The ModernThirst.com scoring system is a 100 point system based on 4 categories, taken in order:


  1. Appearance: 15 points
  2. Nose: 25 Points
  3. Palate/Taste: 35 Points
  4. Finish: 25 points
  • 95+        Epic
  • 90-94     Excellent
  • 85-89     Solid sipper
  • 80-84     Questionable, potentially flawed.
  • 75-79     Low quality, flawed
  • <75        Rot Gut, avoid

The Categories Explained

So now you know the categories we're judging. What are we looking for in each category?

Packaging: We do not assign a score to packaging, as it has no bearing on the whiskey in the bottle. However, we recognize that how attractive a bottle looks on your shelf might impact your desire to, well, have it on your shelf. If it's a sweet retro-earthen jug, that might be a reason for you to want a bottle. If it's packaged in an old condom...not so much.

Appearance: Is it light or dark? Clear or Cloudy? Does an older whiskey properly reflect its age? Are there bits of human flesh in the whiskey? These all impact our score.

Nose: Are the typical aromas we would expect from that particular type of whiskey present? Can we detect a white dog-like alcohol in a bourbon that may be too young, or too much oak in a bourbon that is over aged? Do my nose hairs burst into flame from smelling this whiskey?

Taste: Do the smells we detected in the nose carry through to the palate? Are those flavors in balance, or are they competing with one another? Is it too one-dimensional? Are there off-putting flavors? Does my tongue feel like I just licked a rotting gopher?

Finish: Is it long or short? Do more flavors develop? Which flavors linger long after the swallow? Is it the pleasing vanilla or the rotting gopher? Are my taste buds still functioning?

To score at home using this system, download our flavor wheel and scoring sheet here:

Flavor Wheel and Tasting Sheet

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