It may not always feel like it these days, but the way a whisky tastes is actually still quite important. Purists will argue that a whisky's presentation, rarity, investment potential or 'Instagrammability' are all irrelevant, and our focus should purely be on the sensations we experience when nosing and tasting the liquid. Probably the most notable exponents of this are the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, who do not state the name of the distillery on their labels to avoid any preconceptions affecting an individual's enjoyment of a particular dram.

But how defined is a whisky's character? Is it open to interpretation? Are tasting notes from a leading expert like Charlie MacLean of equal value to some bloke on the bus?

Most of us are born with an imperfect sense of smell and taste, and we struggle to try a whisky in isolation without any external influences. There are countless bottles I've owned over the years which have been delicious on the Monday, terrible on the Tuesday and underwhelming on the Wednesday. This wild variation is not due to changes in the actual liquid, but instead is likely due to changes in my mood, the weather or what I've had 30 minutes previously for dinner (or breakfast, ho ho!).

I do not claim to have a finely-tuned palate, so perhaps this explains my occasional inconsistent tasting experiences. But what about those who have had decades in the industry, have wrote books on the subject and tasted thousands of cask samples?

Compiling Bevvy's ultimate whisky database has been fascinating for many reasons, but what has been particularly intriguing for me is comparing and contrasting notes of the same dram by two or more legends of the industry - if read in isolation, you would struggle to realise that they are talking about the same whisky. Indeed, I recently heard a story of a blind tasting event attended by several well-regarded figures, all of whom failed to identify that Dram No.2 and Dram No.4 were in fact identical. The two drams were enjoyed a similar amount (by and large), but slightly different flavour profiles were suggested for each.

My personal view therefore is that tasting notes should be viewed through the lens of "this is how this one whisky made this one person feel at one particular time". For many, this has great value; the most eloquent and detailed of tasting notes can often resemble a work of beautiful and evocative poetry. However, I know of many people who feel that detailed tasting notes can be intimidating, off-putting and generally unwelcoming, particularly to those who are perhaps still finding their feet with whisky, or still building up the confidence to express their own opinion in front of others.

In summary then, tasting notes are a fabulous resource and do so much to enthuse and excite people about the qualities of a dram. However, they are ultimately subjective, so should be taken with a pinch of salt. Or should that be Icelandic Sea Salt? You decide.