I'm known to have a bad attitude about the rating systems used by spirits competitions. Their basic flaw is that they give a sheen of objectivity to something that is inherently subjective.
I had a long conversation about this with Jim Murray once and his conclusion was, "we owe it to people to give them some kind of guidance." I concede his point, but what's the best way?
Usually when you are asked to rate, say, customer service in a survey, 5 is considered 'acceptable' or average. Anything below 5 is considered some degree of less-than-acceptable, anything above 5 is considered some degree of exceptional. Below average, average, better than average. A classic bell curve.
Here is how the major competitions do it. This is a 10-point scale but since they allow tenths, just move the decimal point to make it a 100-point scale.
0 -5 FAULTY - There is something technically wrong with the product.
6 - 7 POOR - The product has little character or complexity and lacks balance.
7 - 7.5 AVERAGE - The product is okay but nothing special.
7.6 - 7.9 GOOD - The balance is good and there are elements of complexity.
8 - 9 VERY GOOD - The product is well balanced and complex.
9+ EXCEPTIONAL - The product is very complex, deep and rich, with lots of character.
Note that 0-7 is products that probably shouldn't be sold let alone entered into contests. 7 is 'acceptable.' Only above 8 does it get competitive. That's the way the scoring goes in most competitions. Nothing below 7, only a few 7 to 7.9, everything else 8 to 9.9. There are no tens because nothing is perfect.
The rationale is that, indeed, anything less than 5 is unacceptable, and while 5 to 7.9 might be acceptable, only 8 to 9.9 is award-worthy. The purpose of the competition is to determine which of the award-worthy products is best.
I'm neither attacking this system nor defending it, just explaining it. What do you think?