Whisky Data Goodness

on Jun 26 in Editorial by dan

You may or may not know this about me, but I consider myself to be something of a whisky connoisseur. I even have my own personal whisky blog where I put up my own reviews and thoughts on whisky. Anyway, the other day I was looking at a few other whisky review sites and it got me thinking about if I could use data to determine once and for all what the best dram is – in case you hadn’t noticed, I’m also a bit of a data nerd.

So I did what I usually do in these situations and took to the web to collect some data. Using a series of Crawlers and Connectors I built using import•io, I collected data from the top 7 whisky review sites that had 1/100 scales for ranking whisky.

Once I had my data in aggregated a nice, neat table; it was time for some analysis!


There Were Three Questions I Wanted To Answer:

  1. What are the most popular whisky brands
  2. What is the best brand to buy
  3. What strength whisky is the best buy

To answer these questions I used a number of data analysis tools, and here’s what I found…


The Most Popular Whisky Brands

  1. Ardbeg – 199 reviews
  2. Laphroaig – 180 reviews
  3. The Mcallen- 171 reviews
  4. Glenmorangie – 161 reviews
  5. Glenfarclas – 155 review

The Best Whisky Brand

This one is a bit trickier, since there are multiple ways of defining “best”. I did it by assessing the Highest Average Review Score for brands with more than say 5 reviews. When you do that, you find….

Brora is KING of the Whisky Brands. Its been reviewed 21 times by members of the public (just shy of the average for this study) and impressively it is three review score points ahead of the nearest rival.

This isn’t really that surprising when you consider that the cheapest bottle of Brora you can buy costs £499 for 70cl. The more expensive whiskies do tend to get a better score, but if you’re like me and not a millionaire (yet), you might want to check out a few of these:

  1. Glenugie is £275 for the cheapest bottle. (Review score #89)
  2. Port Ellen is £399 for the cheapest bottle (Review score #89)
  3. Lochside is £135 for the cheapest bottle (Review score #89)
  4. Lagavulin is £48.95 for the cheapest bottle (with a free mug!) (Review score #88)

For my money, I’d say that Lagavulin seems to be the best value.


The Optimal Whisky Strength

To this whisky purist, ‘cask strength’ is, and always will be the best. Cask strength is typically more expensive and released in smaller quantity than your average 40% ABV whisky.

However it is still interesting to see what if any correlation can be seen in the data.

You’ll notice that there is a ‘sweet spot’ in the data for whiskies with an ABV between 61% and 69%.

There was a small surprise in that the data shows a pronounced decrease at 70% ABV with a severe increase in at 71% ABV. To be honest, I’m not really sure why this would be – perhaps a bit of on-the-ground tasting research is required.

Have A Wee Dram

Ok, now for the good bit. Which whisky does the data suggest you buy? Well, the best scorers are whiskies which are:

  1. Between 61 – 69% ABV
  2. Peaty
  3. On the good side of diminishing returns
  4. Single Malt

Here are two of my personal recommendations:

  1. Ardbeg Uigeadail (Average Review score 90)
  2. Springbank 12 Year Old Cask Strength / 2012 Edition (Average Review score 87)

Want to play with the Data?

You can filter and explore the dataset using this table from silk.co.

Data from whiskyreviews.silk.co

Data Credit(s): whiskynotes.be, tastings.com, practicalwhisky.net, connosr.com, and allthingswhisky.com

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