Jump to content

Reviews and competitions


ny_spirits

Recommended Posts

We'd really like to get our product reviewed/scored. If it does well (knock wood!), it could be a great marketing tool. If it doesn't at least we will know where we need to improve. In any case, with the seemly endless number of bloggers out there who review spirits and the several competitions I've come across, it is hard to figure out which we should participate in. Any thoughts? Thanks!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We've been very fortunate in that a lot of reviewers have really liked our products so far, but I do have a cautionary tale- I will use our experience with our gin-

We've entered our gin in "blind" judging competitions with multiple judges and it has done excellent (A double gold Medal at the '08 San Francisco world spirits competition, and just last week a gold medal "90" rating from Beverage Testing Institute). We've also pretty much sent samples to reviewers who simply asked or that we've just come across on our own. Most have given us good or at least fair reviews. However, I have had two experiences that will cause me to pause a bit more before sending samples without careful consideration.

1. An assistant to a writer for an entertainment magazine from a large Midwest city (not our hometown) called and asked for samples- I didn't hesitate and sent them without concern (everyone loves our products so why should I worry! :lol: ) Well, the article which was supposed to be on craft spirits from throughout the Midwest pretty much ripped our product (and several others I've had that are really good), after reading the one sentence reviews all I could think was that perhaps he mixed up our product with someone elses!?!? He didn't seem to be aware that our product was even available in his city, and even made a snide comment about how something premium couldn't have come from our town! Interestingly some of the products seemed fairly reviewed and some he gave high marks to products that coincidently are distributed by an advertiser. Not saying that had anything to do with it but it did make us wonder, and of course we won't be sending that particular reviewer any more samples.

2. We recently sent the gin to a reviewer who is highly regarded in the spirits industry (I refer to him as the Robert Parker of the spirits business) and he totally ripped our product apart. He hated it. I then looked at some of his other reviews for the same class of spirits and noticed a pattern, he seems to dislike any gin that is not traditional. Incidentally he loved our vodka and rated it very high.

The good news is a couple poor reviews are not going to ruin you, and good reviews do make good marketing tools. If you make a good product, don't fear blind judging competitions. If you're sending to an individual reviewer, you may want to check their previous reviews to get a feel for how they like similar products. But remember, every individual (and reviewer) has their own likes and dislikes, we use Basil in our gin and most people seem to love it, but some don't. We accept that and no longer feel the need to be loved by everyone. Our skin is pretty thick and ultimately our customers opinions are the reviews that really matter, I'm happy to say they seem very pleased.

There are some reviewers on this site, hopefully they'll add their thoughts on this topic from their point of view.

Good luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My guess is most small batch distillers (ADI) are making things they like and are looking to do things different, even if that means very traditional and labor intensive. That's what you need to focus on. Trying to make a product that's like a standard big name brand (so you're universally liked) is kind of like starting a microbrewery so you can make a better Bud.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the quick responses!

Grehorst, that exactly what I am worried about. Although we have had excellent feedback locally, I would hate to end up with a bad review - esp. one that comes up every time someone googles our vodka. I will take heart in your comment that one or two bad reviews won't kill us, but I think we will tread carefully.

Pheonix, I agree - our product is nothing like the "big guys" and I am a little worried that reviewers may have a problem with that. But I am confident that we make an excellent vodka. Thanks for the words of encouragement!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello Everyone,

I second what Grehorst says.

Check the reviewers former reviews and look for patterns and taste trends (see my notes on this at: http://www.spiritsreview.com/home.htm check under choosing a Spiritual Advisor).

Basic thing is do what everyone else in the industry does (hopefully with more integrity than, say, Avian Fashion Victim Vodka does), use and quote the good reviews.You could even edit/use parts from a big reviewers bad review if there is something positive or at least neutral and you want to use their name (yes, sweet revenge and one way to get that bottle and shipping cost back). Bear in mind though that people might look up the original or talk to that person.But for the average person the ad looks nice.

Best advice,make a good product (who doesn't want to anyway?) and find someone with a track record/palate/enthusiasm for products similar to yours or at least not a track record of disliking anything similar (or that is not very traditional if that is what you are doing).

BTW I am sure I know who you are referring to.He is a dear friend but we differ on just those points mentioned earlier and still maintain great respect for each other (he really hated a new gin that I said "If I could, I would replace my blood with this")

So just check around, it's always worth a shot to get a big name to like your product but there are also other people that would like your product too. You place the quotes you want on your webpage,press releases etc., again make the best product you can and you will get good reviews from a majority. Detractors come in all sizes from locals to big ones as evidenced by the previous writers.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As a biologist by education and a chemist by vocation, I know a few in-trade jokes that end with 'Nobody publishes negative results'.

You don't have to look any further than movie ads for examples of creative quotation.

There are a couple blog entries out there about my business that make me shudder - but it doesn't stop me from trying to get the word out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

As someone who is on both sides of the fence with this. I am a writer, blogger, and reviewer for the past several years; as well as a food and beverage business consultant. I worked in the retail side of wine and spirits off and on from when I was 18 until a few years ago. Now I'm partner in a winery, just got our brewery built and licensed, and my distillery coming online very soon.

The comment of reading and studying the reviewers prior reviews is very important. Every one has their bias's and like or dislike certain products and styles. Some reviewers are legit and some not. many have been around for decades, some for just a few years, and I have seen nobodies who never had anything published and no experience in the field, make themselves into names in just a year or two. Some of those are very good and some very bad. I refused to review vodka for several years and it wasn't until I had dozens or artisanal vodka's in front of me and found that they could have flavor and still be vodka, before I started reviewing them.

My personal thoughts are that I don't have time to blast a small producer with a negative review, unless the product makes claims that I find false or unfair. I tend to write recommendations, with background information. So my writing is more of an article than just a review. i make it clear how I personally feel about the product. Of course I have written negative things. Mostly those have been about products from the big boys.

Just my 2 cents.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...
My personal thoughts are that I don't have time to blast a small producer with a negative review, unless the product makes claims that I find false or unfair. I tend to write recommendations, with background information. So my writing is more of an article than just a review. i make it clear how I personally feel about the product. Of course I have written negative things. Mostly those have been about products from the big boys.

This is interesting to me because I have arrived at a very similar place. When I read the paragraph above, it struck me that I could very well have written it. Some people put out tasting notes on everything that comes their way. I don't find that very interesting to read nor to write. I probably write more than my fair share of negative pieces and I rarely just paraphrase press releases. I certainly don't take a producer's claims at face value. But these day if I think somebody, especially a small producer, is dealing me bullshit I'm more likely to just ignore them than to bust them.

Unless it's unusually interesting bullshit.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...