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Brian Robinson

Recent Spike in Reviews

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I would suggest writing a draft review of several different absinthes before submitting. That way you'll have a better basis for scoring each absinthe.

 

Sounds like sage advice.

 

But you gotta' start sometime. You can, and should, always go back and edit your reviews.

 

Some day I hope to add to the reviews. Right now I'm stillplowing through as many different types as I can to figure out the ones that I really like.

 

I think even more important than the above sage advice, is to read the review tutorial, and get to know the criteria for scoring each category. Remember, you are reviewing against a standard of character and correctness, not necessarily your personal preferences. Also get to know what dilutions are classically correct, considering bottled abv. If your preference for dilution is different, that can be noted in the text, but the review should be based on a dilution that puts the "in the glass" alcohol % in the traditional sweet spot (which is a range).

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I was actually amazed to learn that when I thought we were pouring a little heavy, filling up past the reservoir of my Pontarlier glasses, has actually been exactly 1oz of absinthe all along. After carefully measuring and doing a few reviews, I can pretty easily tell where 3:1 and 4:1 are in those glasses. I've also learned that I like my absinthe with a tiny bit more water than what Tatan does, and he's ~0.2 more of a absinthe jerk snob connoisseur than what I am. :laugh:

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At least with the absinthe I'm just a little bit harsher, unlike the show last night. :bguitar:

 

It is a personal preference. I think that's why many reviews are needed for one brand.

 

I say start reviewing and edit later if you change your mind. Also batch differences can be taken into account. I'm noticing quite a difference between Leopold's batch 21 and batch 30 of their absinthe. Oddly enough I had batch 30 first.

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Also get to know what dilutions are classically correct, considering bottled abv. If your preference for dilution is different, that can be noted in the text, but the review should be based on a dilution that puts the "in the glass" alcohol % in the traditional sweet spot (which is a range).

Huh, I haven't worried about ratios in years. I just add water until it tastes ready, but it's probably in the range. I guess my reasoning is that if you can get the absinthe tasting good then it doesn't matter how much or how little watter it requires.

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I second that. Reviews are subjective and so is the "sweet spot" which may not put the dilution as proportionate to the abv.

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Also get to know what dilutions are classically correct, considering bottled abv. If your preference for dilution is different, that can be noted in the text, but the review should be based on a dilution that puts the "in the glass" alcohol % in the traditional sweet spot (which is a range).

Huh, I haven't worried about ratios in years. I just add water until it tastes ready, but it's probably in the range. I guess my reasoning is that if you can get the absinthe tasting good then it doesn't matter how much or how little watter it requires.

 

It probably is (in the range), but that's because you have substantial experience with absinthe, and a good feel for how it should present. People newer to absinthe often don't. In the last couple of days, I have freehand louched absinthes, while out at establishments, that I'm sure were in the range, as well, but I wouldn't have been able to do that a couple of years ago. What I thought was "tasting good" a couple of years ago, is quite different from what I think is "tasting good" today.

 

I want to make it clear that I'm not suggesting that everyone drink their absinthe according to a preset formula, just that they review it within that range. If you want to know why, read on beyond the next quote.

 

I second that. Reviews are subjective and so is the "sweet spot" which may not put the dilution as proportionate to the abv.

 

I actually agree only to a point. Reviews are inclined to be subjective, unless guidelines and rules for evaluation are imposed. That's why there are guidelines and rules published on this site. The goal of those guidelines is to, as much as possible, take the subjectivity out of the process, and make it as objective, as possible. Of course, it will never be completely objective, either. However, a completely subjective system would never have the kind of credibility that I think the WS is trying to establish and maintain. The guidelines I linked in post #31 are there for a reason (I didn't write them. Well, one of them... with the blessing of the ptb). Otherwise, the "powers that be" here would have just said "1 is the lowest, 5 is the highest, have at it guys and gals".

 

I wrote my first dozen reviews from a much more subjective viewpoint than I do now. Then I read this post, which was very enlightening. It's a worthy read for anyone posting reviews. The following passage is especially illuminating.

 

According to Maison Pernod Fils—the standard by which all absinthes have always been judged—a correct glass of absinthe should be six ounces and about 11.3% ABV. This is a 68% absinthe at ~5:1. To get similar results with a 45% absinthe, one would mix it at 1.5 to 4.5. One needn't split hairs or use ml calibrated graduated cylinders to measure, but this should be taken as a general range of dilution.

 

Absinthe was not intended to be drunk as a strong liquor, it was intended to be a mild aperitif. If you prefer a stronger mix, that's fine, but that's not how it's intended to be mixed and it shouldn't be judged at that ratio.

 

If an absinthe is mixed so that it's 11-12% and is thin and flavorless, or has a very thin louche, that's a flaw. The punch should be from flavor, not alcohol.

 

I'm told this guy knows a thing or two about absinthe.

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It probably is (in the range), but that's because you have substantial experience with absinthe, and a good feel for how it should present. People newer to absinthe often don't. In the last couple of days, I have freehand louched absinthes, while out at establishments, that I'm sure were in the range, as well, but I wouldn't have been able to do that a couple of years ago. What I thought was "tasting good" a couple of years ago, is quite different from what I think is "tasting good" today.

Good point, that makes a ton of sense.

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But you gotta' start sometime. You can, and should, always go back and edit your reviews.

 

Personally, I would rather read reviews from individuals that have broad experience and perspective and aren't likely to need to edit their original reviews significantly. I suppose it depends on the purpose of the reviews. If you are really trying to remove the subectivity, then wouldn't you want someone to wait until they truly understand the judging criteria? Writing personal, but un-posted reviews seems like an excellent way to gain that experience but not waste other's time with unreliable data.

On the other hand, if we are trying to get a broad user perpective (which sounds a lot to me like personal preference) so that casual observers can perhaps find others with similar tastes, then why not keep all reviews, rather than editing them. Just post another review. Perhaps, it would be helpful to see how an individuals tastes developed over time

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Personally, I would rather read reviews from individuals that have broad experience and perspective and aren't likely to need to edit their original reviews significantly.
As the current top reviewer, I can tell you that I go back and edit reviews on a regular basis. It's almost necessary, as new batches come out, palates change, products change in the bottle, or even as the category as a whole changes. For example, Lucid scored much better when it first came out because it didn't have the level of quality competition as it does now.

 

If you are really trying to remove the subectivity, then wouldn't you want someone to wait until they truly understand the judging criteria?

The criteria and explanations have been written in a way that's pretty easy for even a first time absinthe drinker to score a brand properly.

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Personally, I would rather read reviews from individuals that have broad experience and perspective and aren't likely to need to edit their original reviews significantly.

 

As the current top reviewer, I can tell you that I go back and edit reviews on a regular basis. It's almost necessary, as new batches come out, palates change, products change in the bottle, or even as the category as a whole changes. For example, Lucid scored much better when it first came out because it didn't have the level of quality competition as it does now.

 

Would you say that your current edits are minor, for the most part, or significantly different?

 

 

The criteria and explanations have been written in a way that's pretty easy for even a first time absinthe drinker to score a brand properly.

 

Well, even scored "properly" (which I assume means by the guidlines or the review submittal), there will still be a far cry more subjectivity for a first time reviewer.

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Well, that's why we want as many reviews for each brand as possible. A community composite of newbies, experienced folks, and veterans provides a broad, overarching view of an absinthe. Some things are only noticed by newbies who don't have expectations, just like some things are only noticed by veterans who know what to look for. Reviews by the very inexperienced can be quite illuminating, at least to those who aren't drunk on their own hype (not referring to anyone here). I love the idea of a total user score being compiled from all of these diverse perspectives.

 

When I go back and edit a review I leave the original written review below the rewrite but I don't bother to note the previous numeric scores. Funny thing is I just gave Lucid a better review than the first time I hit it. I thought the first batch was downright wretched but it's improved to "acceptable."

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I actually like a certain amount of subjectivity. Where reviews that are slanted for or against products for "political" reasons can be problematic, I mentioned somewhere else that I have learned which reviewers have similar tastes to mine and theirs are the reviews that I look for. If someone's capable of saying "hey, I really like absinthe that's heavy on anise, and I like this absinthe," that's helpful if you're an anise slut. If I find out someone only takes their absinthe with sugar, which I never do, their taste experience is going to be much different from mine, and if my take on an absinthe doesn't match theirs, I have some understanding as to why. It's all about getting a feel for the reviewers and who you agree with, and then maybe looking at their other reviewed absinthe to get a feel for what other brands you might like.

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Well, even scored "properly" (which I assume means by the guidlines or the review submittal), there will still be a far cry more subjectivity for a first time reviewer.

 

And that's just the way it will probably always be. There is a learning curve with everything. I think what we are looking for here is best efforts, not perfection. If one pays diligent attention to the scoring criteria, you'll be somewhere in the ballgame.

 

If I hadn't jumped in when I did, my 35 reviews wouldn't be here, and I'll guarantee that I'll be even more ready and able a year from now.

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I just think it is paridoxical that on the one hand, we want to eliminiate the subjectivity, and in essence, eliminate the need for multiple reviews, since if all subjectivity is taken out, they should all gravitate to the same norm, n'est-ce pas? But, on the other hand, we encourage all the subectivity that a variety of reviews provides.

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Would you say that your current edits are minor, for the most part, or significantly different?
Depends on the product. I always leave my original review in to show the changes.

 

 

Well, even scored "properly" (which I assume means by the guidlines or the review submittal), there will still be a far cry more subjectivity for a first time reviewer.

Everyone's gotta start somewhere. The criteria itself, based on the explanations, is about as objective as you can get. If a newbie goes strictly by the criteria, they'll get pretty darned close to objective.

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Everyone's gotta start somewhere.

 

With all due respect, I beg to differ. There are some individuals that would best serve the process by not starting. I'm not just speaking about this forum. Go online and read the reviews of any product. There are crackpots creating noise (only meant in the best posible spirit of the word Tatan) on both sides.

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I just think it is paridoxical that on the one hand, we want to eliminiate the subjectivity, and in essence, eliminate the need for multiple reviews, since if all subjectivity is taken out, they should all gravitate to the same norm, n'est-ce pas? But, on the other hand, we encourage all the subectivity that a variety of reviews provides.

It's a matter of balance. Subjective within the score descriptions can have you thinking a natural colour is the finest green you've ever seen while I just think it's attractive and proper, the difference in our opinions being a matter of one star. But if you're following the guidelines you're not going to give a neon, fakey absinthe or substitute a 5 for colour.

 

Further subjectivity can be handled in the written portion. Sure, I may not be able to justify a low score based on the criteria, but perhaps I just don't like it or there's something about it that the scoring criteria doesn't address. So I'd address such things in the written review.

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Everyone's gotta start somewhere.

 

With all due respect, I beg to differ. There are some individuals that would best serve the process by not starting. I'm not just speaking about this forum. Go online and read the reviews of any product. There are crackpots creating noise (only meant in the best posible spirit of the word Tatan) on both sides.

The difference being we are here specifically because we love absinthe, and we have a predefined criteria to score by. Not quite the same thing as most other online review sites. Apples and oranges.

 

We also have a review editor who can work to parse out any reviews that are deemed unacceptable or not in line with our rules and regulations.

 

If you don't want to do reviews, that's fine. But don't discourage others who might be interested yet apprehensive to try.

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The guidelines were very helpful with the first reviews that I did (Obsello and Pacifique). After that I tend to taste first and when doing my final write up I may refer to the guidelines again.

 

Or "put in mouth and take notes, you can make up pretty words later." :devil:

 

With any review of anything, tastes will be subjective. Not only due to conditioning or experience but also psychophysically where everyone actually senses and perceives all phenomena differently.

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I just think it is paridoxical that on the one hand, we want to eliminiate the subjectivity, and in essence, eliminate the need for multiple reviews, since if all subjectivity is taken out, they should all gravitate to the same norm...

 

I actually don't see anyone, in this conversation, talking about eliminating all subjectivity. Certainly not me. What I said was "The goal of those guidelines is to, as much as possible, take the subjectivity out of the process, and make it as objective, as possible. Of course, it will never be completely objective, either". So what do I think the "objective/subjective" blend of our system is considering our guidelines? I think the guidelines are pretty well written. I'd say maybe 70%/30% ( "objective/subjective" ), maybe 80%/20%. Sometimes the answer is not an exact answer. I'm OK with that.

 

But, on the other hand, we encourage all the subectivity that a variety of reviews provides.

 

Again, I just don't see it this way. I don't think that a variety of reviews encourages subjectivity (any more than it is encouraged or allowed in a single review), but it is inevitable that when there are a number of reviews of one absinthe, the subjective variety will be apparent. I think multiple reviews mitigates the subjective, and for that matter, the objective, as well (especially in the averaged score). Not all people have the same level of observational skills, for any number of reasons. That doesn't make any particular persons opinions more or less valid or welcome.

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There's no such thing as complete objectivity.

 

The broader the spectrum of reviews extends, the broader the subjectivity will do likewise, and that's as it should be.

 

Even if subjectivity could be completely eradicated, a concomitant eradication of the soul behind the reviewing process would render it rather sterile.

 

Or maybe I'm just a tad wistful that my joyous birthday weekend is reaching an, um, climax. :paperbag3:

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The idea is basically to keep the numerical ratings as objective as possible, then add personal opinions and thoughts in the text section. That way, we satisfy both sides of the coin and provide readers with tastes and sensations we are experiencing while drinking each absinthe,

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"The goal of those guidelines is to, as much as possible, take the subjectivity out of the process, and make it as objective, as possible. Of course, it will never be completely objective, either".

 

To me, as much as possible, means 100% if you could achieve it, but lamementably it never will be. So, I apologize if I didn't understand it to mean, up to a certain (indeterminate) percentage, since we want a blend of subjectivity to create a proper review, as much as we want a blend of ingredients to create a fine beverage.

 

I don't think that a variety of reviews encourages subjectivity (any more than it it encouraged or allowed in a single review), but it is inevitable that when there are a number of reviews of one absinthe, the subjective variety will be apparent.

 

Um..isn't this a contradiction? I'm confuzzled. Are you saying that a variety of reviews doesn't induce an individual to be more subjective? I would certainly agree with that, but as a group consisting of vastly different observational skills (as you put it), it does, which you affirmed.

 

Not all people have the same level of observational skills, for any number of reasons. That doesn't make any particular persons opinions more or less valid or welcome.

 

I agree that all opinions are valid, and most certainly to that person with said opinion, since it is their enjoyment at stake. Like Ambear has said a couple of times, it was helpful to her to find the reviews of people with the same tastes as hers, so she knows other items are likely to follow suit. But, if their tastes/opinions diverge from the posted objective "...when someone is drawn to absinthe, they are usually seeking that genuine and complete Belle Époque experience..." are they invalid at that point?

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The difference being we are here specifically because we love absinthe, and we have a predefined criteria to score by. Not quite the same thing as most other online review sites. Apples and oranges.

 

Not true. There are numerous sites with very specific guidelines and devoted patrons which get reviews that make you scratch your head and wonder if they are sincere or deranged. Or perhaps, they are the only sane ones and all the others in the majority have just bought into the dogma of "the man."

 

We also have a review editor who can work to parse out any reviews that are deemed unacceptable or not in line with our rules and regulations.

 

"Come and see the violence inherit in the system. Help. Help, I'm being repressed!"

 

If you don't want to do reviews, that's fine. But don't discourage others who might be interested yet apprehensive to try.

 

You are making an assumption that I am trying to discourage others (something for which you give me far to much credit of weilding such power) or that I haven't the desire to write reviews.

 

I am just trying to understand the process and the objectives clearly. It is the engineer in me. Thank you for all the information. :cheers:

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There's no such thing as complete objectivity.

 

The broader the spectrum of reviews extends, the broader the subjectivity will do likewise, and that's as it should be.

 

Even if subjectivity could be completely eradicated, a concomitant eradication of the soul behind the reviewing process would render it rather sterile.

 

Sing it, Brother!

 

So, what is an acceptable level of subjectivity, seems to be the key issue.

 

Or maybe I'm just a tad wistful that my joyous birthday weekend is reaching an, um, climax. :paperbag3:

 

Glad you made the most of it. :blowup: Remind me to duck.

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The idea is basically to keep the numerical ratings as objective as possible,

 

A tall order to fill, especially givin guidelines like, "The color should be pleasing and have nuance." and, "A pleasant fragrance should fill the air in the surrounding area. " Rather vague and subjective terms. :unsure:

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I don't think that a variety of reviews encourages subjectivity (any more than it is encouraged or allowed in a single review), but it is inevitable that when there are a number of reviews of one absinthe, the subjective variety will be apparent.

 

Um..isn't this a contradiction? I'm confuzzled. Are you saying that a variety of reviews doesn't induce an individual to be more subjective?

 

Yes, exactly. I'm saying that it doesn't induce any given individual to be any more subjective than what the system allows for. If you take 1 review or the sum of multiple reviews, the % of subjective content is probably roughly the same, of course, allowing for extremes.

 

Not all people have the same level of observational skills, for any number of reasons. That doesn't make any particular persons opinions more or less valid or welcome.

 

I agree that all opinions are valid...But, if their tastes/opinions diverge from the posted objective "...when someone is drawn to absinthe, they are usually seeking that genuine and complete Belle Époque experience..." are they invalid at that point?

 

If I had written that, I probably would have said "genuine and complete Belle Epoque standard of character and correctness". That said, if someone comes along (which has happened), and they attempt to re-define what absinthe is, yes, I would consider them to be invalid.

 

 

It is the engineer in me. Thank you for all the information. :cheers:

 

I was going to ask you earlier, what your profession is. In this conversation, I can tell that you are much more "black/white", "on/off", "right/wrong", "left/right" than I am. No problem. This world needs us all. In something like a review, there is always going to be a blend of the sides. I can't imagine a review being completely objective about something as cut and dried as a pair of pliers, let alone an artistic beverage like absinthe. But, what absinthe was in the Belle Epoque, and is now, is well known and has a standard.

 

And by the way, I like the way you think, at times. It'll be comforting the next time I drive over a bridge you designed.

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