Bourbon rating systems are bull crap! There are several reasons for me saying this. The first is that nobody has the exact same sense of taste so everybody is going to have different experience.  The second is that most ratings are published by organizations that take money from the industry and are not going to give a true rating of the products because of the money involved.  Then there is the false system of ratings most use. It appears to be a scale of 1-100 but in reality it is a scale from 70-100. The average rating is between 75-85. It is really a 30 point scale.

Ratings can be made somewhat useful if these issues are addressed. The first problem is unsolvable and that is a good thing. I would not want to live in a world of clones where everyone has the same senses of aroma and taste. That would lead to boring food and drink. The best we can hope for here is that people will realize that they can and should disagree with ratings if they like something that got a poor rating or hate something that received a high rating.

Next the ratings should be done by a completely neutral organization that takes no money for advertising and such from distillers, distributers or any other business with a hand in the game. The ratings should be completely free of tainted results.

Finally the results should represent a true scale. For a 100 point scale the average is 55 so 51-60 should be considered “Average” scores. There is nothing wrong with being an average Bourbon. Jim Beam White and Evan Williams Black are the biggest selling Bourbons in the world and should be considered the average Bourbon with a score in that range. That sets the base line for all other Bourbons. Next a score of 61-70 should be considered “Above Average” and 41-50 as “Below Average”. Scores of 71-80 would be considered “Good” Bourbons and 31-40 as “Poor” Bourbons. The “Very Good” range would be from 81-90 and “Very Poor” range would be 21-30. Only the best Bourbons would earn the “Excellent” rating of 91-100 and the worst Bourbons the ranking of “Awful” of 11-20. Anything under 10 would be considered “Undrinkable”. That would be an example of a 100 point scale. The majority of the Bourbons on the market should fall in the 51-60 scale as that is the meaning of “average”. There should be very few Bourbons that earn the highest rankings and hopefully even less earning the lowest scores.

These are reasons why I feel that a true ranking system does not exist and probably never will exist. The only ranking system that will ever meet all three of these conditions is a personal one done by you for yourself. You know what you like, you are free from the influence of advertising dollars and you can create your own scale. Make your own rankings and always take what other people rank your favorite Bourbons with a large grain of salt.