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Kamamura

Posted 22 Jun '20 from Czech Republic with 30 ratings

Recently, I have found this "review" of the 50 years El Dorado rum:
"El Dorado Grand Special Reserve commemorates the 50th anniversary of Guyana gaining independence from the United Kingdom in 1966. A blend of rums aged for between 33 and 50 years: 65% was distilled in 1966, 25% between 1966 and 1976, and 10% comes from 1983 and packaged in a crystal decanter and I received this bottle from my wife as a retirement gift and being the 90th. Bottle in my collection, I have yet to open this bottle to share my views. Being a huge fan of El Dorado rums, it would be a shame to give anything but a 10 pending a tasting of this bottle, but will revise accordingly at a later date."

Yes, it's the only one there (mere mortals obviously do not have spare cash to throw at bottles designed to be overpriced), and it's not a proper review, because the author admits he did not taste the rum, he only parrots the marketing fluff from the bottle/leaflet, and then adds it "must be superb", giving it a 10 mark based on... nothing! This way, I could "review" bottles by looking at them through the shop's window! Oh, that one looks fancy, brown-like, must smell nice, 7 out of 10! What rubbish!

A review should convey an authentic experience of tasting, comparing and evaluating the particular rum expression - an experience the "reviewer" does not have, because he did not open the damned bottle! I have reported this "review", asking it to be removed, IMO it's got no business being displayed.

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LostSoul

From Greece with 18 ratings Replied 23 Jun '20

I don't remember for which rum, but i also came across something similar. Somebody wrote good things and then ended up their review, with the "i will taste it later and drop a line" line.

To be perfectly honest, though, the rum in question is one of unanimous praise with the highest of scores and everybody who tried it, agree on it being one of the best ones in the market. But the issue is real. The review writer haven't tried it themselves, which means other than the description being abstract and irrelevant, the score is fake. Somebody who did taste it and rated it poorly, is obviously much more respectable than somebody assuming it must be good, because everybody else found it to be good.

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Andy

From United Kingdom with 143 ratings Replied 23 Jun '20

Thanks for the comments, yes I'm aware a handful of members have in essence created ratings 'placeholders', saying they haven't rated them yet but plan to shortly.

If they're reported, I typically ping the user saying they need to either try the rum and update their rating, or it will be deleted. Over the years I've had to delete a few but more folks update them pretty quickly.

When you see these, please report them (flag to the bottom right of each rating), and I'll ping the user and set a reminder to check back in 1 week. If it's not updated, then easy to merit deleting.

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Harrie

From Netherlands with 54 ratings Replied 23 Jun '20

Kamamura:
You are right, the reviews just stating that "there is a rum in my cabinet waiting to be reviewed so here is my '10' " are worthless. In all honesty there are also a lot of reviews not that much better with no information at all (I expected it sweeter- not my taste- strong alcohol burn-the best I tasted (with just 1 or 2 ratings)) and a super high or super low score.

I learned on day one of my RumRatings account that the average score does not mean much; dry rums score 1-2 full points lower than sweet ones so all you can do is dig in the reviews and try to find the helpfull ones. Thankfully there are a lot of those as well!

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Immiketoo (PREMIUM)

From Greece with 36 ratings Replied 26 Jun '20

This is an annoying to new rum drinkers like myself who are still trying to get the lay of the land, so to speak. Just today, I’ve edited two of my ratings based on nothing more than experience with more rum.

But, even My first ratings were based on actual tasting, and therefore have some value. Ok maybe not, but you really have to do your homework regarding ratings.

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Kamamura

From Czech Republic with 30 ratings Replied 4 Aug '20

@harrie - I know what you are trying to say, but out of principle, I cannot accept that.

Us here are not professionals, or at least we are not required to (some of us may be). Thus we are not required to provide credentials, certificates or documents proving our abilities to review rums. We simply trade opinions - explore, drink, compare, experience and share what we have seen and tasted.

But the very minimal requirement for that process is the Experience! To be able to judge the qualities of the rum, to say if it's sweet or dry, bitter or easy on the palate, young or well aged, to be able to do that, you must first open the bottle, pour a glass, smell it and taste it. In my opinion, you should also swallow it - I know professional tasters don't, and I don't blame them, since alcohol is a poison in the end, but a normal consumer does not spit premium, aged alcohol into a bucket. To finish judging what the alcohol brought you, IMO you should also appreciate the finish, and what it does with your system afterwards - how fast you become tipsy, and what is the resulting mood - that may, of course, depend on many other parameters, but I still consider it part of the experience.

Then, and ONLY then, one can say: "I have been there", and only then one can write reviews.

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Paul B (PREMIUM)

From United States with 331 ratings Replied 4 Aug '20

Kamamura:

I totally agree with you and I only accept "professional" alcoholic beverage reviews with a grain of salt. Yes, most of those reviewers spit out the tasting into a bucket, which means that they cannot possibly find the ultimate test of a good beverage. I don't care how good a rum or other alcoholic beverage tastes, if it wreaks havoc on my system the next day, then it is not recommended to drink. I have lowered quite a few of my initial ratings because of this.

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Stefan Persson (PREMIUM)

From Sweden with 159 ratings Replied 6 Aug '20

Hi guys!
I’ve missed this discussion till now. I find it very interesting cause when I around a year ago got pretty sure that there’s quite a lot of reviews that are fake or of no use. One person had bought around one hundred bottles, and tasted even more, during 10 days or something like that and the reviews are more or less copy and paste with added photos of unopened bottles taken at supermarkets. If he isn’t a fake it would be interesting to know what he did with all the bottles (he was on vacation) and how he did feel after drinking this much during these days.
There are also examples of members that reviews the same rum two or three times under different names.
If Andy thinks it’s hard to throw people like this out of his great site give him ammo by telling him your opinion and also boycott these kind of people.

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Mujuru

From United States with 51 ratings Replied 6 Aug '20

I agree with the other posters here. One cannot review a rum without tasting and experiencing it. The whole purpose of this site as I use it and understand it is to be educational by providing information about rums based on having tried the rum, you know an actual “review” not a “preview”. It is impossible to rate something you haven’t tried. I have a bottle of Zafra 30 sitting in my cabinet that I cannot wait to review but I am waiting for a celebratory event to open it given it’s rarity. I can’t review it yet because I have never actually tried it even though I own a bottle of it. It would be disingenuous to do so.

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vomi1011

From Germany with 182 ratings Replied 12 Aug '20

I think the average ratings are not bad, of course it would be better to remove the placeholder.
The best way of using the ratings is to find an reviewer with same preferences.
If you find one who love the same rums you do, it's easy to follow his recommendations.

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Andy

From United Kingdom with 143 ratings Replied 13 Aug '20

Hey there, great discussion and really applicable points all around. There's definitely a consensus that a small number of raters aren't 'value-add' (eg haven't rated) or at worst represent a rum company - which throws off things like the average rating of a rum. A few features I'm prioritizing in the near future are:

1) Better recommendations - so the system understands the rums a user has rated and comes up with some smart suggestions based on all the data RR has. EG rated these 3 rums high, try this other rum based on other raters with similar ratings.

2) 'Smarter' averages - many users have suggested (in general) the more ratings a user has the more they often trust their ratings. It's not always the case, but a user with 1 rating typically has a lot less experience than one with 50+ ratings. So I'm thinking through either removing users below a minimum number of ratings (say 3 or so) from the averages, and/or weighting the average towards users with more ratings.

Open to thoughts if you think either/both of these would help :)

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Mujuru

From United States with 51 ratings Replied 13 Aug '20

That 2nd point especially seems like that would help a lot and may even “solve the issue”. I definitely trust a review coming from someone with more than 30 reviews more than one coming from someone with 1 review.

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Paul B (PREMIUM)

From United States with 331 ratings Replied 13 Aug '20

Andy:

I have learned to ignore the average score. I sort the reviews by Rating and then look for reviewers on that rum with whom I respect their opinion. If a review looks appealing to me and I am not familiar with that reviewer, I then check that one's cabinet to see how they rated other rums that I am familiar with. But I agree, those with only 3 reviews or less that are more than one year old should not be computed into the average. I once looked for the worst overall rum based on those with multiple reviews. I was not about to spend anything on Captain Morgan Grapefruit just to add my own two cents worth.

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Stefan Persson (PREMIUM)

From Sweden with 159 ratings Replied 17 Aug '20

Hi guys!
It’s definitely so that a reviewer with 50+ reviews normally are more trustworthy then someone with just a few reviews.
But it can also be the other way when someone more or less reviews in some kind of industrial way with lots of copy and paste.
I mentioned one reviewer when I replied last time. This guy bought and tasted 133 bottles and besides that tasted 213 different rums at distilleries, in total 346 reviews during around 14 days. To these reviews he added around 300 photos taken on unopened bottles, most of theme from supermarkets or shops.
That’s more reviews then most of us do in a lifetime.
During one day he tasted around 40 different rums!
Is this trustworthy.
No, no, no, not in any way!
We don’t need people like him on this site, which I like a lot.

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Paul B (PREMIUM)

From United States with 331 ratings Replied 17 Aug '20

Stefan:

I wholeheartedly agree with you and I know exactly who you are talking about! I don't respect any of his reviews because they are obviously mass produced. He takes just one sip (if that much) and immediately calls it crap. His reviews also should not be calculated as part of the overall score. When I look at a rum that I am thinking of buying and see one very low rating for that rum, most of the time it is his.

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Docsarvis (PREMIUM)

From United States with 124 ratings Replied 18 Aug '20

Andy,
Really like your "smarter averages" idea. When I am looking at a new rum to purchase I use these ratings to help make my decision. I did this yesterday. For many rums especially those with just a handful of reviews one of these "non reviews" can have a really big impact on a decision to purchase. In general though, this is a great community and the suggestions above are appreciated. It is a tribute to the sincerity of Rum Ratings that such issues are freely and openly addressed. Bravo all.

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Michal Micko (PREMIUM)

From Czech Republic with 306 ratings Replied 25 Aug '20

Hi Andy,
point nr. 2 looks interesting. I believe there are some very good rums (even few hidden gems) that are too much specific (dry, high esters etc.) to be liked by beginners, but deserve higher average rating than they have...

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Stefan Persson (PREMIUM)

From Sweden with 159 ratings Replied 25 Aug '20

Hi Andy!
I think it’s a good idea to take away ratings from people with very few ratings from the average, but as we both now isn’t that the only problem.
So my solution is to take away the extreme rating scores, just as they do in ski jumps.
For example the 5 or 10% highest and lowest ratings. Or a combination of your point 2 and that.