An Unjust System?

by Matt Robold on May 5, 2008

So, I once again went over a week without a post here.  I swear that every time I miss a week, it’s for a good reason.  I yearn for the day when my life will be less…”busy”.  Or at least, less busy in the manner that I’ve been kept busy for the past 3 months.

I recently wrote a review of Cabana Cachaca and rated it a 3 out of 5.  Now, this is not a bad rating.  I would estimate that at least half of my rum shelf is occupied by rums of a 3 rating.  In fact, one of my most commonly used and favorite rums in the world is a 3 out of 5 (Appleton Estate V/X).

With the Cabana however, I found myself torn as I determined my completely arbitrary and subjective rating.  My rating system, being my own, has built-in flexibility that I like to call the “How do I feel today” variable…but I try not to invoke it.  As I stated in the review, I don’t typically drink cachacas.  I tend to find them industrial and grassy, and not as enjoyable as most rums, and therefor it’s harder for a cachaca – just by the nature of cachaca itself – to get a high rating in my system because it’s being compared to my favorite and most highly-rated rums.  If, by its very nature, a spirit contains flavors that I don’t particularly care for, how can it possibly ascend to the upper echelons of the pantheon of Dood’s Rum Ratings?  HOW?  I ASK YOU HOW!?!?!?!

One thing I’ve been considering is modifying my rating system.  Actually “modifying” isn’t the correct word…”subdividing” would probably be more accurate.  Of the cachacas that I’ve had, the Cabana is easily one of the top 5 (granted, I haven’t had nearly as many different cachacas as I have more “standard” rums – if there is such a thing).  So, if you’re a fan of cachaca, or you’re looking for a rating of this cachaca against other cachacas, then the 3 out of 5 rating can be a bit misleading.  If I were rating Cabana strictly against other cachacas and not the entirety of the rum category, I could easily upgrade it to a 4 out of 5 – just under the sought-after 5 out of 5 rating (I’ve only ever had one cachaca that I would rate as a 5 out of 5, and it would rate that on the overall rum scale on its own, no extra scale necessary).

My concern is that once I start dividing up my rating system, it could become too confusing.  Where do I draw the line?  Do I only give cachacas a separate system?  What about molasses rums versus rhum agricoles?  What about demerara rums?  What about Jamaican versus Barbadian versus Cruzan versus Cuban, etc?

For this reason, I’m turning to you, dear readers.  I write these reviews for you (mostly…I do have to admit that I enjoy the sound of my own typing and getting to sound like I know what I’m talking about at parties when I denounce Captain Morgan and the Bacardi Silver as swill unfit for my consumption), so your input could prove valuable.  Should cachacas get their own rating system?  How granular should I go?  Should spin-offs such as cachacas have two lines of rating, their “cachaca rating” and their “overall rating”?  How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could drink zombies all night without ending up with a hangover the next morning?

{ 7 comments }

Camper English May 5, 2008 at 8:54 pm

I think cachaca should get its own scoring system, as people generally consider the category separate from rum. However, it’s a slippery slope. Should rhum agricole, also apart from standard rum, get its own rating? Then what about Oronoco and 10 Cane? And what about aged cachacas, which might be closer to aged rums than they are unaged cachacas?

I rescind my suggestion. This is your can of worms. Good luck getting it closed :)

Doug Winship May 6, 2008 at 12:03 am

I think that if you are going to rate anything on a scale, you should rate it within its own world. If you feel, correctly IMHO, that Cachaca is a different beast from, say white rums, then rate them within the Cachaca continuum.
To be useful to me, the reader, I want your ratings to help me choose between products I have a use for. If I want to Caipinaras, I want Cachaca. I don’t need to know if Pussers is “better” or not. They are not equivalent products.
Of course, it’s your damn blog. Do what answers your own voice, and what you do will work just like what you have done in the past, which is to say: Well.

Scribe May 6, 2008 at 2:27 am

I think you should rate within cachaca and within rum as a whole. As long as there is an overall rating system, I think you can go as granular as you like, since there is still an overall rating.

Free Beer May 8, 2008 at 7:29 pm

I think that Scribe has the right idea.

Rum Runner May 9, 2008 at 11:17 am

Comparing apples to oranges is interesting, but not terribly helpful in my opinion. Comparing a range of apples or a range of oranges against a reference standard inside each range is helpful.

I like apples better than oranges. That does not mean I cannot recognize a superior orange when I taste one.

The same applies to tasting rum or cachaca. You need to rate inside a defined range. This will lead to clarity, not confusion in my opinion.

I enjoy your writings.

Veela May 13, 2008 at 5:42 pm

I think you should use the following criteria and rate each out of 5:

Nose
Flavor
Smoothness
Emotion (or, does it take you somewhere)

Overall Score (either out of 20, or average of the four criteria)

The cachaca separation only devalues the overall score. Just mention in your review if you have any comments about its superiority as a cachaca, but not necessarily its superiority as an overall rum. That’s why you have the blog part, silly. To explain yourself.

Anyway, that’s my two cents.

AngelSword June 11, 2008 at 8:21 pm

I think the the rating is generous. But if you don’t like cachacas then obviously you need to try more of them! Cabana doesn’t do well amongst the 15-20 other cachacas on my shelf. There are some truly great ones out there.

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