The vast ocean of available whiskeys is great for those of us who want variety in our booze. But wading through a seemingly endless selection of bottles can be overwhelming for all but the most experienced connoisseur. That’s where our new App of the Week comes in.
Distiller, a free app for iPhone, iPad and Android devices, is designed to make it easier for users to find their next great drink. At its core is a list of ratings from the Seattle-based company’s Tasting Table – a group of professional whiskey lovers from around the country.
Users can ask Distiller for a recommendation, and the app will ask them a few questions about their preferences, including their level of experience with whiskey, where they plan on drinking it, and how much they want to spend. The app will then suggest several bottles that it thinks fit the criteria, including ratings, before giving a recommendation for a bottle of whiskey that fits their needs.
I don’t have the sort of access to whiskey that would allow me to extensively test Distiller’s recommendations, but they seem reasonable from my (albeit limited) personal experience. Those who would rather avoid the recommendation system’s Q&A can search Distiller’s database of whiskeys by type, region and price to find their own way.
Whiskey details include a graph that shows a dram’s dominant traits, so it’s easy to tell whether a bottle of scotch will be rich and sweet, or peaty and smoky. It also includes a rating and short blurb from one of Distiller’s professional reviewers, along with an average user rating.
Users who start rating whiskeys through the app will get more personalized recommendations based on their particular tastes, so they’re more likely to find something they like on the first try. In addition, they can save certain bottles to their “Top Shelf,” which they can look over for quick reference.
Distiller’s core functionality is great, but it feels like it’s only a wrapper around the company’s website. In my experience using the app on my iPhone, it isn’t all that problematic, save for one issue: Distiller doesn’t work without an available Internet connection. For users in areas with spotty reception, like a basement speakeasy or a particularly cavernous grocery store, that might prove problematic.
That said, I’ve found Distiller to be an excellent guide to whiskey exploration. It’s clear that the company is still working on improving its product, and it’s nice to have all of the information included in that app in one compact package that’s easily available on the phone.