Sour Mash Manifesto

Bourbon and American Whiskey

Rating System

All reviews, ratings, and tasting notes are those of Jason Pyle, Sour Mash Manifesto’s founder.

There is a lot of stock put on product ratings and reviews. Perhaps the biggest reason for that is alcoholic beverages are not cheap.  For certain it’s an affordable luxury relative to other “luxuries”, but still – not cheap.  One of the primary objectives of Sour Mash Manifesto is to provide readers with reliable reviews and ratings of Bourbon, Rye, and other American Whiskeys to help make those purchasing decisions a bit less “risky”.

Before I discuss the Sour Mash Manifesto rating system I’d like to remind you of something very important. Regardless of what I or any other whiskey enthusiast says, if you like a whiskey – it’s good! Simple as that. I encourage you to use my ratings as a guide or point of reference to determine which whiskeys you might enjoy more than others. That’s all it’s there for – a guideline.

This brings me to the rating system itself. The more traditional 100-Point rating scale is widely used by most publications, websites, and blogs. Even with the same scale they are all just a bit different. In fact, even classifications for the ranges within this scale are different depending on the source. These variances can be very confusing.

Instead, Sour Mash Manifesto has deployed a system that is designed to bring in a wider variance than many of the popular sites and publications. I use a 10 point scale with decimals (9.2, 8.4, etc. etc), to get away from the 100 point system, allowing me more leeway to distinguish world-class whiskey from merely good or even great whiskey. This is what it looks like:

Sour Mash Manifesto Rating Scale (out of 10):

9.6-10.0: Epic – One of the finest Whiskeys in the world and an amazing achievement.
8.8-9.5: Superb/Outstanding – A classic expression of Whiskey, highly recommended.
8.0-8.7: Very Good/Excellent – A Whiskey with character and quality.
7.0-7.9: Good/Solid – Average to slightly above average whiskey
6.0-6.9: Decent – Palatable only, but certainly not recommended.
5.0-5.9: Poor – Avoid
<5.0: Horrid -No explanation required.

Product Notes:
The products we review are available in the United States market and to some degree globally. Specific availability may differ depending on your local market.

Product Review Process:
I have a minimum of two to three tasting sessions with each product I review before posting my review, video, rating, and tasting notes. I simply believe these products deserve a thorough review. My review periods generally take place over a period of days or even a week to account for changes in environment, diet, etc. All whiskeys are tasted in a copita-style or Glencairn glass.

One thing is for sure – there is no perfect rating system out there, including mine. With some repeat visits to the site I am hopeful that you will come to understand how my descriptions and ratings align with your own thoughts and experiences.

Thanks for visiting!

Jason Pyle
Sour Mash Manifesto
Phone: 615-406-6026

To be clear I am not involved in the whiskey industry beyond the work I do on this website. I have no financial affiliations with any whiskey companies or producers. Sour Mash Manifesto does not sell advertisements nor financial compensation for reviews or articles.


  1. What are your thoughts on storing your wiskey/bourbon in a decanter? Any really benefits or is it just for looks?

    Also, what are your thoughts on whiskey stones. Do you think they have any effect on the taste?


  2. Drew, I would skip both. Decanters just aren’t necessary. They look nice though!

    The whiskey stones are awful. Ice, Metal, other such things are better and heat transfer – they cool faster. The stones sit at the bottom of the glass, don’t do much of anything and you have to worry about tilting one back into your mouth. I received them as a gift – never use them.

    Thanks for the comment.

  3. Love your reviews, Jason. Here’s a suggestion: One one page, list all the bourbons you’ve rated over the years from highest point total to lowest. Thoughts?

  4. BP, I agree 100%. What a list that would be. I’ve looked up the bourbons I have in my cabinet and it’s really interesting to see how Jason rates them. Would love to see the “World of Bourbon – According to Jason Pyle”.

  5. Agreed with BP and Joseph. Insightful reviews are worth their weight in gold to a beginner bourbon afficionado like myself. Would love to see a “best-of” list.

  6. I would also REALLY like to see that list. Something else that would be nice is another column with average price to get a sense of value.

  7. Jason,

    I’m a big fan of your site and enjoy your reviews. I’d like to hear your opinion on Fighting Cock bourbon. It’s very good for the price (under $20). My friends and I love it. I’d be curious to hear how it sits on a more refined palate such as yours.

  8. Jason,
    Love the reviews. Have you thought of putting together a page that has all your reviews sorted by scores? I like clicking through and checking out reviews, but for a random Saturday afternoon purchase it’d be nice to pull up the page and easily see things you’ve given 8+ that I haven’t tried.

  9. I appreciate your whiskey reviews, both video and written.

    Ratings are hard to evaluate, especially when using an arbitrary scale (5.0 to 10.0). It would really be helpful to us, your readers, if you compiled a plot of your ratings (point value on the horizontal scale, number of tastings on the vertical scale) to determine relative positioning. Sure, rating are relative and subjective and all that jazz, but the only value that can be derived from them is statistical in nature.

  10. Jason,
    I check your website very often, but tonight just realized I had never read this section before. So here I am.
    I’m usually only checking for new updates and memory refreshments, as I’ve read through most all of your reviews. Often I wished you had a spreadsheet of whiskies, price, and ratings available, but then it hit me after reading your explanation of the rating system and all the following “suggestions/complaints”. If you had this all available beforehand I never would have learned as much as I did about so many different whiskies. Because sometimes I disagree with your rating, but rarely on the profile. And in the end if you put four whisk(e)y drinkers in a room they’re all going to argue over which bottle is the best and they’ll all be right.

  11. Jason, what happened to the page that had a large number of whiskey brands on the right hand side that you could click on which would take you to the page for your review which for some included a video take on the brand you were reviewing? That was a helpful page that would allow a novice bourbon drinker some great direction.

  12. I have to agree that Fighting Cock is very enjoyable and reasonably priced! I get it fir $16 a bottle. Another bottle I tried that I like is Whitmeyer’s Single Barrel Cask Strength.

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