Everyone knows that there are five senses: Hearing, Sight, Smell, Taste and Touch.
Of these, Sight and Hearing are the most objective. You can go to an ophthalmologist or an audiologist, respectively, and they will make very detailed measurements using objective machinery to judge the acuity of your sight and hearing.
I’m not sure if touch is measurable in the same way, but taste and smell are very (very!) subjective. There are good “noses” that have trained themselves to pick out subtle notes in the whisk(e)y. I have no doubt that they are actually able to do this, but it does require a career-level commitment of time and patience. Some of this probably involves physiology of the nose and mouth so that some people, as in any sample, will have an easier time than others at picking up subtle distinctions than others who may not have been blessed with such a good nose.
With all that said, I have a lot of respect for folks who provide reviews of whiskies (and whiskeys) and I enjoy comparing their notes with what I can taste and smell for myself. But it is still very subjective and I have often noticed that reasonable people can disagree on what they detect in a whisk(e)y. I guess there are no wrong answers. I am not practiced in the nosing and tasting of whisky but I think it’s fun to try my hand at it.
Here are my “notes.” This was not my favorite whisky. I had high expectations, since Highland Park is one of my favorite distilleries, so I have to say I was disappointed, though it wasn’t what I’d call a bad whisky.
- golden orange
- very malty
- some golden raisins
- some salty/peaty/harbor/beach smells
- savory spices, especially peppercorns
- peaty around the edges of the tongue and in finish
- leather or coffee in finish
- strong alcohol (not surprising at 58.1% ABV!)
I do not know enough about ranking systems to give this a ranking on a 100-point scale, but on a 5-point scale I’d give it a 3.