-Star system.

All are really the same, used in the same way, and are clearly understood. An average spirit is scored - and you know this - 70-79, "C" or 3-stars. That's what all of know, and understand. Some competent reviewers tweak this, but only a little and the basic, recognizable system remains. One spirit, one score, common and easily understood by all.

Not Lance though.


What is it about Canadians?

Apparently Lance looked - not to Robert Parker or to any standard scoring system - but (OMG!) to Wolfboy and his completely bizarre system of mix-and-match.

The first failing is to divide rums into "mixers" and "sippers" and to score them togehter on the same scale?! This is like scoring work boots and ballet slippers together. Or dump trucks with Ferraris. Or well fed baboons with starving Cheetahs on steroids. This is simply bizarre.

As the true rum expert Luis Ayala (author, "The Rum Experience") has so well noted, a rum made for great mixing will not score well when sipped. Such a well-crafted and superb mixer is not designed to sip well, in fact it may sip horribly. Think Myers's. No bar would be without it, but when's the last time you poured a dram straight up?

Such a mixed scoring system assumes that only sipping rums should be get high scores. This prejudice leads to such bizarre results that a crappy mixer that is sippable will get a much higher score than an outstanding mixer that was never meant to be sipped (again, Myers's).


It's like lying...

The more lies you tell, the more you have to tell. By trying to score two categories together, the lie is to establish the break points. Lance's split personality system differs only from Wolfboy's in that his break points are higher, or lower, or both. To illustrate.

For Wolfboy a borderline mixer/sipper is - gulp - 85-89! For Lance this very same rum would merit only 61-70? That's up to a 19 point difference! And both are mixing up uh, mixers with uh, sippers. This is SO bad.

Back to our ubiquitous "average" rum for which we expect a score of "C", "3 stars", or say "75". For Wolfie that'd be an "87" (promotably high, great for shelf talkers), but for Lance a likely "70"? And then in another steroid-driven Cheetah leap, a rum that he calls "really excellent, top tier" - that would normally score close to "90" - gets only a "76-80"? He reserves 80+ for rums that otherwise would be in the 90+ range. Squeezing some catagories, leaping to the next, expanding others...

Lance has created a rubbery and bizarre system that for all practical purposes scores too low, while his hero the Wolf scores too high.


Flat Ass Bottom Line


Wolfboy, who carries no real weight other than on his feet, long ago created a completely bizarre and nutty scoring system that in no way related to the reality of scoring as we have known it our whole lives. Lance in a burst of Canookie patriotism actually adopted Wolfie's system by stretching and compressing it to suit his own dreams.

A nightmare really.

Robert Parker is universally accepted as the acknowledged father of modern scoring. His system has been become ubiquitous with only minor variations and is valued for its commonality, familiarity and undestandability. For two lightweight amateurs to create bizarre, non-uniform, mixed-messeges of highly variable scoring is nothing more than mooseshit.

Which for them, apparently doesn't stink...
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