One of the nice side-effects of being both a Malt Maniac and a whisky rater is the integration of one’s personal whisky scores into the fabled Malt Monitor. For several years this has been an ever-growing list in PDF format, but with about 40,000 scores for over 10,000 whiskies it was getting rather bloated and hard to handle.
By sheer coincidence, almost at the same time as I joined the group, the new Malt Maniacs Whisky Monitor Database was presented to the public. This project had been secretly worked on for quite a while, most notably by Rich Howard who did an excellent job in transferring the scores to a database and building a user-friendly web interface for it.
Although it is still a bit of a work in progress, the database was found to be good enough to be released to the public. The maniacs can now enter their scores directly without having to bother the list-keeper anymore. There is still a lot of work going on behind the scenes, though. New features are being developed and the existing bottle data is thoroughly revised to remove any errors and inconsistencies that may have sneaked in over the years.
But apart from making the maniac’s life a little easier, a very useful new feature has been added to the database. Now they can enter not only their score for a whisky expression but also their tasting notes! I can’t tell you how happy I am with this improvement. I have always considered the lack of tasting notes to be the biggest flaw of the Monitor. A naked point rating is not enough to tell you if you are likely to like a whisky or not, so I regard tasting notes as indispensible in properly evaluating a whisky.
The database is shockingly simple to use. You can select distilleries from a drop down menu to be presented with a list view similar to the left part of the old monitor PDF. When you click on an entry you can see the individual scores and the tasting notes that have been added by the maniacs.There is also an advanced search option that allows you to search for just about every criteria of a bottling.
Of course many existing scores will stay without tasting notes as some maniacs may not have written them down at all. But for the future this feature will prove to be extremely useful as you can imagine.
I have already started to do my homework. I have been entering my tasting notes an ratings in chronological order. It may take a while until they’ve all been hacked in, but when they are up to date it’s a piece of cake to add new ones.
I strongly suggest to have a thorough look at the new Monitor.